Reminder to bloggers out there - please submit any mystery book reviews to the blog carnival (http://blogcarnival.com/bc/submit_8796.html).
Today we are honored to have Laura Morrigan, author of the Call of the Wilde mysteries joining us for an interview. I reviewed her debut novel of this series, Woof at the Door in July (click here). Please welcome Laura.
I usually say I write to give the people in my head something to do and that's true. Like a lot of writers my mind is full of ideas and characters, I'm afraid if I didn't write I'd go crazy (well, crazier). What motivates me? Other writers, great stories and my deadline.
What is your routine when you're facing your next novel? Do you start your next mystery with the killer, the victim or a plot idea?
It depends. For Woof at the Door I started with the concept. An animal psychic who ends up with the only witness to a crime but can't tell anyone because the witness is an animal. For A Tigers Tale I started with the victim, Brooke, a 16-year-old girl who is kidnapped.
For me, plotting and writing is all about questions. "What happened to her? Who took her? Why? How does Grace learn about it? What animals are involved?" And it kind of grows from there.
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?
Lord knows I try! I'm very hyper and ADD so keeping focused is an issue for me. Typically, I try to use note cards and label them, "Grace and Moss in Woods – Discover… Whatever" if there's a clue I circle or highlight it. Often, these scenes can be moved around to correct pacing issues or other problems with structure before I really dig in and start writing.
I want to emphasize that I try to do this. But as Yoda said, there is no try. So…
What do you and Grace have in common? How are you different?
We both love animals, obviously. Like Grace my patience with my fellow man can be limited and I'm often baffled by people. We're both tenacious and loyal but unlike Grace I love to dance, get dressed up and talk to people.
Grace Wilde is likeble and interesting, and the rest of the crew is great as well. 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? How do you handle minor characters?
My characters tend to develop over time. I do trying to keep character sheets with info just for clarity and reference. It can be easy to forget little details- people's last names or eye color. Once in a Blue Moon, I'll meet someone and I'll be inspired to create a character.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing and how long does it take you to write a book? 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?
Forever. It takes me forever to write a book. Okay, seriously, and I'm being honest here, it takes me as long as my deadline allows – usually nine months. That's not to say I write for nine months, I'd be lying if I told you I did. In truth, there's a lot of thinking, procrastinating, researching etc... until panic sets in and I pretty much vomit out a novel while weeping and pulling at my hair.
I do not recommend this method.
How much research goes into your work and do you complete that up front or "just enough" as you go?
Research, for me, is like walking a tightrope over the ocean. If I don't focus and balance I'll fall into the abyss of information and drown. There have been times when I blink and say, "Why am I reading about ancient Assyrian goddesses?"
Does that answer your question?
What in your background prepared you to write mysteries?
Well, being crazy helps! Okay, really, I believe the only background you need to write in any genre is writing. Reading, too, but mostly, if you want to be able to write- you've got to start, well, writing.
In literature (not your own) who is your favorite mystery/suspense character?
I love Win from the Myron Bolitar books by Harlan Coben and Einstein from the Watchers by Koontz. Hannibal Lecter is also a fav. (what does that say about me??)
Which author has influenced or inspired you the most?
Truly, I'm inspired by every author I meet. I encourage other writers to go to conferences and festivals and meet other writers. Otherwise, I have to say Edgar Allan Poe. When I was 12 I found out we share a birthday and said, "I'm going to be a writer, too!" (this is a true story.)
How did you get your first break to getting published? Was it at a writer's conference or mailing a query letter?
I signed with my agent via a query letter. The process took forever. I would say most writers would have far better chance attending a conference (or three) sign up for a pitch session, socialize! Face to face is so much better than the slush pile.
What's the one thing a reader has said that you've never forgotten and perhaps found startling?
At Bouchercon I had a reader tell me she cried (no spoilers!) I was very moved– especially since my books are pretty lighthearted. I've also had people tell me after reading my book they look at animals differently... wonder what they're thinking or how they feel, which is awesome!
If your Call of the Wilde mysteries were to be made into a movie, who would you cast in your top character's roles? I have no idea! Though, I've always pictured Kai as a bit like Keanu Reeves in Point Break.
Tell us about your next book in the series - or next
project? What is your biggest challenge with it?
The next book is A Tigers Tale. Grace is called to an animal rescue facility when a tiger goes on the attack. It turns out he's upset because his best (human) friend has been kidnapped. I just turned in my copy edits so, Yippeee!
Do you have a newsletter or blog for readers to stay informed of your news?
I'm getting a newsletter together soon, I swear! In the meantime, people can like my Call of the Wilde Mysteries page on Facebook or e-mail me. firstname.lastname@example.org
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THANK YOU Laura for that great interview. Love the Yoda reference and your work schedule!