Interview with Roberta DeCaprio

Written by Emily Harstone | October 3, 2013

Roberta DeCaprio is a freelance writer and established author of Romance novels. She has written numerous books, all released by various small presses. You can visit her website to learn more or buy a book: www.robertadecaprio.com/. To read more of her thoughts on writing and life visit her blog.

Emily Harstone:

When did you start writing?

Roberta DeCaprio:

I started writing when I was only twelve. Because I was born with a walking disability, and couldn’t be active in play as the able-bodied children, I read a lot….and since reading often times sparks the desire to write, I began to create stories and plays of my own. Then I made paper doll and sock puppets, and put on productions on my front porch during summer vacations from school. Soon, all the neighborhood children stopped riding their bikes and jumping rope to come and watch my shows. When I wrote parts for their puppets, I was surrounded by friends. Thus, I learned the first lesson in creating a good hook to draw in the fans.

Emily Harstone:

When did you start trying to get your work published? How did you go about doing this?

Roberta DeCaprio:

I wrote an historical romance entitled, The Golden Lady in 1984. I actually brought it to Avon Publishers in NYC, and handed the manuscript to an editor by the name of Colleen O’Shea. Of course, they didn’t accept it…..and from there I was rejected seventeen times more.

So, I put the story away, with great regret because I thought it was a good plot, and didn’t write again until 2004. But this time I wrote a paranormal romance.  Wings Press liked the novel, and Coma Coast was released in 2006. The sequel, The Vanity followed in 2007.

Then I wrote another paranormal, entitled A River of Orange, and this time I sent it to The Wild Rose Press, which was a bigger small press. That was released in 2008. With three books under my belt, and learning so much from great editors, I revamped The Golden Lady, and submitted it.

The Wild Rose Press released it in 2009…twenty five years to the day I after brought it to NYC. Now, I’ve turned that one book into a six book historical series. I’m just finishing book five now.

Emily Harstone:

What is your advice to a writer who is just starting to submit their work to editors and agents?

Roberta DeCaprio:

The late Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s novel A Rose In Winter, was the book that inspired me to write The Golden Lady. When I was the newsletter editor for my local chapter of Romance Writer’s of America, I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing Kathleen. She didn’t believe in dealing with agents, and used a lawyer to negotiate her contracts.

Now, the up-side of this concept is the author is free to move and submit their work wherever and whenever they desire. Plus, royalties received are not shared with a second party, as a lawyer’s service is needed only one time. The down-side is only small presses and a select few of the larger publishing houses take non-solicited submissions.

I, myself prefer to work without an agent. I like the freedom to submit my work wherever I like, and consequently I’m with three small presses that are growing larger each year. A small press is eager to discover new talent, and outside of the fact they don’t offer advances, they are just as reputable to get an author’s novel out to the public as the larger companies.

This, of course is my own opinion . . . and I’ve been satisfied with the outcome. To date, I have eight books published, both in print and ebook form. I’m not offered in book stores, but I can be purchased through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and through my publisher’s sites. I’m available for Kindle and Sony readers as well.

Emily Harstone:

How has publishing impacted your life as a writer?

Roberta DeCaprio:

The immense satisfaction of a company believing your work is good enough for them to print, then do the cover art work for, and finally release and distribute it to the public on your behalf, is amazing. Holding for the first time a book you’ve written in your hands is a solid reminder the hours of hard work put into every page, paid off. And suddenly everyone who thought you were just enjoying a hobby now will take you seriously. Such recognition encouraged me to write again and again, seek out other options and avenues. With a back list to add to a resume, many doors and opportunities from freelance work, to being hired by a magazine or newspaper has opened for me.

 Emily Harstone:

What are your writing habits? When do you write? What are your rituals?

Roberta DeCaprio:

I usually read (all genres) for about an hour to two hours in the morning. I believe reading begets writing. While reading another author’s work, I study their sentence structure, characters, plots, and how each scene is set. This inspires me and fuels my creative juices to flow. Around noon I head into my home office, which is simply a bedroom converted into my personal writing space. It is located in the back of the house, away from other disturbances.

Once I begin, I let the answering machine take my calls, and I have all of the tools I need (paper, pen, reference books, dictionary, thesaurus, and lots of chocolate) handy. I make sure my seat is comfortable . . . my back well supported and feet on the ground. I also have ample lighting, and a well-functioning computer. I take the needed bathroom and water breaks, and although many writers find it to their advantage to play music while they work . . . I need complete silence. I work for about two to three hours on a current project.

And when I power down for the day, I always leave myself hanging. Sometimes I’ll stop in the middle of a sentence. In this way, the next day I can smoothly and quickly pick up where I’ve left off and avoid “writers block.” Doing this also makes me think throughout the evening just how I want to finish the scene, and after hashing it out over and over in my mind, I am eager and on fire to complete it the next time I sit down to write. The system works for me every time.