Jen: Today we welcome Pamela L. Todd to Romancing the Book. Pamela, will you share a short bio with us?
Pamela: Armed with scraps of paper and a lot of tape, I sat down to create my first work of fiction aged six. Since then I have been honing my skill and have moved on to computers and have found them a lot less sticky. A voracious reader, I devour as many books a year as I can get my hands on and what my bank balance will allow. When I’m not falling head first into other worlds, I am creating my own.
My first book, Escaping Normal, a paranormal short story romance was published in 2011. Now You See Me, an erotic thriller was published in 2014 and the first in the Beautiful Sinners series, Secrets, Lies & Vegas was published in early 2015 with it’s follow up, Secrets, Lies & Imperfections following later that year. When You’re Gone, a historical romance, is scheduled for publication in December.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Pamela: When You’re Gone is a historical romance set in the 1940s. I have always been fascinated by that time period, and I love everything about it—the clothes, the music, the lifestyle and the old-fashioned gentleman. The idea came from more of a wondering than an actual idea—when WWII hit, what would it feel like to be left behind when the love of your life was gone?
When You’re Gone excerpt:
The music slowed to a more intimate number and a shiver crept up my spine as he placed his hand on my waist and drew me closer to his body. I lightly held his shoulder, feeling the strength even through his tux.
“Did you bring your ice skates?” he asked, taking one of my hands and holding it to his chest.
“Hell froze over, remember?”
I narrowed me eyes. “I’m only doing this because Sandy is a disgusting man who lets his hands wander.”
“I know. I can still enjoy the moment anyway.” He smiled and closed his eyes.
Good Lord, I could murder him. “Well, don’t.” I huffed. “You’re quite possibly the most annoying man I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting.”
“So you do remember we’ve met before?” he asked. “I couldn’t tell.”
That meant that he also remembered me. A flutter began in my belly and I wished I could reach inside and swat them away. I gave him my sickly sweet smile. “I tried my hardest to forget, but you were such a pest it seems you made a lasting impression.”
“I like that I’ve been on your mind.” His smile widened at the shock on my face. “What were you thinking about before?”
I hadn’t realized my deep thinking had been so obvious. “Nothing important. Nothing that would interest you.”
“Try me,” he said softly.
I sighed. How much to tell? I didn’t have the energy to get into my fight with Mom all over again. Nor did I want a perfect stranger to know what the relationship between us was like. “I was just thinking how I thought, for today at least, that my mother would leave me be. Instead, she just harassed me even more.”
“She does that a lot? Harass you?”
I laughed bitterly. “A lot? What an understatement.”
“What does she harass you about?”
“Marriage. My life choices. Me,” I said.
He was quiet for a few moments as though contemplating my words. “I think sometimes the people who should know us best actually know us least of all. You’ll find your people, I promise you.”
I couldn’t help it, a small smile made its way onto my lips and I felt warmed all the way to my toes. “Thanks.” I didn’t notice right away that we had stopped moving. The band announced they were taking a short break and the dance floor began to empty.
“No problem,” he said, returning my smile. “So, since I saved you from a fate worse than death dancing with Grabby Hands, do I get to know your name?”
I laughed only because he didn’t know just how right he was. “I suppose that isn’t too much to ask. You first.”
So he knew my name, and I knew his.
We were no longer strangers.
Just as he had at New Year’s, he kissed my hand and said, “Thank you for the dance.”
Jen: What age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Pamela: Believe it or not, I discovered writing when I was six years old. I asked my mum to help me make a book. Together we taped a few pieces of paper together and I disappeared into my bedroom to jot down my masterpiece. It was about a little girl who lived on a farm (which I did) and one morning she went into the barn (which we had) to find…a horse! This was when I knew I was a fiction writer—I hated horses.
I wrote all through my teen years. Pretty cringe-worthy attempts, but writing has always been inside of me just itching to get out. It was in 2009 that I started taking it seriously, and the first book I ever sat down and finished turned out to be When You’re Gone. Book after book fell out of me, but it wasn’t until 2011 that my first title, Escaping Normal, was picked up by Totally Bound. When You’re Gone will be my fifth release with them and I have never looked back.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Pamela: I used to have a very strict writing routine. As soon as my son entered preschool education, every morning between 8.50 and 11.20 was my writing time. Not very much, but those few hours every day proved priceless when it came to dedicating myself to writing. As he got older and entered proper school, my days off from work could be spent at my desk, getting lost in worlds of my own creation.
Now… not so much. I have a new baby who has decided sleep really isn’t for her. I’ve had to learn to work around her chaotic schedule and write when she will allow. Sometimes the tapping of my keyboard wakes her and I get three sentences written. Sometimes I’m lucky and she sleeps longer than twenty minutes and I can make some decent progress. The saying of ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ is readjusted for me to ‘write when the baby sleeps—whenever that may be!’
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Pamela: The notes app on my phone has proved to be the best invention ever. Seriously. It is full of random notes, plot ideas, character names, snippets of dialogue—you name it. If I got woken up in the middle of the night with an idea, I used to get up and write down in my notebook everything that I could remember. Now I tap it into my phone and I can get back to sleep much sooner!
Too many times I’ve thought of something only to forget it later, despite promising myself that I wouldn’t. Now because I virtually always have my phone with me, I can jot any and all ideas down that come to me.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Pamela: I have never had to do so much research as I did for When You’re Gone. The trouble with historical novels is the devil really is in the details. The smallest thing had to be checked and double-checked.
Because it is set during WWII, there were a lot of very serious facts that I had to research, especially for one of my main characters. Without saying too much, I read a lot of factual books to give me insight and details that were vital for creating a believable story.
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Pamela: I never considered if I had a favorite character or not before I read this question. But as soon as I did, Jo from Now You See Me popped into my head. Jo is complex character and I don’t so much identify with her so much as I’m just really, really protective of her.
Sounds a little weird, I know. But Jo was with me the longest of any character I have ever created. She popped into my head one and as quickly as she appeared she shrank into the corner and stayed there for a long time. It took years for me to discover her story, and as I did, she slowly emerged from the shadows. Jo’s story is incredibly important to me and it needed that time to develop for me to justice for her.
I also have a huge soft spot for my MC in Secrets, Lies & Imperfections, Seth. He’s a bit of a devil-may-care screw-up who doesn’t think very highly of himself, not that his cocky attitude would have you believing that right off the bat. But deep down he has a heart of gold and a smudge on his soul from years of doubt. He was a lot of fun to write, and I was surprised at the depth that he really had to him.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Pamela: Right now I am working on Book Three in my Beautiful Sinners series. Next year I am taking my first steps in the world of YA and I can’t wait for my debut title to be released! There are many other projects I’m eager to get started on, and 2016 is set to be a very busy year indeed.