1. Tell us about your latest book and current writing project.
My latest release, Deceptive Clarity, truly demanded to be written. I was about halfway through a writing project, now my current project, when a female private investigator dipped into my mind. She refused to be put off. I didn’t want to delay the manuscript I was working on, but Lisa Martin, a persistent protagonist, insisted and Deceptive Clarity resulted. This strong, determined character became my muse and we began creating mysterious fun together. Sometimes authors live vicariously through their characters and perhaps my professional yearnings became reality in the birth of this independent female sleuth.
Blurb: When Houston P.I. Lisa Martin is hired by a local businessman to search for a missing man, an importer/exporter of Egyptian antiquities, international intrigue is set in motion that radiates from Houston, to Cairo, Rome and London. It doesn’t take long for Martin, her partner investigator, and shrewd journalist lover to discover there’s much more to this missing antiquity dealer than Egyptian relics. Deception, danger and suspense blanket Martin and her associates’ efforts to solve this case which end in a surprising twist.
My current writing project, Lure of the Dead, is a sequel of my first novel, Murder in the Third Person, which is primarily why I didn’t want to delay its completion, but once Lisa Martin interrupted, this story had to wait. Two characters in the aforementioned novel, a Houston homicide detective and a female law student, team up to form an investigative agency. It’s not long before they are submerged in a disturbing and complicated murder in Egypt. Historical information on various sites and monuments is woven into the tapestry of the story.
2. 2. PI Lisa Martin is an intriguing character. She’s young, very independent, and strong. When did you first think of writing a story around her?
I have incorporated this answer in the first part of my interview; however, I might add that she came to me one evening when I first went to bed. I saw her as a confident young woman whose dream to be a cop like her father was derailed because of family. She did the next best thing and became a private investigator.
3. Do you have a specific writing ritual?
I find that my most productive time is early morning after reviewing emails and then again after lunch. I write until about five o’clock and call it a day. If ideas come in the evening, I jot them down to review the next day. My ideas and/or solutions usually come when I go to bed, when I wake up in the middle of the night, or when I see dawn break. I try not to dwell on plot solutions at bedtime as that marks the end of sleep before it begins. I try to write every day, but if life interferes, the result may be only a few pages.
Even though I have an office, I prefer to write at my dinette table which overlooks a deck surrounded by trees and filled with wind chimes, fountains and flowers.
4. You’ve published novels and short stories in anthologies. Which do you prefer to write and why?
I like both novel and short story formats, but if I had to choose, I’d say the novel. This structure provides me more room to create plots as well as sub-plots and weave more thematic illusions into the story.
I have discovered something interesting in my short story writing which is not present in my novels. The short format transports me to my childhood or early years and definitely influences the story line—more ‘down home’.
5. What do you think works best for you in regards to promoting?
I am still plodding my way through various forms of promotion, but at this point, I would say an active website, connections with social networks, attendance at conferences, participating in on-line workshops, and meeting readers in signing venues.
6. You switched careers from the legal field to writing and the arts. Any particular reason?
I became discouraged with attitudes in law school which sounds foolish at this point in time; nevertheless, I was told by numerous study partners that I shouldn’t share information with other students. That idea was ludicrous to me—I didn’t know much, but I was willing to share what I did know with anyone. In my own defense, I had just finished my undergraduate work in two semesters carrying twenty-one hours each and I think my brain was fried. Now, I would simply respond to these people that I didn’t like their attitudes.
Secondly, my dream was to go into the D.A.’s office and I was told they often picked the young fruit off the vine and since I was a more mature student—well, you get the drift. When I spoke with a counselor, she asked me about my interests. I responded with numerous ones and she said that most of the students only responded with ‘the law.’ She suggested I might be happier pursuing the wonderful world of the arts. So, the rest is history. I must say, however, that my time in law school is used in my writing on a regular basis and I am much better off for having that experience.
7. A. What do you love about writing?
If I say I love everything about it, does that sound foolish? Probably, yet I do love creating stories that entertain and challenge readers in one form or another. As I said earlier, an author can experience life vicariously through her characters and this involvement adds infinite sparks to life.
B. What do you hate about writing?
There is nothing I hate unless it’s not having enough time to just sit and create. Life oftentimes comes into play and interrupts creativity, but at least it keeps us well rounded.
8. Are you an “outliner” or “pantser”?
I am a little bit of both; however, primarily a “pantser.” I keep a steno pad by my computer for listing characters and backgrounds, locations and time lines. It keeps me from jumping into trouble. The pad is similar to a storyboard. I tried outlining when I started writing novels but found it is too time consuming. Of course, one might argue that the outline speeds up your writing once completed, but I’m not convinced.
9. Do you belong to any writing organizations? If so, do you find it beneficial?
Yes, locally I belong to The Final Twist Writers, Mystery Writers of America, Ft. Bend Writer’s Guild, and Bay Area Writer’s Guild. I am also active in the Writer’s League in Austin. On a national level, I am a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.
Benefits. They are all beneficial in various ways; however, the first organization I joined five years ago, The Final Twist Writers, Spring, Texas, has afforded immeasurable assistance and information.
10. You’ve lived in Texas all your life so must love it. Tell us about your part of the country.
Well, you know what we Texans say: “Texas is God’s country.” My husband and I live in Alvin which is between Galveston and Houston. We moved here to get a taste of country, but the city keeps moving closer and closer. We have three and a half acres so we do have a little space.
11. We love animals. Tell us about your pets.
I have a Maltese dog, Keeper, who thinks he’s one of my sons. In many ways, I guess he is. He’s lovable and a constant companion; however, he wants me to stop writing by 3 or 3:30 and is a constant pest until I do. It’s like he’s telling me—“Enough already.” I had a Doberman who passed several years ago and I continue to miss him.
12. What’s your favorite Southern expression?