Pamela Palmer took some time out to answer some questions for us on her writing, the influence of her engineering background and her favorite Star Trek Captain.
Do you believe people are born writers? Or with the urge to write?
I believe that some people are born storytellers. That’s not necessarily the same as being a born writer. Storytellers have been around since the dawn of time, spinning tales to entertain the clan through long winter evenings or to pass down the oral history of the people from generation to generation. Today, we storytellers have many ways to tell our stories: books, movies, television, video games, etc. Storytellers hear voices in our heads. We’re the ones with ideas spinning, the ones who stare up at the plane in the sky and wonder what would happen if it disappeared in thin air. Or we watch the people walking by on a crowded street and create fictional lives for them.
People often ask me where I get my ideas and I can’t answer. I have no idea. They’re constantly bubbling up—ideas for plots, characters, stories. Writers, in my opinion, are a little different. They tend to be in love with the written word, with the way words create pictures. Writers may choose to write genre fiction, non-fiction, or literary fiction. Not all writers are storytellers, and vice versa. Genre fiction writers (those of us writing romance, science fiction, mysteries, thrillers, etc.) tend to be storytellers first, writers second. The story is more important to us (and to our readers) than the beauty of our words. I think those truly in love with the beauty of language tend to steer more toward literary fiction, though that’s just my opinion. So how does a born storyteller learn to write? Study and lots and lots of practice.
It struck me from reading your bio and your background that you’ve had adventures aplenty growing up – has anything from reality made it into your books?
I can’t think of anything directly, but indirectly, yes, definitely. My dad was a colonel in the Air Force, a pilot for over thirty years. When I was fourteen, we moved into the eleventh house I’d lived in. Like any military kid, my life was in constant upheaval–new situations, new states, new countries and cultures, new groups of kids where I knew no one. It was a great experience, don’t get me wrong, but I doubt I’ll ever write a book about a small town heroine surrounded by friends she’s known all her life. I can’t relate. The vast majority of my heroines are out of their element in my books. Strangers in a strange land. Kara in Desire Untamed comes to Feral House not only an outsider to the house, but to the entire world of immortals even though she is one. Delaney in Obsession Untamed, too, is shocked when she discovers the immortals. In my Esri series, Larsen, the heroine of The Dark Gate, may be at home in D.C., but she and the hero are flying blind as they slowly realize the killer they’re after isn’t human and they’ve opened the door to a serious threat to the entire world. And Quinn Lennox, the heroine of my upcoming A Blood Seduction literally stumbles into the Vamp City otherworld, a very dark, dangerous, and mysterious place which she’ll be exploring and discovering right along with the reader for all five books.
You also have a love for science and an engineering background and experience working for a computer manufacturer, yet you are now a bestselling fantasy/romance author – do you ever ask yourself how did that happen? How did you jump from one to the other?
LOL. I ask myself that all the time! In school, I loved math and never really liked English. Plus, I wanted to be an astronaut. So I wound up with an industrial engineering degree and a job with IBM. (The astronaut thing went by the wayside when I was nineteen and finally realized the Starship Enterprise was never going to be in my future.) But despite not liking English class, I’d always been a reader. My favorite thing to do on a Saturday as a kid was to lie on the floor of my bedroom and read all day. I was a huge Nancy Drew fan and, later, gothic romance. I read fairly eclectically, but I never enjoyed the books they made us read in school. And, honestly, the only creative writing assignment I can remember…ever…was in third grade, and my teacher was unimpressed with my attempt. It never occurred to me that I might enjoy writing, not until I was long out of school and the stories started multiplying in my head, becoming too numerous and too complex to keep inside any longer. I started writing them down and finally discovered what I was born to do.
Is your background a strength in your writing? How so?
It’s surprising how many romance novelists have engineering or science backgrounds. I’m a very logical, analytical person and that’s a great help in thinking through and developing fairly complex plots.
You’ve written such vastly different types of stories and characters – what was the hardest or the more unexpected thing about the jump from one book to the other?
I really enjoy switching series, stories, and characters. It keeps things fresh and interesting for me, though sometimes it can get a little confusing. I generally start the writing process for each book by re-reading the one that came before it in the series in order to bring me up to speed and to immerse myself once more in that world. Probably the hardest thing about doing different series is not mixing up the laws of each of the different worlds. And keeping them all different and fresh.
When you first started writing, was there anything that the engineer in you, with a science background, completely resisted?
The hardest part about writing for my analytical engineer’s brain, I think, is the fact that the imagination can’t be controlled. I can’t tell you how long it will take me to figure out the next book. Maybe two weeks, maybe two months. That’s not to say I can’t work to deadline. I can and I do, and I find deadline panic to be a wonderful fuel for my imagination! But I can just never control the process the way I really want to.
You’ve ventured into the realm of vampires with ‘A Blood Seduction’ – will any other creatures be making an appearance in your books coming up? Can you give your fans a hint?
Hmm…I will tell you that Vamp City (A Blood Seduction) has two different races of vampires, and werewolves. If there are other creatures in that world, I’m not sure. I think we’ll be finding out together!
As a Star Trek fan as well, I have to ask: who is your favorite Captain?
Thank you, Pamela for the wonderful insight into your writing!