Spotlight On...

Molly Cannon

by Gina Lee Nelson

This month we focus our Spotlight on the delightful Molly Cannon. Molly joined NT many moons ago, and though her writing journey took a bit of a detour, she recently made it to publication with a coveted three book deal with Grand Central.

Molly lives a charmed life in Texas with her husband, Mr. Wonderful and her extremely large cat Nelson. When she's not writing, she spends her days reading, taking dance classes with MW, and watching every kind of sporting event imaginable. Molly has three grown children, all married to terrific people and two wonderful grandchildren. Life is good!

Howdy, Molly. Let’s get started with my favorite question. What was the first story you wrote?

I remember writing some poetry in the seventh grade. Something about the night being pregnant with thought. It was embarrassing when it was published in the school literary magazine.

What about your favorite books and authors?

Golly, golly, golly. Why don’t you ask me to name my favorite child? Because I do have one of those. Not really. I love books in so many genres, but I’ll stick to romance. Older romance, Hummingbird by Lavyrle Spencer and The Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale; newer romance, The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins and Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. Because they all capture the feeling of falling in love. The angst, the sweetness, the possibilities. They transport me to another place and time.

Any other favorite authors?

The ones mentioned above plus Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Dennis Lehane (Patrick Kinzie & Angela Gennaro), Earl Emerson (Thomas Black and Kathy Birchfield ). I threw in a couple of mystery writers, too. These authors never fail to grab me by the heart and take me on a thrilling ride.

You rejoined NT around 1984, and then you rejoined around 2005. Why the long break?

Life, lack of ambition, kids. I originally wrote with a partner but we stopped when our children got older and became involved in every activity under the sun. Those were great years and I wouldn’t trade a minute of them. Once they were grown and busy with families of their own. I had time to think about what I wanted to do. Writing was the answer. I’ve always felt there is a time for everything, so I have no regrets.

We had some famous writers at NT during your first few years. How did these authors influence you?

Yes, Sandra Brown was a member. Judith McNaught would drive up occasionally from Houston. Her book Whitney, My Love had been published and it made a big stir. Amanda Moorjay--otherwise known as Laura Kinsale--would come with her! Carole Nelson Douglas was also a member. I know I’m forgetting some others. But it was inspiring to see their success. Laura Kinsale became one of my favorite authors of all time. My, what a wonderful writer.

During those years away from NT, did you continue to write for your own enjoyment?

Not until I stated writing fan fiction. I wanted to fix the romance on screen that wasn’t progressing the way I thought it should.

I know for many years you've been involved in JAG fan fiction. How did your fan girl side compliment/add/or detract from your need to write?

It is one of the reasons I started writing again. I started watching the show when my Dad was in the hospital with cancer. He loved the show. After he died I watched it to feel close to him. Then I got hooked on the romance. Ah – Harm and Mac. Even then it was all about romance for me. Writing fan fiction reawakened my love of writing. As a bonus I still have wonderful lifelong friends from those days even though the show is long gone.

Tell us how you made your first sale.

One of my critique partners sent it to her agent. Her agent agreed to read it but was about to leave town for a conference and wouldn't be able to get to it until after she returned. But I got an email that night saying she'd taken a peek and hadn't put it down, even neglecting to cook dinner for her children. I was thrilled when she offered representation.

She shopped the book around and we got a few nibbles but nothing concrete. I was about to start working on a cozy mystery series when Kensington made an offer. We were happy because the editor seemed excited about it, but it was still at two other houses. St. Martins and Grand Central, so she let them know we had an offer. They both made offers as well, and then Grand Central came back asking what it would take to take it off the table. We came to an agreement and that was it!

As for revisions, my editor didn't make many changes. She had me add a few scenes and I had to change my cat into a dog. I thought her suggestions made it a better book.

You've worked with a number of critique partners through the years? Do you still find the need for CPs now you're published?

Not as much for the WIP. My editor serves that role now, and she will have advice and suggestions. But it is invaluable to have fellow writers I can turn to at any time to make decisions as things arise. I can’t do without that network of friends.

What role does your agent play in your career? Mentor? Editor? Business consultant? Advocate?

All of the above when I need her. Her experience in the business has been a big benefit, and she is such an easy person to talk to when I need an ear. She’s wonderful.

What would you say to those members who aren't walking the straight route to a publishing career due to personal, family, or work issues?

Facing detours can be frustrating as all get out, but I would say it is never too late to write if that’s what you love to do. The good news these days is that there are so many pathways available to publishing. All in all, it’s a great time to be a writer.

Thanks, Molly, for sharing your writing journey with us.

NT Members let’s show Molly our appreciation and support by buying her books and visiting her online. Here’s where to find her:

AIN'T MISBEHAVING available at Amazon, B & N, Books a Million

CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE available for preorder now, released June 25, 2014 at the same booksellers

 

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