Spotlight On...

D'Ann Burrow writing as Molly Kate Gray

by Dawn Alexander

First, share your good news!

I just signed a contract with Crimson Romance for an e-book that will likely be published at the end of the summer. I should have more details in the next few weeks.

How long have you been writing? When and how did you decide to become a writer?

This sounds like such a non-answer, but I really can't remember a time I wasn't writing. One of my most vivid school memories was winning a creative writing contest with a story about a haunted house where everyone who dared to enter...turned into a rubber band.

More recently, I was encouraged to become a writer by my husband. I'd taken to writing fan fiction as a way to save my sanity during the time I home schooled my kids. When returning to work as an elementary school teacher began looking less and less likely, Steve encouraged me to consider it a sign that maybe I was supposed to concentrate on my writing. He's been amazingly supportive in the process.

What do you write? Tell us about your working in progress.

I write a few different genres. My original love is YA paranormal. However, after talking with an editor at a national convention, I learned that breaking into the YA market is insanely difficult. The editor liked my work, though, and encouraged me to try to get published in a different genre so agents would be more open to representing me.

So...since I was already wanting to refine my ability to write romantic tension between my characters - turning to romance seemed a natural (and helpful) step. Small Town Secrets, the working title of the novel I just signed the contract for, is my first contemporary piece.

I also have two additional romantic suspense manuscripts in different stages of the writing process at the moment. I've discovered that romantic suspense is my favorite to write, and I'm about to begin a rewrite of my YA manuscript mixing more suspense in with the paranormal element.

Here They Lie is a cross between Nancy Drew and "Medium." Julia and her mother have relocated to a small town following the deaths of her brother and her father. Her mother thinks they need a new start, but Julia would have been far happier if they'd picked a house that didn't come with its own secrets attached. When the ghost of the former occupant begins to try to contact her, she discovers a web of lies and secrets that impact some of the most respected leaders of the town. Christian has grown up in the shadow of a perfect brother. He's worked hard to develop his bad boy image. When he meets Julia, sparks fly, and opposites most definitely attract.

What is your writing process like? Do you plot every word or just sit down and start pouring out words?

Hmm...I always have my last chapter written before I get started. I don't think I'd know if I "got there" without a destination in mind. I normally have a couple of middle chapters written as well - for the romantic suspense stories, I try to write my "big climax" scene before getting too far along in the story.

Other than that, I'm not a big planner. I'm very much a "by the seat of my pants" kind of writer. I have my destination in mind and I just write till I get there.

What made you get involved with NTRWA? What do you remember about your first meeting?

Oddly enough, I was sent by a friend of mine in Canada. I'm a member of SCBWI, and I've gone to one of their national conventions - that's where I met my Canadian friend. Since we both write YA (with more than a hint of romance), she recommended I get involved with my local RWA chapter. It sounded like a good idea. I'd been part of an online critique group that just hadn't worked out because we were all spread out between states (and continents). When my friend said she was really enjoying her local RWA group, I thought it would be fun to try.

I remember very little about my first meeting - other than where I was sitting, standing up and telling my "a friend from Canada sent me" story and siting next to Clover.

What has been the best part of being involved?

I'm not overly talkative. I tend to absorb more than I share, but I would never have been brave enough (or understood the ins and outs of the process of submitting) without coming and listening to what everyone has shared.

Also, while writing is great from a creative can be really isolating. It's nice to know that once a month I get to hang out with other people who are exactly where I am in the writing process (or they've been where I am).

What is something about yourself no one in NT knows (yet :) ) ?

Hmm...I'm not very talkative, but I've shared most of my better stories. I can tell you how I picked my pen name. I write my YA stuff under my real name (well, DK Burrow), so I wanted to distinguish my non-YA writing so a 12 year old wouldn't accidentally get ahold of something I never intended them to read, so I'm writing under the name of Molly Kate Gray.

Molly is my dog. She's the schnauzer on my Twitter feed. Kate is my daughter's middle name. Gray is a family name. It's the last name of my maternal great grandparents. The Grays helped found a town a few hours north of here. Several streets are named after family members - including "Gray Street." Since my stories revolve around small towns, the name seemed appropriate.

Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

I honestly have no idea. Small Town Secrets started while I was on a trip to Walt Disney World with my family. The story opens amid the chaos of families attempting to escape the "happiest place on earth" when a hurricane is bearing down on Orlando.

What is the best book you have read recently?

I read a lot of YA paranormal - not so much romance. I've recently read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and I really liked it because I totally didn't see the ending coming. My favorite YA series right now is The Body Finder series. I love how the author balanced the "best friends to lovers" storyline - very tasteful, and it felt very real. Also, the paranormal element of those books is totally amazingly well written - when an author can describe colors and sounds...that's impressive.

Where do you see your writing journey five years from now?

I honestly don't know. I hope Here They Lie has been completed by then. It's an awesome story, and I want to share it. I do think, though, the side trip I've made into romance writing will only benefit the overall story.

If you could take a peek into anyone in the world's diary, whose would you read and what would you want to know?

Honestly, I have no idea on that one.

What is your first reaction when someone says, "Oh, I would love to write a book." ?

I wonder if they're feeling okay. I adore writing, and I can't complain about the road I've chosen...but I know how very isolating it can be. I've had several people talk with me about the idea of writing a book, and I always recommend finding a group like this chapter to link up with.

Do you have a website, blog, twitter, facebook?

Website - I'm normally a pretty computer-savvy person, but I'm not pleased at all with my website at the moment. Primarily, the blog's there as a space holder while I keep researching someone to design a site for me.

Twitter - @MollyKGray

Facebook - I have my personal one, but I haven't created my "author" page yet.


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