Friday, December 30, 2011

Author Interviews and Books 2011

Hi everyone,

I can’t tell you how much fun I’ve been having since I’ve started the MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE blog! I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many talented people and to read books I may have otherwise missed.

Things have been so much fun that I thought it would be nice to have one page at year end where all author interviews could be accessed from one page :-) I’ve gone ahead and pulled, what I think is one of the best answers to one of my questions for each interview I conducted and have posted it beside the author’s name.

Which author interview was your favorite? Why? How could MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE IMPROVE AUTHOR INTERVIEWS?

In order of appearance on MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE:

Karin: That reminds me, it seems that the place where the story transpired had a big part to play in The Ophelia Trap and your book really connected to it (Interview was not conducted by MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE).

Kate Burns: “I think if all writers went back and wrote again what we wrote before, we might do something different.  I might have played up the contrast between Aylmer and the bigger city across the river a bit more. I didn’t do that because I really wanted to concentrate on that small town feel.  Even though Aylmer is technically a city, it’s this border town – this town of English and French, and there is a natural contrast there. There is a complementary thing going on, not always but generally working and having that as a setting allowed me to explore a little bit of the fish out of water thing. Our city girl has moved there and married a small town guy and is settling into this life and finds out that in a small town your past can be a lot closer than you think it is.” -- Author of THE OPHELIA TRAP

MWU: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

James P. Wilcox: “Time and editing.  It takes a lot longer to write a story than I want, especially because I have so many story ideas floating around in my head. I thought I was a pretty good editor until I had to try and edit my own book. I learned that I need a lot of editing help.  It is a struggle to make sure that the ideas in my head make sense on the printed page.” -- Author of M16 AGENDA and SEX, LIES AND THE CLASSROOM

MWU: What is the most difficult task you face when writing a book? For example, designing the cover, deciding on layout, marketing, self-promotion, etc.

Melissa Foster: “For all of my confidence when helping others, I’m equally insecure. That’s a secret :-) The most difficult part for me is letting my books go. When they’re released into the hands of the public, it’s the scariest time for me, and as such, the most difficult. I’ve said before that I feel naked when a book is released, and I’m not sure if I’ll be whistled at or beaned with tomatoes. I love whistles…please whistle.” -- Author of MEGAN’S WAY, CHASING AMANDA and COME BACK TO 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.)” -- Author of BLACK BEAST

MWU: It is one thing to approach a first book and successfully complete it but it is another to make your debut novel book one of a series. What made you decide to do that?

John W. Mefford: “I got hooked on old James Patterson books and, recently, Michael Connelly books. I also loved the Margaret Truman books based in D.C. The books and stories always came to a conclusion, but you could follow your favorite characters in an entire new novel with the next book in the series. For me, writing a mystery/suspense/thriller as part of a series is natural and logical. And it only motivates me to share a new story, learning more about the characters along the way. Eventually, The Michael Doyle Chronicles will end. But how? And when? Writers can’t give away all of their secrets.” -- Author of COMMITTED

MWU: If there were a room of new writers here, what advice would you give them?

Dr. Edwards: “Never believe for a minute that you don’t have great stories to tell.  If you dream—and we all dream—they are there.  It’s just a matter of discovering how to reach them.  Once you reach the stories inside and bring them to the surface, it then becomes a matter of craft, and craft can be learned if you have the patience and desire.”-- Author of FINAL MERCY, IT’LL EASE THE PAIN, MEDICAL MALPRACTICE and THE M&M FILES

MWU: Aside from your main characters in each of your books, who is your favorite character and why?

Helen Hanson: “I’d like to sit next to Amir on a long train ride. His face graces the cover of 3 LIES. With his background the conversation would be intriguing if not entirely transparent. We would chat, perhaps sip red wine, and both of us would observe the other passengers. He would pretend to be someone other than who he really is, in part, for my safety. Because he would find me charming and wouldn’t want to have to kill me. When we reached our destination, he would turn left, I would turn right, and we’d never meet again.”
-- Author of 3 LIES and DARK POOL
MWU: I always ask a published author what advice they would give to those of us still working away at their first novel, first draft?

Lisa M. Lilly: “Write as much as you can as fast as you can, and don’t worry about if it works, or it’s good, or it’ll sell until you finish it. Save the editing for the rewriting process. I know so many truly gifted writers who have fabulous first halves of novels.  But three years later, they still have the first half and nothing to market. Also, it’s hard to tell if your beginning or middle will work until you get to the end. All that time editing chapter one may be wasted if you finish and realize your story actually started three chapters later.” -- Author of THE AWAKENING

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.” -- Author of RAINBOW’S END, GOLDEN THREADS, THE MATTHIAS RING, WILDE’S GAMBLE, DREAMS, VANITIES, THE RECKLESS ONES, VOWS, SEASONS, PRIVILEGED SECRETS, THE MENTOR, CHARACTER WITNESS, BEYOND MALICE, KEEPING COUNSEL, BEFORE HER EYES, HOSTILE WITNESS, SILENT WITENSS and PRIVILEGED WITNESS

MWU: Given that you have written both stand alone fiction and series fiction, I wondered which was easier to write and why? 

Russell Blake: “Boy. I think the series fiction, because you already have the characters developed and don't have to bring the reader up to speed on who is who. The appealing part for me doing stand alone, which flies in the face of the whole, "Serialize a Character and Build Your Platform with Him/Her" mantra, is that I get ideas for books, and they generally wouldn't transition well to fit one of the earlier characters from my other books. So now I either have to change the story, which inevitably diminishes it, or simply express it as it comes to me. The latter is the purer form, so that's what I generally do. Having said that, The Messiah Cipher will serialize Dr. Steven Cross, because I sort of came up with the idea while imaging what happened to him after the adventure in Zero Sum ended..." -- Author of FATAL EXCHANGE, THE GERONIMO BREACH, the ZERO SUM TRILOGY (KOTOV SYNDROME, FOCAL POINT AND CHECKMATE), HOW TO SELL A GAZILLION eBOOKS IN NO TIME and AN ANGEL WITH FUR

MWU: What is one of your favorite chapters or scenes in THE NINTH DISTRICT and why is it your favorite? 

Douglas Dorow: “One of my favorite scenes is near the end when Agent Jack Miller needs to go down into the sewers and tunnels that run below downtown Minneapolis in pursuit of The Governor. Jack needs to face his fear of enclosed spaces while he takes the reader into an underground world that few have experienced, that has its own dangers.” -- Author of THE NINTH DISTRICT

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from your books (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go…. 

Claude Bouchard: “I write believable, non-exaggerated, entertaining thrillers. My characters are people, not super-heroes. If they get hit, it hurts. When they’re solving a mystery, they don’t depend on fluke or chance. They roll up their sleeves and do the job. My twists are solid, not flimsy and I never pull out an obscure butler at the end to hang the blame on. Based on reviews to date, all of which were written by readers who were once strangers (and not friends or family), everything I’ve just said about my novels is the plain truth.” -- Author of VIGILANTE, THE CONSULTANT, MIND GAMES, THE HOMELESS KILLER, 6 HOURS 42 MINUTES, and ASYLUM

MWU: If the main character in COMMITTED was stranded on a deserted island and wasn’t going to be rescued for at least one year, what would he need to have with him to make sure he remains sane?

John W. Mefford: “Michael would want to have his computer, a case full of cheap red wine, and his life partner, Marisa. They’d have so much fun together they’d probably ask the rescuers to give them another six months on the island!” -- Author of COMMITTED

MWU: I noticed a link on your website that says: “Step in to the fantasy world of Tears of Crimson Club”. Tell readers a bit more about this…

Michelle Hughes: “The Tears of Crimson club is all about fantasy.  When you read the books I want you to lose yourself in the world.  Thanks to some wonderful friends we also have a role play group that plays out the characters from the books.  Prior to finishing the first book I was very involved with the True Blood and Twilight role play community.  We actively encourage people to interact with our characters and want them to come to life in a way that make you feel like you are a part of the group.” -- Author of A NIGHT AT TEARS OF CRIMSON

MWU: As I stated in your introduction today, you have broken through the lines of publishing various genres as opposed to only one genre. Was this an easy thing to do? What were/are the challenges?

Paul Dorset (aka JohnCox): “This is something I’ve thought about many times. Lots of established authors tell you to stick with one genre, or if you write different genres to use a different name. Me? I guess I believe in being a little different! Actually there is one genre I stick to and that is quite simply to write for ‘younger’ people as much as possible. As a kid I was fascinated by reading and I consumed books by the dozen. But sometimes it was difficult finding something that kept me interested. And that was because so many books seemed to be either aimed at an immature reader or had totally adult themes and didn’t suit younger readers. I try to write age appropriate books that can also be enjoyed by ‘grown-ups’! My genre, if you like, is the developing mind!” -- Author of  FERGUS FEDDERFEENY’S FOOD FACTORY, JAI AND JASMINE’S JEOPARDOUS JOUREY, XANNU: THE PROPHEY, XANNU: THE HEALING and NEW BLOOD

MWU: Are any of your characters in AN INDECENT DEATH based on you or someone you know? 

David Anderson: “As a teacher, I’ve met thousands of people in my career. So, yes, many of the characters are based on people I knew. But only parts of them. The janitor in the story, for example, is asleep with his feet in a sink in one scene. That really happened. Detective Sergeant Nicholas Drumm is a little bit like me, but only a little bit. I don’t have diabetes, but I do have a Sheltie, as Drumm does in the novel. The victim, a seventh grade teacher, is a wanton flirt, but I want to make it clear: I never knew anyone like that!" -- Author of AN INDECENT DEATH

MWU: What have you learned about writing and self-publishing and what advice would you give to someone just entering the self-publishing arena? 

Andy Holloman: “Twitter, twitter, twitter.  An amazing place to make writing friends.  I have been totally blown away at how helpful people are and the value of having a “writers network” is immeasurable.  Did a mention that twitter will help?" -- Author of SHADES OF GRAY

MWU: How did you choose the title for THE DEVIL’S GAME? Did you decide on it right away or do you let the story brew for a bit and then choose? 

S.L. Pierce: “We chose the title after the book was finished, and it was a process. I can't even remember how many possibilities we went through.  It was almost as hard as agreeing on the cover (LOL). What we finally did was write down some central ideas of the story and made lists of synonyms to get the ideas flowing.” -- Author of THE DEVIL’S GAME

Maren Kaye: “It was a fun process. S.L. had come up with GAME. We were talking back and forth on the phone with different ideas. I have a clear memory of calling her from the checkout lane at the grocery store with DEVIL and I think at that moment we both knew we had a winner. “ -- Author of THE DEVIL’S GAME

MWU: If Madison Knight could step out of the book and talk with you, what do you think would be the most pressing thing she would want to tell you? 

Carolyn Arnold: “Probably why I had to give her an unresolved case.  Madison is a perfectionist and determined to find justice for the victims and bring closure to their families.  For her to have a case that was never solved, even though she knows who the guilty party is, drives her crazy.  The law still dictates that she proves the guilt beyond reasonable doubt.  While this case is mentioned in TIES THAT BIND, the reader will get more details as the series goes on.” -- Author of TIES THAT BIND, JUSTIFIED and ELEVEN

MWU: If Ellie Fortier could step out of the pages of THE PAINTING OF DECEIT; what: a) would she be thankful for in terms of what you’ve done her character? b) is the one thing she wishes you wouldn’t have done with her character? and c) is something she would still like you to do with her character?

R.J. Grand: “If Ellie was real: a) Ellie would be relieved to be able to eat a lot, whether it was a gourmet meal or junk food baked from scratch, but would hide her feelings about it. b) She would beg me not to expose her flaws to readers, and c) She would insist I write her character to portray her as a perfect person, who everyone wants to be like.”-- Author of THE PAINTING OF DECEIT and ON THE INSIDE

MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from ENEMY IN BLUE (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go…. 

Derek Blass: “Non-stop action. Thrills. Entertainment that weaves in several topics that are germane to our contemporary society, like police brutality and racism. Not in a way you feel clubbed over your head. In a way that first, you enjoy a great story, and second, you reflect.

-- Author of ENEMY IN BLUE

MWU: If you were approached to make the MARSHALL CONNORS SERIES into a made for TV event, who do you think should play the role of Marshall Connors?

Allen Schatz: “I've actually been thinking about that. More than a few people have suggested it needs to be on the screen. I guess I could see James Marsden doing it. Ben Affleck and Chris Pine might work too. Those guys are similar.” -- Author of GAME 7: DEAD BALL, 7TH INNING DEATH, and RALLY KILLER
MWU: If one of your characters could step out of the pages of one of your books (any character you want) what do you think he would say to you? What would they he thankful for? Upset about?

Donna Dawson: “Boy! You don’t make this easy :-) I’m going to play with this a bit.  Doctor Jason Steadman.  If he could talk I think he’d complain that I forced him out of his lab and into the limelight.  But, I think he would thank me that he got a chance to bring his medical procedure, to transfer embryos into women who can’t conceive, into the public eye.” -- Author of REDEEMED, THE ADAM & EVE PROJECT, VENGEANCE, FIRES OF FURY AND RESCUED

To read any of the author interviews in full, just click on the author's name and it will bring you to their interview.

A HUGE THANK YOU to all the authors that allowed me to interview and promote their work on MYSTERY WRITERS UNITE!! You made it interesting and fun and helped drive traffic to the site...much appreciated!!


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