My MAYDAY Interview with Cynthia Woolf

Cynthia Woolf graciously invited me onto her blog and talked to me about my books, my writing process, and my beloved critique partner, Mia Sosa!

Tell us a little about yourself and your latest book.
Hello! My name is Olivia Dade, and my third Lovestruck Librarians book, Mayday, comes out May 10. It’s a contemporary romantic comedy full of sex, banter, and assorted nerdery, set in and around the Downtown Niceville Library. In fact, the heroines of my entire Lovestruck Librarians series all work in the same Maryland library system.

The whole library connection isn’t a shock, considering that I worked at a public library for five years. Before that, I taught high school and led tours through Colonial Williamsburg. So basically, I’ve held lots of jobs that required me to feign a certain level of decorum I don’t actually possess. Now I don’t need to pretend anymore. Such a relief!

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Tell us about your hero. Give us one of his strengths and one of his weaknesses.
Mayor Wes Ramirez may be my favorite hero I’ve ever written. Handsome, well-respected, and ambitious, he wants desperately to bring locals and tourists back to his economically troubled hometown via the city’s May Day celebrations. On the surface, he seems polished and confident. But in reality, he still struggles with a deep, abiding sense of failure that lingers from the abrupt ending of his athletic career—and from his ill-fated one-night stand with Helen, the local librarian he finds so appealing. So he’ll use every tool at his disposal to save his town and reclaim his woman: his intelligence, his creativity, his persistence, and (in the case of Helen) his sexual prowess.

And oh, does he deliver. This is definitely the sexiest book I’ve written to date!

Tell us about your heroine. Give us one of her strengths and one of her weaknesses.
I hope my readers will find my heroine, Helen Murphy, as delightful as I do! A loyal, funny part-time reference librarian living with her parents, she’s eager to declare her independence at long last. So she’s looking to snag a full-time position as the library liaison to the mayor and the Niceville community, and she’s willing to do just about anything to get the job. Anything. Even work side-by-side with the source of her greatest humiliation, Mayor Wes Ramirez.

Nerdy, bespectacled, and plus-sized, she’s nothing like his usual girlfriends. And like him, she has confidence issues. She can’t see how he might want her for long. But she’s exactly what he needs. He simply has to convince her that he can make up for their past and become what she needs as well.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Maybe? For a long time, I was certain I’d become a professor, so I assumed I’d end up writing a lot of academic essays using the words “problematic” and “furthermore.” But I always believed I couldn’t write fiction, that my imagination simply didn’t work that way. You often hear authors talk about how they always made up new endings to books, kept journals, or spun tales to entertain siblings or children. I did none of that. I do none of that. So it shocked me when I sat down and wrote my first romance at the age of thirty-seven. Now, though, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

How did you get started writing?
I’ve been reading romances since well before I had any idea what a “manhood” was or why it kept throbbing so desperately. If I was going to write fiction of any type, then, it was definitely going to be romance. And after five years at the library, my work there had come to revolve around troubleshooting our public computers. A necessary job, but not one I especially enjoyed. I often came home with nothing to say, no stories to tell. Then one day, I sat in front of my computer and started randomly making up my own damn stories. I don’t remember the exact day, and I don’t remember the thought process involved. I think I simply needed an outlet for all the creativity my work wasn’t harnessing. So thank goodness for those public computers and their endless problems!

What is your favorite part of writing?
I have days when each new word comes hard, and I struggle to fill a page or two. But on good writing days—the best writing days—I enter a flow state, where I become so immersed in my writing that it’s no longer a conscious process, really. I look back at the screen filled with sentences and paragraphs, and I know I wrote those words, but I don’t have much memory of how they came to me or why. It’s a profoundly joyful experience. For one of my books—a futuristic romance written under the name Olivia Dart—I spent the entire first draft in that zone. I wrote the whole thing in three weeks! Usually, though, each book has its difficult moments interspersed with days when the story emerges effortlessly. At this point, I’ve learned to push through the former and celebrate the latter.

Do you have critique partners?
I have one critique partner, the amazing, whip-smart, and hilarious Mia Sosa. I first saw her on the “craft” forum of the Romance Writers of America website. She was looking for a CP, and we’ve been writing partners and good friends ever since. I can’t overstate her importance to my writing life. When I hit an obstacle, she helps me clamber over it. And when I accomplish something, she rejoices as wholeheartedly as I do. I’m lucky to have her, and I know it. By complete coincidence, her second book—One Night with the CEO—also came out this month, which we think is pretty exciting.

What are you currently working on?
I’m about to finish revisions on the fifth book in the Lovestruck Librarians series, Driven to Distraction. In Mayday, I actually introduce the hero and heroine for the book and set up their dynamic: instant attraction followed by intense bickering. I love Constance and Sam’s story so very much, especially the way they circle closer and closer to each other with every day spent together in the tight confines of the Bookmobile. As it turns out, Niceville’s pragmatic, metaphor-mangling Bookmobile manager might not be able to resist the siren call of a hot, geeky IT guy once he gets under her skin and by her side. (Not to mention: in her bed!)

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