Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Paula Martin: Coming back to writing

I came back to romance writing, after a 25 year gap, because of the TV series ‘The West Wing’.

Between 1969 and 1980, I had four novels published, by Mills and Boon/Harlequin and Robert Hale. I then abandoned fiction writing, apart from a few short stories for magazines in the 80’s and early 90’s. Family, career as a teacher and involvement with both amateur musical theatre and Girl Guiding took precedence for many years (although I did write monthly articles for the Girl Guiding magazine for several years in the 90’s). So I didn’t abandon writing completely.

In the early years of this century, I became totally hooked on TV’s ‘The West Wing’ and eventually found links to internet groups who shared my interest in this series. I also discovered ‘fan-fiction’ for the first time, and avidly read the stories that had been written about the West Wing characters, particularly ‘Jed and Abbey’ the President and First Lady (played by Martin Sheen and Stockard Channing).

An email conversation with another West Wing fan, where we discussed what might have happened once Jed’s presidency was over, started me writing a possible scenario. I had no idea at that time just what this would lead to. I wrote the first story simply for my friend. She loved it and persuaded me to post it on one of the West Wing fan sites, which I eventually did, with great trepidation – and then with great relief when it was well received. I went on to write several more West Wing stories.

I was happy enough writing these stories, but fate took a hand. In 2008 I did an American Civil War battle field tour in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Also on the tour was Harlequin best-selling writer, Linda Lael Miller. We got talking about writing, and Linda persuaded me to try my hand at novels again.

When I got home, I dug out an old MS. It was a story which had been rejected by Mills and Boon in the 70’s when their format changed. I started rewriting it, bringing it up to date, and submitted it to the Harlequin editor suggested by Linda. Alas, she rejected it!

But by then my muse had returned. I also found a couple of excellent critique partners. With their help, I tightened up my writing style, and wrote another novel. Last May this was accepted by Whiskey Creek Press. ‘His Leading Lady’ is due for release next year.

I’ve completed another novel which I am about to submit, and have started to rewrite the first novel too. Ideas for other novels continue to jump around in my head.

But I will always say that it was ‘Jed and Abbey’ from the West Wing who brought me back to writing romances. Thank you, Martin and Stockard for your superb portrayal of these two characters which inspired me to start writing again!

Heroines with Hearts


Lindsay Townsend said...

Congratulations on your upcoming release of 'HIS LEADING LADY'! I hope you return to lindsay's Romantics when it comes out!

This is a wonderful story, Paula and just shows what fan fiction can do.

Go 'West Wing!'

Lovely pics, too!

Are you thinking of re-issuing your earlier books, too, maybe through ebook publishers or Smashwords?

One publisher who may be interested in your previously published novels if you have your rights back is Classic Romance Revival publishing.

Jan Bowles said...

Hi Paula

I can't wait to get my hands on 'His Leading Lady'.

I'm not surprised you were inspired by the gorgeous Martin Sheen, and equally lovely Stockard Channing.

Best wishes with everything you do.

Jan x

Celia Yeary said...

PAULA--I really enjoyed reading about your writing journey. How exciting to getting published again after your stellar career. I have one book coming from Whiskey Creek Press, more of a women's fiction than pure romance, even though it has a romance.
I'll look forward to seeing you around and becoming more acquainted.Thanks for viviting the pink blog today. Celia

Ana Morgan said...

You are a great writer, Paula. Imaginative and passionate. At the rate you are going, you'll have a backlist worth envying.

Margaret West said...

Wow, to return after 25 years is a feat in itself. Good luck with your books.

Paula Martin said...

Lindsay, thanks so much for inviting me to blog today, it was fun writing about the influence 'The West Wing' has had on me.
My early books are very 'dated' now, so I wouldn't dream of re-publishing them! But I think I may (sometime) update and re-vamp one of them into a different and more modern setting. We'll see!

Jan - thanks for droppping in. 'Jed and Abbey' were definitely my inspiration, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet Stockard in London a couple of years ago, and Martin in Los Angeles earlier this year.

Celia - good to meet another WCP writer and congrats on your book.

Ana - as always, thanks for all your help, support and encouragement

‘His Leading Lady’ to be published by Whiskey Creek Press in 2011

Paula Martin said...

Thanks, Margaret - it's something which at one time I never imagined I would ever do. But then I watched 'The West Wing' ...

‘His Leading Lady’ to be published by Whiskey Creek Press in 2011

margaret blake said...

It's great how you returned to writing and were inspired to do so by one of my favourite tv series.
Lots of luck with your new book, I am sure it will be very successful.

Paula Martin said...

Thanks, Margaret - glad you agree with me about the fantastic 'West Wing'. If I hadn't starting writing about Jed and Abbey 3 years ago, I'd never have found the confidence to start writing a novel again!

Savanna Kougar said...

Paula, congrats on your upcoming release. It's amazing how we writers despite all the obstacles or directions our lives go in, still come back to writing in a way we didn't believe was possible.

I never did watch that particular series, but have heard a lot of good things about it. And, to meet Martin Sheen, he's one of my favorites simply because of his integrity and courage as an individual. I never have met him, however, we both did what was called the est training.

Paula Martin said...

Thanks, Savanna. If you'd asked me ten years ago whether I'd start writing again, I would have laughed and said 'Nope, my muse has departed'. Even when I started writing my West Wing fan fiction, I never thought I'd aim for publication again. So maybe it all goes to show that 'once a writer, always a writer.'
And I completely agree about Martin Sheen, he really is an amazing person. I fell in love with him way back in the 70's and then again when he was in West Wing. I never thought I would have the chance to meet him, but it happened last March. A dream come true - and he was SO nice, and so easy to talk to.

Toni Lynn said...

Good luck with the new release, Paula.

jrlindermuth said...

Interesting story, Paula. Congratulations on the new book. I'm also a WCP author.

Debra St. John said...

It's so interesting to learn how other authors find their inspiration.

And I love that you've rubbed elbows with so many famous people! (I have to admit, though, I'm more jealous of you meeting Linda Lael Miller than Martin Sheen!)

Paula Martin said...

Thanks for popping in, Toni.

And thanks, John - look forward to getting to know you better via the WCP loops. And I know Margaret has booked you for a blog on our Heroines with Hearts blog next Friday, so I'm looking forwward to that too!

Debra, I had no idea who Linda Lael Miller was when I first met her! But spent a week with her on the Civil War tour and we got on really well. I'm still in (occasional) contact with her and am trying to get her to blog on HWH!

Adrienne said...

Looking forward to your new novel, Paula

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy for you getting your novel published. I've enjoyed your West Wing stories from the start and can't wait to read about the adventures of your new romantic couple.

I'm sure Martin and Stockard would be proud to read how they inspired you to get back into writing.


Paula Martin said...

Thanks, Adrienne and Amber - it was your support (and that of others on the West Wing lists) that gave me the confidence to spread my wings into writing novels again!

Linda Banche said...

Good for you, Paula. Keep at it!

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Paula, you are clearly 'once a writer, always a writer!' Just goes to show that the gift and the impulse is always there, and never question whatever it takes to kick that creative spark back into life. I'm delighted for you - good luck in all that you do!

Jane x

Paula Martin said...

Thanks, Linda and Jane. It's great to be back in the world of romance fiction again, and of course the internet has made it possible to have so many writing friends - in contrast to the 60's and 70's when I wrote 'in isolation'.

And thanks, again, Lindsay, for inviting me to your blog! I look forward to returning to telling you all more about 'His Leading Lady'.

Anonymous said...

Im makes a change seeing YOU being interviewed, Paula, instead of the other way around. I really enjoyed reading about your journey and I too am looking forward to reading your book!