Welcome to my Reading Nook, W.S. Gager. Please make yourself at home and let my cabana boys/girls get you a drink.
Comfortable? Wonderful. Now let’s get started.
Yum. That fruity concoction is just divine. Before I get too lose in the lips, I just wanted to say thanks for the invite and please call me Wendy.
Tell us about your favorite character from your books.
One would think it would be my main sleuth, Mitch Malone, but to be honest, my favorite is from A CASE OF ACCIDENTAL INTERSECTION called Elsie Dobbs. She is an octogenarian who uses her sweet grandmotherly wiles to manipulate Mitch. She was so much fun to write and refused to be quiet after the book was finished. I ended up writing a short story with her and Mitch in it. I’m thinking she will make a comeback in my current work in progress with another elderly lady from A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS. Mitch better watch his back if these two start working together against him, for his own good, of course.
Tell us about your current/upcoming release. What inspired this story?
A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS was just released and is the fourth book in the Mitch Malone Mystery Series. It was inspired by my part-time day job working in an office. It wasn’t a fun situation when partners decided to go separate ways. Because it was my job to be nice, helpful and welcoming, I couldn’t deck some employees who were making everyone miserable. Instead I started killing them off in my writing. It was great therapy and while any of those mutilating murders never made it in the book and it morphed into a different story, the initial writing was very good therapy and probably saved me from the electric chair!
When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?
When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?
I need to get back into a more regimented writing schedule. My life has been turned upside down about every six months for the last two years between three relocations and two surgeries. I used to me most productive in the early morning hours before my children got up. My children are now adults at least they can vote and I would have the entire morning if I waited for them to get up. LOL. Now I find the afternoons most conducive. I try and be more active in the morning forcing myself to exercise first thing and catching up on all the odds and ends that make life run more smoothly and then after lunch I settle down and can focus on creating as long as I have a big cup of chai tea. Maybe as I get older, it will keep moving back farther and farther. The evenings are still spent promoting while I watch TV that isn’t worth giving it my full attention. I try to keep up on twitter, facebook and visit blogs. Lately, my schedule has been any minute in the day I can catch. To tell you the truth though, I’ve never liked structure so there are lots of days that the schedule is turned upside down and that works too!
What is the hardest part of writing your books? Hands down, editing. Hate it. Am horrible at it but it must be done. From the last edits, I learned so much about what I was doing wrong. I just need a huge poster with rules for commas. I also found in the last book that a lot of words need hyphens that I never gave it a thought.
What does your family think of your writing career?
My husband is happy with me doing whatever makes me happy and the writing definitely makes me happy and easier to live with (as long as the writing is going well.) My daughter is one of my biggest fans along with my mother. My son and father, haven’t ever opened the pages. I’m good with all of them and they give me the space and time I need to devote to it.
What do you think makes a good story? Great characters hands down winner. If you characters aren’t multi-faceted and interesting with a hint of mystery, it doesn’t matter what stunts you have them do or what trial they face, it falls flat. Once you have characters than you can build an incredible story and add in plot and setting to create a full package.
Plotter or Pantser? Why? I have ALWAYS been a pantser. My characters talk and I listen and write their story. I usually have some idea of how it is going to end but typically I kill off the person who is the best suspect about halfway through the book and then have to write my way out of it. That has been working really well for me but I am working on another project that is five books and will have a plot thread that will run through all the books and I need to plot that out ahead of time. (Think Harry Potter where there is a mystery in each book but through all of them he is fighting Voltemort.) It has been a struggle to do that but it is a good skill to develop as I begin to work on two series so they don’t get confused in my mind.
How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?
Nope. Mitch Malone was a side character in a plot that came to me as part of a dream. I thought the book would be about Patrenka, a character from A CASE OF INFATUATION. Turns out Mitch took control and wrestled the book and series away from Patrenka. However, she does come back in A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS. As for creating the actual characters, I use bits and pieces from people I’ve met and combine them in new ways so rarely does anyone see themselves.
What book are you reading now? Any favorite authors/books you want to do a shout out for?
I am anxiously awaiting new books by a couple of my fellow Oak Tree Authors. Holli Castillo has a series set in New Orleans featuring a tough as nails female prosecutor that I love. It is gritty and fast paced. I’m also waiting for Sunny Frazier’s new book in her astrology series but she has been waylaid editing and getting other people’s books into print so I can’t fault her for that.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Sleep! Seems I’m not doing that much these days! I love photography and looking at things in a visual way helps my brain settle when it gets in a funk with words.
Coffee, tea or other drink to get you moving in the morning? Chai tea hands down. Can’t start with out it.
What is coming up from you in 2013? Anything you want to tease us with?
My newest for this year is A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS that was just released this month. I have a new series that is coming but it is too soon to give away many details but it is a more serious read than Mitch Malone who is all about fun and whodunit. These ones will share a little bit more about people on the edge who never know where their next meal is coming from or if today is their last day. It will talk about poverty, homelessness, domestic violence and other social issues set around a large mystery in a small community.
Anything else you want to add? Please take a look at my Mitch Malone books if you like a face-paced, can’t-put-it-down read.
A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS Blurb:
Mitch Malone finally scores a weekend dinner with a cute receptionist, but true to his reporter instincts, an explosion in a high rise office building makes him stand up his date as he runs for an exclusive.
Mitch learns that much of what he knows about his date and her work aren’t what they seem. His world continues to twist when the police captain asks for his help and a city hall informant is found floating in the river. Mitch must keep his head down or a cute dog with a knack for finding dead bodies will be sniffing out his corpse.
From the first chapter of A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS:
The police scanner next to my computer screen squawked tones that dispatched the Grand River Fire Department. Late Friday afternoon wasn’t the usual time for me to be at my desk but I was trying to write some sappy features for the weekend edition. I wanted the
evening off for a hot date. In the newspaper business these days, the mantra is: do more with less. While feature writing didn’t galvanize my creativity, I could string some adjectives together that weren’t half bad, if I do say so myself.
The newspaper business was changing and I needed to appear to toe the line and be more versatile in the tough economic times or I would be the next good reporter collecting
unemployment like several of my former colleagues.
When the tones continued calling a second station and then a third, I reached for my jacket. Fluffy features were fine but I was a crime beat reporter and fires were big news. My adrenaline kicked in as I snagged the long-thin notebook and shoved a pen in its spine
across the top. The tools of my trade slipped into the back pocket of my jeans. I paused and waited for the dispatcher to announce more information to tell me where this monster fire was, if it needed three stations. Instead, another set of tones sounded. The honking noise didn’t finish until five stations had been called—a record in my years at the Grand River Journal.
My nerves tingled and I felt in my pocket for other essentials. Cell phone, check. Camera, got it. I grabbed another empty notebook and put it inside my leather jacket.
“Explosion. Fifth and Division. Unknown casualties.” The nasal sound clipped out its sharp message telling me this was no ordinary dispatch but was akin to a nuclear disaster.
“Shit.” The excitement of a major story momentarily made me forget the reason I was stuck in the office on a Friday afternoon struggling to find the right flowery language. My date.
“Is the building stable, is it safe?” Agitation clear in the voice that responded to the missive.
“Unknown.” The dispatcher’s voice stressed.
The noise sent shivers up my spine as I realized my ear was next to the speaker. I couldn’t delay. Shades of the World Trade Center towers video flashed through my mind. In Grand River? The second largest city in Michigan? I sprinted to the bank of windows to join a
weekend reporter, copy editor and night editor. Most other reporters had hit the road for their weekend off. A huge plume of smoke filled the sky.
My dinner date forgotten. I had to move. The story of the century was unfolding if this was terrorism in Grand River. Even if it was accidental, this was a national news story and needed to carry the Mitch Malone byline.