Monday, October 24, 2011

Author Interview ~ R.S. Guthrie

Oh, Happy Day and it is another special day for Mystery Writers Unite because I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing R.S. Guthrie, author of the newly released Black Beast novel (see below).
Rob is currently working on his second book - a detective/cop novel set in his home state of Wyoming. If you care to read the first chapter, it was published in New West Magazine here.
Rob lives in Colorado with his wife and two Australian Shepherds, and a Chihuahua who believes she is also an Aussie. He hopes to retire to the remote mountains of Wyoming and continue to write.
--- Interview
MWU: You’ve been writing since college, but what I want to know is when did you realize that you wanted to write a book and what inspired it?
R.S. Guthrie: Deciding what form to write in (novel versus short story, etc.) was difficult for me for a long time. I always wanted to write a novel; I just didn’t know if I had it in me. So this past year I decided I better get to it. Turns out it’s even more work than I thought!
MWU: How long did it take you to write your first book and now that you have completed one are you finding it easier writing the second? Has anything in your process changed?
R.S. Guthrie: I started the first book in 2001 and then, with only 25% of it finished, I walked away from the project because of indecision. I picked it up again this year and wrote the other 75% in about a month and a half. I think every book brings its own challenges. Each one is just as much work (and fun) for me.
MWU: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk is (e.g. do you need total silence or prefer background noise, do you have a special place to write or something you have to wear to be inspired)?
R.S. Guthrie: I haven’t quite figured mine out. I have finally settled on headphones and mood-inspiring music. Next is the alcohol versus no alcohol question. I haven’t decided on that one yet.
MWU: Do you normally decide on a title for your book right away or do you title it closer to the end?
R.S. Guthrie: Usually the title comes first. Not sure why. I think I dislike devoting time to a book if I don’t know how to refer to it. Who wants to raise a child to adulthood before knowing their name?
MWU: What books or authors have influenced your writing?
R.S. Guthrie:  Within the Mystery genre, John D. MacDonald. In fact, if you’re writing Mysteries and you’ve not read MacDonald, there should be some kind of fine imposed.
MWU: This is a question I ask every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?
R.S. Guthrie: Oh yes. More than I experience “inspiration”. It’s not a block as much as it is an empty reservoir. I need to get up and write in the middle of the night. That’s when I find my imagination most fertile. But I love sleep, too.
MWU: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing and how do you overcome the challenge?
R.S. Guthrie:  Finding time when the creative juices are flowing. It doesn’t do a lot of good if all my ideas are popping when I am driving cross-country. A digital recorder would probably be a great idea. Thanks for reminding me!
MWU: If there were a room of new writers here, what advice would you give them?
R.S. Guthrie: Write no matter what. Sometimes the muse is quiet. Write anyway. Many days you are tired. Write anyway. There will be moments when it’s literally PAINFUL to write. Do it in spite of the discomfort. (Now I just need to learn to follow my own advice.)
The synopsis for the Black Beast:
Decorated Denver Detective Bobby Macaulay has faced down a truckload of tragedy over recent years. The death of his partner; the loss of his own leg in the line of duty; the companionship of his beloved wife to cancer; his faith in God to his inner demons.

After the man who ruined his leg and killed his first partner is executed, Macaulay becomes the lead detective investigating the Sloan’s Lake murders. The method of killing in this double-homicide is so heinous it leads Macaulay and his partner down an ever-darkening path—one that must be traversed if they are to discover the evil forces behind the slaughter.

Just when Bobby Macaulay is questioning the very career that has been his salvation, he will discover a heroic history buried within his own family roots: The Clan MacAulay—a deep family lineage of protectors at the very core of a millenniums-long war against unimaginable evil.

“Black Beast” is the first in a series of “Clan of MacAulay” novels—the reader is taken inside the heart and mind of a common hero who will make you believe in good again—Macaulay is a believable, flawed character with whom each of us can relate and for whom each of us will cheer.

Order your eBook copy of Black Beast: A Clan of MacAulay Novel
Order your paperback copy of Black Beast: A Clan of MacAulay Novel
MWU: I wondered if there was a message in this novel that you wanted your readers to grasp?
R.S. Guthrie:  I don’t do messages. In my opinion, each reader will take something different away from every book. My only rule is this, and it is the Golden Rule as far as I’m concerned: write from the heart. If a little of the writer’s soul does not leak onto the page, they are just words. Let the reader place the words into their own situation and glean from it what they need to glean. But the words need to be meaningful.
MWU: Are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
R.S. Guthrie:  Emotionally, yes. Always. Sometimes events themselves feed the story. My current work (“Dark Prairies”) is based on something that really happened in my town when I was younger.
MWU: Did you learn anything from writing this book and if so, what?
R.S. Guthrie:  I learned a lot about the process. I also learned some things about Denver, where I live now. I do a lot of research, or at least as much as it takes to be authentic. I recently had a reader who is a police officer tell me I should be adopted by the force because of the authenticity with which I wrote several of the scenes in the book. I work hard to be authentic, even if I don’t have a lot of experience. This way I learn something, too!
MWU: What was the hardest part about writing this book?
R.S. Guthrie: Letting it go. Calling it “complete”. That will always be the hardest thing for me. It’s like letting your 18-year-old child finally leave the nest. Are you ever really ready?
MWU: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about this book?
R.S. Guthrie: There are times when I think I would remove the occult element, leaving just a pure Detective Mystery. But then I get all these great comments and reviews, and I reread part for myself and think ‘no, that’s what gives it originality.’ So I suppose the ultimate answer is ‘no’.
MWU: How long do you think it will be before readers can expect to see the second installment in the “Clan of MacAulay” series?
R.S. Guthrie: I had hoped for December of this year (2011). It’s looking more first quarter next year as I want to get Dark Prairies out first.
MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
R.S. Guthrie: I appreciate every single reader, and I always will. That’s a promise. I’ve met authors who don’t. I adore every person who gives my writing a chance.


thinkhappy said...

Rob Guthrie is a stand up guy and a fellow author that I cherish. So glad to see this interview :-) Write on, Rob and Becky!

Christine said...

I loved the comparison of a completed story to letting your child go. There are still imperfections, but you have to trust that you did your best and let come what may.

Terri Giuliano Long said...

Thanks so much for this interview - and thank you for sharing your insights, Rob! Black Beast is a terrific book. It's been fun and interesting to learn a bit about your process.

Stacy Eaton said...

Yes - you are an honorary member in the police world and I'd have you as a partner in the patrol car anytime. Great Interview! Looking forward to the next one!

Carrie Green, said...

R.S., you provided some great insight in this interview. You removed the veil of mystery from writing and being an author. Thank you for your honesty!