This morning I'm having coffee with one of my dearest friends Elaine Raco Chase. Elaine has the distinction of being the first real-live author I ever met. We've been friends since the night I sneaked into a meeting of the Houston Bay Area chapter of Romance Writers of America of which she was President.
I wrote about Elaine's online class recently so you can click over if you want to find out what her class is all about and how she teaches.
Since 1978, Elaine Raco Chase has been a published writer. In the United States alone, she has over 3 million books in print. She's also been published in 27 countries and 17 languages.
Two of her romance novels: Special Delivery and Video Vixen were Dell Publishing's all time bestsellers. She's had seven number 1 romance bestsellers. Although she proudly writes category romances and mysteries, she's also published non-fiction: Writing the Amateur Detective Novel for Writer's Digest Books, which garnered her an Agatha Christie nomination. She edited Partners in Crime (Signet), a short story collection, which received several nominations in the mystery field.
Since 1980, Elaine has taught creative writing classes at conferences and for colleges in the U. S. and Canada. Prior to moving back to northern Virginia, she completed teaching her course in Writing Mass Market Fiction at Miami-Dade University. All of her books, some of which were optioned for television and movies, are available on numerous websites including Amazon.com.
If you'd like to email Elaine about her books or to obtain information about her fiction writing classes, contact her at elainerc at juno dot com.
Fun Questions To Break The Ice
Joan: Let's talk about which you prefer to reference in your teaching – a book or the movie/TV version made from the book?
Elaine: Since I started my career in radio and TV, I prefer TV and use it in teaching. Why? It's a 360-degree teacher: main characters, settings, dialogue. You can learn a lot, both positive and negative.
Joan: You know, I agree with that. I've used movies in workshops I've given because I find not everyone reads a popular book, but just about everyone sees a movie made from the book.
What's your TV guilty pleasure? Why?
Elaine: Soap Operas. Great for watching characters interact.
Joan: Name a book, any genre, that means a lot to you and tell us why. (Feel free to mention more than 1.)
Elaine: I have a lot of favorites, but when I want a comfort read, I head for Erle Stanley Gardner...honest. I've loved Perry Mason since I was 12!
Joan: Name a book that you were forced to read in school that you think was a time waste and please tell us why. (In school, because that means dead authors, and we don't want to hurt feelings. Again, feel free to mention more than 1.)
Elaine: J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, because I was not, and never would be, Holden Caufield!
Inquiring Minds Want To Know
Joan: How long have you been working at your craft? Please tell us something about your first published book, the journey from the idea that you wanted to write a book to finally writing one for which you received a publishing contract.
Elaine: I started writing full novels in 1978. Previously, I was a producer/director/writer of TV commercials and radio programs. I sent my first romance off to Harlequin in Canada and received a 6 page rejection letter, telling me how great it was...in detail...but they had just contracted their first American Author (Janet Dailey) and wasn't sure how that would go over. I then went to a writer's conference (totally not for fiction, but what did I know) met an agent, and she sold Rules of the Game in 2 days.
Joan: Let's talk about your transition from novelist to writing teacher. How did that come about?
Elaine: When my publisher would send me on a book tour, it always turned into more about how to write (or how I wrote) than just an autograph session. When I moved to Daytona Beach, I did an autographing at a college there, and they asked me if I wanted to teach. I gave it a try, and I've been teaching at colleges/universities and for adult ed since 1980. Won a few outstanding teacher awards to boot.
Joan: Tell us something about the way you teach and what you bring to the role of teacher.
Elaine: As I tell my students, I write exactly the way I teach. It's current information, and I'm blessed to have numerous contacts with agents and editors over the years. It is not traditional teaching.
I've also been brought in to teach 5th— 7th grade in Virginia, Texas, and Florida because that age group hates to read and write. So I come in, make the traditional teachers a bit annoyed when I say start the day reading cereal boxes or the comics, but by the end of the course, the kids (even the boys) are reading, writing and loving to create characters.
Joan: Have you dived into publishing for eBook readers? If not, what's holding you back?
Elaine: I'm just starting to do this. Time, I think, is the issue.
Joan: Yes, I often say if I had 48 hour days that I could accomplish everything I want to do.
Do you have any under the bed books? If so, how many, and what do you plan to do with them?
Elaine: I do. I have 3 books. Who knows, one of these days. . . .
Joan: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing authors today?
Elaine: I don't think the challenge has changed—write a brilliant book, with gripping characters and a great plot. It doesn't matter if the characters are human, zombies, werewolves or whatever!
Joan: Who are your writing influences?
Elaine: I don't let anyone influence my writing. I do like to hear (about) women of my age (61) who are flourishing in any career venue.
Joan: What are you working on now?
Elaine: The working title is A Rare Medium, Well Done. I'm halfway through this sexy suspense novel set in Atlanta.
Joan: What do you now know that you wish you'd known when you started?
Elaine: That publishing is just as wacky as working in television!
Joan: What's the best thing about teaching?
Elaine: The renewed excitement in my own writing.
Joan: What's the worst thing about teaching?
Elaine: Nothing so far.
Joan: What's the best thing about writing?
Elaine: Creating compelling people.
Joan: And the worst?
Elaine: The solitary job of it.
Joan: Do you have writing goals? If so, would you share some with us?
Elaine: I wish I did. I once hung 12 rolls of wallpaper just as an excuse not to write. My brain was stuck.
Joan: What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Elaine: Write brilliantly—and make sure you'd buy your own book for $30!
Joan: What's the one thing no interviewer has ever asked you about that you'd like to discuss here?
Elaine: I've been asked every question in the book including do you have a trapeze over your bed?. . .so. . . .
Joan: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about anything?
Elaine: Be flexible, and don't write what you know. How boring is that!
If you're looking for a writing teacher who has walked the walk, look no further than Elaine Raco Chase.