The RT Booklovers Convention is fast approaching (May 2-7 in Atlanta), and I’m going to be there. To help get the word out about the wonderful stuff on tap for readers and authors, I asked some of your favorite participating authors (and one literary agent) some questions about what they love about writing, favorite authors and what they’ll be sharing with aspiring and experienced authors alike through classes and workshops.

Laura Kaye, author of Ride Rough (Raven Riders)

Q: What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Laura: Getting to make something up that never existed before — I love the process of discovering a story and its characters!

Q: Who do you idolize?

Laura: J.R. Ward is my all-time favorite for so many reasons!

Q: What classes will you be teaching at RT this year?

Laura: I’m teaching a few workshops at this year’s RT that I’m really excited about. I’m talking about emotional arcs of characters and also offering workshops on writing fast, sensual tension and author cross-promo strategies. Good stuff for authors at all levels!

Piper Huguley, author of A Champion’s Heart: Born to Win Men

Favorite thing about writing? I love making characters from the past come alive so that readers can know them!

Idolize? I idolize Zora Neale Hurston.

Teaching at RT? I’m teaching about characterization.

Kimberly Lang, author of More Than Anything (Magnolia Beach)

Favorite thing about writing? The dress code. I mean, I love so many things about writing, but, really, you can’t beat the dress code.

Idolize? Julia Quinn. OMG, I love her and consider the Bridgertons to be my family.

Teaching at RT? I’ll be covering first page pitfalls — dos and don’ts for those critical, reader-hooking first pages.

Madeline Hunter, author of The Most Dangerous Duke in London (also an HEA contributor)

Favorite thing about writing? Giving substance to my fantasies is my favorite part. Since I was a child, I made up stories, and this way I can share them.

Idolize? Mary Balogh. She knows the human heart so well, and her characters really resonate with me.

Teaching at RT? I have an advanced 90-minute workshop on conflict — how finding a strong overarching conflict pulls every element in a book together and makes it easier to write a tight, interrelated story.

Damon Suede, author of Lickety Split (also an HEA contributor)

Favorite thing about writing? Getting to tell the stories that I wish I could read. It’s like having a library card that I can use to check out anything that stokes my curiosity and pokes my no-no.

Idolize? Too many! LOL Jane Austen for her effortless comedy. Mikhail Bulgakov for his phantasmagoria. Sarah Waters for her ability to make historical trivia erotic and compelling. Jim Thompson for his ruthlessness. Mary Stewart for her sense of pace and pitch.

Teaching at RT? I’m teaching classes on genre plotting, scene and sequel, promo and more.

Heidi Cullinan, author of Enjoy the Dance (also an HEA contributor)

Favorite thing about writing? My favorite thing about writing is creating communities and following the paths where characters take me. I always have ideas where we’re heading, but I’m never quite right, and I enjoy the adventure of finding out, and doing my best to translate the journey into something others can experience too.

Idolize? My favorite author is Sir Terry Pratchett. I love the way he creates worlds and characters and spins them into stories with meanings that resonate for years and change for me as I age. I wept for a week when he passed, and I miss him every day.

Teaching at RT? I’m teaching one solo class: GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) and then Getting Action: Intimacy & Fisticuffs: When characters collide! with Cindy Dees, which I’m really looking forward to. Then I have two classes with Damon Suede: Branding Basics, and Shape your Message: nail interviews and panels by tailoring your topics.

Kate McMurray, author of Show and Tell

Favorite thing about writing? I like getting sucked into a story and telling stories about things that interest me (sports, fashion, etc.).

Idolize? Suzanne Brockmann is one of my all-time favorites. I adore the Troubleshooters series, one of the few I reread periodically. Also, I want to be Nora Roberts when I grow up.

Teaching at RT? I’m teaching a class on setting and world building (something I think gets overlooked sometimes when we focus on plot and character) and a class on self-editing (based on my years of professional editorial experience).

Cindy Dees, author of Her Secret Spy 

Favorite thing about writing? I love the excitement of developing a new idea into a full-blown story.

Idolize? In romance — the greats — Kathleen Woodiwiss, Judith McNaught, Elizabeth Lowell and, of course, Nora. Out of romance — Robert Ludlum and Frank Herbert.

Teaching at RT? I’m teaching two classes: one with the awesome Heidi Cullinan on how to write Intimacy and Fisticuffs … aka Fighting and Frolicking. And I’m teaching a class on tropes and how to use them to build a plot.

Kathy Lyons, author of For the Bear’s Eyes Only (Grizzlies Gone Wild)

Favorite thing about writing? I get to create deep, wrenching, emotional moments for my characters then make them all better. Happily ever after! Also, I can write in my pj’s.

Idolize? Joss Whedon. I have studied his work so much. I even replay his shows and don’t watch the TV. I just listen to the rhythms of his dialogue.

Teaching at RT? I’m teaching dialogue and identifying your genre. I’m a screenwriter, so dialogue is a forte of mine. As for figuring out genre, it’s actually a lot more complicated than you might think. Hybrids abound in today’s story world, and that’s awesome, but it makes marketing hell. So that class is more about basic marketing decisions.

Tanya Michaels, author of The Cowboy Upstairs 

Favorite thing about writing? I finally get to put those voices in my head to good use! It’s a career that lets me do all of the things I got in trouble for as a kid (exaggerating, being in my own world and not listening … writing love scenes in high school algebra instead of solving for x).

Idolize? At least a dozen, but Kresley Cole springs instantly to mind. Cannot wait for her next IAD novel!!!!

Teaching at RT? I’m teaching a class on world-building and another one on writing category romance. I’m also doing the We Ain’t Afraid Of No Critique workshop, a guide to successfully using feedback to become a stronger writer, with my critique partner Sally Kilpatrick.

Sally Kilpatrick, author of Better Get to Livin’

Favorite thing about writing? My favorite thing about writing is being able to work for myself and to spend time telling those stories I want to tell. That is such a blessing, and I’ve worked hard to achieve it.

Idolize? I have to pick just one author?! Um, I adore Joshilyn Jackson and Zora Neale Hurston, but it was Nora Roberts’ Midnight Bayou that gave me the kick in the pants to start writing.

Teaching at RT? I’m teaching a course called Conflict for the Conflict Averse, or as I like to think of it: conflict for people who are too nice to create trouble.

Latoya C. Smith, literary agent at L. Perkins Agency

Favorite thing about writing? My favorite thing about writing is that an author can take you anywhere they want you to go through the written word. I love helping writers to bring their visions to fruition on the page.

Idolize? What is important to me is when authors give back to their readers (giveaways/contests), make interaction with their readers important and fully invest themselves in their brand, characters and stories.

Teaching at RT? I will be teaching the beginners and advanced Working With an Agent sessions.

Jessie Potts, also known as BookTaster, adores books in all forms. She’s fascinated by the book process and is an acquisitions editor at Dreamspinner Press (she never writes recs for HEA for books published by Dreamspinner). You can follow her on Twitter (@BookTaster).

Think Tank