Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SPECIAL Author Interview ~ Rebecca Forster

Hi everyone,

Mystery Writers Unite is honored to have the talented Rebecca Forster, author of numerous books including bestselling legal thrillers, the Witness Series and the USA Today top seller Keeping Counsel.

Rebecca wrote her first book on a crazy dare and that project proved to be her passion. She had never written before but was lucky enough to sell her first novel. Many books later, writing is still the most exciting thing she has ever done.

When this energetic woman is not writing at her favorite coffee shop, she is speaking to philanthropic and writers’ groups about the brave new world of publishing for Kindle, Nook and other e-readers, teaching at UCLA Writers Program or having a ball at middle schools teaching with The Young Writers Conference.

Rebecca is one of six kids; she has been married to her husband for 34 years, and is the proud mother of two grown sons; Alex and Eric.

--- Interview

MWU: Wow! You are awe inspiring; let me start with that! Congratulations on the success you’ve had with your writing. I’m going to start with a question I usually don’t ask until closer to the end of an interview. What are the best “words of wisdom” you could give to a new author that is struggling to complete that first book?

Rebecca Forster: Close your eyes and remember what story you wanted to tell. This isn’t necessarily the plot, but the story of your character. For instance, Gone With the Wind isn’t about the Civil War, it is the story of Scarlett’s struggle to survive and thrive. The plot of the troubles caused by the Civil War, drive Scarlett’s story. What is your character’s story?

MWU: You sold your first story but then began to self-publish your work. What was your motivation for going the self-published route (e.g. ease to market, more control over your work, etc.)?

Rebecca Forster: Actually, I worked with New York publishers for 26 years, and it was an awesome experience. Over the last few years, New York tightened up acquisitions, established author’s backlists were being brought out again and bookstores were disappearing. When New York wasn’t quite sure about “Before Her Eyes” – a book I really believed in - I jumped into e-publishing. It has been a wild and wonderful ride. I still miss seeing my books in print, but I love that a book I believe in can find an audience.

MWU: I’m about half way through your book “Before Her Eyes” and the writing is phenomenal, a great story and lots of action!! That being said, that isn’t what most intrigues me, as a writer, about the book. What intrigues me most is how the writing switches between the 1st person and 3rd person point of view. I’ve been told by other writers to avoid writing any part of my story in the 1st person ~ what are your thoughts on this?

Rebecca Forster: I will refer you to the question above, LOL. That was precisely why the editors who saw this book weren’t sure if it would work commercially. Yet, the dual point of view has intrigued readers. I knew it was a risk, but I loved this book and wanted “Before Her Eyes” to have a shot. I’m so grateful it has been embraced the way it has.

MWU: I noticed your earlier books were more in the Contemporary Romance / Romance Suspense genre…why the switch from one to the other? What spurred it?

Rebecca Forster: My editor was frustrated because I killed off characters before they fell in love and suggested I was in the wrong genre. I think I always knew that I wanted to write thrillers, but when I started I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. Sometimes takes a while for an author to find her voice and hit her stride.

MWU: What is the one piece of advice that you would give to authors that are e-publishing their first book?

Rebecca Forster: Know that success is a long-term proposition. Introduce yourself to readers, answer those who write to you, build a following. Listen both to their critiques and their kudos. Make friends. This is the wild west of publishing and we all need to watch each other’s backs.

MWU: I recently posted a piece on the $0.99 book price and wondered what your thoughts were on this subject? 

Rebecca Forster: I just read your blog, and I wish there was an answer to the question of whether $0.99 hurts or helps our efforts to attract readers. John Locke, Rick Murcer and C.J. Lyons have done wonders using that price point. I keep mine at, what I hope is a reasonable price, $2.99. I haven’t tried $0.99 yet, but I do offer Hostile Witness for free to introduce myself to readers. The nice thing is, if one price point doesn’t work, the author is now in control and can change it. I think that’s exciting. 

MWU: Another question I ask every author I interview. Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?

Rebecca Forster: I experience writer’s block all the time. My trick is to get physical. I play on a competitive tennis team, I quilt and sew and cook – and clean the house. I think when you live in your mind as many authors do it is good to focus on the physical for a while to clear the mind.

MWU: Do you have a favorite character in Witness series, aside from the lead character? If so, which one and why? 

Rebecca Forster: I love Hannah. She is a conglomeration of all the young girls I saw when my sons were in high school. They were beautiful, privileged, smart, sophisticated, young women and even their parents thought of them as adults. They weren’t. They were just kids. I hope I was able to blend Hannah’s fears with her bravery. I love that girl. I don’t know if I’ll ever age her.

MWU: Can you give us an example of a “hard” lesson learned in your writing career? How did you get through it?

Rebecca Forster: I’m learning the hard lesson now. E-publishing has removed the safety net of editors, agents, and artists. Now we’re on our own and I am struggling with technical gremlins. Sometimes scanning edits I am confident were fixed come back. There is a computer magic that is driving me crazy and I’m grateful readers let me know when mistakes are made.

MWU: What is the hardest part of writing the Witness series? What tools do you use to overcome it?

Rebecca Forster: Sometimes I find it difficult to stay ‘in voice’. Hostile Witness was supposed to be a stand-alone book. The editor who purchased it suggested a series. At the time I thought it would be fun – and it is – but there is also this strange sense of responsibility to the characters. I need to make sure they don’t stray from their voice or motivations. Does that make sense? To overcome the problem I go to the setting. You’ll often find me in Hermosa Beach just sitting in Pier Plaza, looking at the ocean and the pier or having lunch. That brings the voices back.

MWU: I noticed that you bend your husband’s ear to make sure that crucial scenes in your legal thrillers are authentic. Has there ever been a time where the scene just happened to be a case that your husband presided over? 

Rebecca Forster: Hostile Witness was written because of a case he had before him. When it was over, he had to sentence a sixteen-year-old boy to the men’s prison. The boy had killed three people and was tried as an adult. I saw how seriously my husband took that charge, and I began to wonder how I felt about trying children as adults. That led to Hostile Witness.

MWU: I know that you are working on the next installment of the Witness series. When is the next book due to be released?

Rebecca Forster: I’m hoping Expert Witness will be released at Christmas. Keep your fingers crossed.

MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?

Rebecca Forster: I would like to say thank you for all the things you do. When readers send a private message or post a review that is an incredible feeling. I know it takes time to do that, and the effort is greatly appreciated. I am honored that there are readers who have taken the time to become friends or simply to share a thought.

--- Rebecca Forster Earlier Books

When fortunes change, what happens to love?

If you like a little suspense with your romance...

Fall in love with glamour, intrigue, money and power!

Family Tragedy and Triumph!

---- Rebecca Forster Thrillers

The Witness Series 

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