1) –Tell us about your latest book. My most recent book is THE LONG STITCH GOODNIGHT. It’s book number four in the embroidery mystery series starring Marcy Singer and set on the Oregon coast. In THE LONG STITCH GOODNIGHT, Marcy has taken an interest in Irish embroidery, but she can’t help but abandon her needlecraft when handsome local brewer Todd finds himself accused of murder. Both Todd and his friend Blake’s fingerprints are on the murder weapon, and neither is talking about what happened. Marcy is determined to stitch together some luck from more than a few four-leaf clovers and prove that the culprit was someone else.
2) –Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next? The next book in the embroidery series is called THREAD ON ARRIVAL and is due to be released on December 4, 2012. In THREAD ON ARRIVAL, Marcy is entrusted with a tapestry believed to be a treasure map. When the map’s owner is killed, Marcy is determined to find out who and why. And, so his legacy won’t be lost, she decides to find out if the tapestry really is a treasure map.
I’m also getting started on the next book in the cake decorating mystery series, BATTERED TO DEATH, set in the fictional Southwest Virginia town of Brea Ridge. That book should be released sometime next year.
3) –What is a typical writing day like for you? I generally write while my children are at school. I try to get in a chapter a day.
4) –When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters? I try to be, but it seems they’re always doing something I hadn’t anticipated! But I think when you let the story flow naturally, and you’re sometimes surprised by what the characters do, then your readers will be too.
5) –Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you? Dean Koontz, Jeffrey Deaver, Mary Higgins Clark. I love these authors because they write terrific mysteries and thrillers. I especially love how Dean Koontz blends humor and heart with his mysteries. You care about his books so much because you feel so invested in his characters. Take Koontz’s character, Odd Thomas—he’s a fry cook who is trying to live as normal a life as possible despite having a supernatural gift that constantly makes his life abnormal. Thanks to Koontz’s deft writing style, readers (this reader, anyway) love Odd Thomas within reading the first two pages of the book.
6) –Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote? The part of promotion that I love is going to new places and meeting people, including readers and other authors. I sometimes participate in online group chats, which can be fun, but they’re also nerve-wracking. People are asking questions all at once, and you’re trying to determine whether the question was meant for you or for someone else and making sure you’ve answered every question you were asked and thanked everyone who paid you a compliment. I do giveaways when books are released, and at other times throughout the year. For example, I’m part of a blog group called Fatal Foodies that is doing a trick-or-treat event on Halloween. (Readers will be given links to authors’ websites or other places where they can receive “treats,” such as enter book giveaways, get a free cross-stitch pattern or recipe, or see a cute picture or joke.)
7) –Tell us a little bit about where you live. I live in a rural town in Virginia that is actually becoming more urban by the day. Still, we live far enough out in the country that we can escape the hustle-and-bustle when we need to, and close enough to jump right into that hustle-and-bustle when we’ve got the nerve! We also live far enough out in the country to have plenty of both inside and outside pets: four cats (two feral), and two dogs. We love our mountains and sitting in the swing on a warm summer evening.
8) –Mark Twain said, “Southerners speak music…” Do you have a favorite southern saying you can share with our readers? My grandmother had so many! One of my favorites is, “You look like you’ve got the world by the tail on a downhill pull.”
9) –Who were your favorite authors as a child? Have they influenced your writing career in any way? Carolyn Keene, the pen name given to the authors of the Nancy Drew series; Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven series; and, as I got older, Victoria Holt. I think you write the types of books you enjoy reading. I’ve always enjoyed reading mysteries and suspense novels, and I think these books set me on the path to writing those types of books also.
10) –If you could talk for thirty minutes with any author (or person), living or dead, who would it be? Only one? Hmmm…Poe or Shakespeare? Poe…or Shakespeare? I think I’d have to go with Shakespeare. No wait, Poe. No…I’ll go with Shakespeare.
11) –What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”? I’m more inclined to say “write what you feel.” If you get characterization down, then your readers will care about your characters and your book. You can research all the things you don’t know; just be sure to breathe life into those characters.
12) –Any good suggestions for overcoming writer’s block? Do a what-if session. Wherever you are in your story when writer’s block hits, list at least three what-ifs that could move the story forward. For example, the character is in her home at the point where you become blocked. A) What if she decides to go out? Where would she go? She could go the park where she would have an encounter with the person who is to turn out to be the villain (or love interest) in the story. B) What if there is a car accident outside her house? She could run outside and see that one of the people in the accident is someone she knew long ago. How could this be beneficial to the story and move the plot along? The old friend could have information vital to the mystery in the story or he/she could become an important secondary character. C) She could get a phone call that would be important to the plot. It could be a ruse by the villain to get her out of her home. It could be an actual emergency in which she’ll have to confront emotional issues she’s been avoiding. It could be a wrong number that ultimately points to the identity of the killer.
Websites: Gayle’s webpage: http://www.gayletrent.com
Fatal Foodies: http://www.fatalfoodies.blogspot.com/
Gayle’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GayleTrentandAmandaLee?ref=hl