After the publication of Connected Hearts, Astrid Ohletz took the time to interview Joan Arling, who published her first story with Ylva Publishing.
First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions. How many years have you been writing now and how did you come to it?
Joan: If you include writing songs (which I regard as lyrics—texts recited to the accompaniment of a lyre), then I started a little over forty years ago. Prose came much later, say five or six years ago.
Why do you write? What does it mean to you?
Joan: It is a way to reflect my experiences. Aside from a few exercises, all of my stories touch upon something in my life, though that is not necessarily the POV I tell the story from.
How long does it take you to write a novel?
Joan: I haven’t written one yet. I have a project including a secret agency and a highly trained assassin betrayed by that agency. Of course, she’s fighting back. But I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Perhaps I am limited to the short form.
How much time per week do you spend writing?
Joan: Lately—none. When a story grips me (and no, it’s not the other way around) I don’t count the hours.
When and where do you write the most?
Joan: When: couldn’t say. I remember waking up at 1 a.m. because a story invaded my dreams.
Where: wherever I can take my netbook. I use paper and pen only when I cannot avoid it.
How would you describe yourself?
Joan: You would not want me around at a party.
Coffee or tea?
Joan: I am a coffee addict. When in Great Britain, though, I do very well on tea with lots of milk and sugar.
How much of yourself is in your characters?
Joan: As I said before, there’s much of myself in the stories (and sometimes in the characters, but they make the story happen). However, there is perhaps only one person—my best friend—who could point out the “me-parts.”
What do you find the most challenging part of writing?
Joan: Sex, definitely. I suck at that so much that I try to avoid it entirely. If I think I cannot, these parts are definitely the weakest.
What are you reading right now?
Joan: Campus by Anik LaChev, and I’m reading it for the umpteenth time. It’s a story of a professor and her assistant falling in love, but it takes about 1,000 pages to conclude. Brilliant, with very round characters and several intriguing plots. It was taken from the Web last time I looked, so there’s probably a chance that it will be available in print.
What do you think makes a good romance novel?
Joan: A happy ending, definitly. Sometimes that’s not possible (believable), but I’ll try anything that states “Bard’s Rule is in effect.”
What advice would you give new authors?
Joan: If they need advice, they shouldn’t be authors. Oh, perhaps: write for the fun of it. If you do it for fame or for money, you’ll probably quit soon.
What are you working on right now?
Joan: Myself. Getting back to the state of mind where “my” characters decide more on how the stories develop and I just go with it.
What future writing projects can we look forward to?
Joan: Wishful thinking: that novel project. But we’ll all have to see—meaning: I just don’t know.
It was a pleasure talking to you. Again, thank you very much.