Jen: Today we welcome Paula Martin to Romancing the Book. Paula, will you share a short bio with us?
Paula: Paula Martin lives near Manchester in North West England and has two daughters and two grandsons.
She had some early publishing success with four romance novels and several short stories, but then had a break from writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after retiring from teaching, and is thrilled to have found publishing success again with her contemporary romances.
Apart from writing, she enjoys visiting new places. She has traveled extensively in Britain and Ireland, mainland Europe, the Middle East, America and Canada. Her other interests include musical theatre and tracing her family history.
Jen: Tell us about you newest release.
Paula: My latest release is Dream of Paris. Here’s the blurb:
Anna Richards has a dream of going to live and study in Paris, but when Matthew Carlton comes into her life, her dream changes direction. Attraction sparks between them, but Matt’s behaviour is strangely inconsistent. Anna is shocked when she discovers the reason and is sure there is no future for them. Can Paris work its magic and make her dream come true?
This novel is based on a story I originally wrote in the 1970’s, but of course I had to do a lot of updating because the world has changed a lot since then. Today’s cell phones caused me the biggest problem because it’s so much easier for characters to keep in contact these days, and sometimes I didn’t want them to be able to contact each other! The reverse side of that is the Channel Tunnel which makes it quicker for the characters to get from the south of England to Paris.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Paula: I was able to draw on my many visits to Paris for the setting there, but I also used maps, and especially Google’s street view to refresh my memory.
Part of the story is set in a high school in England, and schools have changed considerably since I took early retirement from teaching in the 1990s. Fortunately one of my daughters is now a high school teacher, so I was able to pick her brains about today’s practices and new initiatives in schools. I sent her the extracts that dealt with school issues, and she checked them for me, and also gave me some good suggestions.
Jen: What’s been the highlight of you career to this point?
Paula: The first highlight was receiving a contract for a novel when I was in my twenties. It was the first novel I had written, and was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to (Mills and Boon) – how lucky was that?
I had a long break from writing fiction after about 1980, and only came back to it five years ago. I wasn’t sure whether I’d lost my touch, so when Whiskey Creek Press accepted my romance novel ‘His Leading Lady’ in 2010, it was definitely a ‘fist in the air’; and a yell of ‘Yesss!’ from me. Since then I’ve had four more novels accepted, and all have been highlights, especially the wonderful reviews I’ve had for them.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?
Paula: This is one of my favorites: “The characters were believable through and through and I’m glad they were so realistic. Oftentimes romance novels leave me shaking my head, knowing that people aren’t really like the characters as they are portrayed on the page. Paula Martin created likeable, interesting characters who lead life like real people.”
This appeals to me, because it sums up what I try to do i.e. create real characters that the reader can relate to. I want them to be able to empathize with my heroines, and fall in love with the heroes.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Paula: Very much a pantser! I start off with two characters, an initial ‘situation’, and a vague idea of where I think the story will go. It never ceases to amaze me, though, how the characters take things into their own hands and lead me into avenues I hadn’t thought of at first. I love this ‘discovery’ part of writing a first draft. Occasionally I have to rein them back, but most times they know their story better than I do!
Jen: What’s next for you?
Paula: I’m about half way through a new story which is set in Ireland. The English heroine and American hero meet when they discover they’ve been left a house by someone neither of them has ever heard of. They work together on uncovering their individual family histories in order to find the missing link between their families and the woman who left them the house, and they make a few surprising discoveries. At the same time, they’re both fighting the mutual attraction between them, and both will eventually have to make life-changing decisions.