Monday, November 21, 2011

My Writer's Knowledge Base Interview

Tomorrow's the deadline to enter Giveaway #2. Don't miss out. Details in the Deals and Steals tab.

As I type this, I haven't left for Arizona yet. As you read this, I'm on my way home. Since Nicole hasn't run the Iron Man in "real time", I can't give you any results or trip highlights, so I thought I'd run part of an interview I gave to Elizabeth Spann Craig for the Writer's Knowledge Base newsletter in September.

ESC: You do a little genre-blending with your books. How would you categorize them and what are the pros and cons of genre blending?

TO: I like to think of my books as "Mysteries with Relationships" although the publishing industry calls them Romantic Suspense. I think with the explosion of the indie market, it's easier to blend genres. Readers like a wider variety of genres and subject matter than the NY print publishers are willing to risk money on. I have one 'straight' mystery that was rejected by publishers because they said it was a blend of police procedural and cozy. I'm seriously considering publishing that one myself, because I think readers won't mind the crossover.

ESC: You’re not a plotter, but you’re writing complex mysteries. Can you tell us a little about how far you plan ahead in a story or what your writing process is?

TO: I don't normally know what's going to happen more than a few scenes ahead of time, although I have a very (VERY) broad, general idea of the framework for the story. If I can write without needing to know specifics, I plow ahead. For example, in When Danger Calls, I knew Ryan had a disc that held some Very Important Secrets. I didn't know exactly what they were, or how they were encrypted until I learned more about Frankie's talents – because it made good "writing" sense for her to be the one to decipher the code. In Danger in Deer Ridge, I knew my heroine had taken something from her husband, but I was probably 2/3 of the way through the book before I knew exactly what it was. And if I don't know, then I certainly can't be dropping brazen hints to my readers.

ESC: How do you successfully create tension in your books?

TO: Thanks for saying I'm successful at it! Part of it, I think, comes from NOT plotting too far in advance. I fear that if I know too much, I'll be working so hard at not giving things away that the writing will become forced. Also, being "trained" in the romance genre, I follow the GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) format. My characters want something. I refuse to give it to them. And I try to find characters whose basic goals don't match at the beginning of the book. In Where Danger Hides, Dalton wants to get back in the field. But in order to do that, he has to find Miri's mysteriously disappearing people. He thinks it's "busy work" but knows he has to at least go through the motions if he's going to reach his goal. And then, of course, things escalate. In When Danger Calls, Frankie starts out dealing with normal problems: an aging mother, a tight budget. If you'd have asked her then if she thought she could deal with mercenaries or terrorists, she'd have thought you were crazy. As a matter of fact, I think that's my basic tension- creating premise. Start with characters who have very simple goals, and then see what it takes to push them farther than they'd ever dream they could go. I prefer not to give them the skill sets they need to solve the problem. That would be too easy. They have to dig deep and discover what they really can do. And you need to have tension on every page, in every paragraph. Your character has to want something (or NOT want something). I did a series of blog posts about this subject recently:

For the rest of the interview, click here

And tomorrow, while I'm on the road again, my guest, Katherine Grey will be here. Please drop by and make her feel welcome. She's got great stuff to share.

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1 comment:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Thanks again for the interview, Terry! Hope you had a great trip to Arizona. :)