General Questions About Daisy
QUESTION: Why did you become an author? When did you start writing? Is this something you always wanted to do?
QUESTION: Did you really grow up in a dysfunctional, abusive family...or were you just trying to be funny?
QUESTION: Are you married? Do you have any kids? Do you all get along?
The blushing bride was just 19 and the groom had just turned 20.
Here are Daisy and her real-life romance hero, Mr. Daisy (a/k/a Mike), then and now.
QUESTION: So how old are you, anyway?
I've never been very good with numbers. As you can see above, I was 19 when I got married and we've been married for more than 40 years. This is understandably difficult for me to comprehend since I'm only 39. I'll be 39 again in November. (If you're really good with math...please don't burst my bubble.)
QUESTION: Where do you live?
We moved from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest in January of 1999 to escape the Midwest's bone-chilling cold, ice and snow (I've done more than my share of 360s while driving on ice!). While we still love Chicago and always will, we thoroughly enjoy the lush green surroundings and mild temps out here.
QUESTION: What's your basic philosophy in life? Do you have any advice about how to be a happy, satisfied, successful earthling?
About What, How and Why Daisy Writes
QUESTION: I've never read any of your books. What sort of stories do you write? Is your writing style similar to any other writers I might know?
I write mostly contemporary romance and women's fiction. If my stories can move readers to tears and also have them break out laughing, then I feel I've successfully created a good book. My romances are generally known for having an ample dose of humor (and, in some cases, screwball comedy); believable dialog; witty banter between characters; relatable average-woman heroines, and strong heroes with soft hearts; side characters interesting enough for their own stories; enjoyable sex scenes; character-driven, rather than plot-driven, stories; and, of course, happy endings.
According to readers and reviewers, my books are reminiscent of the writing styles of the following authors: Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie, Susan Mallery, Carly Phillips, Susan Andersen, Debbie Macomber, the late Olivia Goldsmith (First Wives Club), Jane Heller, and Jill Shalvis.
QUESTION: How did you come up with the idea for the Greek Delights series, featuring the Greek brothers and their stories?
I'm half Greek on my mother's side (Irish on my father's side). When I was a little girl my Greece-born grandparents (my yiayia and papou) would take me to various Greek events. (I only spoke a few words of Greek, which meant I just nodded a lot.)
I remember spotting Evan (whose last name I've long since forgotten) at an outdoor Greek festival one summer. At the tender age of 10, I was smitten. (And terribly shy.) Imagine my pre-pubescent delight when I discovered Evan and his parents lived in the same large apartment building as my grandparents! I was a nerdy kid and he was a true gentleman each time tongue-tied little me bumped into him. I'm sure he could tell I had a crush on him but he never teased me or did anything to make me feel awkward or silly. He treated me with kindness and respect. I only saw him a few times (he was an older teen then) but never forgot him. He used to have a workout area in his parents' apartment and I saw him lifting weights once. I was gobsmacked.
My mind whirled with romantic possibilities of this handsome, dark-haired boy with the dreamy Mediterranean accent. I always knew the day would come when I'd write a story about him. Clearly, he was worthy of an entire series. I hope readers enjoy it as much as I loved writing it!
QUESTION: You come up with some unusual ideas. Where do you get the ideas for your characters and stories, and your artwork?
I guess that's as good an answer as any. I get ideas from nowhere and everywhere. There are times when an idea for a story or characters pops into my head and I don't have a clue as to what prompted it. I've always been fascinated by people and became an avid people watcher as a kid. I also learned the value of keeping my mouth shut and my ears open, which made me a junior eavesdropper too. Watching and listening has never failed to spark my imagination, leaving me filled with wonder about how I can turn something or other into a story. I'll combine random kernels of interest that I've observed with other thoughts floating around inside my brain, pepper it all with ample "what ifs" and, voila, a story in the making. I also get lots of ideas from my vivid, detailed dreams. I often get ideas at inopportune times so I'll jot them down and add them to a long document I created full of story titles, plotlines and ideas for characters so I can refer to them in the future.
QUESTION: How important is it for your novels to have a happy ending?
It's of utmost importance to me. If you want sad endings, pick up a newspaper or go online and read the news. The world is full of angst, pain, heartache, hardship, war, poverty and strife. I've made it my mission to provide a brief respite from all that in my happily-ever-after books. Hearing about sad or perhaps hopeless-sounding situations, my mind kicks into gear, intent on devising a story containing similar elements, but with a happy ending. I yearn for my books to provide readers with a good dose of smiles and laughter. I want them to feel an emotional connection with my characters. I want readers to feel happy, satisfied and hopeful after reading my work. If a reader is experiencing bad times, then the greatest gift I can receive is hearing that my stories have made a positive difference in their lives--even if that difference is an albeit brief escapism from their troubles.
QUESTION: Why is so much of your writing and artwork humorous instead of being more meaningful and serious?
I don't read books that are downers and I don't like to watch TV shows or movies that make me feel depressed when they're over. If I want that I'll pick up the newspaper or turn on the news. I'm all for the joys of escapism--that's what I do best as a writer. If my stories add an unexpected zing of laughter to a reader's day, perhaps brightening their spirits when they most need it, then I feel that I've contributed something positive to society in my own small way. The positive effects of laughter really are that important to me.
Laughter improves our sense of well-being. It gets us through the difficult times, distracting us from whatever is weighing heavy on our shoulders, whether it's illness, financial woes, marital problems, grief, etc. Can you just imagine the feeling of satisfaction I get when someone emails me to let me know my books made them laugh during a dark period in their life--a time when things were so bleak they'd nearly forgotten how to laugh? Wow...that's the ultimate reward!
QUESTION: About sex: Do your books have any sex scenes? Are your books erotic romances? Do you find it difficult to combine humor with sex in sex scenes?
My current books are contemporary romances, not erotic romances. They do have at least one sex scene and sometimes a few. I used to write erotic romance novels for Ellora's Cave and Samhain Publishing, but I have the rights back to all of those books now and am in the process of rewriting them as mainstream contemporary romances. After a decade of writing erotic stories, I started to feel burned out and was eager to return to my writing roots.
My erotic-romance-writing days aren't completely over, however. I have a chunky file full of the most delicious sex scenes that have been expunged from my new books and a few wonderfully wild and crazy ideas for how to use them in the future. Hmmm...I think I feel another pseudonym coming up in my future! LOL
No, I don't find it difficult to combine sex and humor. Sex is fun…and sometimes it's even funny. Real sex usually isn't like the slick, silky, oh-so-perfect scenes of passion we see in movies. It's a lot quirkier than that...and that's what I like to show.
I'm a great fan of classic romantic comedy movies, the ones with the unlikely screwball comedy plots pairing teams like Doris Day and Rock Hudson (or Doris and James Garner); Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn; Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; William Powell and Myrna Loy, and so on. We all know what was really going on with those bantering, love struck couples behind closed doors. My current books take you behind closed doors and into the hearts and minds of the hero and heroine as they celebrate their love.
QUESTION: How difficult was it to shift from being an erotic romance writer to writing traditional contemporary romance, romantic comedy, women's fiction and mainstream fiction?
Switching back to writing standard romance was super easy. A piece of cake. After all, I'd been writing contemporaries, mostly romantic comedy, for years before accepting my first publishing contract for erotic romance. Learning how to write one steamy hot sex scene after another was the hard part! :-o Only my husband, daughter and a few close friends knew I was writing erotic romance. Before being dragged to the darkside, I was probably considered the least likely woman to write sex (a/k/a smut) books. I still get teased unmercifully.
QUESTION: Do you ever use people you know in your books?
I suppose every character I write is not only part of me but also part of everyone else I've ever met. My characters often incorporate inflections, habits, physical characteristics, etc., of individuals I've observed, but each character I create is imaginary. I make certain never to use real names, unchanged events, or any identifying characteristics that would point to any one particular person. I think it's unwise to base characters on real people because...well, as a creative person I admit to having a few screws loose...
...but I'm not crazy enough to invite a lawsuit. LOL While family, friends or neighbors are sometimes convinced one of my characters is really them, I assure you that's never the case. It's so much more fun whipping up imaginary characters, watching them take on a life and characteristics all their own as the manuscript progresses.
QUESTION: I'm in my twenties, wear a size zero and hate that your heroines aren't young and supple with bony butts and sharp, prominent collarbones. Why do you insist on writing overweight, over the hill women?
I write the types of stories that I like to read. It can be difficult to find books about average-sized women who are thirty or older. I personally don't want to read about itsy-bitsy size zero-to-four young things between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five.
And the dress size thing?
While there's certainly nothing wrong with skinny women...
...there's also nothing wrong with women having some extra meat and padding on their bones. There are plenty of men out there who would rather clasp soft round curves than bony protrusions.
QUESTION: What about your heroes? Since you support average women of all shapes, sizes, beliefs, etc., then you must also feel the same about the males in your romance books, right? I mean, it would be terribly shallow if you only wrote about hot, sexy guys instead of the average Joe.
QUESTION: Some writers talk about their characters coming alive and taking control. That sounds crazy...really insane. Has it ever happened to you?
All the time. They wake me up, usually around 3 a.m., demanding to be heard, urging me to change something about their storyline or their actions in the last scene I wrote. They frequently take on a life of their own. I've grown used to it and actually love it when that happens because it tells me I've succeeded in truly connecting with that character. Is it crazy? Most likely. But there's not much about being a creative person that isn't just a wee bit batty.
QUESTION: Your stories are known for having great supporting characters and women who bond together as close friends. Why are fabulous friendships important in your books?
Writing a full cast of supporting characters was one thing I missed most while writing erotic romance (which needs to focus almost entirely on the love/sex interest). I believe most women would love to have close, loyal, truly supportive, encouraging friends. Women we can laugh and cry with; pig out on chocolate with; sob with together while watching chick flicks; or help us through the toughest times. Some women are fortunate to have one or more best friends in their lives, just like some women are fortunate to have found the right guy, their soul mate.
QUESTION: Do you write in any other genres?
Absolutely. I have the unique ability to write expertly in any number of different genres. Yes indeed, when it comes to writing, I'm not just a...
I have the rights back to all of my previously published romance novels. Right after I'm finished rewriting all of them I'm going to focus on finishing a couple exciting new book series. First there's my upcoming debut horror novel:
Is that not utterly fabulous? Check out the artsy noir feel of the black and white. Cool, huh? I mean, seriously...why hasn't any other writer thought of this plot before? I'll tell you why, it's because they lack my awesome imagination and extreme creativity. They're afraid to take chances, so they just play it safe. It's their loss. Wait until they hear about the bidding wars on my books as well as the TV and film rights.
Next on my writing agenda will me my first foray into science fiction. I have an alien creature in mind so chilling, so sinister, so shocking, it will have readers hiding under the covers as they read. Needless to say, this is also destined for the silver screen due to my pregnant imagination.
On the Subject of Writing and Getting Published
QUESTION: I'm an aspiring writer. What advice can you give me?
LEARN! Write the best story you can, then polish it until it positively shines. Fix those typos; cut out excess adverbs and adjectives; watch for overuse of words like "and, that, just, really, then" or other extraneous words. It's important to brush up on grammar. No, really. Don't make the foolish mistake of thinking readers won't care about your errors as long as it's a good story. Learn about proper use of punctuation and dialogue tags. Study proper usage of POV (point of view). Read your dialogue aloud to see if it sounds real or if it sounds phony or stilted. Proof your manuscript twice, spend adequate time self-editing, and then send your manuscript off to an editor or agent (make a good first impression by using proper English in your cover letter and synopsis), or consider becoming an indie writer and publish it on your own.
Many writers believe their manuscripts don't need any editing. None. They say, as long as a story is good, readers will be so mesmerized they'll overlook poor grammar, typos or other mistakes. Um...no. As careful a writer as I am, I'm not perfect. I know my manuscripts will still have some typos, perhaps continuity errors, maybe an overabundance of adverbs, adjectives or other unnecessary words. Possibly the story is in need of that elusive something that a good editor can help me discover. Self-editing is vital, but it's not possible for writers to catch every little mistake or inaccuracy on our own. When we proof something, our brains tend to see what we "think" should be there, rather than what is actually there.
A writer's best friend is her editor. I don't know what I'd do without mine. While I can create a good, solid story, her careful eye and dynamite instincts can help me bring it to a whole new level. So, please, don't listen to people who try to convince you not to use an editor. It's especially important if you plan to publish on your own. A good editor is money well spent.
If writing is your dream, you must believe in yourself and never give up! Worried you're too old to begin a writing career? You're not. Age is inconsequential. Talent and persistence that make the difference. Don't take rejection or (later) bad reviews personally. Be nice to the people you meet on the way up because you'll probably meet the same people on the way down again.
QUESTION: Does it bother you when your books get snarky one-star reviews that may include spoilers and lack any constructive criticism? Do you hate those reviewers?
QUESTION: No doubt you believe Heaven is somewhere where the streets are paved with chocolate (ed: yes, absolutely), but do you believe in Hell?
QUESTION: Yeah but my book is really special, everybody says so. If you were a nice person you'd help me promote it. So will you make an exception and click on my link, and share it all over, if I say pretty please?
QUESTION: I have some fabulous ideas. Will you write a book with me? We can split the income. Trust me, this is one big-bucks opportunity you don't want to pass up.
If you enjoyed these illustrations, be sure to check out Daisy's popular Super Earthling blog, which mainly details the humorous misadventures of a writer with delusions of grandeur (as they say, write what you know...).
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DAISY DEXTER DOBBS IS A BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF CONTEMPORARY WOMEN'S FICTION, ROMANCE NOVELS AND HUMOROUS ESSAYS