Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday's How She Does It Featuring Rolynn Anderson

We all know there are six elements of fiction. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth, which for me is plot. What's Rolynn Anderson’s take on this?

1.Rolynn, how do you create your characters? Do you have a specific method?
My process is haphazard at best, in the beginning, but as I proceed with the plot, I pick characters with purpose: people who act as foils to my hero/heroine, and individuals who trip them up…people who push the action and challenge the h/h.  For LIE CATCHERS, I was charmed by the fact that in Petersburg, Alaska, Norwegian men, displaced from their homeland, traveled to Alaska to become fishermen.  Some of them married Tlingit (native) women.  In a gift store in Petersburg, Alaska, I met the owner, who happened to be a “Tlingwegian.”  She was blonde and blue-eyed but with a warm complexion.  My heroine was born with that encounter.

2. Do your characters come before the plot?
Not a linear process, for sure.  As I develop the plot that challenges my h/h, I grab new characters off the ‘shelf,’ adding to the complexity of the plot.  I like to surprise the reader and challenge myself as a writer with “out of the box” tactics.  In LIE CATCHERS, for instance, I found out that Petersburg, Alaska, was burdened with a 1932 unsolved homicide.  What’s more, the man murdered was an important Chinese man…in a Norwegian town.  That caught my interest.  I wondered if I could solve an old crime and a new one, comparing the way crimes were handled in 1932 to how we work them today…and somehow tie in both crimes.  The challenge was too delicious to pass up! 

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
Absolutely not.  I may not know how it’s going to end before I’m 85% into the book.  I like surprise endings, so I tend to work to the denouement and surprise myself with a turnabout climax.  One thing I do know about the ending of a stand-alone novel…the h/h are stretched, learn and grow, finding that together, their skills, love and verve are unbeatable.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
Settings drive me to write a book even more than character or plot ideas.  I cruised to Petersburg, Alaska, in my trawler two years ago.  Had never been there before.  Did not know the town was full of Norwegians (my heritage).  Was not aware Norwegians settled in Alaska to fish (as did the Russians, etc.).  LIE CATCHERS was born out of my surprise and delight in discovering this charming fishing town, full of people who looked like me, ate food I liked, said ‘uff da’ the way I say it.  Okay, there’s a bit of narcissism here, but finding this town, set below the LeConte Glacier, really got my writing juices flowing! 

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
Books and on line.  I bought books about Petersburg in the town’s bookstore and connected with people in Petersburg to help me answer some questions about the town, but most of my research (especially about the 1932 murder) was done on line.  I e-mail individuals regularly, as well.  I have a cadre of experts I consult about forensics, for instance.  Don’t know what I’d do without all that free advice!

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?
I’m a pantser through and through, which takes more time, but is more satisfying to me.  I like to be surprised every morning when I get up to write.  I never know where my writing will take me each day…and I love that feeling!


Two unsolved murders will tear apart an Alaska fishing town unless a writer and a government agent reveal their secret obsessions.

Treasury agent Parker Browne is working undercover in Petersburg, Alaska to investigate a money scam and a murder. His prime suspect, Liv Hanson, is a freelance writer struggling to save her family’s business. Free spirited, full of life, and with a talent for catching liars, she fascinates Parker.

Trying to prove she’s a legitimate writer who cares about Petersburg’s issues, Liv pens a series of newspaper articles about an old, unsolved murder. When her cold case ties in with Parker’s investigation, bullets start to fly.

Parker understands money trails, and Liv knows the town residents. But he gave up on love two years ago, and she trusts no one, especially with her carefully guarded secret. If they mesh their skills to find the killers, will they survive the fallout?

A Rich, Intriguing Story December 27, 2013-Amazon Kindle
By Roben

I received an ARC of this book, and was thrilled to read it. I adored the setting, and the quirkiness of the characters in the small Alaska town. It made me want to go to Alaska. That kind of authenticity comes from an author who knows her setting, who understands its people, and can then convey that knowledge richly. Anderson does just that. Her mystery/suspense, is carefully woven with the right amount of history to engage the reader, and enough mystery to keep the reader guessing. This was my first novel by Rolynn Anderson, and I would definitely read this author again.


Rolynn Anderson said...

Thanks for hosting me today, Janet. I enjoyed responding to your questions...which clarify the sense of serendipity involved in writing my books. Something on the other side of Whoppee! :-) Rolynn

Ashantay said...

I admire complete pantsers - I always know how my stories will end, but I'm not always sure how I'll get there. Not knowing the ending up front? Wow!

Robena Grant said...

Lovely interview, ladies. And I loved Lie Catchers.
I'm somewhere between a pantser and a plotter because I generally know my major turning points and my ending. Getting there is an adventure though. ; )

Rolynn Anderson said...

Ashantay, you may not want to admire my writing process...I waste a lot of time and the angst factor is high. Robena, I'd like to be like you...and I guess I get to your place by the time I'm editing. It's a grind, the editing part, isn't it?

Marianne Stephens said...

Being a pantser is amazing! I have to know how my book will end before I begin. I plot, but can easily change things.
Been to Alaska and loved it. Nice to see different settings in romance books.
Good luck with your career!