1 Which comes first the characters or the plot?
Because there’s a mystery in most of my stories, I usually start with a plot idea. Once I have the crime and the perpetrator’s method and motive, I have to find a way to mislead the reader about it. Then I have to find the right couple to solve the mystery. Of course, the victim’s life is usually the focal point of the mystery plot. In TIES that blind, I had great fun with the interesting men she’d had affairs with.
Of course, in CHANGE OF PLANS, I started with the setting. I love cruise ships. I’ve cruised on more than 25 of them and wanted to use a ship for my story. There’s an appeal in having the characters confined in a single location except for the ports they stop at.
2 How do you create your characters?
Somehow, they are just there without my having to think about creating them. In CHANGE OF PLANS, Mike is in a honeymoon suite alone. Jilted by his life-long pal, he’s determined no longer to be Mr. Nice Guy and ready for a fling. Strong, angry, disillusioned, he just leapt into my mind.
The gorgeous twin government agents in CHANGE OF PLANS cried out for stories of their own. Bret, the more serious of the two needed stirring up, so I had him meet a ghost in the first scene of GHOST OF A CHANCE. Bart, the one with irrepressible sense of humor, plays bodyguard in UNQUIET SPIRITS. 3 Do you make a plan or go with the flow?
Once I have my crime, its solution and my characters, I pretty much let the characters take me where they have to go. I like strong-willed characters and find it hard to make them follow a rigid plan.4. How much research do you do? It depends on the story. I like to write what I know about, for example, the cruising situation. In MINE, the story involves a major gold discovery in an unexpected location. My father was a mining engineer and I had a pretty good idea what was possible but I did a lot of research to make sure my facts were accurate.
5. How do you select the characters goals and the reasons they want to accomplish them?
Actually, I have something I call the IMPOSSIBLY RUDE INTERVIEW I submit my main characters to. It takes a long time (almost as long as writing a chapter) but I find it’s worth it. I ask them things like, “Which of your siblings do you get along with best?” “What have you done that you are you most proud of?” “What are you most ashamed of?” “How many times a month do you get laid?” There are about 50 questions. Once they are answered, there is little I can’t predict about my characters.
What are you working on right now? Do you work on more than one thing at a time?
At the moment, I’m working on a story, TELEPHONE TAG WINNER, for the Jewels of the Quill 2009 Valentine’s Day anthology, MAGICAL KISSES. My heroine leaves a message canceling a blind date on the wrong answering machine. What a lucky mistake!What's in the pipeline, contracted but no publication date? Actually, OUT OF HER DREAMS, the paranormal romance contracted with Awe-Struck eBooks, has just been given a publication date of this coming November. I had a lot of fun writing this ghost/reincarnation story.
I usually work on one story at a time but at the moment I’m also tinkering with an idea for another paranormal/suspense novel involving being able to read minds for 48 hours after being injected with radioactive fluid for a medical test.8 What's on your back list?
I have three Romantic Suspense novels, TIES that blind, MINE and CHANGE OF PLANS with Amber Quill Press http://amberquill.com/ . Two paranormal mysteries, GHOST OF A CHANCE and UNQUIET SPIRITS, also with AQP.
With Awe-Struck eBooks, I have one Romantic Suspense novel, IN THE RUNNING.
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