Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?
Hi Mary, thanks so much for letting me chat here on ZigZag today. Thanks for asking about my books and background as an author. Let’s see: my first book, Epidemic, was published in 2013. Since then I’ve written four other mystery/suspense novels and one nonfiction book for writers.
What got you into writing?
I’ve always loved writing but never considered it as a career. I have a degree in psychology and worked in human services for several years before the stress got to me. Then I quit and took a temp job while trying to figure out what to do next. While temping, I started freelance journalism on a part-time basis. Shortly thereafter, I quit my full-time job (in 2008) and have been writing for a living ever since.
What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?
This is likely going to sound a little “woo-woo” but the idea for the past two novels, both part of the Tayt Waters Mystery series, came to me in a dream. Not a daydream either, but a real sleeping-in-your-bed type dream. In each instance I woke up and wrote down the “scene” that I’d dreamt and each one turned into a novel: Subversion (the first in the series) and the second book which hasn’t been named yet but will be out next month. Hmmm, I should probably get a title chosen soon!
Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?
While I relate the most to the main character—29 year-old sarcastic and slightly bumbling, Tatum “Tayt” Waters, I really love her best friend, Ezra. He is everything I’m not: patient, forgiving, hard to anger. Thankfully he’s got a great sense of humor and doesn’t take himself too seriously, otherwise he’d be too perfect and annoy me.
What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?
I really like this scene where Ezra and Tayt are out “fishing.” I say that with quotes because while Ezra loves fishing, Tayt is deathly afraid of the water. However, she’s staking out a bad guy’s beautiful home on the lake. What better way to do it then while impersonating a fisherman? The scene has some funny parts and a lot of action. Because the guy that Tayt is staking out? Ends up coming after them in his boat. And Tayt may or may not find herself in the water.
What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?
I love the early stages. That’s when I get the most excited. There are so many possibilities and I feed off of that.
How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?
It takes between four to six months for the first draft. From there the manuscript goes through several revisions (I pass it along to my early “beta” readers, then re-edit, then it goes to my editor and comes back to me for more editing, etc.). From start to finish, I’d guess it’s about 10 months for most manuscripts, more or less depending what else I’m working on.
I do have a writing process: I call it the 15-Minute Writing Method (I actually wrote a book with a similar title for writers who are struggling to finish their first full-length manuscript). Before using this method I would start a book, be really excited and write away … only to give up by about chapter seven or so. This happened so many times and I hated it.
So now I dedicate the first 15 minutes of my work day to writing fiction. I usually go longer than the allotted time but knowing that I only have to work on my novel for that amount of time helps me to get over the resistance. After all, what can’t we do for 15 measly minutes?
What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?
I love mystery/suspense because of the problems that have to be solved. And I love the fast-paced, action packed adventures of the protagonist.
Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?
As far as writing itself goes, I really got a lot out of Stephen King’s book, On Writing. Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, was excellent and Elizabeth Berg’s book, Escaping into the Open I absolutely loved. I’d highly recommend these to other writers.
Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?
Ohmygosh—all the time! I stopped outlining while writing my first book because I found that it ruined the fun for me. Now I write without an outline, or with a very sparse one with things that may happen. And I always leave the ending wide open. I never know how a book will end and I like it that way.
Thanks for stopping by!
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