Interview with Narrator Andrea Emmes

 

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When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?

Well, I kind of fell into audiobooks in 2014 and haven’t looked back since. I’ve been a professional performer (actor/singer/dancer/VO) for over 20 years but in 2006 I got hurt in a stunt show and had to retire due to a disabling pain disorder called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy aka CRPS. I’ve always been an avid reader and during my recovery I read about 8-12 books a week. I went back to college and got a degree in Game Art and Design and was a game designer for Disney Interactive for a couple of years After the layoffs, I had to figure out what I should do next as I can no longer dance, etc. anymore and my husband suggested I look into audiobooks. He’s brilliant and I researched it, set up my equipment, studied with coaches and have enjoyed every minute of it!!

 

 

 

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How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?

That is a great question, but narration can be tedious. Especially because you have to learn a ton of tech and engineering besides just speaking into the mic. It’s important to take lots of small breaks. Especially because it’s not good to be sitting or standing for too long. Because of my disability, I have to narrate sitting down, so it’s important for me to stretch or lay down every once in a while. Also, it can be hard to maintain your enthusiasm because, yes, I have a wicked cool job that I LOVE, but sometimes it’s hard to get into the emotions of the book. But I remind myself that I’m so blessed to do what I do; to have authors and publishers who believe and trust in me to bring their book to life and I don’t take that honor lightly. If I’m struggling or just not feeling it, I’ll step away, play some video games or watch TV or go for a walk and then come back fresh and get back to work!! As long as I hit my deadline, my daily schedule is flexible.

 

 

 

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What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?

Well first, I LOVE Michelle Madow’s work. That was a definite first draw for me as I’ve been a fan of hers for a while and have read some of her books already. What I love about the Transcend Time Saga Series is not just some fun characters and the love story, but I was intrigued by the time travel aspect of it and I’m a huge Jane Austen and Regency Era fan so to be able to be a part of that world and bring those scenarios and characters to life was really fun and fulfilling. I also love anything that has a mystical, supernatural or paranormal slant to it and I loved how Michelle merged the normalcy of teenage issues – boys, relationships, school – and beautifully worked in this fun mythos of time travel and reincarnation.

 

 

 

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How closely do you prefer to work with authors?

Before I being recording the book, I like to work very close with the authors if they are available. After I read the book, I’ll send any questions I might have to the author if I need clarification and then I’ll also ask them to provide me with a character sheet that describes all of the characters that are most important to them so I can get an idea of what they were thinking about for them. Their quirks, age, vocal preferences, etc. However, since my job as the narrator is to be the producer and director, after the first fifteen minutes has been approved, I will not take acting or directing notes. So it’s important for me to make sure that I have as much as I can beforehand and hopefully leave a lasting impression with the author that their book, their “baby” is in good hands and that I will give it the best that I have to make sure the audiobook, which is now “our baby” is excite the listeners.

 

 

 

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Who are your “accent inspirations”?

When I’m going to be doing accents, I don’t really have a person I’m inspired by. I just try to do as much research as I can to get the accent correct. If it’s RP British in the Regency Era, then I’ll watch a lot of Jane Austen or Downton Abbey. It’s it needs to be really Cockney like someone from Essex, then I’ll find shows like “The Only Way is Essex”. I’ve looked a lot on YouTube, but I also work with some amazing coaches to help me get the accent just right. (PJ Ochlan and Joel Froomkin are amazing!)

 

 

 

 

 

About the Narrator: Andrea Emmes

Audible Best Selling Narrator, Andrea Emmes was born in Hollywood, FL and grew up in both Tennessee and Rhode Island, started her career in musical theater. Cutting her teeth at The Trinity Arts Center in Rhode Island, Andrea eventually made her way to Orlando and began her eclectic career singing/dancing in various shows at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Pirates’ Dinner Adventure, performing as a magician’s assistant, headlining on the Las Vegas Strip and touring Los Angeles as an L.A. Award winning artist with her album, “I’m On My Way”.

Having worked in tv, film and video games, Andrea, a total Book Nerd, now enjoys narrating audiobooks at her home studio in San Jose, California.

Her wide range of character voices and dynamic/emotionally invested performances has reviewers and listeners alike commenting on how she effortlessly pulls listeners in, and has versatility and charisma.

 

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Book Hoarders Reading Challenge

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“When faced with a challenge, look for a way, not a way out.” -David L. Weatherford 

 

 

 

 

 

This post is dedicated to all the book lovers out there. You may or may not be a book hoarder because there’s a big difference between the two. I currently have 1,725 books on my “to be read” list and it’s still increasing at an alarming rate.  Yikes!

 

 

Are you a Book Hoarder? Does this sound like you? Read on….

 

 

  • First, it’s virtually impossible to resist a good book, especially if it’s on sale.
  • Second, having the painful realization that you can’t read every book.
  • The unread books on your shelf are piling up while you continue to add gobs more.
  • There’s that book or series that you can’t wait to read, but—-you never get around to it.
  • You’re always a sucker for free books, promos, or books on sale.
  • You have so many books you forgot the new ones you just added.
  • The ratio of books read to books added is way out of balance.
  • The books on your TBR list NEVER decreases but increases.

 

 

 

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If this is you don’t despair! We need a change in our mindset, our strategy. For this I’d like to present to you a challenge. The #BookHoarders challenge. I have some ideas so tell me what you think.

 

 

  • For every book you buy or add to your TBR list you read two on your shelf.
  • Switch up your reading habits per week or month.
  • Read new books for one week, then read books on your shelf the next.
  • Use a reward system. For every 3 books on your TBR you read, treat yourself to a new one.
  • Do it pairs. Get a book buddy to keep you accountable! Challenge each other.
  • Join the Book Hoarders Bucket List Challenge on Goodreads for support!

 

 

 

 

Benefits / Würfel mit Symbole

 

 

 

  • You actually read the books you bought!
  • You’ll better yourself by reading more stories.
  • Decrease the amount of books on your shelves or TBR list.
  • Read more books, give more reviews and help authors succeed.
  • Gain a book buddy and enrich your experience with other book hoarders.
  • You’ll feel better!

 

 

What do you think?  Tell me in the comments!!

Share the hashtag #BookHoarders

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

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Celebrating Perseverance in the Writing Community

 

 

 

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Today I am happy to be part of Writers Persevere!, an event that authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are running for the next few days to celebrate their release of their newest book, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Psychological Trauma. This book looks at the difficult experiences embedded in our character’s backstory which will shape their motivation and behavior afterward.

 

 

 

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Because Angela and Becca have spent the last year exploring painful
human struggles, they wanted to highlight a very important aspect of
overcoming difficult circumstances: it can make us stronger. I promised to let Angela hijack my blog today, so please read on!

***

Hi everyone! When you set out to find examples of inner strength, you don’t have to go very far. Right here in the writing community we see it every day. Writers more than anyone understand the swirl of emotions as we work toward publication. We dream of making it and seeing our books in the hands of readers…yet doubt and frustration can be a constant companion. For us, there is a lot to learn, much to steel our nerves for, and unfortunately, a host of real-world problems that can try to derail us. And, even as we slowly move forward and grow, we can sometimes feel like impostors. This is a tough road.

 
But the fact that writers face this battle, day after day, and KEEP GOING…this should be celebrated! We need to be reminded that we are much stronger than we sometimes believe. We dream, create, and force ourselves to keep striving. Through the ups and downs, we persevere!

 

 

Have you encountered something on the writing road that made you question yourself? Have you faced an obstacle that required a force of will to get past?

 

 

 

If so, we want to hear about it! Join Becca and me at Writers Helping Writers from October 25-27th,  where we are celebrating writers and their stories of perseverance. Stop in, and tell us about a challenge or struggle your faced, or if you like, join this event by writing a post on your own blog and share it using the hashtag #writerspersevere. Let’s fill social media with your strength and let other writers know that it’s okay to question and have doubts but we shouldn’t let that stop us.

 

 

 

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GIVEAWAY ALERT!

We also have a prize vault filled with items that can give your writing career a boost, so stop by Writers Helping Writers. I would love for one of you to win something that will help you get closer to your goal!

If you struggle, remember to reach out to others. We are in this  together, and by supporting one another, we cross the finish line together (and then keep going!).

Happy writing!

Angela & Becca

 

Writing Tips for Dynamic Story Creation with Maxwell Alexander Drake

ITS’ TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

 

 

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Writing Tips for Dynamic Story Creation with Maxwell Alexander Drake

 

 

 

 

What did you take away from dynamic story creation? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

Maxwell Alexander Drake:

Writing website | Author website

 

 

 

Point of View

 

Amazon

 

 

 

Dynamic Story Creation

 

Amazon

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

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The Transcend Time Saga by Michelle Madow & Narrator Interview

 

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Synopsis: Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from 1815, England… but she doesn’t realize it until she meets her soul mate from the past and he triggers her memories to gradually return. The series began with Remembrance, was followed by the short story Vengeance, and concluded with Timeless. The series has sold a significant number of copies, and has received much praise from reviewers. Read all three parts together in this special box set!

 

 

 

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Please Welcome Andrea Emmes professional audiobook narrator of the Transcend Time Saga written by Bestselling author Michelle Madow.

 

See my review of Remembrance, the first book of the series.

 

 

 

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About the Narrator: Andrea Emmes

Audible Best Selling Narrator, Andrea Emmes was born in Hollywood, FL and grew up in both Tennessee and Rhode Island, started her career in musical theater. Cutting her teeth at The Trinity Arts Center in Rhode Island, Andrea eventually made her way to Orlando and began her eclectic career singing/dancing in various shows at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Pirates’ Dinner Adventure, performing as a magician’s assistant, headlining on the Las Vegas Strip and touring Los Angeles as an L.A. Award winning artist with her album,”I’m On My Way”. Having worked in tv, film and video games, Andrea, a total Book Nerd, now enjoys narrating audiobooks at her home studio in San Jose, California. Her wide range of character voices and dynamic/emotionally invested performances has reviewers and listeners alike commenting on how she effortlessly pulls listeners in, and has versatility and charisma.

 

 

 

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A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?

I, too, have a background in theatre and though I think that it was 100% helpful for me in bringing those acting techniques to my narration, it’s not a MUST. But it does help. Audiobook Narration is an acting job. You are cast to not only bring the book to life audibly, but you must vocally and emotionally embody each character, the tone of the book and entertain at the same time. It’s no easy feat. So for those who don’t have any acting background and want to be a narrator, it can be learned with really great coaching. I know many successful narrators who didn’t come from the acting world but put in so much work to be the best at what they do.

 

 

 

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What type of training have you undergone?

I’ve been studied the art of acting and performing for more than half my life. I’ve taken singing lessons to not only bring a higher quality to my singing voice, but to help with breath control, mic techinques and vocal upkeep. I’ve studied with the best of the best for voice over work for commercials, animation, video games and of course audiobooks. What’s interesting is that the technique for voice over (commercial/animation/videogames) is different for audiobooks. There is a different approach you need to take with NonFiction (which is still acting) and with Fiction. How you approach different character voices but not be over the top cartoony, keeping the narration genuine and engaging to keep the listener immersed. Sometimes, I enjoy the training just as much as the actual narration.

 

 

 

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Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?

I AM! I love them. I’ve always loved story time as a child and in a way, it brings me back to when my parents would read to me. Audiobooks allow you to dive into the world of a good book and amazing characters, hear them come to life with the different voices, etc. and just let your imagination soar. When I’m listening, I can see the world that the narrator is describing. Also, it’s great to keep me entertained while I’m driving, cleaning or going for a walk. I’m a book addict and a total audiophile!

 

 

 

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What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?

Hmm. I think my favorite parts of narrating is when I first read the book, make all of my notes and really work on the characters. I also really love emotional stories, where the characters are going through a hard time, some kind of trauma, or whatever and I can dive into what they are feeling. It can be hard emotionally on me as sometimes I’ve had to stop recording because I have to ugly cry for a moment, but it’s so fulfilling to actualize these moments in a hopefully genuine manner that will touch the listener. The best feeling is when the book is complete and gets approved ☺.

My least favorite part of narration would be if I have to edit/master my own book. That is a very tedious process and whenever I can afford to hire a professional engineer I jump at the chance. (plus, they do a way better job than I do so they are worth every penny!)

 

 

 

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What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?

Wow. That’s a hard question. I think for me, really getting into the mindset of a character, especially an angst-y young adult character and bringing them to life in a believable way is something I feel confident with.

 

 

 

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THANKS ANDREA!

 

See the Audiobook Review of Remembrance and Narrator performance.

 

 

Connect with Andrea Emmes

 

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A special thank you to Jess from Audiobookworm Promotions for organizing this blog tour and providing a complimentary copy for review purposes.  It was a blast.

 

 

 

About the Author

 

 

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Michelle Madow is a USA Today bestselling author of fast paced fantasy novels that will leave you turning the pages wanting more! She grew up in Maryland and now lives in Florida. Some of her favorite things are: reading, traveling, pizza, time travel, Broadway musicals, and spending time with friends and family. Someday, she hopes to travel the world for a year on a cruise ship.

 

 

 

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Connect with Michelle Madow

 

WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreadsAmazon

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.thewritingtrain.com

Don’t miss Mystery Thriller Week!

 

 

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Author Mary Angela Introduces Passport to Murder

 

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Death never takes a holiday, but it certainly can take away one. Will Professor Prather find out who killed her Parisian plans before the end of spring break?

 

 

 

 

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

 

 

About the Author

Mary Angela is the author of the Professor Prather academic mystery series, which has been called “enjoyable” and “clever” by Publishers Weekly. She is also an educator and has taught English and humanities at South Dakota’s public and private universities for over ten years. When Mary isn’t writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. For more information about Mary or the series, go to MaryAngelaBooks.com.

 

 

Book Blurb

Passport to Murder (Professor Prather Mystery #2)

 

Start with an unlucky number. Throw in a romantic location. Include a dashing Frenchman and an uncompromising professor. And you have all the ingredients for a passport to murder.

This semester, it seems that Professor Prather’s dreams are about to come true. Ever since she was a young girl, she’s imagined going to France, and her French colleague, André Duman, has finally made that trip possible. Over spring break, she and André are to lead a group of students and faculty to Paris to explore the City of Light. But before she can utter her first bonjour, a professor dies, and they are stuck in Minneapolis. She returns to Copper Bluff with an unstamped passport and a mystery to solve.
When André becomes the prime suspect, Emmeline puts her research skills to good use, determined to find out who really killed the professor and spoiled their spring break plans. With thirteen travelers assembled, the possibilities are varied and villainous. Luckily, her dear friend and sidekick, Lenny Jenkins, is close by. Together, they will sort through the conflicting clues even if it costs them time, trouble, or tenure.

 

 

 

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  1. What was your process for creating English professor Emmeline Prather?

I knew I wanted to set my series in a small college town in South Dakota, so I imagined a young professor relocating to the area. The landscape had to be a draw for my protagonist because the pay is definitely not. I like that she’s an outsider looking in. It heightens her awareness of the region.

 

 

 

 

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  1. What do you like about an amateur sleuth versus a professional one? 

I like that an amateur sleuth is not paid to solve crimes. It’s not her job, so she doesn’t have any police experience to help her. The amateur sleuth allows me, as a reader and a writer, to become intimately involved. I like to imagine what I would do in the same circumstances.

 

  1. What are some characteristics of Emmeline that help her solve crimes?

She is an excellent researcher, which helps her dig up information. She also has a degree in French literature, so she’s great at analyzing stories. Combined, these characteristics make her a tough sleuth to beat!

 

 

 

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  1. You affectionately call her “Em.” Describe your relationship to the protagonist. 

Em is so much fun, and I do think of her as Em as I’m writing. I enjoy writing her because she can be incredibly passionate when it comes to education, students, and crimes. Sometimes I get a chuckle out of her antics.

 

  1. What are the dynamics like between Emmeline and her sidekick Lenny Jenkins? 

There is a strong dynamic between Em and Lenny; they balance each other nicely. Em can take herself too seriously, and Lenny—doesn’t. They both challenge each other to see the world from another viewpoint, which is incredibly advantageous for crime fighting.

 

 

 

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  1. Describe some challenges writing Passport to Murder. 

Moving a group of thirteen characters was hard. I had to talk to the airport police in Minnesota and South Dakota. I also had to read about police procedures and what can and can’t be done when police investigate a suspicious death.

 

 

 

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  1. What did you learn while researching this book? 

I learned that the FBI has jurisdiction involving any crime committed in the air. I thought that was pretty interesting! I also learned that a plane can’t land on a full tank of gas.

 

 

 

Seriously, Just Ahead Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Sky, Clouds and Sunburst.

 

 

 

  1. Is it challenging writing a mystery? 

Yes, it is challenging, but that’s exactly what I like about the mystery genre. It works both sides of my brain. I spend lots of time making my characters and settings interesting, but I also spend an ample amount of time creating a clever and believable plot. All loose ends have to be tied up by the end of the novel. It takes great attention to detail.

 

 

 

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  1. Do you outline your novels? 

No, I don’t, but I do create a timeline and plot some events before writing them.

 

  1. Imagine yourself as Professor Emmeline.  Given the criminal circumstances, would you make the same choices as her? Why or why not?

That’s a tough one! I think I would. I might try to reveal the murderer in a less obvious way, but if I thought I could solve the crime, I would have to try, especially if it benefited my campus or friend.

 

 

 

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  1. Have you ever been to France? 

Yes, I have been to France and loved my time there. I would like to go back and spend the summer in a little French village. That’s my hobby: looking at vacation rentals in wine country. Maybe some day!

 

 

 

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  1. What’s next for you?

I’m writing book three in the series, A Very Merry Murder. It’s a holiday mystery, so I’ve been spending most of my days dreaming about baking sugar cookies and eating fudge. Not a good omen for the impending holidays!

 

 

 

Connect with Mary Angela

 

© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

 

 

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Maryangelabooks.com

 

 

 

Thanks for ridin the train folks! Come back and see us. Peace out.

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

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Scottish Crime Fiction Blogger Discusses The Huntress Moon Series by Alexandra Sokoloff

 

 

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Hello all, today we have with us Sharon Scottish crime fiction blogger discussing the Huntress/FBI series by Alexandra Sokoloff. I saw Sharon’s recent review of Cold Moon book #3 of the series and couldn’t resist asking questions! Check out her excellent review here: #BookReview #ColdMoon @AlexSokoloff

 

Alexandra Sokoloff

 

 

ALEXANDRA SOKOLOFF is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the Amazon bestselling Huntress/FBI series (HUNTRESS MOON, BLOOD MOON, COLD MOON, BITTER MOON, HUNGER MOON – now in active development as a TV series), and the supernatural HAUNTED thrillers (THE HARROWING, THE PRICE, THE UNSEEN, BOOK OF SHADOWS, THE SHIFTERS, THE SPACE BETWEEN). The New York Times Book Review called her a “daughter of Mary Shelley,” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”

 

 

23957469     Blood moon

 

Cold moon      Bitter moon

 

 

Book 5 Hunger Moon releases Octorber 24, 2017!

 

Hunger Moon

 

Pre-order here

 

 

 

What was your first impression when you began to read this series?

I always think that starting a new series is like walking into a party where you don’t know anybody. You kind of hover around the edges, observe your surroundings and watch the interactions between the other guests, working out who you might get on with and who is best to avoid. So when I started this series I spent some time trying to get to know who was who but very quickly the characters and the plot engaged me and #Boom I was hooked.

 

What do you appreciate about the protagonist?

I guess there are two protagonists in this series, Special Agent Roarke and Cara Lindstrom and both bring something very different to the novels. They are both on the side of justice and the dilemma is for Roarke in fulfilling his professional quest for justice versus his understanding of Cara’s quest.  Both characters were utterly compelling for me.

 

 

 

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Name a few unique things you’ve noticed. What sticks out that you haven’t seen in other books?

This was the first time I’ve ever read a novel where both the law enforcer and the hunted evoke such very strong and similar emotions in me. It is also the first novel I’ve read featuring a female serial killer and most of all for me is the voice that the author brings to the victims of trafficking, prostitution and modern-day slavery that stands out. There is a message behind the novel, a drive and a passion to challenge what is a current issue, it’s a representation and dialogue that stands up and sticks up its middle finger to the idea that we should just sweep this under the carpet. It is a very current issue and this series gives a fictional justice, if you like, to those who have been wronged.

 

 

 

“I say that justice is truth in action.” -Benjamin Disraeli

 

 

 

Do you have any favourite scenes?

Too many to mention and don’t want to give away any spoilers! However, I LOVE all the scenes where Cara is getting her revenge on those lowlife bad guys!

 

Which book is your favourite of the series?

To date, I’ve only read the first three (will be devouring the last two later this month!) and I’d say Blood Moon was my favourite (actually all three are my favourite and you are bad making me pick just one!)

 

Which characters did you like most?

Easy, no contest, Matthew Roarke and Cara Lindstrom

 

 

 

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If you could ask special agent Matthew Roarke a question what would you ask?

If you are forced to choose, will you retain your role in law enforcement or would you give it all up for Cara?

 

If you could ask Cara Lindstrom a question what would you say?

Are your actions destiny or fate and what would bring peace to your soul?

 

If you could ask the author a question what would you say?

Did you set out to give such a powerful message against trafficking and prostitution or did this just evolve as you wrote?

 

 

Thanks for sharing with us Sharon!

 

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See Sharon’s Blog: Chapter in my life: Scottish Crime Fiction Blogger

 

Connect with Alexandra Sokoloff

Twitter | Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by. Don’t be a stranger!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

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Writing a Memoir with Roz Morris & Joanna Penn

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!

 

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Writing Memoir With Roz Morris

 

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite resource for writing memoirs? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

Don’t miss Mystery Thriller Week 2018!  #MTW_2018

 

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Thanks for stopping by the The Writing Train! Don’t be a stranger.

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

The Caitlin Strong Series with Author Jon Land

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Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of the 38 novels, including seven titles in the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense) and Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller). Caitlin Strong returns this October in Strong Light of Day, to be followed by Darkness Rising, his sci-fi collaboration with Heather Graham coming from Forge in June of 2016. Jon is a 1979 graduate of Brown University, lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found on the Web at jonlandbooks.com or on Twitter @jondland.

 

 

 

 

Tell us about the decision to write a thriller with a female lead. 

Well, confession time here, starting this series was as much a marketing decision as a creative one. I owe the whole concept to the head of mass market sales for Tor/Forge Publishing going back about a decade. At a meeting where we were discussing trends in publishing, he raised the point that thrillers were the most popular genre and 70% of books were bought by women. Yet nobody at the table could name a single female thriller hero. Mystery, yes. But a female Jack Reacher? Uh-uh. So then and there I piped in with “What about a female Texas Ranger?” And in that moment Caitlin was born.

 

 

 

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What do you appreciate about the Texas Rangers?

So many things! First and foremost, they are the most famous and legendary lawmen in American history. The only frontier body out of the Old West to still be around today—and not just around, they’re still operating pretty much as they always have. They’re still gunfighters by reputation, even if they never have draw their weapon. They still command the same respect they always have and have built wondrously on the folklore of their forebears. All those great stories of the likes of Bill McDonald, Jack Hayes, Frank Hamer, Manuel “Lone Wolf” Gonzaulles, and so many more. You see so many male thriller heroes who are ex Special Forces, Navy SEALs, or something like that. Since women can’t service in active duty for special ops, making Caitlin Strong a Texas Ranger was the next best thing.

 

 

 

 

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Did you do any travel related research?

You can never do enough. I get to Texas twice a year and base scenes on where I visit. So you’ll see a lot of Midland in STRONG LIGHT OF DAY, a lot of Houston in STRONG COLD DEAD, and a ton of Austin in STRONG TO THE BONE which comes out December 5. I’m a whiz when it comes to Google searches and, another confession, I write about a ton of places in Texas that I’ve never been to.

 

 

Strong Cold Dead

 

 

 
What’s your process with research? Is there a method to the madness?



That’s a great question because it comes down to process. The method to my madness is not really having a method. I don’t outline and am very spontaneous in my writing, figuring if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, the reader can’t possibly know. So I don’t necessarily know what research I need to do before I start a book. I’ll actually do the bulk of it in the midst of the writing. If I need to know something as specific as the kind of tree you might find a body under in Laramie. Or what that tree smells like. Or what diner Caitlin might in when she visits this town or that. Attention to detail is crucial but the real trick is knowing how much not to say so the reader is left with the impression that I’ve been there, mostly because I don’t give them enough to figure out that I haven’t.

 

 

 

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How do you view Caitlin Strong among all the characters you’ve created over the years?

Easily the best and most fun I’ve ever written. I have so much faith in all of them, meaning I let them do the heavy lifting when it comes to figuring out the plot—or, better stated, my characters are also my collaborators. The reason I can take the risk of being so spontaneous, of literally not knowing exactly where I’m going or how I’m going to get there, is because I trust my character can sketch out the roadmap for me. They write their own dialogue, they make their own decisions, they make their own mistakes. Some of the best scenes I’ve written in this series, I can’t even tell you where they came from.

 

 

 

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What are the stakes and do they affect Caitlin personally?

As far as STRONG TO THE BONE goes, it’s the most personal of any book in the series because we learn for the first time that Caitlin was raped 18 years before when she was in college. The man was never caught. He just disappeared. And now he’s back, his DNA showing up in another victim of sexual assault. So Caitlin, all grown up and a Texas Ranger now, has a chance to slay her greatest dragon. Which brings us to the question of whether she really wants to, because she’s afraid catching him will strip her of the edge that defines who she is. As you can see, there are often aren’t easy answers in this series!

 

 

 

Strong to the Bone

 

 
Is it difficult writing a female lead?



Not really, because she’s so real to me, as are all of my characters. I’ve written serial killers and terrorists, when I’m not either of those. I’ve written Israelis, Palestinians, teenagers, along with blind, deaf and people suffering from other disabilities. And I’m none of those things either. Well, breaking news, you can add to that list the fat that I’m not a woman. Storytelling springs not from the conscious mind but from the imagination, where anything is possible. The key to being a great storyteller is to able to recapture the magic of role playing that children do. I think that’s why so many love books as a adults: because it makes them feel like kids again, the way I feel when I’m writing.

 

 

 

 

“Storytelling springs not from the conscious mind but from the imagination, where anything is possible.”–Jon Land

 

 

 
How have readers responded to her thus far?



Beyond anything I ever could have imagined. She doesn’t have the sales of the Jack Reacher books, but I honestly believe she compares very favorably to Lee Child’s iconic hero. The thing about those books, and the ones featuring Caitlin, is they’re both essentially modern day Westerns. The storytelling, at its heart, is very basic: Somebody good willing to do anything it takes to stop somebody bad from doing something really wrong. That’s the crucial element of this series and any great thriller, as well as why readers have responded to Caitlin as positively as they have: she isn’t just about solving crimes, she’s about preventing something much worse from happening. That’s what makes a true hero.

 

 

 

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Connect with Jon Land

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

The Self Publishing Podcast: Making the Audiobook Market Accessible

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SPF Podcast 85: Kevin Tumlinson

 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com