Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Traveling Interview

Author Kate Wyland emailed me the other day and suggested I might enjoy being part of a traveling interview. For those of you stopping by for the first time, I write a mystery series set in Snohomish, Washington and laced with humor and romance. Because I have a new Thea Campbell Mystery -- Shooting To Kill -- coming out soon, and because I trust Kate to be tasteful and ... well ... fun, I agreed .... And then I looked at the questions.  Much to my delight, they are good! And because the same questions pass from author to author any reader who follows the trail will find out about the various differences and amazing similarities between us. Happy reading, everyone!

What are you working on right now?

Currently, I’m outlining the plot for the sixth Thea Campbell mystery.

How does it differ from other works in its genre?

Although my mysteries have serious themes and deal with tragedy, I mix in a good deal of humor. Because I’m one of those people who often see the irony and humor in life’s events and relationships, I include those elements in each story. After all, even the most noble of individuals are capable of sincere eye-rolling moments! Plus – and this is truly important – there are always horses in my books, as well as (at least) one riding lesson that should satisfy the reader who is also a rider, and should give the non-rider a vicarious feel for what it is like to strive to communicate with an equine partner.

What experiences have influenced you?

What hasn’t influenced me? The sum of life’s experiences is on every page and in every character. That said, I really don’t think I would have gotten to the point where I was determined to write my first book if not for my son and his particular challenges when he was young. No, it wasn’t him saying “sit down and write,” but rather, “stop what you’re doing and be here for me.” It was the “being here,” the many empty hours of waiting to be needed, that gave me the impetus to make something positive of that time.
Why do you write what you do?

Conflict is fascinating. It exposes the inner workings of each individual, for good or bad, for tears or laughter. Sure, all books contain conflict, and it’s pretty clear that humans enjoy the vicarious experience. We risk little, but can gain in wisdom.  The habit of mysteries to resolve the conflict and put the world to rights is, for me, extremely satisfying. I like to think of it as the triumph of Justice, which I feel is a pretty basic human need. Sometimes, we call it “Hope.”

How does your writing process work?

I am a Plotter and an Outliner. I didn’t start out that way, but the more I’ve written the more my process has developed. This is what I typically do: I start with a body. It doesn’t matter if I know who it is or why they died -- I’ll find out. Once I do, I work on the villain. I want to know this individual and what motivates them. I want to know all their shameful secrets and what they want in life. At that point I can intersect their crime with my protagonist and write the story from her point of view. After all, she is the one who will be responsible for bringing the villain to justice. Even though I know she will, I can’t make it easy for her. What would be the fun in that? The more crises and problems I can create for her, the better.

What is the hardest part about writing?

Being able to evaluate one’s own work. What is in my head isn’t always what appears on the page. This is why it’s so critical to find critique partners or editors who can articulate problems they find and point out when the page and the intent don’t mesh. It can be something as simple as having a couple of sentences out of order or a word that implies something other than what I intend. A good editor will be able to read, understand and communicate what is veering off from my intent. It isn’t always easy to hear, but there will be a ring of truth to it that can’t be ignored. It’s impossible for a writer do this for herself.

What would you like to try as a writer that you haven't yet?

There are a number of genres I’d like to try my hand at – techno-thrillers, romance, etc – but to do so requires the ability to write full time. To do that means I must be earning enough to quit the day job! I’m not there yet, but my hope is to be able to reach enough readers that it becomes possible.

Who are the authors you most admire?

There are many! And not all of them are well known. What they have in common is the mastery of the craft – the ability to turn loose the reins of their imagination, and at the same time retain mastery over the intricacies of the language in such a way that the reader is transported completely away from the here and now.

Who are new authors to watch out for?

Here are a few I love – and I’ve put a link to each author with their name. They are different genres and sub-genres, and I’m betting several of these will appeal! Check them out!

KateWyland -- mysteries with romance and horses.
Lisa Stowe -- traditional mysteries set in the mountains of Idaho.
Kaylan Doyle -- sci/fi fantasy with romance and adventure. 
Jeanne Matthews -- traditional mysteries with a globe trotting protagonist. 
Joyce Yarrow -- Chandler-esque mysteries with a PI who is also a poet. 
Lisa Love Harris -- mysteries with a dash of romance and an antique-loving Texan protagonist.
Kait Carson -- traditional mysteries set in Florida with an ex-cop protagonist.

What scares you?

Next up? Where do you go from here? Check out Lisa Stowe. She has a wonderful blog called The Story River where she reflects on the craft of writing and all the thought provoking people and situations she encounters. Plus, she's doing these questions, too!

Thanks for stopping by!