Inside the Artist’s Mind: interview series 1, Marie Tuhart

I have had the pleasure of getting to know some authors and artists in both my physical and virtual lives.

As someone with a lot of curiosity about such things, I’ve asked these artists about their processes. Today I’m going to start a new series and my first subject is Marie Tuhart, who writes erotic romance.

Marie, thank you for joining me and the readers of this blog today and sharing a bit about your process. I call you and the next author I plan to feature in this series “open spigot writers.”

Marie: Thanks for having me, Nia! Open spigot writer – I never thought of it that way.

Nia: Well, I have, because I’m more of the “Sit at the keyboard until beads of blood form on my forehead” type of writer! And over the years in conversations I’ve had with you I’ve marveled at how you can take a premise and spin out a story. In fact, readers, Marie helped me retool an old suspense story I had into a straight contemporary (with a touch of suspense) and that became my first published story, The Last Straw.

Marie: I used to be like that, Nia. It takes time to cultivate your writer’s mind.

Nia: That’s good news! Actually, I’m having a lot more spigot moments with my work in progress. So that is encouraging.

Marie: Because you know how to put a story together.

Nia: It’s starting to come together for me. My learning process is… somewhat… slow… but that’s okay. I usually eventually get there. But back to you. Do you have a process and if so, how did you develop your process?

Marie: In a way, it helped me not to have published until I was almost ready to retire because it gave me time to learn what really worked for me.

Nia: Where do you get your ideas?

Marie: Oh geeze, I have no clue where I get my ideas. Actually I do know how More Than One Night came about.

Nia: Do tell!

Marie: Basically, I was trying to write for Harlequin Desire and they wanted flirty fun with friends books.

So I thought about what if four girlfriends went out to celebrate a birthday and one of them went off with a handsome stranger for one night. The story just took off from there.

Nia: Wow. You’re kind of a “What if…” author. See, that’s super interesting because I’m not.

Marie: Sometimes. When something comes to me, it’s not always a “what if” question. Like with Theirs Forever, I just thought what fun it would be to have two guys and a gal come back together after seven years. The story came from that thought.  I really don’t think “what if”, my brain supplies it.

Nia: (Note: Theirs Forever is a work in progress. To learn more about Marie’s WIPs, click here.) So a thought comes out of the blue?

Marie: Yes, out of left and right fields, so to speak. Silver Screen Dom was sort of the same way. Michael is a secondary character in Movie Magic and I thought it would be fun to give him his own story. No plot, no what if.

Nia: When do the ideas come to you? While washing dishes, driving, showering?

Marie: Ideas come to me at all different times.

Nia: Do you have some examples?

Marie: Walking, sleeping, just sitting and people watching.  In the doctor’s office, waiting in line. Those are some examples.

Nia: With your work in progress, did you get the idea first, the heroine first or the first scene first?

Marie: Actually the hero was first, then I found a heroine that fit him. The first scene was kind of organic, the hero was supposed to be one way and the heroine the other, but she didn’t like that, so the hero and I let her have her way!

Nia: That’s really interesting. So the characters have free will, a little or a lot!

Marie: Oh yes, my characters act on their own a lot of times.  They tell me what they will and will not do, LOL!

Nia: Do you write up character sheets about them or are they just born and developed in your mind and on the manuscript page?

Marie: It depends.  Sometimes I do character sheets, but at least 75% of the time they’re just born and developed in my mind and in the book. This approach can create a lot of re-writing, but it’s more fun to let the characters reveal themselves.

Nia: Did that change? Like when you started you did more sheets and then you changed to repeat drafting and organic writing?

Marie: Yes, when I first started writing, I did a lot of character sheets, plotting, etc. Now it is more organic, as I learned what works for me as a writer. But the more complicated a book is the more I need to keep track of stuff.

Nia: Thank you, Marie! I have a lot of wonder about the magic behind the book, so thank you for sharing today!

Marie: You’re welcome! It’s hard sometimes to figure out what the creative process actually is. And it’s important to remember there’s no “right” way. Everybody is different. Discovering your own process is a large part of the work.

Nia: Thanks for your closing comment and for all your reassurance and encouragement. B

I’ve also interviewed New York Times Bestselling author Brenda Novak, and although the interview didn’t focus on process, the topic did come up. So if you’d like to check that out, it’s on my Book Reviews page or here’s a direct link: When Summer Comes, Brenda Novak.