And here’s the rest of the story–Part 2 of our interview with Theresa Ragan (T.R. Ragan), author of the Lizzy Gardner series and more.
Dana Taylor: I love these tales of people who are “overnight successes”! Theresa, there are a lot of Indie authors uploading a lot of manuscripts, but few are having your level of success. What would you say is making your stories stand out? Also—why did the agents and editors miss a 6 time Golden Heart finalist?
TR: It is strange…writing for nearly two decades and feeling like an overnight success. Why did agents and editors miss a 6 time Golden Heart finalist? Good question! Ha! Long ago, I had heard that once an author finalled in the Golden Heart, the chances of selling were better than ever. Six finals in the GH and still nothing. I had signed with two agents, but ultimately both agents had a favorite book that they tried to sell, which meant that two or three of my books were submitted to about 20 or 30 editors. That meant that 20 or 30 people had decided my future writing career. If I were to give advice to an author looking for an agent, I would say don’t sign with an agent unless he/she loves ALL of your work, or at least most of it.
Looking back, I blame myself since I don’t think I was pro-active enough. Instead of leaving it up to my agent to make a sale, I should have found a way to make sure ALL of my books were being submitted around NY. Regarding your first question about why my books are standing out…when I wasn’t selling I would sometimes ask “why me?” And now that I am selling, I sometimes ask “why me?” I really have no idea why my books are selling well, but if I had to guess, I would say that it really is about luck and timing. Thrillers are hot right now. I hit the right genre at the right time. And maybe, just maybe, I finalled in the Golden Heart six times for a reason. I always believed that finalling in the Golden Heart meant that my stories had a certain “appeal.”
DT: Seeing how capricious “success” seems to be in the book business, it does feel like there are perhaps Greek Gods simply playing with authors as their little pawns. At any rate, I think your increasingly popularity has to be a sign that READERS LIKE YOUR BOOKS! They read one and continue on with the series.
Will you give us a mini-tour through your books and some of your favorite characters?
TR: As I mentioned earlier, when I sat down to write my first book years ago, it was a medieval time travel romance. My plan was to write medieval time travels forever! I worked so long and so hard on Return of the Rose that I practically have the book memorized. I love every character and I think this book will always be my favorite. I especially adore the hero, Derek Vanguard, Lord of Braddock Hall. He is misunderstood. He’s one hundred percent alpha male, gruff around the edges, but most importantly, he’s a genuinely nice guy.
A Knight in Central Park is the second book and the second medieval time travel I wrote. The hero, Joe, is based on a thought I had one day when I wondered what my husband, Joe, would do if he found himself miraculously transported to another time–a time without toothpaste, hot showers and soap. My husband would not handle it well and neither does the hero in my book.
I wrote Taming Mad Max and Having My Baby (coming soon) out of desperation to sell to NY since time travels weren’t selling, or at least that’s what I was told. I love reading and writing romantic comedies and I plan to write many more.
The next book I wrote was Finding Kate Huntley, a romantic suspense. I really like Kate, the heroine. She’s feisty and she doesn’t take any crap from anyone. After my agent shopped it around and the book didn’t sell, I read about Lisa Gardner’s transition from writing romance to thrillers. I was fascinated by her two-year journey. I spent the next few months dissecting popular thrillers. I read every article Lisa Gardner wrote on plotting thrillers. By this time, I was a tiny bit annoyed about not selling and I decided that I was going to write a thriller and kill off my characters along with my frustrations. It was working, too, but then I began to research real-life serial killers and I started having nightmares. I couldn’t cook dinner without visualizing all of the horrible things that my killer could do with the knives in the drawer.
Abducted was the first book I had ever written that I couldn’t wait to read the minute I wrote The End. I feel connected to every character in my Lizzy Gardner series. They are all resilient characters who have lived through horrible events, but who are also determined to not allow their demons to get the best of them.
Okay, that’s the end of my “mini” tour, Dana. Aren’t you glad you didn’t ask for the full blown tour? As you can see, I tend to ramble on and on. I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to talk with you. If anyone has any questions at all, ask away!
DT: Theresa signed a contract with Thomas & Mercer at Amazon at the end of March for her Lizzy Gardner series. All of her books are enjoying steady sales. You can visit Theresa at her website http://www.theresaragan.com/. Be sure and ask a question or make a comment here to be eligible for a FREE copy of one of her books.
Coming soon to BLB–Marsha Canham and Anne R. Allen. As always, we remind you to support your favorite authors by writing customer reviews.