Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tricia Mills Interview

Today, in honor of Hearts, Flowers and Romance I am interviewing Tricia Mills, author of Winter Longing. 

GC:Winter Longing speaks to me in particular because my cousin died at eighteen and left his beloved girlfriend behind to grieve. Did the themes behind this novel originate from personal experience? If not, why did you feel compelled to write Winter Longing?

TM: I'm so sorry about your cousin, for you and his girlfriend. Very sad. This story did not originate from personal experience, though I had two classmates who died when I was a teenager. It was more of a "what if" sort of thing. I thought, what if you finally got up the nerve to tell someone how you felt about them only to have them ripped away from you? It seemed like the worst and deepest kind of pain. And when you're a teenager, feelings of all kinds are heightened, so it would be even worse to experience this kind of loss. 
Red-dress_Valentino.jpgGC: Winter has a very unique passion in the story, she has great aspirations for becoming a costume designer, how did that plot point come about? And can she design me a fabulous dress like the one Lindsay wears to the Snow Ball? (If you have a picture of the design and would be willing to share I’m sure my readers would love to see it!)

TM: I'm a little jealous of Winter's talent. I love the idea of costume design, but I have absolutely no talent for it. I have always been a big fan of movies and drool over the lavish costumes in historical pieces. I can see original designs in my head, but somewhere between my brain and my hand, they disappear. I didn't work from a specific image for Lindsay's dress for the Snow Ball, but I like this very simple, classy design-
As far as how this plot idea came about, I needed for Winter to have an aspiration that would necessitate her leaving Alaska to pursue it.
GC: What was it like writing about Alaska when you hadn’t ever been?

TM: I loved it. I read nonfiction books about Alaska, novels set there, recorded every program I could onto my TiVo about various aspects of Alaska, and picked the brain of a friend who had lived there for a time. I specifically set the book in the area where she'd lived so that she could check it for accuracy.
GC: Where did the name Winter come from? It is so beautiful, almost a character itself!

TM: Winter is actually the third name this character had. One I've already forgotten. Another was Marissa. Winter was a suggestion by my editor when we were in the revision phase, and it worked so well that I couldn't believe Winter had ever had another name.
GC: If Spencer hadn’t died in the plane crash, what would he have written in Winter’s costume design book?

TM: Oh, tough question. Probably something very supportive and Spencer-like, something like "Someday they'll write books about your designs. Shoot for your dreams. I'll support you all the way."
GC: You worked so hard to create three-dimensional back stories for all your characters, including snarky Patrice and sweet Caleb, do you have any plans to write a sequel, or a spin-off book to bring some of those sub-plots into their own light?

TM: That would be really fun to do, maybe even delving deeper into Patrice's story and redeeming her. Right now, however, that's not in the works.
GC: What’s next for you in 2011 as an author?

TM: I have a lot of writing to do in 2011. :) I also write romance for Harlequin American under my real name, Trish Milburn, and I'm working on a trilogy about three brothers in the Hill Country of Texas for American. My agent is shopping some other young adult novels to publishers. Some are more emotional contemporaries like Winter Longing and Heartbreak River. But others are paranormal, which I dearly love to write and read. So fingers crossed I'll have good news on those soon.
GC: And finally, since this is an event to celebrate Love, would you share your most romantic memory, or share a story that epitomizes ‘Love’ for you?

TM: I'm very lucky in that I have a wonderful husband. We met in college, and he's as sweet as he can be. He's a quiet type, but every once in awhile he surprises me with something. I remember several years ago, I went out to my car to go to work (I still worked full time as a magazine journalist then), and he had put a stuffed puppy holding a 3 Musketeers candy bar in the driver's seat of my car.

As for a story that epitomizes love, I truly believe they're all around us despite all the stories of divorce and broken relationships. A couple of days ago (I'm writing this in December), I read an article online that made me cry because it was both sad and incredibly beautiful and sweet. A young girl in North Carolina, age 16, was dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. She was afraid to tell her new boyfriend, afraid he'd leave her, but when he found out, he let her know that he would never leave her. They were too young to get married, but they were in love and had a friendship ceremony so that she would have the feeling of what a wedding might be like. Ten days later, he held her hand as she passed away. Those two teens could teach a lot of people about love.
You can find Tricia Mills all over the Web:

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