Fay has a passion for working with and encouraging fellow writers. As a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she co-moderates the large Scribes’ Critique Group and manages the smaller Scribes’ critique groups. For her efforts, she was the recipient of the ACFW Members Service Award in 2010.
In 2012, Fay was also elected to serve as secretary on ACFW’s Operating Board.
Fay and her husband, Marc, reside in Titusville, Florida, where multi-generations of their families have lived. The legacy continues with their two married sons and five grandchildren.
I can’t remember a time when telling a story wasn’t a necessity for me. My mind has always been filled with characters, and as a young child, before I could even string together a sentence, I was telling a story or having the neighborhood kids act out a play.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
My secondary characters always seem to be a conglomeration of people I know. Some characteristics come out stronger in one than they do in another so they are never the same. In Because of Me, my redheaded eccentric, Roberta McGillicudy, is a mixture of my mother and several other women just like her. Roberta’s I Love Lucy quirk comes from my daughter-in-law, Cheryl, though.
My heroes are almost always an actor, but not so much the actor as it is a mixture of the parts he might play. When I write the hero, I usually have an actor in mind. When I write the heroine, I don’t always have a clear picture of her. I think this is due to the fact that I write heroines with issues similar to mine. To put a face to a personality too early might change the dynamics of the story.
Can relate to basing your characters on a "conglomeration of people" you know. How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story? Is the process the same for every book you write? How long does it take you to write a book?
Often an idea will come to me in the form of a character who tells me what’s going on in his or her life. With Michael Hayes, my hero in Because of Me, he introduced himself and told me about a little boy that he knows. Michael said the boy wasn’t his son but he was born because of him. In instances like this, I think the story through and begin writing on it with a road map in place.
Other times the character is standing around without a story, and I’ll dress him or her up in a variety of parts until one fits. Those are usually born in the early morning hours when I give myself permission to write freely and just let the story unfold.
I currently have a book that I’ve been working on for thirty-five years—no exaggeration. It’s currently being sent through a large critique group as an experiment before I begin to find a market for it. The story is a little different. It has fourteen prominent characters and several minor plots converging into two main plots. I’ve known for some time that this novel would only see publication if I proved myself with other not-so-ambitious stories. The good news is that over all, my critique partners are able to follow the story, and that’s a big plus.
Other books, like Because of Me I’ve written in one to two months. That’s the first draft—a logical draft, but there are still always major edits to do when you breeze through a story that easily.
Sounds like a story I'd love to read. I enjoy books with ambitious plots. Are you currently working on any new book projects?
Yes, I am. I have a completed romantic suspense novel, two completed contemporary romances, and the women’s fiction I’ve been working on most of my life is complete and just being tweaked through critique. My work in progress is varied: two other romantic suspense novels and one contemporary romance are nearly completed, and waiting in the wings is a novel set in the intriguing world of professional surfing.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a book? Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?
My advice for beginning writers is simple: write. . . write . . .write. . .and then write some more. Finish a project. Then finish another one. Go back to the first and edit it, send it through critique, and edit some more. Then do the same with your second book while you’re starting on your third. The only way you can learn to write is to actively do so.
Don’t wait to start promoting your book once you’re published. Begin to build a presence. Network with other writers. Networking used to bother me because I had it backwards. I once told writing coach, Tiffany Colter, I didn’t believe in networking. It seemed that networking was me contacting people to see what I could get from them. Tiffany corrected my thinking when she told me what I needed to do was to look at what I could do for others without asking anything in return. Right away I volunteered with American Christian Fiction Writers, and God put me right where I needed to be—working with the critique groups which later became Scribes. Without asking anything in return, I gave. And God returned the increase. I’ve made many connections, but they are strong ones because I don’t look to find out what someone can do for me. My greatest desire is to help others, to work with new writers, and to encourage other authors.
But when you have your back up against the wall, and you sign a contract, and the book is set loose on the world, if you’re not good at public relations, you need to hire someone who can set up the blogs for you, find interviews, show you how to write press releases—all things that result in a successful marketing campaign. I asked Jennifer Slattery to do that for me, and it has been the best decision I’ve ever made. She’s phenomenal.
I feel like a kindred spirit with regard to your perspective on networking. I totally agree and my goal is to help other writers and leave the rest up to God where it concerns self-promotion. What is your favorite work of literary fiction and why? Do you have a favorite literary author?
I’m not sure that even I would consider Gone With the Wind a literary work of fiction, but others might. Has there ever been a character so dynamic as Scarlet O’Hara, and so multi-faceted as well? One minute you hate her for her selfishness and at others you love her for her determination and unselfishness, but in the end, Scarlet loses the one man who would have given her the world. Still, we know Scarlet will rise to the occasion. Why? Because we’ve seen her do it before.
As for literary authors, I know I’ll make some writers cringe here, but I’m not so much into the lengthy description or the long drawn out narrative of literary works. I like fast-paced novels with deep point of view. I want to see the book, like a movie in my mind. If I’m giving to much description, the writer has lost me as a reader.
Who is your favorite contemporary author? Are you currently reading any contemporary novels?
Sharyn McCrumb grabbed my imagination with her Ballad series. She weaves Appalachian folklore into a modern, can’t-put-it-down story. She’s an encyclopedia of Appalachian folklore and history. Currently, I’m reading Dr. Richard Mabry’s Medical Error, a great read.
What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you?
Question marks. I have a definite problem with question marks. My critique partners are always calling me on them. Either I leave one out when it needs to be in, or I put one in when the sentence is clearly a statement. I’m sure I have worse problems than that, but this is the one I get teased about most often.
Issie Putnam’s life took a detour the night she was raped at gunpoint in front of her fiancé, Michael Hayes. Instead of marrying Michael, a promising young investigative reporter, Michael, along with the man who attacked her, and the man who held the gun on Michael, are imprisoned for conspiracy to assassinate the local district attorney—a crime Michael was trying to expose but had no intention of committing. Issie’s name is ruined, she lost her perfectly-planned future, but she gained Cole, her son—born of that rape.
On the eve of her attacker’s parole, Michael, already released from prison, follows through on his plan to return to the small town of Amazing Grace and protect Issie from the madman who promised to seek revenge. There, he meets Issie’s seven-year-old son for the first time.
Can Michael learn to love the child Issie holds so close to her heart? Will Michael be able to protect the woman he loves from the man who will stop at nothing to destroy them all?
Where can readers find your book online?
Purchase Link for Because of Me
Fay, thanks so much for chatting with me today. I enjoyed learning about you and your work.