Today we welcome romance author Deirdre Martin to our blog. Deirdre graciously volunteered to be one of my guinea pigs in interviewing before she found out that I’m a fan of her NY Blades series of books (and even reviewed her latest a couple months ago).
Deirdre: Well, I’m a New York Times Bestselling author who writes romance novels for a living, and I love it. I’m short, curvy, and blind as a bat. I have three sibs, two fabulous nieces, two crazy parents, a giant Newf named Rocky I love to death, lots of amazing friends, and a gorgeous, witty husband with the patience of a saint. In short, I’m really blessed, My husband, Mark and I live out in the country outside Ithaca, New York. He’s a writer, too. I’ve got a much longer bio on my website, http://www.deirdremartin.com/ if people want to check it out.
Deirdre: The Blades books are available at amazon.com and they can also be found at Borders, Barnes and Noble, and Wal Mart. I always advise going the Amazon route if you can, because they always have all of them in stock.
The Blades series is a series of interconnected novels that center around a fictitious hockey team, the New York Blades. All of the books can stand alone; meaning, you don’t have to read them all or in a particular order to understand what’s going on, though I’ve found that most of my readers prefer to do it that way. If you want to read the books in order, it goes: Body Check, Fair Play, Total Rush, The Penalty Box, Chasing Stanley, and Just a Taste. The next Blades book, Power Play, will be out in October of this year (I just put up an excerpt on my website).
Two of the books, though connected to the series, don’t have hockey player heroes. I was worried about the subject matter getting stale, so I wrote about a firefighter in Total Rush, and an ex hockey player (an ex NY Blade, as a matter of fact) in The Penalty Box. However: both books DO feature hockey player heroes from the other books as secondary characters.
There’s also a Blades novella entitled SAME RINK, NEXT YEAR, that’s part of a sports romance anthology that came out last year called Hot Ticket. It was published by Berkley.
Deirdre: Hockey player heroes just seemed a natural choice for me since they’re so damn sexy. I think hockey players are the perfect romantic heroes, because they’re warriors on a quest: the quest for the Cup. Such figures, from King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table on down, have always been attractive; they’re fearless. They’re willing to sacrifice, whether it’s physical, mental, or spiritually, to achieve their goal. They’re not afraid of physical pain; that blood running down a hockey player’s face is real. And let’s face it: a lot of athletes, no matter what the sport, are hot. They have great bodies. One of the things I find particularly attractive about hockey players is that they’re down to earth, too. They’re approachable in a way some of these mega athletes in football and baseball are not. And the sport alone is so exciting, so fast and often rough. (We’ll try to ignore the sexual subtext there). It seemed the perfect world to set a romance in.
I didn’t really need to do any research on the game itself, since I was a fan and knew how it was played. But there were other things I needed to find out about. For example: in Body Check, the heroine is the team publicist. I knew nothing about being a publicist for an NHL hockey team. So I contacted the head of PR for the New York Rangers, and he let me shadow him. All of my books have required some research of one sort or another, which I love doing. It’s very important to me that the details of my stories are correct. It makes the settings real.
Jen: At what age did you discover you wanted to be a writer and when were you first published? Tell us your call story…
Deirdre: I always wanted to write, and was in fact encouraged to do so from a young age (my dad was an English teacher). I always wrote fiction on my own (again, I talk extensively about my writing history on the bio page on my website if people want to check it out), but never dreamed I’d make a living out of it. At first, I went the freelance writer route, writing all different sorts of feature articles for a variety of magazines. Eventually, though, I knew I had to at least TRY to write commercial fiction. Despite reading romance all my life, the first romance I wrote was a disaster! (It is now stashed in the garage, and I doubt it will ever see the light of day. In fact, I should burn it.) No chemistry, no sexual tension, no subplot…luckily, a friend of mine who had published a successful romance read it, and gave me lots of constructive criticism. I then wrote Body Check.
My call story…well, it was late August, and I was at home making dinner. My best friend was up visiting from Manhattan. I had resigned myself to Body Check being rejected across the board. Despite Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s success with her Chicago Stars series, and Rachel Gibson’s successful hockey romance (I think she’d only published one at the time), my agent had been told sports heroes didn’t sell.
Anyway, there I was, fixing dinner and yakking away with my friend when my agent called to tell me that Berkley wanted Body Check, plus another book. I swear to you, I can’t remember the rest of the conversation. I was in total shock. I often call my best friend my “good luck charm”: I can’t tell you how many times she’s been here when I’ve gotten good news. Maybe I should ask her to move in!
Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Deirdre: I do a loose outline. I know there are certain things that need to happen, certain plot points I have to hit, but how I actually get the characters there is the fun part, since I don’t know until I actually write it. I guess you could say I use a combination of plotting AND going with the flow.
Jen: As a romance reader, it’s the happily-ever-after that draws me to the genre. What is it about the romance genre that appeals to you?
Deirdre:It’s the happily ever after that appeals to me, too. I’ve always read romance novels. They’re kind of like comfort food for me, something I go back to again and again when I’m feeling low and need my spirits lifted. I also love the fact that they explore a wide range of human emotions, but always, ultimately, end in the triumph of love over all.
Deirdre: Just a Taste making the New York Times Paperback Mass Market Fiction list, hands down.
Deirdre: Romance wise, I love Jennifer Crusie and pretty much anything she writes. Ditto Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I love romance where humor is prominent.
Non romance wise, I love the British author Nick Hornby (again, his books are funny), especially High Fidelity. I love Salman Rushdie, especially Midnight’s Children. Elinor Lippman is another funny novelist I enjoy. Her book Then She Found Me is wonderful.
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Deirdre: Read, obviously! I like to hike, bike, bake, take pictures. I’m taking an acting class right now that’s a hoot.
Jen: What’s next for you? As a side note, I’m hoping it’s another NY Blades story.
Deirdre: I’m taking a little break from the Blades after Power Play comes out, but that doesn’t mean I won’t return to the Blades in the future. To be honest, I was starting to worry about repeating myself with the hockey stories, and really needed to challenge myself by creating a new world of characters. So I’m the process of starting a series called THE WILD HART saga, about a large, loving, Irish American family named the O’Briens who own the Wild Hart, a pub in the heart of New York City. The O’Briens are a family whose every member is blessed and cursed with classic Celtic traits: passion and loyalty, wit and drama; a family of romantics, rebels, and dreamers who clash with the same intensity with which they love.
Readers of Just a Taste will recognize the hero of the first Wild Hart book: it’s Quinn O’Brien, the journalist who lives to tease Vivi’s sister, Natalie. Though the book doesn’t have a title yet, it’s Quinn and Natalie’s story, so I guess in a way, you could say THE WILD HART SAGA connected to the Blades series, since characters from the Blades books do turn up occasionally.
The series actually kicks off in an anthology that’s coming out in December of this year called Double the Pleasure. My novella is called “The Luck of the Irish.” I hope readers check it out—the hero is a very sexy Irishman who comes to NY and—well, I won’t spoil it.
Jen: Do you write under any pen names?
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Deirdre: Readers can find me at my website: http://www.deirdremartin.com/. The New York Blades also have their own website: http://www.nyblades.com/. I’m on facebook under “Deirdre Martin,” and on myspace under deirdreelizabethmartin. I also have a video up on youtube called “A Romance Writer Reveals All.” They can easily link to it through my website.
Jen: Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers or perhaps a question you’d like to ask?
Deirdre: I just want to thank all my readers for their interest in my books! It makes me feel great to know they enjoy the stories I tell as much as I enjoy writing them.
I don’t have any questions, but if readers have any questions for me, they should feel free to contact me at my website. Thanks again for your interest!