Allie Pleiter’s interview

» Posted on Jul 30, 2008 in Blog | Comments Off on Allie Pleiter’s interview

Don’t forget to leave a comment with your email address or email me at if you want to be entered in the drawing for Allie’s Masked by Moonlight. The drawing ends this Sunday evening.

1.What made you start writing?
I actually have a theater background, although I’ve always been a storyteller. I started writing because a friend dared me—really, that’s how it happened. Well, and that friend just happened to be an editor, too—God set this up so I could take no credit for any of my start in this business. She, upon seeing the results of her dare, introduced me to an agent who then sold that book and its eleven subsequent “siblings.” Serendipitous as that may sound, it does point out two important things about this business: it isn’t always logical, and writing is sometimes a different skill than storytelling. I’ve learned to write, but I’ve always been a storyteller. Conversely, I’ve met great writers who need to learn better storytelling. I wish this business were more predictable, that certain efforts produced certain results, but it never is…

2.How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I’ve been writing for over ten years now. As for selling my first book, I sold my first book when I wrote my first book (see answer #1). I know that’s annoying to loads of people, but there were definite challenges in getting a fast-paced start like that. Like, say, the 14-page-single-spaced revision letter on that book. Or the outright dread at having to do it all over again for the second book in the contract in one-third the time it took me to write the first. I’d never argue with God, but I think I’d opt for a slower start if He gave me a choice in the matter.

3.How do you handle rejections?
With chocolate. Actually, here’s one place where my theater and fundraising (that was my profession when I sold my first book) is an excellent training. Both involve lots of rejection, so I learned not to take it personally. It’s often nothing to do with your level of talent or the worthiness of your project (or book), but how you fit their needs at that particular time. That being said, it still hurts, and you’ve got to give yourself to yell “ouch!” and process that. I try to give myself a set amount of pouting time, then get back up and keep going, even if I have to set a slower pace at first.

4.Why do you write?
I’m not sure I know. Okay, the money is up there in terms of incentive, but NO ONE is in this for the financial rewards—you could make much more money with much less pain elsewhere. I write because I love the idea of creating something from nothing—I think that is why knitting appeals to me so strongly as well. It’s just blank paper—or straight yarn—before I work with it. I do love to entertain people, and I would hope my writing entertains my readers.

5.What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?
Knit (see answer #4). Or go out to coffee with friends. I spend lots of time doing both anyway, even when deadlines are on the horizon.

6.What are you working on right now?
Like most “category” writers, I have lots of irons in the fire. I’m getting ready to release BLUEGRASS HERO in about a week or so—the first in my Kentucky Corners series of three books. The other two books in that series, BLUEGRASS COURTSHIP and BLUEGRASS BLESSINGS will come out next year. And we’ve just signed on for the sequel to MASKED BY MOONLIGHT, which will come out in 2010—all from Steeple Hill.

7.Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
Yes, and no. I think of it more as my putting them into myself. Getting inside their heads, their points of view, etc. But my sense of humor, my quirky outlook, all that stuff comes out in my characters and the situations I put them into. I believe in resiliency, in community, and the transforming power of faith, and I think all my characters come to believe those things too—even if I have to send them through lots of drama and heartache to get there.

8.Tell us about the book you have out right now.
MASKED BY MOONLIGHT is a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time. I love the idea of dual identities (perhaps it’s the actor in me), and I wanted to take that old stereotype and twist it around a little. Matthew and Georgia know each other on two levels—their daily life and their secret life. Only they don’t know the connections between those two lives—and it makes for a spectacular “reveal” when they discover each other’s true identity. One reader described it as “Zorro meets Lois Lane in 19th Century San Francisco”, and I love that description. It’s my first historical for Steeple Hill, and I’ve always enjoyed historicals. Great clothes, great dialogue, and I get to play with swords and whips. Gotta love that! What other job lets you learn to fence and work a bull-whip???

9.Do you have any advice for other writers?
As you can expect, I get asked this a lot. My advice is always the best advice I received: hush up and write the book. Learn your craft, take all that skill-building stuff in, but then stop thinking so hard when you let the story come out. Get out of your own way and let the story tell itself. I always get in trouble when I start “writing”, i.e. “being a writer,” instead of being a storyteller. Readers can always tell when you’re trying too hard (editors can, too, by the way).

10.How important is faith in your books?
Essential. I was talking about this with my editor the other day, and we talked about how my books are always about people becoming more than they thought they were. That kind of transformation can only come about by the power of faith. The road to heaven is paved with new facets of ourselves that God uncovers in our journeys. Plus, I think the best books have plots where everything is at stake, and those are the times we lean most heavily on our faith to get us through and make good choices.

11.What themes do you like to write about?
I think it’s the transforming power of faith. I love characters who find they are capable of more, who discover that success isn’t what they thought it was, and who discover new aspects of themselves. Perhaps that’s why I found the hero element of MASKED BY MOONLIGHT so compelling—Matthew finds that those things he considered faults were actually perfect strengths for what God had in mind. I suppose you could say I write about the theme of becoming who it is God really wants us to be.

12.What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?
Now, an author should know better than to ask an unfair question like that! It’d be like asking me to choose between my children! That being said, I’m always enamored with the book I’m working on. Until about a month out from deadline, and then I fall madly in love with the NEXT book, and am sorely tempted to leave my current project for the new pretty, shiny book just calling me away from my responsibilities…you get the picture.

13.How do you juggle writing for different houses?
Well, I don’t at the moment, but I do write for different lines, so the same tensions arise. I’m a serious student of my productivity, so I take a careful look at how many words I produce at any given time, and that helps me schedule. I work with daily and weekly task lists that mesh all my responsibilities—writing, promoting, revising, laundry, carpools, church committees, etc. I don’t have a set work day (so it never feels like “work”), but I always know what has to be done everyday.

14.What is your writing schedule like?
Most days I have between ten and twenty tasks on my list, and I sit down and number them. (We won’t go into the hysterical days when there are 27 tasks—then all the rules go out the window…) Then I get another cup of coffee and start with #1, etc. I don’t keep a schedule in terms of hours, and it may take me until 9pm to get all the way through the items, but it isn’t boxed into “work time” and “off time”. Things are a little more structured during the school year, when I try to get most of my creative writing done while the kids are in school, but now that my children are teenagers that’s been less of an issue. I’d be absolutely sunk without the versatility and portability of a laptop. And my Blackberry, which holds duplicates of my schedule and to-do list. My son called my Blackberry my “dictator” this morning, and I suppose he isn’t that far off…

15.For Love Inspired you write for both the regular line and the historical line. Which one do you like to do the most and why?
I love the elegance and escapism of the historicals, but I also love the real and relatable nature of contemporaries. The historical take more research, but they have better verbs. Actually, what I like best is the variety of both! My muse has a very short attention span.