I love doing author interviews. I may be taking a chance with that admission but go ahead – contact me with a list of questions and you’ll get a quick response. I recently did an interview related to my newly released novel, Maelstrom. Answering questions always kick-starts my creative process.
What is the hardest part of being an author?
Hands down, I find the first few weeks after a new book release the hardest part of the author life. It is as if I have tossed a newborn baby out on the sidewalk and now I wait for readers to notice and react. I am haunted by doubts and questions. Will readers value this story I have poured so much of myself into creating? Will they understand what motivates these characters that I have become so close to over the time taken to create this novel?
Can you give us a short synopsis of Maelstrom?
Maelstrom is a fast-paced thriller that unfolds over the course of one blistering hot week in August, 1976. The setting is the fictitious, American town of Haddon, which is held under the thumb of the brutal Sheriff Bert Calder. Main character, Myhetta, a young man of mixed heritage and a troubled background, has been charged by his adoptive father with the task of destroying Mayor Amos Thatcher. The man pulling the strings is Rafael Destino, the rich and powerful third Lord of Casa Destino – a sprawling estate that perches on a rise overlooking the Haddon valley. Rafael believes Thatcher is responsible for the death of his beloved sister, Serena. Much is at stake and a cruel game is set in motion that pits fathers against sons and draws the innocent as well as the guilty into a vortex of violence.
What inspired you to write this book?
The story behind writing Maelstrom is almost as interesting as the actual novel. When I was a child, I often heard the sound of my mother’s Remington manual typewriter well into the wee hours of the night. She was writing a book and the idea of that always fascinated me. It set my mother apart from the moms of my friends. My mother wrote all of her life and though she returned periodically to her book, I never heard of a finished version. Years after her death, I came into possession of a large box that contained over 2000 typewritten pages. This was her work on Maelstrom. It was a massive amount of material and much of it was first draft notes, ideas, false starts and alternate plot lines. I went through every page in a process of breaking the story down to its bare bones. Then the rebuilding began. In the end, the book became my own though haunting bits of dialogue and flashes of my mother’s wit and storytelling skill remain. I thought to be the ghostwriter of my mother’s book but in the end our roles were reversed. She became the ghost in the pages of my novel.
How many hours per day do you spend writing?
It varies. When I’m in the creative stage, I may spend ten to twelve hours per day on the work. It is hard to let go of the story at that point. Rewriting, editing, proofreading and formatting require a more paced approach and I slow down to a regular work day of six to eight hours for those tasks. Intense periods of writing work are interspersed with time off to garden, cook, travel and spend time with my children and grandchildren.
Name your top five favourite books.
My tastes are constantly evolving. Over the past weeks, I have been immersed in Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels. Connelly is a genius when it comes to creating a hero for the long haul and there is much to learn from his way of constantly developing Bosch’s character and keeping him fresh for readers. I enjoy the detail oriented writing of authors like Robert Harris (his latest novel, An Officer and a Spy is brilliant) and Dan Simmons (Terror – historical retelling of the Franklin expedition and The Crook Factory – the exploits of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba during World War II – would definitely hit my favorite list). I loved Game of Thrones – but who doesn’t? Hunger Games is a great series of novels that have been brought to the big screen with a good deal of authenticity. I also enjoy Philippa Gregory’s strong female characters in her historical Tudor period books. I read across many genres always looking for that one ingredient that means everything to me – character development.
What are you working on now?
I am in the storyboarding and planning stage for the fourth book in my Crater Lake Series. Set on the rugged west coast of Canada, the first three books have revolved around the lives of the adults and young people who live on the isolated shores of fictitious Crater Lake. As one reviewer has said, “… there is something for everyone. Love, sex, lust, greed, spirituality, sacrifice, death, murder, life … the list goes on and on.”