Jen: Today we welcome Monica Tillery to Romancing the Book. Monica, will you share a short bio with us?
Monica: Monica Tillery lives in Texas with her own real-life romance hero and two wonderful sons. When she’s not reading and writing romance, Monica can be found enjoying her family, hanging out and playing games with friends, and wasting time online.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Monica: My new release, The Election Connection, is a personal story for me. My husband’s cousin married a soldier when she was younger and lost him less than a year into their marriage. The thought of being a newlywed widow just guts me, and I’ve been inspired by this young woman’s story. I have watched her pick up the pieces of her life and carry on, full of hope and love since then, and wanted the opportunity to honor her spirit and sacrifice. My character, Lily, has a similar history, but the rest of the story is pure fiction.
Jen: What age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Monica: I’m very new to writing, and I wasn’t exactly young when I started. I have always been a reader, but never seriously considered writing until May 2012. For some reason, I thought I wasn’t qualified to write a whole book, that I didn’t know what I was doing. Well, I didn’t, but that didn’t exactly stop me. I decided to write a romance, learned as much about the craft as I could, and got to work. The romance writing community is generous and replete with great resources, so it was easy to get the help I needed along the way. My first novel had been out on submission for nine days (which is NOTHING in publishing), and I thought that good news came by phone, while bad news came via email. My kids were out of school for Spring Break, and we were heading to a museum with a couple of their friends. My husband stopped for gas, and even though I knew a rejection would put me in a bad mood, I couldn’t resist checking my email. There instead was a short and sweet note from Jennifer Lawler of Crimson Romance saying that she’d love to publish Kiss Me, Katie. I’ve been happily writing for Crimson ever since!
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Monica: Like a lot of writers, I keep notebooks everywhere so I can make notes whenever I need to. I’m most likely to come up with an idea, whether it’s something new or the fix to a plot problem, while I’m falling asleep or driving. There are spiral notebooks in my car, all over my house, at my bedside, and in my bathroom drawer.
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Monica: I only feel like I know how to write romance, even though I read widely in other genres. Although I really enjoy historical fiction, I wouldn’t write one. The thought of all that time period research on top of coming up with a great story makes me want to take a long nap. I have been thinking about writing a cozy mystery lately, though. I think it would be a fun change of pace, and the characters are generally the kind I find myself writing.
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
Monica: Hannah Simone (from New Girl) and Bradley Cooper! I create a Pinterest board for every book I write, and one of the things I enjoy the most is finding the perfect celebrities to inspire my hero and heroine.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book? Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
Monica: My first book sale was amazing, and such a testament to the beauty of friendship. I have a close-knit group of friends who make everything in life so much better. About a month before my first book, Kiss Me, Katie, came out, my family was invited to a game night. This is not at all unusual, so I was blown away when “game night” turned out to be a surprise party celebrating my debut novel. Over 50 people came together to enjoy delicious food, gorgeous themed decorations, a candy bar, and a cake with the cover of my book. They even had napkins printed with the book title and release date, and the whole thing was magical. Guests brought books by the bagful to donate to a local literacy organization, topping the whole thing off perfectly. It was a night I’ll never forget, and such a fun way to celebrate the book’s release.
Of course, I haven’t had another surprise book party, but I’m starting to think I should at least do a little something. I really don’t do anything to celebrate contracts or releases. I always imagined that if I made a huge sale with a nice big advance, I’d take those friends out for a fun night on me.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Monica: I have an idea for a new series! I’ve sketched out the first book and am populating the fictional world, but nothing is set in stone yet. I’m both excited and a little nervous about going forward, as I’ve really only done single titles or loosely connected books on my own. I hope readers will enjoy the quirky artistic community I’ve got in mind as the backdrop for this new series.