Site Meter Vamps and Scamps: Interview with Sunny~ Part One!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Interview with Sunny~ Part One!

I'm going to break Sunny's interview up into two parts, one today, and the rest will be posted next week. Sunny has offered two signed copies of The Hard Stuff anthology as a prize. I'll select a winner from each day.
How do you win?
Comment. Question. I'll draw the winners. HOWEVER, you have to check back on the blog to see if you win. I'll draw a winner and if you don't email me back within three days of me posting the winner's name, you forfeit your prize. SO CHECK BACK.
:o) I'ved read by Mona Lisa Awakening and her novella in The Hard Stuff both are excellent.
And on to the interview....
What does your writing space look like?

Well, that’s a hard question because we just moved, and my new writing space hasn’t been set up yet. I’m in limbo waiting for my desk and new computer to arrive. When they finally do, I can settle into this little 8X12’ sitting room just off the master bedroom. It has a tiny, high, side window, but is very quiet, very private. In our old house, I wrote in our bedroom, my desk facing out two large windows into our backyard.

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for a story that immediately has to be written?
In my early writing days, yes. I’d wake up with my characters “talking” and I’d get up and work for a couple of hours. But then I’d be too tired to do any writing the next day. I’ve found that the most productive lifestyle is a boring and stable, consistent one. Good solid sleep the most essential, getting up around 10am, then writing while fresh for the next 4 hours, until around 2 pm. 1,500 – 2,500 words a day. Then it’s time to play chauffer for my kids, driving them to and from their after-school classes.

Tell us where the idea for the Mona Lisa books came from.

Where most of my ideas come from. My husband. He grew up in China, and he’s always telling me these fascinating stories from our Chinese culture. Like the one about the Moon Festival, which just passed, on October 6th. To celebrate this holiday, the people in China make these round moon cakes and eat them to give thanks for the autumn harvest, and to honor the Moon Goddess, a deity that they believe resides in Paradisal Heaven. When humans sleep, she flows down to Earth and binds two lover’s hearts together with a silk sash. When they awake, the bound hearts will find each other. Something about the moon seems to fascinate Asian people, myself no exception. This gave birth to the concept of “Children of the Moon,” supernatural creatures that are the truth of what the legends of werewolves and vampires are based upon. Beautiful abused warriors suffering under the rule of cruel Queens, with kidnapping rogues, a dark and danger Demon Prince, and Mona Lisa, a young human Mixed Blood Queen discovering who and what she is. Discovering love…more than one…for the very first time.
I know you didn't start writing until recently. Had you always thought about doing it? What made you start when you did?
Becoming an author, especially the hot and spicy kind, is a total, unexpected, surprise. Chinese parents don’t encourage their children to become writers. They encourage them to become doctors. So I grew up and became a family practice physician.
had tried writing a short romance in college, twenty years ago, as part of English 101 homework…and had failed miserably. Then after my husband sold his memoir eight years ago, I tried writing about my own childhood. The writers’ group I read it at ripped it apart. Critiqued it harshly enough that I did not write again for the next seven years. So, I’d tried twice and failed both times. I told myself I was a reader, not a writer, and devoted myself to doing what I seemed to do best…developing other people’s talent. I edited my husband’s books, and watched my kids flourish, getting small acting roles on Sesame Street, Saturday Night Live, and a Fuji commercial.

Then, one day when my son was six, he was listing everyone’s talents. When he came to me, he had to pause and think for a long time. He finally said, “Mommy drives really well.” It was a wake-up call for me. I realized at that moment that my kids didn’t really appreciate me. And they wouldn’t respect me unless I developed my own talents, instead of focusing solely on theirs. I set out to see, once again, if I had any. Talent, that is. In particular, writing talent. Nothing short of that kick in the pants would have motivated me to try writing again.
But this time around, I’d learned some important things. My husband had dragged me to Robert McGee’s 3-day screenwriting seminar in Manhattan, on “The Art of the Story.” Before, when I tried to write, it had been with vague ideas, and even vaguer\n characters, in mind. The writing seminar, my first, taught me to define my characters, define my world, to do my homework and write down a composition book full of physical details, character strengths and flaws. Even go so far as to create a back story for each of them, so that you knew who they were by where they came from, what they’d gone through. Then box this group of people into tight situations and let them creatively wriggle out of them. And go from turning point to turning point, or rather, situation to situation until you reach the end of the book.
When I did this, defined my characters in minute details and exact specificity, and did the same with their world—defined their specific powers, their set rules—and boxed them into nasty, tight situations…well, suddenly, the stories just came easily, because I knew them so well, I knew how each would react. And when I hit the love scenes…the words just would not stop pouring. I was like stopped-up syrup that suddenly became unplugged. Things…words…emotions…just kept gushing out. And I went from writing a romance…what I’d originally intended…to suddenly finding myself writing erotic romance. Oops.

And that's it for this week. You can read the rest next week. If you want to read more about Sunny and her books, check out her website.
the cover pic above was found at Sunny's website.


kim said...

sounds good. please enter me thanks

Amy S. said...

Great interview! How do you choose your character's names?

What is your favorite thing about writing?

Do you listen to music or have the tv on while writing?

Karen W. said...

Hi, Sunny! Very interesting interview. I love hearing from writers about where they get their inspiration, their writing process, etc. I look forward to part 2 of the interview. :-)

Maureen said...

Hi Sunny,

It's interesting that you only use the one name. Is there a particular reason?

Jodi said...

I can't wait for Part 2.

Who is your greatest inspiration?

Cathy said...

Read the amazing reviews for Mona Lisa at your website. I read your novel in The Hard Stuff, but not your latest release. Looking forward to rreading more about you.

Sunny said...

Kim and Karen, thanks for dropping by!

Amy, I try and think up unusual names for my characters. In this case, they usually have something to do with their talent or physical traits. Like Gryphon, whose other form is a gyrfalcon. Amber for the color of this beast's eyes. And Chami, short for Chameleo, a chameleon with the ability to blend into his surroundings and become invisible.

Sunny said...

Oops, forgot your other questions, Amy. My favorite thing about writing is just being able to. To find myself able to tell stories...readible, publishable almost unbelievable. Never thought I could. And no music or tv. Just me, my computer, and my characters as they draw me into their world.

Sunny said...

Hi Maureen. Sunny Chen is my doctor self, my mommy-wife self. My old, shy, nerdy self. Sunny is the new romance writer me. Bolder, braver, with a bit more style, I hope :)

Deborah Chan said...

Sounds like a great book.


Wonderful interview.

Sunny said...

Hi Jodi. My greatest inspiration is Laurell K. Hamilton, Anne Bishop, and my husband, Da Chen. The attitude and flavor of my writing is like the amazing Laurell K., but my love scenes, my action scenes, the 2 very much are alike...well, I really learned how to write those from editing my husband's books, especially his young adult kungfu fantasy, Wandering Warrior. Those who've him will see a definite touch of Da sprinkled throughout my writing.

Shuck Ying said...

Wow, I learn something new everyday. Interesting info.

Sunny said...

Cathy, a gal who've read THE HARD STUFF. A pleasure to meet you here!

Hi Deborah and Lisa!

Sunny said...

Thank you, Shuck Ying.

jennybrat said...

Hi Sunny, do you still work as a doctor? Have any of your patients read your books?

Ann M. said...

Great interview. Can't wait to read the rest of it. Was a bookseller's luncheon and heard great things about your latest.

Erin the Innocent said...

Hi Sunny! I just received Mona Lisa Awakening in the mail this week *s* I can't wait to read it! I just need a good chunk of uninterrupted time for it *s* I hate getting interrupted while reading a good story.

Lori said...

Hi Sunny. What a great interview...I can't wait to read the rest of it!! Mona Lisa Awakening has an awesome cover and I have it on my TBB list. Now, if only my stupid car had not broken down...which will put a serious damper on my book purchasing for awhile. But it is definitely getting on my next to be bought list!
Looking forward to reading more of the interview.

Stacy~ said...

I loved "Chinatown" in Hard Stuff. The heroine was so amazingly strong. And I'm fascinated by your culture and the stories you've shared here, Sunny.

Any historicals in the wings?

Dannyfiredragon said...

Great interview!

Good luck everyone for the drawing.

I was lucky to meet Sunny at the RT at Daytona and got a signed copy there

alissa said...

I enjoyed the great interview. I am enthralled that you are a successful novelist. But do you miss being a physician. That took many years of hard work and determination.

joelle said...

You are extremely smart and talented. that is evident. You creativity will take you far in the future. Good luck. I enjoyed this interesting and fascinating interview.

ellie said...

Good luck with your future writing endeavors. This interview has been very interesting and I will check in to the next one.

Anonymous said...

Great interview! It is very interesting on how different authors have different ways to go about their writing.

I had wondered where the legends that you started with.

Diane M.

Pamk said...

wow went to her site and darn it now I've added more books to my tbb list. Her books sounds fabulous.

Cathy said...

I love LKH's worlds. The fact that she inspired you makes me want to read your stories even more.

Sunny said...

Jenny--No, I no longer practice medicine. Am a full-time mom, now, and a part-time writer :)

No former patients of mine have read my books. Probably because most do not realize that "Sunny" is Dr. Chen. My author photo looks vastly different from my plain, practical, bespectacled doctor self.

Sunny said...

Ann--You must be a local tri-state gal. Am assuming you are referring to the New Jersey Romance Writers' recent Bookseller's Luncheon tagged on to the end of their annual conference. I'm a long distance member of that chapter, and feeling all warm and cozy about them since just winning their Laurel Leaf Award for best novella. Thanks for letting me know good things are being said about Mona Lisa Awakening.

Erin--I'm like you. I like to cozy up and read my books all in one juicy sitting. Thanks for getting Mona Lisa Awakening, and hope you enjoy her adventures.

Sunny said...

Lori--Thank you, darling. I love the cover, too. All of them, including the one for OVER THE MOON, an antho I'm in with Angela Knight, MaryJanice Davison, and Virginia Kantra. All bestsellers but me. I know, I know. What am I doing with these superstars. Scratching my head over that one, too, but mucho grateful.

Stacy--Oh, kisses! Another gal who read my "Chinatown" novella in THE HARD STUFF. My hubby suggested writing a story about a Chinese heroine involved in illegal immigrant smuggling. I resisted it at first, but then the first love scene for it popped into my head, and I just had to write it then. Grateful I followed hubby's suggestion. That little novella was what got me first sold, and into this amazing writing career. No historicals, LOL. Am having too much fun with Mona Lisa. And spinning off a 2nd series with a character I introduced in the upcoming January OVER THE MOON antho, in my "Mona Lisa Three" novella--Lucinda, demon princess & Prince Halcyon's sister. Talk about gorgeous covers. Should be out next fall.

Danny--Good "seeing" you here again. And hope to see you at RT again next year.

Alissa--Congrats, girl, on winning the free book! Nope, don't miss being a physician. Am thrilled, delighted, shocked to discover a writing talent in myself at this late age of 40. A bit of a late bloomer, but hopefully longer lasting :)

Sunny said...

Joelle--You're making me blush with all the comliments.

Ellie--Thanks for dropping in and participating. You all have asked wonderful questions that I've had fun answering.

Diane--LOL, I'd always wondered how authors went about their writing and how they got their ideas, too. I'm glad I finally stumbled upon a way that works for me.

Sunny said...

Pam--What a sweetie! You made my night, adding me to your tbb list.

Cathy--You guys are so nice. Laurell K. truly is the high goddess of paranormal. I absolutely love her writing.