This year will mark my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary to my own personal hero, a veteran firefighter who retired as a Deputy Chief from Cal Fire and is now the Director of Wildland Fire Fighting Safety and Response for the International Association of Fire Fighters, or more commonly known as the international firefighter’s union, which is based in Washington DC.
We have two beautiful daughters in college, one in Oregon studying veterinary medicine and one in Colorado studying equine science. Rick and I recently relocated from the heart of wine country on the beautiful Central Coast of California to the east coast, so Rick could pursue his dream job, continuing to serve his fellow firefighters. We’ve gone urban, are living in the gorgeous, historic city of Alexandria, Virginia, in Olde Town, and loving every minute of it!
Becoming a NYT and USA Today bestseller is no easy accomplishment. What advice do you have for all the authors and aspiring writers out there who hope to someday achieve your level success?
An author has very little control over how many books they sell. Marketing attempts only have so much push. The only thing an author really has control over is the story they tell and how they tell it. Write hard and write good.
Some writers have really structured methods of staying productive. Stephen King, for example, sets a daily word count goal for himself. Since you’ve written an incredible amount in a short period of time, what methods do you use to stay productive?
It’s not anything you haven’t already heard—I write pretty much every day. I’m sort of addicted to my computer. Writing is both a calling and a curse. An obsession. Not writing feels a little like missing a meal.
That said, it easy to burn out when you don’t give yourself breaks. And in more recent years I’ve learned to listen to my body and my mind and stop when I’m fatigued instead of pushing and pushing until I have a headache or knot in my shoulder or brain fog. Because I’m in this for the long haul. God willing, I hope to be writing stories for another twenty years. But I can only do that if I take care of my body and my mind.
More recently, I’ve started scheduling writing retreats with fellow authors. We book a week at some mutually agreed upon location, rent a condo and pow-wow to write. The days are broken up into a series of write-break-write-meal-write-drink-write-TV binge decompression modules that are incredibly productive. I can often leave a 5-7-day retreat with 35-50 thousand words. And I leave feeling refreshed, excited about my work and sad that I’ll miss my friends.
A few other things that have increased my productivity over time:
What is the best line from a book TV show or movie that you wish you wrote?
I think Shonda Rhimes (Greys Anatomy, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, and The Catch) writes some fantastic lines. Olivia Pope has some of my favorites. “If you want me, earn me!”
You’ve written a flawless bad boy in Teague Creek. Are there any fictional or real-life bad boys who served as inspiration for Teague?
Every girl loves a good bad boy. They are our kryptonite. My favorite bad boys are bad boys who are reformed just a bit by a good woman. I think there might be a bit of RDJ in Teague…. he’s a little naughty, but ultimately wants to do good. And he’s not too bad on the eyes either!
The zombie apocalypse has hit (as we all knew it would one day). Which TV or movie characters do you want as part of your crew? (no superheroes…that’s cheating)
Are you kidding? Olivia Pope and Associates! Nobody but the best! (Any Scandal fans here? I’m hopelessly addicted!)
Joan Swan can be reached via her website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest.