Chatting Books and Writing with Author Deborah Raney

 

Deborah Raney

 

 

DEBORAH RANEY’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched Deb’s writing career. Twenty years, thirty books, and numerous awards later, she’s still creating stories that touch hearts and lives. She and husband, Ken, traded small-town life in Kansas for life in the friendly city of Wichita. They love traveling to visit four grown children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away. Find out more about Deb’s newest release—Home at Last, the fifth and final novel in her award-winning Chicory Inn Novels series—at her website: www.deborahraney.com

 

 

Welcome sign

 

 

 

Looking back, who influenced you the most to read books?

First of all, my mother. Not only did she set a great example by being an avid reader herself, but we loved sharing books and talking about books, and even reading to each other—not just when I was a child, but even after I was grown and living away from home. In a roundabout way, my kids influenced me to read as well, because I always wanted to be aware of what they were reading in school or in their leisure time. And my husband gets a shout-out for never making me feel guilty while I was engrossed in a novel—even if it meant supper was late…or burned! :}

That sounds like a wonderful surrounding to be in! 



Kids Reading Books




Which books or characters had the most impact, and why?

The summer I turned twelve and read the entire Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, was the year I knew I wanted to grow up to be a writer, so definitely her characters had a great impact on me. I also read Catherine Marshall’s novels, Christy and Julie around that same time and was deeply impacted by the messages of those books. Messages about being strong, living life in a way to make a difference in others’ lives, and holding tight to faith in God, even when it seemed He was silent.

 It’s amazing how much influence a simple story can have on an individual. 



Hand with marker writing: Words Have Power


If you could write one character into your life from your books who would it be?

Audrey Whitman, from my five Chicory Inn novels, would be an inspiring friend for me. She’s far more energetic and driven than I am, but I think she would inspire me (or already has!) to make the most of the gifts I’ve been given. So many of my characters are patterned after people I actually know (or are amalgamations of several people) that I feel in some ways my characters ARE “written into” my life!

 That’s so awesome 🙂





What’s your creative process for characters?

Being a very visual writer, I always have to have a photo of each character before they really begin to come to life. After that, I just sort of follow them through the story (I’m sure that sounds a little woo-woo to anyone who isn’t a writer) and see where they lead me, and how they grow and change through the story. Often, I get to the middle of a book and realize that the character I wrote in the first few chapters doesn’t resemble the character that has developed toward the end, so I spend some time rewriting him or her to match the “person” they’ve become in my novel. It’s rather a backwards way of doing things, but it works for me.

That’s a very interesting approach. As long as it works for you, that’s all that matters. I’m still trying to figure out what my mine is. 



Process People in Gears Working Together Procedure Results



Did you read a lot when you were raising kids?

My husband and I are both avid readers and placed a high priority on story time and books when our kids were growing up. For instance, our rule was that toys and games had to be put away at bedtime, but as long as it didn’t interfere with homework or grades, you could read until midnight if you wanted. We read to each of our four kids from the time they were infants, and they’re all readers to varying degrees today.

 Oh, I love this. A book reading family! The emphasis on reading is very fascinating. 

 



Name some pet peeves, or things that bother you as a reader.

• It drives me nuts when the character on the cover of a novel doesn’t match the description inside.

• I don’t like it when two characters can’t stand each other through most of the book, and then fall into each other’s arms madly in love in the final chapter. Um…no.

• I prefer—as a reader and a writer—fewer speaker attributions (he said/she said). I’d rather SEE what the characters are doing and hear the tone in their words or actions than be told they said a line “quietly” or “angrily.”

 I love seeing the answer to this question. All are valid points worthy of remembrance. 

 


Crime scene




How do you determine what motivates a character?

As my story begins to unfold, I always have to ask myself what each character has to lose and to gain if the plot goes one way or another. Sometimes those questions aren’t answered until much later in the book, and again, I have to go back and rewrite to bolster my discovery about motivation. I always try to have a positive motivation (because it’s the right thing to do or because she/he loves someone and wants the best for them) along with negative motivation (because selfishly, doing the right thing will cost her/him or because pride keeps her/him from doing the right thing.)

 Great! This will help me determine more of my own character motivations, thank you.



petrol pump nozzle hold by hand with gasoline



Describe your intuitive approach to writing as opposed to outlining.

I’ve touched on this, but being an intuitive writer means that while others are still outlining and figuring out their plot, I’m barreling ahead with a story I don’t even know fully yet. So often that means I write myself into a corner and have to delete 2 chapters and start over. It’s frustrating, and yet it works for me. Those chapters I throw away likely didn’t take me any longer to write than the outline process took a plotting writer. It’s just the way my mind works best.

 I find that so interesting, probably because I’m more of an intuitive writer than a plotter. Perhaps somewhere in between.

 



Have you ever wept while reading?

Oh, my goodness! If a book doesn’t make me cry (or laugh or cheer or get angry) I’m not sure it’s worth reading! When I’m reading, I want to feel all the feels. And if I don’t feel them when I’m writing a book, I know my readers won’t feel them either. It’s usually in the rewrite process that I begin to be objective enough to read/edit my work and see things more clearly, more like my readers will. When I cry over my characters then, I know my readers probably will too. And that makes me happy! 🙂

 That’s wonderful. That’s what it’s all about it, right? Having that emotional response is key. 

 


Crying artsy



 

Name some of the best books you’ve read recently.

• The Memory of You by Catherine West

• Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

• To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander

• The Village that Slept by Monique Peyrouton de Ladebat (translated from French)

 Thanks!




What’s next for you?

I’m writing a novel set in Winterset, Iowa, home of the covered bridges of Madison County. This will be the first all-new novel published by the small press my husband created to re-release about twenty of my backlist titles, formerly published by Howard/Simon & Schuster, WaterBrook Press/Random House, Steeple Hill/Harlequin, and Bethany House/Baker. That novel will release next spring about the same time my first book in a new three-book series for Gilead Publishers is due on my editor’s desk. That series, The Chandler Sisters Novels, opens with Reason to Breathe. After writing five books in my Chicory Inn Novels series, I’m excited to be playing with all new characters and settings.

 Wonderful. That sounds like great idea. Especially since you get to team up with your spouse.



A Nest of Sparrows

Because of the Rain

Insight


The Face of the Earth

Almost Forever


DEBORAH RANEY’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched Deb’s writing career. Twenty years, thirty books, and numerous awards later, she’s still creating stories that touch hearts and lives. She and husband, Ken, traded small-town life in Kansas for life in the friendly city of Wichita. They love traveling to visit four grown children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away. Find out more about Deb’s newest release—Home at Last, the fifth and final novel in her award-winning Chicory Inn Novels series—at her website: www.deborahraney.com

 




CONNECT WITH DEBORAH RANEY

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Enjoy Mystery and Thrillers? Come join us for Mystery Thriller Week Feb. 12-22nd 2018. Check out more info:  About MTW

 

 

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Between the Shadow and Lo by Lauren Sapala

 

Lauren Sapala

 

 

PLEASE WELCOME LAUREN SAPALA 

 

Lauren Sapala is a writing coach who specializes in coaching introverted, intuitive writers. She founded the WriteCity writing groups in Seattle and San Francisco and currently blogs about writing and creativity at www.laurensapala.com.

 

 

My fellow creative friend on the east coast just released another book August 29, 2017. Check it out!

 

 

Between the Shadow and LO

 

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BOOK BLURB

“A voice that was strong and cruel came from somewhere deep within me. When the voice split away and talked to me all by itself I started calling her Lo…She’d watched me at my lowest points and saved up a thousand slights, a million minor offenses. She forgave nothing, and now she wanted revenge.”

Leah is an alcoholic. She’s antisocial, self-destructive, and deeply damaged. She’s also battling a voice in her head she calls Lo, who wants to take over her body. Lo is everything Leah isn’t—beautiful, charming, confident, and ruthless in her desires.  She commandeers Leah’s will whenever Leah gets too drunk, and acts as her escort through the rainy Seattle underworld.

As a misfit bibliophile, Leah’s conception of reality has never been rock solid, but as she spirals deeper into addiction the “real world” of bars, bikers, dealers, and addicts slowly dissolves into Lo’s dark vision. As Lo steadily tightens her hold, Leah prepares to make one last bid for survival, knowing her only chance is to transcend Lo’s terrifying drive toward death.

 

 

 

Road

 

 

 

In the beginning you addressed this book to your Uncle John. Who was he to you, and what impact did he have on your life?

My Uncle John is my dad’s identical twin brother. One of the issues I explore in the book is the death of my younger brother, which occurred when he was six years old and I was eight. My younger brother battled leukemia for three years before his death and my Uncle John was the one who drove us to his chemotherapy appointments two hours away, each month. My uncle had a bad hip, so being in the car for long periods of time like this wasn’t ideal. But he did it anyway. I have always carried that memory of my uncle soldiering on through the physical and emotional difficulty of ferrying us back and forth to those appointments. I watched his example and learned from it. That’s why I say in the dedication that he taught me that “the only way out is through.” It’s a well known saying that means, “the only way to get through it is to get through it.” My Uncle John always got through things, he didn’t run away from them. This is a lesson that the narrator of the book, Leah, needs to learn.

 

 

 

*What does the “shadow” represent from the title of your book?

The “shadow” refers to the shadow self, that psychological dark side that exists in each of us, but normally remains buried in the subconscious. The narrator, Leah, is a normally introverted, bookish type of person who doesn’t know how to express her true self, or how to express her real needs. When she gets drunk, her shadow self comes roaring to the surface, the wildly extroverted, aggressive, domineering personality who has absolutely no awareness of anyone else’s needs other than her own.

For those who are interested in MBTI, I’m an INFJ personality type, so my shadow side is an ESTP. However, because our shadow side usually stays hidden in our subconscious, it also stays relatively undeveloped. A personality expert I love said that using your conscious side is like signing your name with your dominant hand—it’s smooth and fluid from using it so much. But using your shadow side is like trying to sign your name with your left foot—everything comes out distorted and barely recognizable because that part of you hardly ever sees the light of day.

When Leah gets drunk she goes into her shadow side and becomes Lo and, consequently, everything in her comes out as distorted and barely recognizable. It’s definitely a Jekyll-and-Hyde type of situation.

 

 

 

 

Shadow

 

 

 

 

*What does the “Lo” represent? 

Lo is the personality that Leah, the narrator of the book, becomes when she gets drunk. I was an alcoholic for many years and this book is based on my experiences during that time. To this day, I’m fascinated by the personality changes that people undergo due to addiction. It’s quite common to hear people say that a family member is the most loving, compassionate person when sober, but when they’re drunk or high it’s the complete opposite. And of course, people do things when intoxicated that they would never do sober, like lie, cheat, and steal. I find this so intriguing and so I wanted to explore how that process worked for me when I was an active alcoholic.

I also believe that, as a society, we use a lot of different addictions to lower consciousness on a regular basis— that is, to make ourselves less alert, less empathetic, less compassionate, less emotionally sensitive. Alcohol and drugs are obvious choices, but we also use things like shopping, sex, the internet, gossip, an oversaturation of news and media, exercise, and food. In my book, Leah is just one extreme example of someone who systematically and purposefully tries to lower her consciousness whenever she can (through alcohol) because she doesn’t want to deal with her emotionally painful past, or her energetically sensitive present.

 

 

 

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*There are two very interesting quotes at the front of the book. Can you describe what they mean to you?

The first quote actually comes from one of my clients, a writer named Ritu Kaushal. She has a blog called Walking through Transitions (http://www.walkingthroughtransitions.com) which is just fantastic. I was reading some of her work and stumbled across that quote from her and it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Especially the last few lines:

Maybe, that’s what hurt does. It cuts us into different people. There are some parts with their gaping holes that break off from the core, and then they roam inside us, reminding us of our own poverty.

I thought, “Yes! Ah-ha! That’s EXACTLY the way I felt during all those dark years when I was drinking!” Ritu very graciously let me use the quote from her and I am so grateful because it’s just perfect.

The second quote is from Jean Genet:

Worse than not realizing the dreams of your youth, would be to have been young and never dreamed at all.

He’s one of my very favorite writers, and that quote from him sums up how I felt about those years. They were dark and difficult, but I’m so glad they happened and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. As painful as that time was, I still saw it all through my writer’s imagination (my “dreaming eyes”) and I treasure those experiences.

 

 

 

 

Dreaming eyes

 

 

 

 

*After suffering some hardship you turned to books. What led you in that direction?

Oh, I’ve always been a book nut. In fact, that was something I really wanted to emphasize in this memoir/novel. Because of some painful experiences in her childhood, Leah has a lot of trouble connecting with people. She feels separate from everyone all the time. One of the main ways she relates to the world and figures out how to navigate life is through books. For example, there’s one instance in the book where Leah meets this couple who run a nightclub together. She immediately compares them to characters out of a Fitzgerald novel and wonders to herself if she should “plan” to feel about them the same way she felt about those characters. This is extremely dysfunctional—but that’s actually how I was at that time. I had no idea how to even have spontaneous emotions toward people because I was so guarded and shut down. So, I often categorized people as characters from books I had read, and then treated them accordingly.

Leah (who is obviously me as a character) does this all through the novel too. She becomes involved with a guy who reminds her of Prince Myshkin from Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot and so she instantly puts herself in the role of the tragic female character of that novel to support that fantasy. At the end of the book Leah flees her disastrous life in Seattle to start over in San Francisco, and the only way she can process that decision is by comparing herself to Anna Karenina jumping in front of the train. You’ll see this over and over again throughout the book. Leah is so frightened by “real life” that the only way she can interpret her experience of it is through story.

 

 

 

 

The Idiot

 

 

 

 

*What were some challenges writing this book.

Um, wow. I could write ten pages on this. Well, the first draft took me over two years to write. It came out to about 800 pages, and it then took me another nine years to cut and rewrite and revise. I probably rewrote the whole book at least five times. Putting it all together structurally was kind of a nightmare.

Beyond the actual process of writing it, the book contains really, really personal stuff. And a lot of it is super embarrassing. I detail incidents in that book that I hadn’t told my closest friends about. There are sections that are sexually explicit, and other sections that are incredibly emotionally intimate. I was terrified of what people would think of me.

I resolved to bury the manuscript in the backyard and never think about it again at least 20 times. And then I finally published it.

 

 

 

 

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*Name the rewards of writing it.

Ha, I could write ten pages about this too! Well, first of all I felt a huge sense of relief once it was out of my desk drawer and into the world. I do believe that releasing your work into the world is the essential last step in the creative cycle for any writer. If you have a ton of work stuffed away that no one has ever seen, it’s just as mentally unhealthy as it would be if you were a hoarder and living in a house stuffed with piles of newspapers.

Second of all, I made the most unlikely and unexpected connections through the book. Readers messaged me on Facebook and emailed me directly to tell me how strongly the book resonated with them. All the stuff that I was so embarrassed about and was cringing over…well, they loved it. They told me they thought it was hilarious or beautiful or just awesome. That was a really, really cool thing for me to see, that I’m not the only one that’s gone through dark times.

 

 

 

 

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*What is the message you want others to walk away with?

I want others to read this book and know that they don’t have to hide themselves. It’s okay if you have or are currently struggling with addiction, or low self-worth, or messed up stuff from your past. Other people are going through it too. We’re all human and none of us are alone in this. I also hope that people are just plain entertained by the book. Readers have told me that they read it all in one night because they just couldn’t keep from going on to the next chapter, and then the next. I think that’s something every writer wants to hear, that the book you wrote was just actually a lot of fun for people to read.

 

 

 

*Hindsight is 20/20. Put on your hindsight glasses and write a letter to your younger self. What would the letter say? What would you say to Lo?

Well, after living with her myself, I can honestly say there is no telling Lo anything. She is completely ego-based and runs entirely on fear. That’s her role in this life and that’s cool. But I would tell Leah that everything is going to work out, and that everything she’s living through is going to be in a book someday. I think that would have made her very happy.

 

 

 

 

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Connect with Lauren

Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads | Website

 

Don’t miss out on Lauren’s other book, The INFJ Writer

 

INFJ writer

 

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THANKS FOR JOINING US ON THE WRITING TRAIN

 

Train

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

Mystery Thriller Week 2018

 

 

 

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Empower Your Creativity By Engaging The Practicing Mind with Thomas Sterner

 

 

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!!

 

TV Television Tuesday

 

 

 

 

Empower Your Creativity By Engaging The Practicing Mind with Thomas Sterner

 

 

 

 

How do you harness your creativity? Tell me in the comments!!

 

 

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RESOURCES:

6 Lifestyle Changes You Can Make to Protect Creativity

What’s Killing Your Creativity? Hint: It’s Probably Not What You Think

7 Productivity Tips to Boost Creativity on a Deadline

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

Author Interview with Kathleen Doler

Kathleen doler

 

 

Please welcome Kathleen Doler! She’s the skilled author of THE HOOK, a readers favorite book award winner, and NIEA finalist. She’s also an adventure sports addict with extensive experience in journalism, writing and editing copy all over the globe.

 

 

 

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1. How does it feel to write your first book?

It’s an outstanding feeling of accomplishment. Sometimes I pick up THE HOOK and read a couple of passages, and it’s almost surreal…I think to myself, “Wow, I actually wrote this!” Of course, my next thought, is stop patting yourself on the back and move on. Put some words on paper, you sloth.

 

 

 

 

sloth

 

 

 

 

2. How does fiction writing compare with adventure sports?

Sitting in my desk chair isn’t very active. But it does enable me to analyze my adventure sports addiction and what drives my fascination with dangerous sports. And when I’m writing about one of those sports it’s like dreaming about surfing or diving (which I often do); I get the same rush.

 

 

Pretty traveler woman with backpack

 

 

 

3. Do you channel a sense of adventure into your writing?

Absolutely. THE HOOK includes surfing, windsurfing, scuba diving, sailing, stand-up paddling and travel. Adventure sports are an important component and backdrop of the story, even though it’s a literary and suspense novel, and that’s intentional. Very few novels feature women athletes. Very few authors write for active and adventuresome women. “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed was a huge hit, but where are the novels that would appeal to “Wild’s” millions of readers? I believe THE HOOK is one, and I want to write more of them.

 

 

 

 

“You fail only if you stop writing.” Ray Bradbury

 

 

 

 

4. Who is Dana and what motivates her?

Dana is a professionally successful journalist and a hard-core athlete, who’s tough but damaged by her traumatic childhood. She has trouble with relationships, and she has little time for them. Additionally, she isn’t willing to play the traditional dating game. She’s very independent, and yet she’s also lonely. Intensely loyal to her brother and her close friends, she’s on her guard with everyone else.

 

 

 

Motivation Concept - Red Target.

 

 

 

 

5. What’s the bond like between Dana and her brother Shane?

Their bond is almost like twins — each one can feel, to a degree, what’s going on with the other one. Their chaotic childhood also binds them. But as much as Dana loves Shane, she sees him for who he is. He’s an addict and he’s mentally ill, just like their mother. He’ll never be truly stable.

 

 

 

“A brother is a friend given by Nature.”-Jean Baptiste Legouve

 

 

 

 

6. If Shane were your brother how would you help him?

Like Dana I would struggle to help him and yet not enable him. And with a brother like Shane, you must keep his struggles and dramas from eating your life. You step in when you have to…but sometimes when he’s at least semi-stable you stay away…though then you’re wracked with guilt.

 

 

 

 

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7. What kind of journalism is Dana involved with?

Dana is a business journalist for a large newspaper. She writes about economics. Because of continuing sexism in the business world, she goes up against the men in her job and her interviews. But she’s used to that because she’s forced to compete with men in the surf for waves. And she’s close to her brother and has many male friends, which helps her understand businessmen, their behavior and motivations.

 

 

 

Journalism

 

 

 

8. How do you relate to Dana personally?

I’m a lifelong adventure sports addict, and I’m a journalist. And because of that many of my closest friends are men. I also came from a very troubled family…part of the novel comes from my story. I know what it’s like to deal with a mentally ill and addicted sibling. You end up doing things others only watch on TV.

 

9. What’s the coastal town Half Moon Bay like?

It’s a foggy tourist town, a farm and fishing town and a telecommuter hub for Silicon Valley. In winter, huge surf hits at Mavericks, a HMB pro surfing contest site. In the first chapter, I describe Half Moon Bay this way: “On the drive, I note the changes to Half Moon Bay, more chain restaurants, more traffic. I miss how it used to be, a community of ruddy complexions and calloused hands, fishing and farming. Now it’s an outlying burb for Silicon Valley engineers, with their computers and their pallor, too many hours lit only by screens of code.”

 

10. What’s next for you?

I’m working on two projects. One is a nonfiction book about adventure sports and travel. It’s based on my adventures and will include previous writing I’ve done for a variety of publications, as well as new essays. I’m also working on my next novel. It will be a murder mystery, but will of course include adventure sports. And I’m still writing business articles (which help pay the bills), including executive biographies, company profiles and other assignments.

 

 

 

 

 

The Hook

 

 

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CONNECT WITH KATHLEEN

 

Kathleen Doler

Author of THE HOOK

Journalist, Adventure Sports Addict

kathleendoler@sbcglobal.net

www.kathleendoler.com

www.facebook.com/kathleendolerauthor

Twitter: @kathleendoler

 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

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The Atwelle Confession Book Trailer by Joel Gordonson

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY FOLKS!

 

 

 

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The Atwelle Confession Book Trailer

 

 

 

 

BOOK RELEASES SEPT. 19TH!

 

Atwelle Confession

 

 

 

I’m reading this book right now and it’s very intriguing! It’s that kind of book that draws you back into its pages.

 

 

BOOK BLURB

After discovering rare gargoyles mysteriously positioned inside an ancient church being restored in the small English town of Atwelle, the architect Don Whitby and a young research historian Margeaux Wood realize that the gargoyles are predicting the bizarre murders that are occurring in the town. Five hundred years earlier when the church is being built, two powerful families in Atwelle are contesting control of the region in the delicate backdrop of King Henry VIII’s dispute with the Pope over the King’s divorce. In the middle of these conflicts, the same bizarre murders are being committed in the town. Two stories of identical macabre murders five hundred years apart ─ One surprising solution in the mystery of the gargoyles and the Atwelle Confession

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

Talking Mysteries with Author Margot Kinberg

 

Margot Kinberg

 

 

 

Margot Kinberg is a mystery author and Associate Professor. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Kinberg graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, then moved to Philadelphia, which Kinberg still considers home.

 

 

 

*Who influenced you to read books?

 
My sister had a real influence on my love of books. She read to me when I was very young, and then taught me how to read when I was in preschool. And there were a lot of books in my home, too, as I was growing up. I was also fortunate to have helpful, friendly librarians in the schools I attended (our public library, too). All of them encouraged me to read, and talked to me about books. As you can see, I was truly lucky to have a lot of support for reading.

 

 

 

So Many Books, So Little Time.

 

 

 

*What are the benefits of supporting literacy?

 
Research supports a number of benefits for literacy. First, there are cognitive benefits. Reading and writing promote critical thinking skills, perseverance skills, creative skills, and communication skills. Literacy also gives children access to information that they wouldn’t otherwise have. There are also major advantages in terms of academic prospects. And there’s the worldwide economic divide between people who are literate and those who aren’t. Being able to read and write makes it far more likely that a child will find meaningful work and more economic security.

 

 
The fact is, though, that millions of people, even in wealthy countries, don’t have access to literacy. Poverty, politics, war, remote living, and other realities mean that literacy is out of reach for a lot of people. For this reason, I think it’s important to carefully choose and then support groups that provide books, literacy education, and other literacy resources for those who don’t have them.

 

 

 

 

Literacy - 3d rendered metallic typeset

 

 

 

 

 

*What impresses you the most about Agatha Christie?

 
Ah, you’ve found out I’m a Christie fan! Well, that’s no big surprise… Many things impress me about Christie’s writing. For one thing, she was prolific; she wrote for fifty years. And she tried several different formats, too: novels, short stories, plays, and radio scripts, to name a few. I respect that willingness to venture into different territory. I also am impressed with her willingness to bend, or even break, the ‘rules’ of writing in service of a good story. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is just one example, but it’s perhaps the best known one.

For all that, though, Christie worked very hard at writing, and understood the need to keep at it. If she broke some rules, it was only after she knew what they were, and when it’s important to follow them. To me, it’s a bit like music. You can’t understand and use dissonance in a musical piece if you aren’t thoroughly familiar with how melody and harmony work.

 

 

 

 

“Work harder than you think you did yesterday.”

 

 

 

 

*Who was the first mystery novelist you were addicted and why?

 
The first mystery novelist I read was Arthur Conan Doyle. I started with his stories when I was a child, and never looked back. I think it was the intellectual puzzles that really appealed to me. I also liked learning about what life was like in Victorian London. At the same time, like many other children, I read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I loved trying to find the solution before the ‘star’ of the book did.

 

 

 

Arthur Conan Doyle

 

 

 

 

*What do you teach as an associate professor?

 
I’ve taught a number of different courses. Mostly, though, I teach in my university’s education program. Most of my students are working towards their master’s degrees in education. The classes I teach focus mostly on culture, language, and their impact on teaching and learning. I would love to teach writing and literature classes, but that hasn’t happened yet. I hope it will some time.

 

 

 

*You began writing fiction in 2007. How did you reach this point?

 
I’ve actually been writing since I was about eleven. That’s when I wrote my first short story. Over the years, I did mostly academic/non-fiction writing, especially when I was working on my doctoral degree. But I still wrote the occasional flash fiction piece, and a few short stories. Then, I decided to start writing novels, mostly at the encouragement of my family. That part of my writing career started with a dinner-table conversation. I told a work-related story, and my husband and daughter said I ought to write a mystery novel about it. And so I did. And I couldn’t be happier that they encouraged me; I love writing.

 

 

 

 

Writer

 

 

 

 

*What do you appreciate about crime fiction?

 
The diversity of the genre. Today’s crime fiction takes place all over the world, and features so many different sorts of plots and protagonists that it’s impossible to get bored. It’s diverse in other ways, too. Crime fiction can be fun and light, or the bleakest noir. It can be comic, tragic, and everything in between. There are long novels, short stories, and more. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. It really is a genre that offers something for just about every taste. And there are mystery stories written at all reading levels, too, from beginning readers to the most accomplished adult readers. What more could you want?

 

 

 

 

fiction, 3D rendering, blue street sign

 

 

 

 

*What makes a great mystery?

 
Everyone’s got a different response to that question, I think. People have different tastes, and look for different things in their books. But for me, a great mystery starts with well-defined characters. They don’t have to be sympathetic, but they do have to catch the reader’s interest. If you don’t care what happens to the characters, then why bother reading?

 
Great mysteries also need to be believable. It’s hard to be drawn into a story if you can’t imagine that it could really happen. Of course, fiction is fiction, so there’s always a bit of suspension of disbelief. But in real life, murders aren’t generally solved in just a few days, as they are on plenty of TV dramas. In real life, there aren’t that many credible motives for taking another person’s life. And in real life, police, attorneys, and other
professionals in the justice system do things in certain ways. The best crime fiction reflects that reality.

 

 

 

 

*What are your top pet peeves as a reader?

 
One thing that really bothers me as a reader is lack of careful editing. Skillful editing can tighten up a plot, so that the book moves along at a solid pace. It can also pinpoint inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and other problems, so that they can be corrected. And, of course, thorough editing calls attention to spelling and grammar issues, so that they can be fixed, too. When a book hasn’t been carefully edited, it leaves the impression
that the author didn’t care enough to make sure the book was well written. That may very well not be true, but that’s how it seems.

 
In a similar way, I dislike too many stretches of credibility. Everyone’s different about this, but I prefer to keep my disbelief close by. So, I get pulled out of a story rather quickly if something too unlikely happens. That includes too many coincidences, characters doing things they wouldn’t be able/allowed to do, and glaring inaccuracies.

 
I have to admit, too, that I’m not much of a one for extreme, brutal violence or other extreme explicitness in my crime fiction. Gratuitousness doesn’t serve a story. And adding something in just for ‘shock value’ takes away from the plot, in my opinion.

 

 

 

 

*What’s the hardest part about writing?

 
For me, the hardest part about writing is the perseverance it requires. Writing first drafts, revising, editing, and so on all take time. They don’t happen overnight, and it takes persistence to do those things. And then there’s the process of querying and sending manuscripts out to agents and publishers. Any writer can tell you that rejection happens a lot more often than acceptance, and it takes perseverance to keep going even after the fifth, or sixth, or tenth ‘no.’ Writing also takes a physical toll, and there are plenty of times when it’s tempting not to sit down in that chair and get to it. It takes determination to write when you’re least in the mood to do it.

 

 

 

 

Distracted businessman distracted

 

 

 

 

 

*Your favorite books of 2017?

 
That’s a difficult question to answer, because the year’s only a little past half over. There are lots more good books to be released. But here are a few 2017 releases that I’m especially excited about:

 
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books – Martin Edwards
The Dry – Jane Harper
Greenlight – Kalpana Swaminathan
Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz

 
There are also several other new entries in series I like – far too many to list here. I think 2017 is going to be a fine year for crime fiction.

 

 

 

 

 

recommended vintage orange seal isolated on white

 

 

 

 

 

*What are you currently working on?

 
Thanks for asking. I’m currently working on a few things. I’m finishing the revisions for my next Joel Williams novel, which will hopefully come out in the early spring of 2018. I’m also working on two standalones. One of them follows the story of one of the characters in my second Williams novel, B-Very Flat. The other is an expansion of a very short story I wrote a couple of years ago. We’ll see how these projects go, but I’m hoping they’ll turn out well.

 

 

Thanks again for hosting me, Benjamin!

 

 

 

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From Traditional Publishing to Hybrid & Indie with Crime Thriller author Michael Ridpath

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From Traditional Publishing To Hybrid And Indie With Crime Thriller Author Michael Ridpath

 

 

 

 

Are you traditional, hybrid or Indie author? Tell me in the comments!!

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

How to Overcome Fear and Self-Doubt with Sarah Painter

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Stop Worrying, Start Writing. How To Overcome Fear And Self-Doubt With Sarah Painter

 

 

Is your worry and anxiety hindering your creative pursuits? Tell me in the comments!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

Write Mysteries or Thrillers? Sign up for Mystery Thriller Week 2018. Click the image below for info.

 

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