Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Eighteen Excellent Questions

I recently had the privilege of being interviewed by Gregory A. Kompes for his blog about writers and writing. Greg is famous for his Eighteen Questions, which get right to the heart of how a writer works. Read on!

1. Did you choose the writing profession or did it choose you?

I had no choice in the matter; once I learned to talk, I couldn’t stop telling stories.

2. What is your background? (education, work, etc.)

I have an undergraduate degree in Theatre and two master’s degrees, one in Teaching ESL, the other in English Lit. I’ve worked as an actor, teacher, writer and assorted other short-lived careers, including home renovation.

3. When did you 'know' you were a writer?

I’ve known it since I was a little kid. I didn't always admit it, though, because my family urged me to pick a conventional career. Can you blame them?

4. How would you describe your style of writing?

Although I can write in whatever style the job demands, my “natural” voice as a writer is breezy and irreverent and easy to read.

5. What is your writing process?

Get it down, then get it right.

6. What was your path to publication?

I started out writing business newsletters, press releases, instructions, catalog copy, and speeches. Then I moved on to plays and novels.

7. What is your favorite self-marketing idea?

Going to the National Afghan Hound Club show to promote my Whiskey Mattimoe mystery series starring Abra the Afghan hound.

8. What are the biggest surprises you've encountered as a writer?

The single biggest shock was discovering how hard it is to keep books on bookstore shelves.

9. Two parts to this question: First, how do you inspire yourself?

I ride my bike, go for long walks, listen to National Public Radio, or drive along a scenic back road with my favorite music playing.

Second, what are your sources of creativity?

There’s only one, and it is beyond my understanding: God.

10. What is your proudest writer moment?

I don’t think I’ve had it yet! In other words, I believe great things are coming. So far, though, I was probably most thrilled the first time I saw one of my books on an end-cap display at Barnes and Noble.

11. What's the best advice you were given about writing?

Don’t give up.

12. What is your most embarrassing writer moment?

Driving an hour for a book-signing event and having only two people show up, one of whom was related to me.

13. What business challenges have you faced as a writer?

Making a profit!

14. What is your writer life philosophy?

Know the world of your novel and render it truthfully. Let your characters live, love, hate, fall down, and get back up. Or not. Get close to them, but stay out of their way.

15. When you're not writing what do you do for fun?

Swim, work out at the gym, bicycle, read, walk on beaches, see movies, play with the four-leggers in my life, laugh with friends.

16. Who do you like to read?

Lots of teen fiction, especially edgy, literary stuff. In terms of adult fiction, I like almost anything by James Lee Burke, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, Nevada Barr, and Sharyn McCrumb. I also admire Elmore Leonard.

17. What's your advice for new writers?

If you really, really, REALLY want to be a writer, you will write all your life, and you will not let anyone or anything stop you. If you can live without writing, you’re not a writer.

18. What are you currently working on?

I’m revisiting a mystery that I started writing in Florida during hurricane season 2004. And I’m pondering notions for new teen fiction.

(Since my interview with Greg, I've added new projects to my list. Stay tuned for updates on those.)


The Whiskey Mattimoe mystery series published by Llewellyn/Midnight Ink:

Whiskey on the Rocks

Whiskey Straight Up

Whiskey and Tonic

Whiskey and Water (coming in early 2008)

Teen novels published by Llewellyn/Flux:


Sensitive (September 2007)