Today, the Dames are pleased to spotlight Victoria Marshal. Join us as she answers the Dames’ Dozen. Welcome, Victoria. Tell us about your latest release Bookended by Beauty Queens.

Bookended by Beauty Queens is about Angie Palmer. Angie has really isolated herself from people including her family. Until one day her Grandmother comes to live with her. Grandma brings with her a world of changes, including Val a drag queen who wants to be friends. Angie tries to keep Val distant but can’t. When Val becomes the victim of a violent crime that leaves him in a coma, Angie finds herself in a very public battle to save Val’s life.

Ultimately Bookended by Beauty Queens is a journey of the heart.

You describe your main character in Bookended by Beauty Queens, Angie Palmer, as a woman who likes her privacy. How did you come up with the character and the plot?

Angie is a lot like me in many ways, and I think I was the jumping off point for creating this character. Eventually she morphed into Angie with her own quirks and traits. I’m not sure if all writers write themselves into their characters but I did.

The plot was a little tricky for me. I started out to write a romance with a generational subplot but it’s not that anymore. When I was writing Bookended by Beauty Queens, the whole country was focused on the Terri Schiavo case, and I was trying to understand what was happening. How could people who really knew nothing about the circumstance feel so passionately about this woman and her family. Me trying to understand their passion, eventually worked its way into the story and transformed the book into what it is now.

I can’t speak for other writers, but I’m guilty of writing myself into my characters and often have to stop and think of how they would act instead of how I would act.

Can you tell us about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?

I’m working on a romance that has a little mystery in it. Then again I thought Bookended by Beauty Queens was going to be a romance too and it wanted to be Women’s Fiction. We’ll see what this one wants to be.

I have a feeling we just read the answer to the next question but I’m going to ask it anyway: Are the characters in the driver’s seat when you’re writing or do you take control of the wheel and guide them where you want them to go?

The characters are in complete control! When I was writing they just would not do what I wanted them to at all. It’s such a strange place to be in when you realize that you’re only taking dictation.

“Taking dictation,” that’s a great way to describe it! What is a typical writing day like for you?

My husband works nights, so I was taking my writing to bed with me every night. I now have a giant gel pen stain on my mattress, because I couldn’t stay awake, so now I get up an hour early to get solid writing time for myself. I sneak writing in around other family activities thanks to my trusty notebook and pen!

Hmm, maybe I should try writing in bed. Who knows, it could be a cure for my insomnia. Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Everywhere. That sounds flip but it’s the truth. When I turn on the news, or leave my house there’s inspiration waiting for me. I have to keep a notebook with me at all times to capture moments.

I once saw a woman on a subway in Washington DC who was decked out in a bright yellow sundress with a crinoline, white gloves, and sun hat. She seemed out of place somehow on the subway. She became the inspiration for Val the drag queen Angie meets on the subway in my book. Not that she looked like a drag queen, but her prim appearance was a juxtaposition to the surroundings so she made an impact on my writer’s mind.

I’m the same way when it comes to inspiration. You just never know where you’ll find it. Promotion is a big part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?

Social media is so huge right now that you can’t ignore it. I have a Facebook page, twitter, and I just joined Pinterest. I hired Enchanted Book Promotions to help me out with booking blog tours, and interviews, which has helped a great deal.

I haven’t joined Pinterest yet, but I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about it. How long have you been writing?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write, though I only got serious about writing full-length fiction for the past 15 years or so.

Who are you favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?

There are so many! I love Stephanie Bond, Sue Grafton, Jennifer Cruisie, Christopher Moore – the list would be endless, so I’ll stop there. Really anything that grabs my attention I’ll read. I said once that I’m a genre omnivore and I’m going to stick with that statement.

All good authors and a couple of my favorites are on your list. I’ve never read Christopher Moore but I’ll be sure to check him out since our tastes seem so similar. Who or what has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?

My family. The encouragement I’ve received from my parents, sister, and husband has been overwhelming. I would be doing this if it wasn’t for their support, and cajoling.

Yep, family is the most important for me, too. In fact, I often say if it wasn’t for my sister, Christy, I would never have written my first word. What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?

The ability to make the world what you want it to be. As a writer you get a great opportunity to right the wrongs, and create happy endings. That is the best part for me.

Your answer reminds me of my favorite quote from author Anais Nin: I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. Tell us a little bit about where you live in “real life.”

I live in sunny Minnesota! Yes, I said sunny. Why are you laughing?

Minnesota has always been my home and always will be if I have something to say about it. It’s so beautiful here. Everyone should come to Minnesota. If you’re wimpy about cold then come in July, it will be plenty hot!

I’m not laughing, I’m remembering when I lived in Maine. It’s not for everyone but I loved it—cold, snow, the whole bit. And when spring comes, there’s nothing to compare it to.

Thank you for joining us today, Victoria. I enjoyed getting to know you and hope you’ll come back and visit us often.

For more information on Victoria, visit her website and blog at http://victoriamarshal.com/.