It's been too long since I've posted but like Calvin told Hobbes, if the good lord only takes you when you're ready, I'm so far behind I will never die. Deaths in family, illness, lack of good sense--all the usual suspects are in play.
Anyway, the great crime writer Charlie Stella tagged me with the current blog hoppy thing going around, where each writer tagged has to answer four questions and then pass it on to two others. I've passed the questions on so that may be two friends lost, but then again, the questions aren't too difficult. Here they are:
What am I working on?
Currently I am working on a long introduction for a pair of books by Ed Gorman. That's supposed to be followed up immediately by an intro for W. R. Burnett and another for Frank Kane. My book comes out in September and the next one is sitting here in first draft form daring me to finish it before it's release date next year.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Every writer brings a different voice to the genre. At least most of them do. I still come across books that seem to have actually no original content and then leave marks on my wall after I throw them. I like to think that by playing with points of view and revealing things to the characters and the reader at different times, there's a different sort of suspense that can be created. I also try to make the reader feel something by finding those situations that have scared me, and then putting those in the book. For instance, in Shallow Secrets I have a car being followed by another car at night time without their headlights on. The folks in the first car know they're being followed, but what are they supposed to do? Pull over? Try to lose them? Put this in a very rural setting and it can be a scary thing.
Why do I write what I do?
For two reasons: I'm a great fan of the genre, and I don't know if I could write in another one, at least not without a lot of studying and self-education. It would be nice to write that mainstream novel that offers insights into the depths of human character, but John Irving already does that better than I ever could. I am working on a memoir piece about the recent death of my father. That sort of changes things up a bit but emotionally it's a very hard thing to do. How honest do you get? How real does that make it for the reader? Genre-hopping is tough, unless the two are very close together and you can use the same sorts of elements in each. But I wouldn't want to do that. If I'm going to do something different, I want it to be very different.
How does my writing process work?
It starts with a "what if?" question. And that leads to other "what ifs." Then I develop characters that can be put into conflicts in these scenarios. I don't outline in advance, for me it takes the energy away from the piece, but I sort of outline as I go. When I write a chapter I usually know what needs to happen in the next three to four chapters. Sometimes I have to stop to work out a puzzle, to come up with a logical reason for why something would happen. I just recently read an otherwise excellent book but for the four or five wholly illogical stops that set up the next phase of action. You can see the outline that had been created and the story did not move organically. It didn't make the wall throw but it was disappointing because the book could have been so much better. When someone reads my books, the one question I have is: Would you read another book by this same author? If the answer is yes, I've done my job.