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Monday, November 15, 2010

Author Interview - Judi McCoy

Judi is the author of many books including the Dog Walker Mystery series. Judi and her husband Dennis live in the peace and solitude of Virginia’s beautiful eastern shore. Retired from her career as a nationally rated women’s gymnastic judge, she now writes and promotes her dog walker series full time, teaching aspiring authors and speaking at conferences around the country. 
You may read the review I did of her latest Dog Walker Mystery here.  

In this heartwarming interview you will see how Judi has immortalized her BFF, best furry friend.  Please give a warm welcome to author Judi McCoy!

- Do you start your next mystery with the killer, the victim or a plot idea?
I usually start with a victim. Every character in my stories runs the risk of being killed or being a killer. I never know when the idea will strike. But I don’t want the characters I love to be killed so I choose them and then think of a way I can involve them in a murder.

- Do you outline the plot or some variation of that (a little/a lot of detail, a strict 3 act structure etc) before sitting down and writing?

I do a lot of thinking and talking with other writers. I also bounce ideas off my sister, who is a great mystery lover.

- What is your process for developing a character? Do you use pictures, a worksheet or just let the character(s) tell you about him/herself as you write?
If I’m basing the character on a friend, I try to use their actions, reactions, & thoughts.  If it’s a character I’ve
created on my own, I go with my gut and flesh them out as I need to. But I never write anything down. I let the character grow in my mind as I write it.  If my character is based on a friend (someone real) then I talk to them too, and ask if they have an idea for what there character might like to do.

- How do you find time for writing, what works for you - and do you have anything special you do before writing, particular music or a special room/location that helps you get in the zone and write?  
I have an office I love and I sit in there and stew a lot. I have lots of pictures of Rudy, the yorkiepoo I based the dog character on in my books, and he inspires me. I look at his pix and close my eyes, imagine what he’d think or say in a certain situation and the idea just comes to me.

Rudy was my boy, the very best dog in the entire world, and I miss him every day. He and Ellie have the same relationship  I had with my Rudy, and that will never change. Often in their dialogues, Ellie is saying the same thing to her Rudy that I said to mine. 

- What is your work schedule like when you're writing and how long does it take you to write a book?
I look at my writing as if it were a job. I get to my desk by 9 every morning, take one hour lunch break, and go back to work. I’ve very disciplined. If I need a hair cut or have to get my nails done or go to the grocery store, I schedule it on the same day so I don’t waste time more than one day in a week.

- What in your background prepared you to write mystery novels?
Absolutely nothing. I was getting bored writing what I thought to be ‘one note’ books (romances) and wanted to do something more exciting, but I hate violence. That meant no thrillers and a carefully constructed mystery that showed a murder without blood and guts. That is NOT easy to do. 

- How did you get your first break toward getting published?  Was it at a writer's conference or mailing a query letter etc?
I was lucky enough to find an agent first. She was/is wonderful. Was patient with me as my writing grew stronger, encouraged me, and always let me write what I wanted. She was even the one to encourage me to try a mystery, even after I told her I had no idea how to construct one.

- What are you currently reading?

I’ve just started a book by Carl Hiassen, who I love, and I just finished the first book in the ‘Repairman Jack’ series. I heard the line was the favorite books of Stephen King and thought I’d try one to see what a master enjoyed. I always buy the first book in a series because I want the ‘set-up’ so I got number one. It was a good read, so I’ll probably go back for book two

- What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmm. I don’t know. Would talking to the picture of a deceased dog be considered a quirk?

- Do you participate in a critique group (or have you in the past?) What are the pros and cons of critique groups?I think critique groups are very important, especially for a new writer. I participated in one where the group met face to face each month and a few others that were done on line. I was very insecure about my writing and used a critique group up until book nine or so. Then the group fell apart and I had to make it on my own—which I did. But I still go back to a good writing friend to discuss ideas, plots, character dialogue, etc.   

Thank you so much Judi.  Every time I read a Dog Walker Mystery I will know that your beloved Rudy lives on to brighten all our reading lives!  That is a tremendous tribute to the love we share with our pets.

With the holiday season approaching, perhaps a donation of pet food, blankets, toys or money to your local no-kill rescue/shelter would make a great way to pay back the love pets give us.

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