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4 posts categorized "Author Interview"

08/04/2010

Come Visit over at Writers Who Kill

Hi guys,

Author E.B. Davis interviewed me over at Writers Who Kill. This is part two of the interview. Drop in and leave a comment. A winner will be drawn from the comment pool and they get their choice of a signed copy of Murder at Timber Bridge or Where the Dreams End.

Come on over to Writers Who Kill.

07/29/2010

Visit me at Writers Who Kill

Check out part one of the interview I did with E.B. Davis over at Writers Who Kill.

Leave a comment and you could win a signed copy of Where the Dreams End or Murder at Timber Bridge.

02/09/2010

Tuesdays with Friends Introduces Suzanne Adair

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 This week’s Tuesdays with Friends guest is award winning author, Suzanne Adair. Suzanne, a native Floridian now transplanted to North Carolina, writes a historical mystery series set against the backdrop of the Revolutionary War. Her new latest book, Camp Follower was released in 2008.

KdBlog: Welcome Suzanne and thanks for being my guest on Tuesdays with Friends.

 SA: Thanks, KD. It's good to be here.

 KdBlog: I read that you are a Revolutionary War reenactor. My area of the country is full of Civil War reenactors, but we’re a little too young for the Revolutionary War. Tell us how you got involved with that?

 SA: One of my writing goals is to get inside my characters' heads. Early into my research for the first book, Paper Woman, I realized how much convenience and accessibility underpin my culture and shape my values and reactions. In twenty-first century America, most of us have cell phones, indoor plumbing, central heat and/or air conditioning, refrigerators, and automobiles. If I'm hungry for an omelet, I buy eggs, cheese, mushrooms, and onions from the grocery store. I don't have to maintain a henhouse and collect eggs every morning, or milk a cow and make cheese, or grow vegetables — although I do plant a summer veggie garden, so I have an idea of how much work it takes to grow your own food.

 During the Revolutionary War, very little was convenient or accessible. Danger and scarcity shaped decisions, especially for the middle and lower classes. If I wanted to get inside my characters' heads and create believable fiction about people who lived more than 225 years ago, I'd have to do more than read books and interview subject matter experts. I'd have to learn what clothing of the era felt and how I'd move in it. I'd have to learn what everyday challenges someone from that time faced, how their world smelled, felt, tasted, and sounded. So I became involved in Revolutionary War reenacting.

 My family and I spend a typical reenacting weekend at a site of a battle camped in white canvas army tents with no mosquito screens. We're dressed in eighteenth-century clothing made of natural fibers such as wool or linen. Our menu is limited to what would have been eaten back then and what we can prepare over a wood fire, and on occasion we eat scorched food. Sometimes we have access to running water. Rarely do we have access to flush toilets.

 I infuse my writing with the sensory impressions that I've gained from reenacting. Reenacting does give me a ballpark idea of the conditions our foremothers and forefathers encountered. But it's sobering to remember that the experiences I have in the course of a weekend are what people during the Revolutionary War endured 24/7. Those were some hardy folks.

 By the way, reenacting is also great fun!

 KdBlog: Tell us about Suzanne Adair. What do you like to do when you’re not writing or reenacting?

 SA: Read, dance (especially classical ballet), cook, garden, hike, bicycle, listen to music, and learn. I love to learn.

 KdBlog: Your interest in reenacting probably made the research for your series a lot easier. What’s the hardest part of writing a historical mystery series?

 SA: The first draft.

 KdBlog: What do you like best about writing historical mysteries.

 SA: I don't have to include modern technology and forensics details like DNA evidence or even fingerprints. I can focus on characters, their relationships, and how their thoughts, feelings, and reactions help them solve the mystery. And I can explore how they would have dealt with emotional and physical traumas and threats without the help of modern psychology.

 KdBlog: Who’s your favorite mystery author?

 SA: Gosh, do I have to pick just one?

 KdBlog: What authors have influenced you most in your writing career?

 SA: Robert Louis Stevenson, Daphne du Maurier, the Brontë sisters, Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allan Poe, Victor Hugo, D.H. Lawrence, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Arthur Conan Doyle.

 KdBlog: What is the best writing advice you ever received?

 SA: Never stop looking for ways to improve your craft. Persevere.

 KdBlog: What advice would give to a new author?

 SA: Be clear with yourself about the goal for your writing. If your goal is just to sell books, your path will yield different results than the path to becoming acknowledged as a professional author. You cannot easily jump from one path to the other.

 KdBlog: What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you when you first started writing?

 SA: "Don't sweat the rejections. It'll be almost 40 years before you're published." (I was in second grade when I first started writing.)

 KdBlog: Tell us a little bit about your newest book, Camp Follower?

51gMc59lwbL._SS500_   SA: First,here's the description from the Kindle edition: As the year 1780 draws to a close, the publisher of a loyalist magazine in Wilmington, North Carolina offers an amazing assignment to 29-year-old Helen Chiswell, his society page writer: pose as the widowed, gentlewoman sister of a British officer in the Seventeenth Light Dragoons, travel to the encampment of the British Legion in the Carolina backcountry, and write a feature on Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton. But Helen's publisher has secret reasons for sending her into danger. And because Helen, a loyalist, has ties to a family mistaken by the redcoats for patriot spies, she comes under suspicion of a brutal, brilliant British officer. Filled with action, mystery, and suspense that climax at the Battle of Cowpens, Camp Follower is the story of a woman forced to confront her past to save her life during the American War for Independence.

I pulled together the subplots for Camp Follower from a number of sources. First of all, the commander of the British Legion, Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton, has often been demonized by American historians, so I thought it would be an interesting twist to follow a story from the point of view of a loyalist and, in particular, show Tarleton and the Legion through the eyes of someone who was on their side of the conflict. Also, in Paper Woman, a character named David St. James admits that he killed a man years earlier in a duel over the man's wife. Dueling was illegal in the late 18th century, but many who engaged in it got away with it, and I was curious to explore how this character escaped being charged with murder. In addition, I was curious how a woman of the 18th century dealt with the psychological traumas of being sold to a rich merchant to be his wife, and how she would manage a repressed memory of abuse as a young girl. Finally, armies provided the greatest source of protection for people in most areas during the Revolutionary War, so many civilians followed the army as artisans, sutlers, and retainers. Such a lifestyle was grueling, and when an army was defeated in battle, as the British Legion was during the Battle of Cowpens (January 1781) (www.nps.gov/cowp/index.htm), its civilian followers often suffered terribly or died. I wanted to examine the plight of those brave civilians.

 KdBlog: Would KdBloggers need to read the series in order to understand what’s going on?

 SA: No.

Suzanne, thank you so much for joining us her on KdBlog today. My favorite thing in the world is to find a new author to add to my TBR pile. Now I have three new stories waiting for me. Thanks for being a Tuesday Friend and feel free to stop in again sometime.


 

 

10/13/2009

Author Interview: Elizabeth Zelvin

This is a special day at the old homeblog. We have Elizabeth Zelvin here for an interview. So gather round and make her feel welcome. I’ve known Liz for years and had the good fortune to critique her book, Death Will Get You Sober, when it was still a work in progress. Those days are fast fading to a distant memory as Liz has survived her first book tour and today marks the launch the second book in her series, Death Will Help you Leave Him

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Hi Liz, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview. I’m sure between promoting your book, and working on your next one, you don’t have a lot of time to spare. I appreciate you spending a little of it here with us at KdBlog.

KdBlog: First tell our readers a little about your background and what drew you to the mystery genre.

Liz: I’ve been a writer my whole life, worked in publishing for many years, went to social work school for an MSW in midlife, and spent another decade or two as a clinician and then director of alcohol treatment programs in New York City with a psychotherapy practice on the side. I’ve been reading mysteries since someone handed me Murder Must Advertise shortly after college graduation, when I worked briefly at the ad agency whose London office was supposed to be the model for the setting of Dorothy L. Sayers’s book.

KdBlog: So you didn’t have single pivotal moment when you said to yourself, “I can do that, I can write a mystery.”

Liz: I’ve never doubted that I can write. I wrote three mysteries in the mid 1970s, now outdated and unsalvageable, that had a good agent but didn’t sell. I’ve also published two books of poetry, a book on gender and addictions, and numerous professional articles and chapters. Nowadays, the self-doubt comes in when I’m starting a new first draft, I don’t know who the victim or the murderer or the suspects are, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it through to the end.

KdBlog: How long did you work on your novel before it was published? How many rejections did you receive before Death Will Get You Sober was sold? Was there ever a time when you just threw up your hands and said that’s enough, I give up?

Liz: I want to say 57 years! I wrote the first 2000 words ten or fifteen years ago, completed the first draft in October 2003, and held the published book in my hands in March 2008. The official publication date was April 15, my 64th birthday. My rejection tally before acceptance was 125 agents and 35 publishers. I kept finding ways to trick myself into not giving up.

KdBlog: 57 years, okay, I’m feeling better about my measly 10 years now. When you did get to that “I give up” stage, what was it that carried you through and made you push on?

Liz: As long as I could think of one more action to take, I wasn’t ready to quit. It was too important, I’d wanted this for too long. So I’d write one more query. And as I said, I’d try to trick myself. For example, I applied for a three-week residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, with SJ Rozan as the master artist. I couldn’t quit before finding out if I’d been accepted. When I was, I couldn’t quit before I went. And by the time I got there, St. Martin’s had expressed interest in the book, so I was feeling a lot more hopeful.

KdBlog: Were you always focused on getting published or was there a time when you just wrote for enjoyment?

Liz: I write constantly, but I’d never write a novel for enjoyment. I wrote poetry for thirty years, and there’s an emotional payoff as soon as you finish the poem. But after a great day working on a novel, you have to go to the computer the next day and do it again. And again. And again.

KdBlog: You’ve talked about your background, did your profession give you a platform that helped your agent sell your work? 

Liz: I sold the book without an agent, though I always say that I wouldn’t recommend the method, since the manuscript sat on an editor’s desk unread for 2 ½ years. I wouldn’t call my expertise and experience a platform, though they did give me legitimacy as someone who could write with authority about addictions and recovery. A platform is when you’re already Oprah—or a celebrity or a syndicated columnist. Having a platform means that thousands and thousands of people will buy your book because they already know your name.

KdBlog: What piece of advice would you pass on to a writer just starting out on their publishing journey?

Liz: First, finish the book. Second, get critique and do revisions before you send it out. Or second, join Guppies, the online chapter of Sisters in Crime for serious new mystery writers, as you and I did, KD. Then you’ll have all the help you need to get critique, approach agents professionally, have realistic expectations about publishing a mystery today, and a lot more priceless information and support. And remember it takes talent, persistence, and luck. You can’t do anything about the luck, but you sure can keep applying the persistence.

KdBlog: The Guppies and Sisters in Crime are terrific. I think they shortened my publishing industry learning curve by years. The advice and experience we shared there was invaluable. Speaking of advice, what’s the most helpful piece of advice you ever got concerning your writing? And the least?

Liz: Most helpful: “Kill your darlings.” It took me years to become willing to cut bits of my beloved prose in the interests of a tighter and more professional manuscript. But I believe that’s a big reason it finally got published. Least helpful: “Why don’t you go on Oprah?” Believe it or not, I’ve heard that a lot.

KdBlog: You’ve been out on the road doing a book tour and learning the ins and outs of promotion, what’s the most unexpected thing you’ve learned during this phase of your writing life?

Liz: I had a lot of realistic expectations, because I’d heard so much from other writers over a four or five year period about how to promote the book and what it’s like nowadays, especially for a debut author. So the most unexpected thing I learned on tour was that I enjoyed hand selling my book. Since I’m a lifelong shy person who once tried to sell life insurance and would come home and cry for two hours every night, that came as a shock. Yes, I actually enjoyed standing near the door of a Barnes & Noble in front of a display of copies of Death Will Get You Sober with a book in each hand, making eye contact with each customer who walked in, and saying, “Do you read mysteries?”

KdBlog: I can relate to your insurance sales experience, I once tried to be a census taker, but that’s a subject for an entire blog post of it’s own, so let’s get back to our interview.  It’s time for my favorite question. What’s the one question you’d really like to answer in an interview that no one has ever asked you?

Liz: “I’m a close friend of Oprah, and she’ll read anything I give her. Would you like me to give her Death Will Help you Leave Him?”

KdBlog: [laughing] I’d like to hear that question myself.  And that’s the best answer to that one that I’ve ever gotten. Okay, we’re almost finished, just one more. Tell us what you are working on now?

Liz: At the moment, I'm focused on promoting Death Will Help You Leave Him, which will involve a lot of travel in the next couple of months, and also the holiday crime anthology, The Gift of Murder, to benefit Toys for Tots. It's a good cause, and I have a story in it, Death Will Trim Your Tree, that I think is a lot of fun. The next manuscript featuring Bruce and his friends is in my editor's hands, and after that, I will either work on one of two more planned novels in the series or try something completely different. A standalone short story about a young Marrano sailor on Columbus's first voyage has been accepted by Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine for publication next year. I'm toying with the idea of using that protagonist in a Young Adult novel. For the moment, though, I'm writing blog pieces and interviews for my virtual tour and planning several different talks I'm scheduled to give to writers' groups. And chats and emails to my online therapy clients. I certainly write every day. In fact, I usually write all day every day. But sometimes fiction writing takes a back seat. Liz, that was fun. Thanks so much for taking the time to drop by KadiBlog. I hope you can check in to answer any questions the KdBloggers have for you. Here’s hoping that call from Oprah is right around the corner. 

KdBloggers, if you  haven't already read Death Will Get you Sober, run don't walk to your nearest  book seller and pick it up. While you're there, grab a copy of, Death Will Help you Leave Him, it's hot off the press and still has that new book smell


They're great mysteries and Liz is a great lady. You'll  find lots more information about her and her mysteries--including a free download of her Agatha-nominated short story, Death Will Clean Your Closet--on her author website www.elizabethzelvin.com. You can also catch up with Liz  and some of her writing cohorts at their blog, Poe's Deadly Daughters, http://www.poesdeadlydaughters.blogspot.com 


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If you have any questions of your own for Liz, be sure and post them in the comments.

Happy Reading,