Alison Bruce has had many careers and writing has always been one of them. Copywriter, editor and graphic designer since 1992, Alison has also been a comic book store manager, small press publisher, webmaster and arithmetically challenged bookkeeper. She is the author of mystery, suspense and historical romance novels.
Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in the novels she writes. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. When not researching for her next book, Kat can be found running her three sons to hockey and lacrosse. She’s been published in numerous periodicals. This is Kat’s third book and she is hard at work on her next.
Tell us a bit about your latest book, Hazardous Unions, and what inspired you to write such a story.
Twin sisters separated by war, bound by love…
After the death of their father, twin sisters Maggie and Matty Becker are forced to take positions with officers’ families at a nearby fort. When the southern states secede, the twins are separated, and they find themselves on the opposite sides of America’s bloodiest war.
In the south, Maggie travels with the Hamilton’s to Bellevue, a plantation in west Tennessee. When Major Hamilton is captured, it is up to Maggie to hold things together and deal with the Union cavalry troop that winters a Bellevue. Racism, politics and a matchmaking stepmother test Maggie’s resourcefulness as she fights for Bellevue, a wounded Confederate officer and the affections of the Union commander.
In the north, Matty discovers an incriminating letter in General Worthington’s office ands soon she is on the run. With no one to turn to for help she drugs the wealthy Colonel Cole Black and marries him, in hopes of getting the letter to his father, the governor of Michigan. But Cole is not happy about being married, and Matty’s life becomes all about survival.
How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
KAT: It was more like a stream-of-consciousness. I knew the basic premise of the story but not where it would lead me.
ALISON: I create a basic outline then fill in the details by the seat of my pants.
Did your book require a lot of research?
KAT: Yes. I only knew the basics regarding the Civil War and that time, so I did need to do a lot of research to be historically correct in certain things and to be able to see the scenes.
ALISON: I studied history at university, but undergraduate history courses don’t tend to go into details about everyday life. So yes, I did lots of research.
Describe your working environment.
KAT: My kitchen table is the general point of where all my creativity takes place. I do have an office, but I never use it.
ALISON: Like my blog’s name, “have laptop, will travel.” I have an office full of reference material but, more often than not, you’ll find me in a coffee shop working, or at the edge of my bed.
Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?
KAT: I do a little bit of both. I write until the story is finished, but I will make minor adjustments through out.
ALISON: I do both. Sometimes when I’m feeling blocked, I back up, edit and use that to get a run at the story.
They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?
KAT: I have had to deal with both and all I can say is you need a tough skin to be in this business. I read all my reviews and take into account what all my readers say whether it’s good or bad. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not personal.
ALISON: I was one of the fragile ones. It took me years of working as a copywriter and editor to toughen up enough to put my fiction out there to be criticized. Now I remind myself that there’s plenty of good fiction out there that I don’t like. Everyone has their own tastes.
Are you a disciplined writer?
KAT: Yes, I have to be or nothing would get done.
ALISON: I don’t miss deadlines. I do have other jobs that require my time. By necessity, I’m a juggler.
When it comes to writing, are you an early bird, or a night owl?
KAT: I can be both depending on where I am in the writing process. If it’s a good scene I’ll be up late and rise early to write it.
ALISON: Usually I’m a night owl, but I’ll get up in the wee hours to write and go back to sleep again if I feel the need.
Do you have any unusual writing quirks?
KAT: I do. I always write with a candle burning, a foot heater, and music on.
ALISON: Is coffee unusual? Probably not.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?
KAT: Yes, and it’s so frustrating. I usually put my work away and do a bit of research. This will get the creative juices flowing again and I am able to write.
ALISON: No wonder we work together so well. It’s pretty much the same for me although I might also work on something completely different.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
KAT: Take constructive criticism and learn from it. In this business you will never stop learning. Be open to it and ask questions. Read rejection letters there is always something you can take away from in them and believe in yourself.
ALISON: Read your work aloud. It’s easier to discover what works and what doesn’t. My sister used to read my stories aloud – exactly as written. It was hysterical and embarrassing at times, but it made me a better writer.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
ALISON: Website: http://www.alisonbruce.ca
As an author, what is your greatest reward?
KAT: Receiving letters from my readers. I am honored and humbled when I read a letter, comment, or review.
ALISON: I love hearing that a reader has gone back to my book a second time. Being readable is great. Being re-readable is the greatest.
Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!