I’m editing GODDESS OF THE MOON, the sequel to MIND GAMES, a Diana Racine Psychic Suspense. This series takes place in New Orleans. A baby has been kidnapped, and Diana’s lover, Lieutenant Ernie Lucier, brings her into the case to see if she has any vibes about who took the baby. There’s a lot of mythology in this one, so it was fun to do the research.
–When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
Definitely the characters. They come first, fully formed and dressed, then the plot. I know who they are when I start a book. I know where I want to go. I don’t know what they’ll do to get me there. I create what I hope will be an interesting character, then ask myself what this character most fears. I’m drawn to psychology, so I love writing damaged characters. I don’t know what that says about me, but in books I find them more interesting—to read and to write.
–Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?
Different ones for different reasons. I love Dennis Lehane because he’s such a good writer. His stories are dark and his endings aren’t always happy, but he crafts such a good story that I’m hooked from the beginning. I like Karin Slaughter’s totally original Will Trent character, so I’ll read all the books with him in it. James Lee Burke offers a writing lesson with each book. He’s one of the only writers who can put you in the scene due to his vivid literary description. That’s rare. Michael Connelly and Daniel Silva are two more writers I admire. There are lots more, but those are some of my favorites.
–Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?
There’s a fine line between promoting yourself and your book and overkill to the point that you turn people off. I hope I don’t do the latter. I have an author page on Facebook and use it to announce free days or a good review, but I don’t do it often. I have a regular page where I post other things that interest me or things that are going on in my life. I don’t do that to excess either. I do tweet but mostly retweet other author’s announcements. There’s where you have to be careful you’re not overdoing it. Some writers have turned me off with their robo-tweets because there’s no interaction. They never retweet, so after a while I ignore them. It really is a give and take on Twitter. Most writers are very generous.
–What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?
Not having to get dressed every day. Okay, a bit of humor. Kind of. Seriously, I love being able to fantasize. When I was younger, I thought of an acting career. This is the next best thing. I can be all my characters and write their dialogue. That’s the most fun of all.
–Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
Inspiration usually comes with an idea for a character and goes from there. In my case a blind psychologist and a deaf cop, a man who spent 15 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, a high-class call girl who wants to leave the life, until she’s forced to go back to work or go to prison, a psychic who is the target of a serial killer who is psychic. Once I get those characters, I run with the story.
One or more of my characters usually cross some ethical line. What does that mean? Things aren’t always black or white. What tempts a usually law-abiding person to do something s/he would never do unless the situation forces her/him to do it? I like obstacles. I have had readers say something about a character I never thought of. It is eye-opening, but I chalk it up to the fact that not everyone will see things the way I see them. Or don’t see them, as the case may be.
–What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?
I like to write what I don’t know, although what I know sneaks in there. I’ve learned a lot by writing outside my personal box. I do think if an author has a specific specialty or career and can use that in his/her books, all the better. That makes the story more realistic. I owned a store once, and one of my books has a character who owns a store like I had. But that’s the only time I really used my life specifically in a story.
–How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction?
I write genre fiction. Mystery and romantic suspense, mainly. MIND GAMES is a thriller. I’d like to think all my books are page-turners. That’s what writers want readers to do. Turn the pages because they can’t wait to see what happens.
–Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?
Since I’m published on Kindle, I bought a Kindle. I should say my son bought it for me. I love it. Not only have I downloaded some terrific books, I can put mine on there and read them before I publish. It’s much easier to catch mistakes on the “small screen.”
–Are you in a critique or writing group? If so, how does it work and specifically how do the members help your writing?
I have two wonderful critique partners. Both offer different points of view and have different strengths. I value them and don’t know what I’d do without them. With one, we exchange 20 pages every two weeks by email. We’ve never missed in over three years. The other reads the book and edits it when I’m finished. She’s amazing and has forgotten more about writing than I’ll ever know.
–Any books on writing you have found most helpful? Or classes you’ve taken?
I have a stack of writing books. Chris Roerden’s Don’t Murder Your Mystery is a book that should be on every writer’s shelf. On Writing by Stephen King and The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman are both dog-eared.
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