Rebecca Dahlke, mystery author

Rebecca Dahlke, mystery author

Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?

I’m presently working on the sequel to A Dangerous Harbor. I call this trilogy a romantic sailing mystery (rather than romantic suspense because I’m basically a mystery writer and I love the idea of keeping the guilty a secret until the end), and it’s the sailboat that is the constant in each story, but it also follows one or two characters from the last book. The books are based on my experiences sailing in Mexico. I’ve also got a humorous mystery series with recurring characters.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

It makes sense to write what I’m familiar with: I ran my dad’s crop-dusting business for a while in the 1980’s. That was a hoot and fodder for a whole passel of stories. Out of that came the Dead Red series featuring Lalla Bains, ex-NY model turned crop-duster in the Central Valley of California

What are major themes or motifs in your work? Do your readers ever surprise you by seeing something else in your stories than you think you wrote?

a)   I like the theme of reminding people to accept themselves, and of course, learning to forgive others, including those who’ve left you.

b)   Oh, my yes! I think I’ve worked so hard to present a clever mystery, one that will surprise the reader at the end, because after all, that’s the point, right? Then I get readers who go on about a character that tickles their funny bone—in A Dead Red Oleander, my 3rd in the Lalla Bains series, it was Cousin Pearlie and Aunt Mae, Lalla’s gun-toting Texas relatives who’ve come to help out with the wedding.

How do your characters “come” to you? Are they based loosely or closely on people you know?

My characters are all based on people I’ve known. Noah Bains, Lalla Bains’ cantankerous dad, is based on my own father who was taciturn, laconic, critical, but vulnerable in a way that makes up for much of what appears to be just a cranky old man.

Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?

I love historical mystery (too lazy to attempt writing it) and I like romance, because I’m a romantic at heart. I’ve read all of Sara Donati and Diana Gabaldon. I loved Ariana Franklin’s series about a woman forensic pathologist in early England…and went on to read her books under her real name Diane Norman. She passed away last year, much to our loss. Then too, I so appreciate Ann Parker’s series about a woman on her own as a bar owner in Leadville, Colorado in the late1800’s. And a new favorite of mine is M Louisa Locke’s series about a young widow in 1880’s San Francisco who moonlights as a fortune teller. Women writers writing about women struggling to make things work is always appealing to me.

What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?

When I’m feeling blue, I go to my book page on Amazon and look at the newest reviews. Most are favorable, and when someone says that they can’t wait to read the next one, it truly warms my heart.

What is your strongest and/or your weakest area in the creative process?

Editing! I hate it. I write the first draft and think it’s brilliant. Then go back and start rereading and realize it’s drivel. But then, drivel is expected, right? It’s a first draft.

Are you in a critique or writing group? If so, how does it work and specifically how do the members help your writing?

a)      I sort of crashed the party of a couple of very professional authors who buckled under my pathetic plead for help.

b)      We send each person 20 pages, double-spaced, and we use Microsoft’s Trac Changes to show mark ups and comments.

Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?

I got a Kindle for Christmas in 2010 and never bought another print book again. E-readers are wonderful for busy people, and they’re also dangerous for their immediate gratification. I’ll be frank with you: Amazon and their Indie author program made my writing career happen. I don’t believe anyone, other than a handful of readers, would ever have discovered my books if it hadn’t been for Amazon.

Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?

I’m glad you asked that question! I stopped writing when my son was killed in a work related accident. He was a crop-duster and the muse for my Dead Red series. Five years later, I started writing again, became an indie author, and quickly realized that I was going to have to promote myself. But how? Write a blog? Oh boy, not going to happen. So, I started a newsletter, featuring ten authors… and your next question, quite frankly, is a lead in to what I do for a “day job.”

Beside “writer,” what else are you; what is your “day job”?

I promote myself and other authors with All Mystery e-newsletter. This has grown from a monthly to a weekly fan letter, and now includes Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest postings for ten authors a week. I also moderate groups showcasing mystery authors on Yahoo and Goodreads.  And because I believe in giving back, I have a pdf on both free and paid promotion, what has worked for me and what hasn’t. I try to update it once a year, and anyone can send me an e-mail and get it for free:

Any good suggestions for overcoming writer’s block?

Yes! Sit! Stay! Write! I know, I know, sounds corny, but once your fingertips touch the keyboard, go ahead, write drivel and drek, I know I do… and remember, something out of all that mess will surely be useful.

Visit Rebecca’s website