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Monday, December 14, 2009

Author Interview: Gayle Trent

Gayle Trent graciously has agreed to let me interview her. She is the author of the delightful Cake Decorator series.  Please enjoy reading about her writing process and the classes she offers as well.

Tell us about your upcoming book! What aspect of the new book did you particularly enjoy in the writing process?
I'd enjoy playing Guitar Hero with my children, and I incorporated that into the new book. Daphne is asked to review a guitar video game for her nephew to make sure it's age appropriate. Daphne's neighbor, a sixty-something widow, comes over and joins in the fun. I had a great time writing those scenes.

What was your inspiration for the story line of this book and the inspiration for your main character?
One of the things that inspired me to write this book was an article I read in Wired magazine. The article focused on people who allow themselves to be professional guinea pigs for clinical drug tests...some going from research clinic to research clinic without the knowledge of the other doctors in order to earn money from more than one clinic. That concept really intrigued me, and I wanted to explore it a little further in the story.

As for the main character, Daphne began to take shape in book one, Murder Takes the Cake; but she is really a woman who turned 40 and basically wanted a do-over. She reevaluates her life and feels that she has nothing to show for it. So she quits her job and moves back to her hometown to follow her dream of owning her own cake decorating business. I can identify with Daphne because my epiphany came when I was working full-time at a location which had me commuting an hour and a half every day. I started thinking about how much time I was missing with my children and feeling there had to be a better way. I discussed it with my husband, and that's when I left my job to begin writing full time. It was tough--I went from getting a regular paycheck to getting paid sporadically for freelance articles--but it was worth it.

I saw on your website you are starting a new series called Seven-Year Stitch mystery series. What can you tell us about that series, its main character and when can we see the first book?
The Seven-Year Stitch mystery series focuses on the adventures (or misadventures!) of Marcy Singer. Marcy left an accounting job in San Francisco to open an embroidery shop on the Oregon Coast at the urging of her best friend and former college roommate Sadie MacKenzie. Sadie and her husband Blake own the coffee shop next door to Marcy's shop, The Seven-Year Stitch. This, too, is a cozy series with a lot of fun, quirky characters. The first book is scheduled for release in August of 2010.

What is your process for developing a character? Do you use pictures, a worksheet, real life inspiration or just let the character tell you about him/herself as you write?
I pretty much let the character tell me about him/herself as I write. I start out with a concept of the type of person I'm looking at, and then the character grows as the story develops.

Do you outline the plot or some variation of that (use a strict 3 act structure or not and little/alot of detail) before sitting down and writing?
With the Seven-Year Stitch mystery series, the publisher (NAL) has me submit synopses prior to writing the actual book. For me, that is hard. Fortunately, the synopses have a basic A then B then C then D structure so I have plenty of leeway to add subplots and other details as the book progresses. Otherwise, I do a rough outline and allow the book to grow out of the situations as they present themselves in the book. Does that make sense?

I see you are married and have two children. I am sure many aspiring authors can relate to your juggling of priorities. How do you find time for writing - what works for you?
I write while they are at school, I write in the car-rider line in the afternoons, and if I'm on a tight deadline I write after they go to bed.

How much research goes into your work and do you complete that up front or "just enough" as you go?
As with Dead Pan, sometimes the research leads to the book, so that's always good. With the Seven-Year Stitch series, I had to do a lot of research up front because the book is set on the Oregon Coast and I live in Virginia. For that one, I even subscribed to an online newspaper for six months. I also have to call local police stations every once in a while to make sure I get the procedure down right. I seldom think of that until I have my characters in the middle of a situation.

I read once that a romance writer would put on sexy lingerie to prepare for writing -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?
Not really, except perhaps to "get into character." You know how actors get into character for a particular role? Both my series are written in first-person, so I have to make sure I'm writing as the proper character. It can get confusing when you're doing two series at once.

Can you recommend a fiction book that provides a great example of the writing craft for aspiring authors to dissect and learn from?
The Coffin Dancer by Jeffrey Deaver. If you want to write a mystery that will make your readers gasp, that is the book to study.

How did you get your first break towards getting published? Was it sending in a query or meeting an agent at a writing conference etc?
I met my first publisher at a writing conference in Knoxville, Tennessee. I took part in a group pitch session, and she requested my full manuscript.

Are you a part of a writer's critique group, either face-to-face or online and has that been beneficial for you or not your cup-of-tea?
I'm not part of a critique group. I live in a rural area, so that added to my non-writing priorities makes it difficult to get together with other writers on a regular basis.

I also saw on your website that you conduct writing workshops, please tell us more about those and if you are offering any currently.
I conduct both novel writing and freelance writing e-courses which can be started at any time. The courses allow the student to get one-on-one instruction through a step-by-step process. For example, the novel writing student will complete a short story in the six-week course and have some ideas about where and how to submit it for publication. This is a smaller model, of course, for writing and publishing a novel.

Thank you Gayle Trent for the interview.
Join us here Thursday for another book review and next Monday is a very special author interview.
Until then I wish you many mysterious moments.
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Anonymous said...

Great interview. And I love that she mentioned Coffin Dancer. Jeffrey Deaver can do little wrong in my opinion.

A.F. Heart said...


Thank you for the comment, glad you enjoyed the interview.

I have newly discovered Jeffrey Deaver and think he is great!

AF Heart

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