On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author E.F. Dodd talks about her writing career and what inspired her latest release, Earning It.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author E.F. Dodd about her life and career, what inspired her to start writing, and the story of her latest book, Earning It.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
Well, these days I’m an author struggling to write happy endings in the face of a country that seems intent upon tearing itself apart at the seams.
On a good day, though, I’m in the kitchen making something delicious while sipping on a good glass of red. At my feet–and usually in the way–is my bulldog, Beef, looking for scraps and snarfing up anything that happens to drop to the floor.
The music is on (trending toward Tom Petty and The Rolling Stones these days, although it’s hard to beat Some Kind of Blue by Miles Davis), pots are bubbling, spices scent the air, and my friends and family are either already clustered around the kitchen island or are on their way to join me. That, in my book, is a very good day.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
It’s hard to pinpoint a specific time because it seems like it’s always been something I wanted to do. I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a kid–everything from horrible poetry to halfway decent short stories.
When did you take a step to start writing?
My first book, Risky Restoration, rambled around in my brain for about a year or so before I finally stopped making scribbled notes on random scraps of paper and sat down at my laptop to write. The idea for the story had gotten to a point where I knew if I didn’t take the leap and start writing, I’d end up regretting it.
Regardless of how it would be received, or if I’d even get past putting it on paper, I had to get it out of my head and into black and white. And, if I’m completely honest, I have to thank the ladies of the podcast My Favorite Murder for the final shove that got my fingers on the keyboard. There was one episode where Georgia quoted her grandmother’s advice of “Bigger dummies than you,” as in bigger dummies than you have done it, so why not you? For whatever reason, that really resonated with me, and I got to work!
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
Oh wow, that was a span of several years, because I was a total and complete rube when it came to the writing and publishing game. Let me tell you, if you want a lesson in humility, write a book and then send out query letters. For someone who was rarely chosen last in kickball, that many rejections of something I’d worked so hard on came as a real eye opener. I probably started writing my book in 2018 or so and ended up publishing it with Warren Publishing in October of 2021.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Earning It didn’t take nearly as long to write and release as Risky Restoration. I probably wrote that one in roughly four months. Once I devoted the time to editing and getting it published, the entire span was probably only about a year and a half at the most. It’s published under my own imprint, Sugar Beaver Books.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Earning It?
I wanted to continue Kez and Jackson’s story from Risky Restoration, but in a way that allowed me to delve into what made Rae tick. I needed to give her a backstory and her own happily ever after.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Earning It?
Finding the time necessary to sit down and write was one of the hardest parts. I had the story, I just needed sit down and get it on paper. The second hang-up was crafting the conflict between Rae and Van before their happy ending. I hated to put them through it, but knew it had to happen.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
All three of the female leads in my first two books are inspired by the women in my life. People always ask, “Okay, now who’s Rae?” or “Who’s V?” The truth is they have characteristics of me and all my friends and aren’t modeled after just one person.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
You’ve got at least one ex, right? 😉 But, seriously, the phrase “write what you know” is very true. I have to draw on my own experiences to write romance. Sure, there are embellishments and shenanigans that never happened, but my own life experiences helped me craft both novels and I’m sure will help with the framework of V’s story, too.
What is the inciting incident of Earning It?
I would say in both novels the inciting incident is some sort of betrayal. For Kez, it’s when Miller leaves her behind then gets engaged to someone else. For Rae, it’s when Van lies to her. Both women have to recover from that betrayal and move on with their lives.
What is the main conflict of Earning It?
I think both novels revolve around the question of trust. Can you trust yourself to know your own heart? Can you trust someone again after they’ve broken your heart?
Did you plot Earning It in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
To say I plotted in advance is a bit of a stretch. I would say I outlined the major plot lines, but not much more than that. For me, it works pretty well to have a general idea of what I want my characters to do and where I want them to end up and then let the rest flow. If it’s not flowing, that means there’s something wrong and I need to reevaluate.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Earning It need?
I did get a lot of help on both books from my editors Betsy Thorpe and Karli Jackson. They were both wonderful to work with and gave me excellent, constructive criticism that I had no problem implementing. From my perspective, anyone who tells you their book didn’t need a lot of editing didn’t hire the right editors. I don’t think there is a single paragraph in either of my books that wasn’t re-worked in some way either at their direction or as a result of suggestions they made. Some revisions were smaller than others, but they are still there.
Editing is a key part of the process, because the right editor isn’t close to your story–like you are as the author–they just want to help you make your story the best it can be. Even if that means moving the front to the back and the top to the bottom!
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Do it. Write the story that’s making your fingers itch and your brain keep cranking away. The bad news is that once you do, there’s no turning back. You’re officially a writer!
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Absolutely! I have several story ideas in mind and, obviously, I’m going to give V her own book to finish out the trilogy. I hope to release her book next fall.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Without a doubt it was totally worth it. And, yeah, I am proud of putting my ideas out there into the world for others to read. It’s scary, especially in the age of social media, to create characters that you love and then release them into the wild to fend for themselves. But I’m so glad I did!
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