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Please Welcome M.J. Fredrick


M.J., Thanks for agreeing to be a guest on my blog.

Can you tell everyone a little bit about yourself?

I’m a native Texan, and have lived in San Antonio all my life, except for when I was a baby and Dad was in the Air Force. I’ve taught in the same school district my whole career (20 years). I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 22 years (had to stop and do the math!) We have one son, who’s a senior in high school. As you can tell, I’m not too adventurous in my own life, so I live it out in my books.

How long have you been writing?

I used to write in elementary school. My first “romance” was written the summer after fifth grade, after I’d seen Grease four times. In high school, my friend Kirsten and I wrote serialized stories starring guys from music videos, anyone from Adam Ant to the Ramones to the Rolling Stones. Those were a lot of fun-I wish I’d kept them.

After I graduated college, I bought a word processor and started writing a story set in Ireland. My step-dad gave me an old XT and I used that until 1997, and I wrote my first book, 600 pages, on that. Mira actually requested that story at the time, believe it or not, and I plan to rework it someday.

I discovered the internet, discovered San Antonio Romance Authors, and was on my way.

So, I’ve been writing something like fourteen years. I’ve completed 23 manuscripts, I think.

What is your writing process like?

Sometimes the idea comes first, sometimes the characters. A lot of times characters come to me fully formed. I don’t always know why they’re the way they are until I’ve spent some time with them and put them in some situations, but I can usually say, “No, he’d never do that,” or “She’d never say that,” with some certainty. I’m an organic writer, which is a pain, because I invariably have to rewrite endings. I never get them right the first time. Hot Shot’s had about five different endings.

Can you tell us about your latest release Hot Shot?

Hot Shot is a pure labor of love. I started writing it in 2000, when the Colorado wildfires were so bad. Cindi Myers, who was in SARA at the time, had moved to Colorado and talked about the heroic firefighters, and Gabe was born. Peyton wasn’t always a reporter-at first she worked for a congressman assessing the damage-but I knew she could never get on the fireline like that, so I changed her. Also, in the beginning I wanted Hot Shot to be kind of like Hanover Street, the movie with Harrison Ford, where he’s a daredevil until he finds love. Editors didn’t like that, though, saying it was unheroic, so it changed. Now he’s very very heroic.

The story takes place in the mountains of Montana during the fire season. Peyton Michaels is a reporter writing about heroic jobs, and Gabe doesn’t want to be seen as a hero, and he resents having a reporter on his crew. She comes in handy when they rescue a group of Girl Scouts. He develops a grudging respect for her when they end up alone on the mountain, running for their lives and she learns how to become one of the people she writes about.

Hot Shot was my first Golden Heart final, my first contest win, my first revision call from an editor, and is very much the book of my heart.

What are you currently working on?

I’m writing my first western historical, set in Texas before it gained its independence from Mexico. The heroine is loosely based on Jane Long, who was left alone in a fort near Galveston with only her servant and her children. She learned to defend herself over that cold winter. My class was learning about her and in my mind, I could see a rider approaching her fort on horseback, then falling out of the saddle. I came up with the idea the last week in October, wrote 50000 words in November for NaNoWriMo, and of course, wrote the wrong ending, so I’m rewriting it.

Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Everywhere! I’ve gotten a couple from dreams, from stories we read in class, articles I see on the internet….everywhere. I wish I had all the time to write all the ideas in my head!

As an author, you must be an avid reader. What books do you enjoy reading? Who are your auto-buy authors?

I read mostly contemporary romance. I enjoy historical and paranormal, but my biggest TBR collection is contemporary. I adore Nora Roberts, Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Suzanne Brockmann. I just discovered Lisa Kleypas (Blue Eyed Devil is an AMAZING book.) I automatically buy books from Karen Templeton, Virginia Kantra, Trish Milburn, Lee McKenzie, Robyn Carr, CJ Lyons and Larissa Ione.

What books are on your keeper shelf?

Nora’s Born in series, her Chesapeake Bay series, her Dream series, Carnal Innocence, Divine Evil, Virginia Kantra’s Intimate Moments books, Trish Milburn’s Firefighter in the Family, Lee McKenzie’s A Man for Maggie, Virgin River, Blue Eyed Devil, Heartbreaker by Karen Robards, Agnes and the Hitman, Suzanne Brockmann’s Into the Fire….all I can remember off-hand.

What was the first romance book you read?

Dark of the Moon by Karen Robards. I was on a serious Irish kick and was reading anything I could get my hands on. I belonged to Doubleday Book Club and saw this was set in Ireland. I glommed it, read everything else she’d written, and moved on from there. Hard to believe at one time I DIDN’T have a TBR!

If one of your books was made into a movie, which book would you like it to be and which actors would like to see as the lead characters?

Hot Shot, absolutely, with George Clooney and Maria Bello. I based my characters on them after watching them together on ER. They had some chemistry!

Do you have a day job?

I’m a 4th grade teacher. I like teaching elementary, and the kids are old enough to work on their own. They think it’s pretty cool that I’m published. So does my boss!

Does your work inspire story ideas?

Actually, yes. Two of the passages we’ve read to get ready for the TAKS test have given me ideas. One was about a bull-dogger, Bill Pickett, which gave me the idea for my novella, Bull by the Horns, from The Wild Rose Press, and another for a yet-unwritten-historical. Then the Jane Long lesson gave me the idea for the historical I’m working on.

You can find out more about M.J. Fredrick at her website:  http://www.mjfredrick.com/

***Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Hot Shot***


19 Responses

  1. Great interview, MJ. Love to hear how other writer’s get their inspiration.

  2. Hi MJ! OMG, I’m so excited to see I’m an autobuy! *g*

    Your book sounds amazing — I have a soft spot for both firefighters and Montana. In fact, hubby and I are thinking of retiring there. It’s one of our top picks, anyway!

    Please don’t enter me in the drawing — I plan to buy the book anyway!

  3. Hi MJ

    I’ve got a soft spot for firefighters, but especially wild fire fighters. I lived in Boise, ID for years and lived through more bad fire seasons than I care to remember. I don’t think I’ll ever forget driving through Lowman, ID after a wild fire.

    I’ve always had a thing for the smokejumpers that trained in McCall. Whenever I’d fly, I’d see them in their yellow soot-stained uniforms, jumping on a flight to head to the next fire. They’re true heros..

    I can’t wait to read Hot Shot!

    Robin 🙂

  4. Stopped by to support a 007 sister and learned a lot! Way to go! Hope your book is an instant bestseller.


  5. I bookmarked your blog, thanks for sharing this very interesting post

  6. The book sounds interesting. And I wish that I had kept a lot of my writing from years ago. Think it would be neat to go back and read them now.

  7. MJ, it’s so exciting to see this book in print! It took too long, but I knew it would happen. Readers needed to hold this one in their hands.

    Great post, and thanks for the mention!


  8. Hey Mary,
    I loved the interview. I’m a bit older than you, but my friends and I used to write stories staring the Beatles and exchange them. I still have the novel I wrote in high school.

    How did you research your story set in Montana?

  9. I enjoyed the interview today, nice hearing about new authors I’ve yet to experience.

  10. Sounds great! I have a soft spot for firefighters!!

  11. I don’t know why, but I LOVE firefighters…well books about them 😀 This is on my to be read list now 😀
    Thanks for the interview!!

  12. Wow, I’m so glad to come home to see all these excited posts, especially those who share my love of firefighters! Robin, I can imagine seeing those smokejumpers would be VERY inspirational!

    Merrillee, I did a ton of online research and I brought home a lot of library books, immersing myself in it. A ton! The weird thing is that now, I couldn’t tell you where different aspects of the research came from!

    Also, how cool that you still have your Beatles books! I’m kicking myself for not keeping those!

  13. Hi, MJ! Congrats on Hot Shot! Thank you, btw, for being a teacher! Hats off to you! It’s such an important job, and I’m so thankful that smart, talented people like yourself choose to do it! And do you see more firefighters in your writing future?

  14. Hi MJ.

    I can’t wait to read this. I have it in my shopping cart at Amazon. Now I just have to wait for my hubby to stop dithering over the slow cooker and submit the order!

    I told you I still have an early version on my hard drive. It would be fun to compare it to the book.

    Best of luck with it. I especially love success stories when they’re books of the heart.

  15. Howdy, Fedora! Thanks for the kind words! Today was a challenge, but usually I say I’m blessed with this class : ) They make teaching fun.

    No more firefighters, (my first book, Where There’s Smoke, also featured a fireman) but my next Samhain book is an archaeologist.

  16. Hi MJ! Great interview! I love books about firefighters. Hot Shot is definitely on my TBR list!

  17. Thanks so much, Deborah! I look forward to hearing what you think!

  18. […] 22, 2009 by garridon I ran across an inteview with M.J. Fredrick on the I Do Not Want to Wait, I Want the Book Now blog.  It’s a series of questions not just […]

  19. […] 27, 2009 by garridon Continuing from the interview with M.J. Fredrick on the I Do Not Want to Wait, I Want the Book Now blog.  It’s a series of questions not just […]

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