How did you become a writer?
Lynne: For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved storytelling – both making up stories, and reading them. All through school English was my favorite subject and even though I don’t remember a moment in time where I made the conscious choice to be a writer, it now seems the most natural thing in the world. I spent a long time in the corporate world in marketing, writing at night or on the weekends, but it took many years before that first book came out and I realized it was what I wanted to do full-time.
Valerie: I’ve always been a reader – from the time I was very young, so stories have always been one of my most favorite things. I studied literature in college, have attended writing workshops and classes, and have a stack full of books on writing. In the end, the most important thing was to write, and rewrite and rewrite.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).
Lynne: My earliest influence was Carolyn Keene as I inhaled Nancy Drew until I read through the whole series. Later influences were Susan Howatch, Pearl Buck, Collen McCullough, and Dean Koontz when I traded women’s fiction for thrillers. A few books that stand out: PENMARRIC, GONE WITH THE WIND, THE GODFATHER, and THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT. More recent writing influences include teachers from workshops and classes that have helped me to improve my craft along with some terrific writing books such as WIRED FOR STORY, ON WRITING, and THE WAR OF ART.
Valerie: My 12thgrade English teacher was a tremendous influence. She was the teacher that everyone said at the end of junior year – “You’d better hope you don’t get Mrs. Meginnis, because she’s tough as nails.” And she was. But she taught me how to write a coherent essay. Early author influencers for me were Susan Howatch, Edna Ferber, Sinclair Lewis and Henry James. When I returned to university at the age of 50, I fell madly in love with Shakespeare. I don’t think I fully appreciated him when I was young.
When and where do you write?
Lynne: When in the midst of a project, I write every day, usually even on weekends. I go to my office first thing in the morning and get right to it.
Valerie: I write every day, and oddly enough I don’t have a “writing room” to call my own. I can be found at the kitchen table, an easy chair in the conservatory, at my desk downstairs (where there is also a television and other distractions) or at my living room sofa. Depends on my mood.
What are you working on now?
We are in final edits on our next psychological thriller, currently untitled. It’s the story of two estranged best friends who reunite when one of their mothers is murdered.
We are beginning work on book number three right now.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Lynne: I have procrastinated at times but have learned that if I’m stuck on a scene or chapter, the best thing to do is to write something else. THE LAST MRS. PARRISH was written mainly out of context and put together in revision. I tend to go where my heart leads and write something that inspires me and then return to the task at hand.
Valerie: I have in the past said I suffered from writer’s block, but I don’t believe it was really that. I was not writing every day and therefore finding myself stopped. I think writer’s block is inconsistency by another name.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Lynne: Write the next book, don’t get stuck on what you’re pitching. All those years filled with rejections, the biggest thing that got me through was focusing on the next book. There was a point in time when I was actually submitting three different manuscripts (not to the same agents of course) and if we hadn’t continued to write, THE LAST MRS. PARRISH might never have happened.
Valerie: The first draft is crap. Run with it and know that you’ll be rewriting many times.
What’s your advice to new writers?
Lynne: Work on your craft. Find a trusted mentor, and a class or workshop that can help you improve your writing.
Valerie: Read. A lot. Read fine writers, especially in your genre. Take craft classes. Write something every day. And don’t give up.
Liv Constantine is the pen name of USA Today and WSJ bestselling authors and sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine.
Lynne is the co-author of the national bestseller, THE LAST MRS. PARRISH, the author of THE VERITAS DECEPTION, and the co-author of CIRCLE DANCE. She has a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University. When not writing, she is either on social media, reading at the beach, or debating with her children on which movie to watch. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and spoiling her Labrador Retriever.
Valerie is the co-author of THE LAST MRS. PARRISH and the co-author of CIRCLE DANCE. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. When she is not writing, she loves to read, play the piano, take long walks with Zorba, her fabulous Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and travel with her husband. They live on a small creek in Annapolis, Maryland.