Romancing the Word:
the Life of a Romance Writer, an Interview With Marcia King-Gamble

As an ex-travel industry executive, Marcia King-Gamble has seen most of the world, including the Far East and much of Europe. Her travels have provided the background for a great deal of her own writing.

In addition to being AWAI's Student Services Director, Marcia is a very successful romance writer. She has 10 romance novels and two novellas in print … with more to follow. First published in 1998, she has been nominated for awards by both Affaire de Coeur and Romantic Times magazines.

Marcia writes novels for St. Martin's Press and BET's Arabesque and Sepia lines. BET has contracted her to write four more books to be released in 2005/2006. To learn about her most recent book, "Come Back to Me," visit www.lovemarcia.com.

TGT: Marcia, when were you first bitten by the writing bug?

MKG: I don't remember a time when I didn't write. I was always making up stories, and I always kept a journal. Writing for me is a cathartic process. I didn't start doing it to be published or even make money. I wrote because I had to.

TGT: Why did you choose romance?

MKG: I did my research. 52% of all books sold in the United States are romances. That speaks for itself. Plus, I'm a romantic person by nature. I love exploring feelings, examining fears, and dealing with emotions.

TGT: What process do you use in writing your novels?

MKG: Process? I'm known as a "seat-of-the-pants" writer. This approach is not for everyone.

I start with a general plot idea in my head and run with it. I choose settings I'm familiar with. Thank goodness I'm well-traveled and therefore have to do very little research.

In terms of character development, I start by listing physical characteristics. I cut out photos from magazines or newspapers. I paste them on the monitor of my computer. Sometimes I envision a real, live person … someone I know or a public figure. I "people watch" and I model my characters' behavior on those people. If I am forced to write a synopsis in advance (which sometimes happens), the finished product is usually very different from the initial submission.

TGT: Is there a specific time or place you designate for writing?

MKG: I get up early … you know, "Early to Rise." Initially I wrote in my home office, but once I was able to afford a laptop, I moved poolside. If you juggle two careers, you learn to write any place and any time!

TGT: What do you like to do in your spare time?

What spare time? Just kidding. I take frequent short vacations if I am able. I read every opportunity I get, and I live at the gym. Step aerobics is my salvation and my answer to stress.

TGT: What was the journey of becoming a published writer like?

MKG: It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. You hear some horror stories, but I was one of the lucky ones. I always got nice, personalized rejection letters. I used the editor's comments to revamp my work. Then, along came BET/Arabesque. They "got" what I did.

TGT: Is being a published writer what you thought it would be like?

MKG: Better. But I have to admit that it's work. Sometimes, you're writing under less than ideal circumstances, especially when you have a deadline. But when you're doing something you love and fans let you know that you've reached them, it makes all that sacrifice worth it

TGT: Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently in your writing career?

MKG: I would have started writing romance at an earlier age, and I would have learned everything I could about the business side of writing. Writing romance is a business.

TGT: What has been your greatest accomplishment as a writer?

MKG: Being nominated for awards, gratifying as it is, does not hold a candle to the sincere and heartfelt words of fans. I once had a teenager at a mall ask me how long I was going to sign books. She wanted to go home and get her grandmother. An hour later, she was back, bringing Grandma with her. Grandma loved my work. I cried. She cried. The teenager cried. My story had hit home with her. It was one of those moments.

TGT: In closing, Marcia, what advice do you have for aspiring writers?

MKG: Never give up. Perseverance pays off! Don't ever change your voice because someone wants you to. Tell the story you want to tell.

And, finally, network every opportunity you get. Sign up for workshops, attend conferences, and learn your craft. Remember to stay positive and be true to yourself. Creativity dries up if you allow negativity to creep in.

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Published: September 6, 2004

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