ROBIN T. POPP
WG: Welcome Robin. Thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.
RP: I was born and raised in Texas. While I spent most of my life here, for fourteen years I lived in Buffalo, NY; Wooster, OH; and Columbia, MO. I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, a Masters in Healthcare Administration and a Masters in Business Administration. I’ve spent over twenty-five years working on the business side of the health care industry, mostly in the finance arena. I was recently recruited to work in the Contracts department, ironically because of my book writing experience.
I am married with three children: one in college, one a junior in high school and one in eighth grade. Between school, sports and community involvements, everyone in my household stays active. Also living in the Popp household are two chocolate labs, two aquatic frogs (each about the size of a baseball) and a rabbit.
WG: Let’s talk about your own personal road
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.
RP: I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I picked up my first Nancy Drew book. (Well, actually, at first, I wanted to be a detective.) I set the dream aside when I went to college in order to pursue more “realistic” goals. In 1997, a chance encounter with a former coworker led me to the Romance Writers of America. I had no idea such an organization existed and immediately joined the West Houston Chapter. I can honestly say that without the guidance, support and friendship of the WHRWA members, I would not be published.
WG: Tell us about your journey.
RP: Late in 1997 is when I started writing seriously and I began by working on a joint effort with another author. In 1999, I decided I worked better alone and started a futuristic novel. In 2000, I met with a literary agent who told me I couldn’t break into the publishing world with a futuristic, so I put that (still unfinished) manuscript away and focused my efforts on writing a romantic suspense. The story was about terrorists attacking the United States and following the 9/11 attack in 2001, I no longer wanted to work on it, so I pulled out my futuristic once more. In February of 2002, the full was requested from an editor who judged it in a contest. I spent the next several months trying to finish what I hadn’t been able to finish in three years. This time, though, I had a request to motivate me and on October 31, I was able to mail the finished manuscript to New York City. Six days later, I got The Call. Dorchester wanted to buy TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN. It was released in July, 2003.
WG: How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?
RP: TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN was the first and only book I had completed at the time. When I sold it, I had nothing else completed or even in process.
WG: What changed most about your life as a direct result of joining the ranks of published authors?
RP: What changed most was my self-esteem and how others viewed my writing. Getting published was a great validation for all the time, effort and money I spent over the years trying to get published. I became much more confident about why I was writing and no longer felt the sacrifices I was making were for nothing.
WG: What about your writing process: Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
RP: Since I still work a fulltime day job and have two kids at home, I have to work the writing in around work and family. My typical day starts at 4:00 AM when I wake up, get dressed and go to the office. There I try to write for two hours before the work day starts. Then, during lunch, I either write or plot. I don’t get much time in the evenings to write, so I have to make the most of my weekends, fitting the writing in around errands and family functions. So far, I’ve been able to finish each book in four to six months, but it’s not easy and I don’t recommend it.
WG: Do you have a ‘mood setter’, something you use to get you going when you sit down to write?
RP: I typically listen to music when I write. The type of music I listen to really varies, but I have a tendency to find a soundtrack or a group of songs I like and stick to those while writing the first draft of a book. Currently, I’m working on the second book in Dorchester’s IMMORTAL series and listening to the soundtrack for the movie SAHARA.
I also write the first draft on a pocket pc, rather than on my laptop. This helps keep my internal editor turned off and allows me to write faster.
WG: Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?
RP: I’m a hardcore plotter and I don’t even start a story until I’ve worked out most of the plot. My latest method of plotting involves butcher paper tacked to a wall with columns and rows of sticky notes running down and across. When I’ve finished plotting, I have a column of sticky notes for each chapter of the book and each sticky note contains the action points, plot twists, some dialogue and ending hooks for that chapter. Then I pull down one column at a time and work on that chapter, referencing the notes I’ve made. This helps me know exactly what I need to write because I only have two hours in the early AM to write between 10 and 15 pages and even with coffee, I’m dog tired and need to know exactly where I’m going with a chapter.
WG: Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?
RP: It depends on what I’m writing, but typically it’s a combination of the two.
WG: Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories?
RP: Yes. I like strong, arrogant male heroes and smart-ass heroines.
WG: Has anything about the way you work changed since you became a published author?
RP: LOL. I write a LOT faster than I used to.
WG: Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? As a reader?
RP: Both as a writer and a reader, I love all things paranormal. As a reader, I also like historicals (though typically not westerns) and romantic suspense.
WG: Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?
RP: Yes – I’d like to write a romantic suspense series someday.
WG: Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?
RP: Learn your craft (but don’t mistake reading a “how-to” book with writing a novel), never think your writing or your story is too good to be improved upon (pride goeth before the fall) and remember that while you may be pouring your heart and soul into your story, ultimately this is a business and you’re offering editors and readers a product to buy – strive to make it worth the purchase.
WG: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What do you struggle the most with?
RP: I enjoy seeing the finished product with a great cover, nicely bound, typeset pages and my name on the front, but nothing beats the high of someone telling me how much they liked my story.
I struggle the most with writing the first draft – I find it extremely painful. I’d much rather work on revisions.
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.
“Never give up; Never surrender.” ~Commander Peter Quincy Taggart, Galaxy Quest.
“Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die.” ~Unknown.
“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.” ~William Feather
WG: Please tell us about your current project.
RP: Currently, I’m working on IMMORTALS: The Darkening. This is the second book in Dorchester’s IMMORTAL series. The other two authors involved in this project are Jennifer Ashley and Joy Nash. It’s a four book fantasy adventure series following four Immortal Warriors who are brothers and have to stop their rogue fifth brother and a powerful Demon from destroying the world. It’s filled with witches, demons, vampires, werewolves, lots of action, adventure and sizzling hot sex. The series is scheduled to release in May, June, August and September of 2007.
I’ve also just finished the third and fourth books in my NIGHT SLAYER series: TEMPTED IN THE NIGHT, due out in January, 2007 and LORD OF THE NIGHT, due out in October, 2007. In TEMPTED IN THE NIGHT, a serial killer is turned into a vampire and homicide detective John Boehler must track him down before he kills Jessica Winslow, who’s too busy tracking down chupacabras to realize her life is in danger.
LORD OF THE NIGHT takes us to England, where we are introduced to the British branch of Admiral Winslow’s family, which includes his four hundred year old vampire uncle, Erik Winslow and his cousin’s adopted daughter Kacie. Erik has been keeping the peace between the humans and vampires for centuries, by virtue of a secret pact. When the pact is broken and one of the vampires is killed, Erik is willing to hunt down the killer and bring him to justice – until he learns that the killer is none other than Kacie Winslow.
WG: Tell us about plans for future books.
RP: I hope there will be future books, both in the NIGHT SLAYER series and maybe even stand-alone paranormal or romantic suspense novels. As of right now, though, I’m not contracted for anything beyond the three above.
WG: And before we close, tell us how your fans can get in touch with you.
RP: I have a website – www.robintpopp.com. From there, you can send me an email – and I love to hear from people and most of the time, I will reply, though it may not always be timely.