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Feb 21 2016

Writing Superheroes:Adrienne Dillard

Don’t let the yoga pants and a soft fleece hoodie fool you. Beneath this superhero sports a brocade gown with a jeweled girdle, silk partlet, embroidered kirtle. Read on and find out more…

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According to Wikipedia, ‘a superhero is a type of heroic character possessing extraordinary talents, supernatural phenomena, or superhuman powers and is dedicated to a moral goal or protecting the public.’ Sounds like a writer to me!

Join me as another one of these unsung superheroes invites into their personal ‘batcave’.

If you were to write the ‘origins’ episode of your writing, what would be the most important scenes?  What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?

I think, for Cor Rotto, the opening scene would be the most important.  I kept having this reoccurring dream that I was wandering through an orchard barefoot playing hide and seek.  Whenever I thought of Catherine Carey, that dream would come to mind.  It seemed like I was feeling what life might have felt like through her eyes.  Every time I would have the dream, I would try to write down all the details as soon as I woke up and the story was really crafted from that point.  As for other projects, I have a few poems here and there, nothing I have ever kept though.  I did, at one point, start a story when I was really into the TV show CSI that had kind of a thriller feel to it, but I never got past the first four pages.  I actually just found it in an old box while we were moving a few months ago and was surprised at how promising it was!

 

_MG_6805All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours?  I promise I won’t tell.

Well, by day I work as an administrative assistant for a financial advisor at an investment firm.  I truly love my job.  I have often thought of how nice it would be to be able to write full time, but I honestly don’t think I could leave my job.  It doesn’t sound like it would be exciting, but it really is.  I love all the clients I get to see every day and I have a wonderful boss.

 

Who are your partners in crime?  What are their super powers?

Hmm…I have a couple.  Definitely my husband, his super power is patience and generosity and my son’s super power is his adorable smile.  My boss is another, his super power is encouragement. 

 

Where do you get your super powers from?

I honestly have no idea.  I never liked writing when I was growing up.  It was the thing I hated most in high school and college, but I always got really good marks on my writing assignments.  As I entered the workforce, I found myself in jobs where writing was a big part of my job and I suppose my skill grew from that.  I worked as a PR Assistant to the college university PR Director and so I got to write a lot of press releases.  Eventually I found myself working at the local paper writing and editing obituaries and advertising copy for real estate agents.  I think the variety and experience has really helped me hone my craft.

 

Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?

I wish I had a secret lair!  I’m just lucky when I get to use the computer at home!  My husband is working on completing his Bachelor’s Degree while we both work full-time so anytime I get to have some solitude with our PC, it’s a treat.  If I did have a secret lair, it would be filled with books and have a fireplace and a cozy chair so I could take a break from writing to enjoy the works of my own favorite super heroes.

 

What kind of training do you do to keep your super powers in world saving form?  How do you insure they are used only for good?

I don’t have any particular writing exercises, but I do a lot of reading.  I read as much as I can in between writing and researching and I don’t stick to my time period or genre.  I try to breakdown what it is about the writing that speaks to me and draws me in.  The problem with doing that is that you run the risk of plagiarism.  Even if you don’t intend to, it is possible for some of those ideas to seep into your subconscious and come out in your writing.  I would never want that to happen so I read books that have nothing to do with Tudor history to gain inspiration.  And usually, since what I read is completely removed, I come back to my research with fresh eyes.

 

Granted, you probably don’t get to wear your super hero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?

That’s a toughie!  As a writing super hero, my costume looks a lot like yoga pants and a soft fleece hoodie!  Comfort is paramount to creativity…That’s what I think anyways!  As a Tudor lover, my costume would be a fabulous brocade gown with all the trimmings: a jeweled girdle, silk partlet, embroidered kirtle.  I am quite partial to the dress that my heroine wears in her 1562 portrait.  It’s beautiful.

 

What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?

Research!  It can be so time consuming.  When I set out to write my first book, I made the commitment to myself that it would be as accurate as I could make it so I read everything!  After a few hours of reading the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, my eyes start to cross.  I also can get overwhelmed by it all.  So much happened during that time period and it takes care to retell it all just right and, to be honest, I don’t always understand all the ramifications of Henry’s actions and the actions of those around him so I have to ask the experts.  Thankfully, I know some really amazing historians and they are so kind to share their thoughts with me.

 

What was the super villain that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

Tudor burnout has been a big challenge for me.  I love the era and learning about it, but I think I just got so immersed in the history that I got a little burned out.  I am still struggling with this, but I try to take a few breaks and read things that are outside that era.  I also have plans to visit England in the next year so that I can do more hands-on research.  I think if I can see all of the places I am describing in real life it will inspire me to get writing!

 

What important lessons have you learned along the way?

Don’t take critical reviews personally.  It’s really hard not to, your book tends to feel like it’s your baby.  You put your heart and soul into it so it can feel like a personal attack when someone doesn’t like it.  You have to remember that you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea so to speak.  And that’s ok.  Our world would be so boring if we all liked the same things!  And criticism is good when it’s constructive; it helps you hone your skills and improve your writing.

 

What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

I have really enjoyed growing my circle of author and historian friends.  I have met so many amazing and wonderfully talented and gifted people through my journey.  I would have to say the day Claire Ridgway promoted my book on The Anne Boleyn Files after it was published was the most memorable.  It felt so surreal to see my book on a website that I had devoured over the last five years.  It was an amazing feeling.

 

If you did this again, what would you do differently and what would you not change?

I would not change anything! The highs and the lows all contributed to the success of my book and my growth as a writer.

 

What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why?

I talked about this in the villain question, but it is “take what is useful/helpful to you and leave the rest behind.” 

 

Tell us about your new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.

Cor Rotto is the story of Catherine Carey as she leaves her quiet life in the Calais garrison to embark on a journey that begins in the glittering court of Henry VIII and ends as the most beloved kinswoman and confidante of Elizabeth I.  It’s the story of an ordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life.

 

What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

Currently, I am working on a new novel featuring Catherine’s aunt, Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford.  I am also contemplating diving into the story of Catherine’s daughter, Lettice.  I recently did an article on her for The Tudor Society that was really well received.  It seems like people are anxious to learn more about her and she certainly has an exciting story to tell.

 

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3 comments

  1. Don Maker

    One of the hardest things for an author is to not take criticism personally. Adreinne put it very well. It took me a long time to learn to take what was useful, and to leave the rest behind, which can really improve one’s writing. It also helps a writer to learn better self-critiquing skills. Thanks for an interesting interview!

  2. Kyra Kramer

    The research in these books is meticulous, and that can drag down some writers that switch hit between fiction and fact, but the wordsmithing and POV of the fictions adds a layer of fanciful that changes it into a zippy story. It’s like the chocolate on a digestive biscuit 🙂

  3. Adrienne Dillard

    “chocolate on a digestive biscuit”
    I love your analogy Kyra! 🙂

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