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Nancy Adams in the HOT SEAT

Nancy Adams loves fairy tales, mysteries and fantasy, but as she approaches the HOT SEAT she soon realises there’s nothing fantastic about it. Nay, it’s an absolute mystery why she volunteered to sit in the flaming seat!
(Yes, I’m being very lame tonight! :-D)

pompei girl

Gday Nancy's online persona!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write, Nancy?

I mostly write mystery, though lately I’ve begun experimenting with fantasy elements as well. My first serious efforts were historical mysteries and my current WIP is an urban fantasy/suspense set in Paris.  “Saint Nick and the Fir Tree” is primarily a little fantasy/fairy tale, but there is also a little hint of a murder mystery twist at the end.

[CJ: Ooh, I like the sound of the urban fantasy set in Paris!]

Tell us about your latest short story, Saint Nick and the Fir Tree,  in 25 words or less.

Saint Nick and his new Tree friend go out on the town, but a freak snowstorm brings their festivities to an unexpected conclusion.

Saint Nick is a short story for the holidays that I’ve just published. It’s available in both ebook and paperback formats. The paperback includes a couple of cute color illustrations by two very talented artist friends.

[CJ: Sounds like fun. Tell us more.]

It’s the day after Christmas, and Saint Nick’s on vacation. His first stop is the little town of Greenwood, where he sees what looks like a fir tree. The fir tree is really a yew that’s pruned in the shape of a Christmas tree, and it’s based on a real yew bush in our own backyard. In the story, the Christmas-tree shaped yew prefers to think of itself as a fir tree. Yews mean sadness, death, and funeral wreaths; fir trees mean Christmas. No contest!

Saint Nick invites the Tree on a little adventure that takes them from the local movie house (showing Miracle on 34th Street—what else?) to a diner, a tavern, and finally a long walk where they get lost in the snow-covered woods and Saint Nick literally stumbles on a big surprise.

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

I work full time, and when I’m not writing I love to read to relax. I do some occasional gardening, but not as much as I would like.

[CJ: My husband is the gardener in our family. I like to sit back and admire his handiwork. :-)]

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I began writing seriously about twelve years ago, and attended a mystery convention where I had an interview with an agent. I was very excited by her interest in the story and sent her the full manuscript, only to be told some months later that it very much needed an editor. That was the start of a long apprenticeship that got a great boost when I joined Sisters in Crime, an organization for mystery writers, and became part of their “Guppy” (i.e., “Great UnPublished”) chapter. Guppy friends, critique partners, and information was enormously helpful for my formation as a writer.

[CJ: I love the sound of Guppy. Sounds like an awesome group.]

They are!

The process has changed some over the years, but I always start a new manuscript as what’s called a “pantser,” as in “by-the-seat-of-your-pants.” In practice that means that I start with a scene or idea, but have no idea where it’s going to go. I discover the story’s path by sitting down to write the beginning. Typically that takes me only so far and then I have to stop and do some more organized kinds of brainstorming. 

[CJ: My last four HOT SEAT victims interviewees have all been pantsers. Who knew there were so many out there! :)]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

Oddly enough none of my major inspirations are mystery writers, though that is the genre I read the most. The Canadian author Robertson Davies is probably my biggest inspiration. His works aren’t fantasy in the strict sense of the word, but nonetheless they are magical. The novels are quick, compelling reads, but they also harbor depths. He was interested in Jungian psychology and also in religion, but there is nothing “heavy” about his stories. They are light as air, yet full of substance. Comedies in the sense that Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a comedy. If you don’t know him, start with either “The Rebel Angels” or “Fifth Business,” both wonderful, absolutely magical works. I bet you’ll become a fan!

[CJ: I haven’t read any of Robertson Davies, so thanks for the recommendations!]

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Working full-time, without a doubt. It’s hard for me to switch in and out of writing mode. I try to write new scenes on weekends—I’m only fresh and able to do this first thing in the morning, as a rule—and then revise during the weekend. It’s frustrating to lose that momentum every Monday.

[CJ: Trying to write around full time work is definitely tough. Does your work involve writing at all or does it use a completely different skill set?]

I’m a catalog librarian, which means I’m responsible for the book records library patrons see in the catalog. It’s helped me develop a sharp eye for proofreading.

Right. Enough of the niceties. Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

If you could no longer write, would you channel your creativity into a different artform? If so, what?  

<shudders> A truly horrible prospect! I love to sing. Of course that’s not the same as creating something, but I definitely couldn’t compose music. And singing gives you a wonderful feeling of vitality. But please, let’s not dwell on such a ghastly thought!

Finish this sentence from your character’s perspective: Something most people don’t know about me is…

By “most people,” I assume you’re referring to humans? Some of my best friends are human, but most of them don’t realize how much trees and other plants think and feel. Take me, for instance. I can quote all kinds of stories and poetry. I’m thankful that Aunt Nancy and my previous caretaker, Jack, always appreciated me and took the time to read me stories and poems they know I’ll like.

[CJ: Awww. How lovely!]

Now finish the same sentence from your perspective. I used to be a radio DJ. Back in college I majored in music and at the time our little campus radio station was the only place on the dial where you could listen to classical music and jazz. It was fun deciding which LPs I would take for a spin on any given day.

[CJ: Oh the power. That’s so much cooler than the jobs I had when I was at uni! :)]

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Hooray! Very fitting to have a Christmas-focused HOT SEAT as my last one for the year! If you’d like to hear more from Nancy, check out her website or follow her on Twitter

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT in 2012, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

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Filed under Hot Seat, Writer interview, Writers, Writing

Rae Hachton in the HOT SEAT

Rae Hachton is trembling uncontrollably. She often has trouble sleeping, but it’s been much worse these past few days. Why? Because she’s terrified. And who wouldn’t be, if it was their turn to sit on… the HOT SEAT.

Gday, Rae!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write, Rae?

I write for a slightly more mature YA audience, as, like many other YA novels, my books deal with edgier content such as drugs, sex, abuse, death, and suicide. However, the writing may be a little more raw than what one is typically used to. My characters are usually aged 17-22. 

I adore contemporary stories about troubled, but strong minded MCs and I absolutely love Gothic/Horror Fiction, and almost always a well narrated Love Story, and these are the kind of books I aim to write.

[CJ: Ooh sounds intense. But cool. Very cool.]

Tell us about your latest book, Black Satin: The World Unfolds,  in 25 words or less.

Black Satin; second book in the Pretty in Black Series: Ellie’s world is about to turn darker. 

[CJ: Okay, you’ve got me. Tell me more.]

I am really excited about writing this one because while it is dark and creepy, it is beginning to shape into an almost magical realm and extraordinary events I never even created in my own mind from the beginning of this, are developing and demanding my attention. I’m getting very little to no sleep during this process, but I’m not going to complain in the slightest, I believe the book is worth it, and I usually sleep little anyway. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of a nap, or driving in the car, and an idea for a new scene will strike, and I’ll have to record notes on my phone, because each scene is better and better. I know, at this point, I’m going to have a crazy time trying to collect all my notes into one collection, so I can make sense of where this is headed.

Pretty in Black, when I began writing it, wasn’t going to be a series. I did not find out about that little tid-bit until I wrote “The End” and realized that this was definitely not the end. Right now, I still cannot speculate whether this series will be three books or four. I’m excited to find out myself. I believe Marcus and Ellie know, but won’t tell me. How courteous of them to realize I’m already challenging myself to keep up, as it is quite difficult with those two.

Something I can say about Black Satin is that a new character arrives, and complicates Ellie’s life even further. Those following me on one of my sites, may find out more about this new character and how he is pertinent to Ellie’s story and development.

[CJ: How fascinating that you didn’t know Pretty in Black was going to be a series. It’s always interesting to hear about how books come into being!]

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

Usually, when I am not writing, I am reading and/or exploring my surroundings. A season in which I dare not write, is summer. I do not believe I can draw from memory any time in which I wrote anything during summer season. Summer for me, is a time of relaxation, and adventure. I love the beach. So, for 3 and a half months of the year, I do not write, and the rest of the time I do.

[CJ: Sounds like a great way to split up your year between your different past times- writing and relaxation. 🙂 ]

I also enjoy photography, graphic design and cinematography projects. Sometimes, I make short films. When I began college, my major at art school was filmmaking/cinematography. I wanted to be a director and this is still, very much, something I want to pursue later on in life.

[CJ: Film fascinates me too. If only we had time to pursue all of our interests!]

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I do not outline, I am a pantster. I just jump right in, once I’m inspired, but if the characters begin talking to me, I jot down notes or record snippets of conversation from them.

My titles almost always arrive before the story does.

[CJ: So far, your process is the opposite of mine!]

A simple lyric from a song has been known to inspire an entire book, or in the case of Pretty in Black, an entire series.

When I edit, I have to add words, not remove them.

I count syllables in every sentence when I do a read-through of my work, to make sure there are no stumbling blocks, and that ideas flow together nicely.

Contemporary stories are written in order, Gothic/Horror stories are written out of order.

Shortest book completion time:  4 days

Longest book completion time: 2 and a half months.

[CJ: For real? It’s taken me longer than 2 and a half months to read some books, let alone write them!]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

The Danish Duo band, The Raveonettes. I can more than likely trace every work I’ve written, back to one of their songs. I will do almost anything to get my hands on a new song of theirs, or a song I have not heard before. They’re releasing a B-side and Rarities album December 15, I believe, but they’re only making 1000 copies: 500 in CD and 500 in Vinyl. I will be ecstatic trying to get my hands on a copy.

[CJ: I’ve never heard of them. What song/s would be a good introduction to the band?]

Any of the songs that debut on the Pretty in Black book soundtrack:
  • “My Time’s Up” from the album Raven in the Grave. This song is the song that inspired the entire series! Raveonettes are Ellie’s favorite band too, and this song plays for the first time at her school dance and she dances with Marcus Marble. This ends up being their song, kind of like how “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” is Edward’s and Bella’s Song. It reoccurs throughout. 
  • “Forget that You’re Young” also from album Raven in the Grave. Ellie and Marcus dance to this song at Ellie’s Halloween Dance. 
  • “Everyday” which is a badass cover song of Buddy Holly’s song, and The Raveonettes version sounds creepy, which adds to the mood of this book.
  • And another one of their songs which will be found on the Black Satin [Pretty in Black #2] Soundtrack is actually a beautiful Christmas song called Christmas Ghosts
[CJ: Cool. I’ll check them out!]

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Word Count: I’m probably too concise. Never enough words. It’s a challenge for me to land a MS between 35-40 k!

[CJ: It’s official – our styles and challenges are the exact opposite. My current MS is 140K, edited down from 171K!)

Censorship: My stories are left raw, I do not censor my characters. They are how they are. If they misuse drugs, they misuse drugs. If they swear a lot, or have a sexual addiction, I transcribe it onto the page in the direct way they tell me to, I leave nothing out, I want it to ring with authenticity, and I try to stay true to the character and the story. Doing this is not a challenge. What proposes a challenge is when someone reads something, and goes, isn’t that a bit graphic, don’t you think you can tone that down a bit? And I’m like, No I cannot. I’m not at liberty. I did not create this story, these characters are telling me about their actual lives!

In fact, and I’m positive many of you have not heard of this before, and would probably stress a degree of strong opinion about this option, but I’m having to put a Parental Advisory label, much like the one you might find on a musical CD from a rock band, on the back of one of my more recent projects, due to the content. A lot of people believe that parents are not involved in their childrens reading choices and if this idea were implemented, it would be useless, however, I live in an age of the sue-happy, so even if a parent allowed a child to purchase my book, and later realized the content was not exactly suitable for their fourteen year old child, I can only imagine what might happen.

My books are categorized as YA and many people view that as ages 14-18. I believe there should be a slight separation from Teen Literature and YA literature. Teen books are a little more naive and juvenile, while Young Adult books span from ages 17-22 and deal with events that take place during that last year of high school or while in college. I was a teen once, and I am still surrounded by many teens everyday. Not every young person can deal with mature subjects, and some can. It varies. Some teens are trying to be older than they are, and some young people ages 21 have not yet grown to a certain level of experience. There needs to be books for both. But if my story is about drugs, it will be about drugs, and not a high school musical about drugs.

[CJ: I agree that teens have different maturity levels and some are better at handling topics than others. I don’t see why books shouldn’t be rated in the same way as movies and cds – if I was buying a present for a young cousin, I would want to know the ‘teen’ book was matched with their maturity level.]

Right. Enough of the niceties. Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

If you had to give up either reading or writing for the rest of your life, which would you choose?  

Reading. But really I would hate to have to give up either, but I guess reading, because if I’m still writing, then I’m still reading, so that would be the best choice. I could just write my own books and read them too!  

[CJ: Smart move!]

Finish this sentence from your character Walter’s perspective.

Life would be a lot easier if…  Ellie loved me, and not Marcus.

Oh no, slight Spoiler Alert! That sentence is relevant to the Black Satin plot line as new developments emerge. Another guy tries to vie for the attention and love of Ellie Piper.

[CJ: Nothing like a good love triangle to keep you burning through those pages! :)]

Now finish the same sentence from your perspective.

Life would be a lot easier if…  fictional boys were REAL.

Girls, don’t we all wish that the world was all full of  Edward Cullens, and Varen Nethers and Patch Ciprianos we could choose from?! Life would be spectacular if these boys could just jump right off that page! This is the reason girls read more! Duh!!

[CJ: The only problem I see with the world being full of Edward Cullens? That would mean vampires are real! EEK! Don’t know if I could cope with that!]

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Thanks so much for taking a seat, Rae!

If you’d like to hear more from Rae, check out her blog, follow her on Twitter or visit the Pretty in Black website.

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

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Michele Drier in the HOT SEAT

It’s Michele Drier’s birthday today. I got her a wonderful present. It involves flames, intimidation and possible third degree burns. Yes, that’s right. I got her a spot in the HOT SEAT! 😀

Michele Drier

Gday, Michele!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write, Michele?

Well, that would have been easy a year ago…mysteries!  But  I began writing a vampire romance, just to see if I could do it, and I did!  So now I write traditional mysteries AND paranormal romance.

[CJ: Nice combination. I love both those genres.]

Snap CoverTell us about your latest book, SNAP: The World Unfolds,  in 25 words or less.

SNAP is the holy grail for Maxie. She’s looking for fame, fortune and Jimmy Choos, but when she meets vampire Jean Louis, she’s a goner.

[CJ: 25 words exactly. Nice work! And the plot sounds like fun too.]

Thanks. SNAP: The World Unfolds was completed and published in July.  I’ve begun the next in the Kandesky vampire series, SNAP: New Talent.

[CJ: Awesome!]

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

Marketing!  I always thought that the hard part of writing a book was writing a book! Not! Now that I have two books published in two different genres (my traditional mystery, Edited for Death, came out Oct. 1), I spend hours every day with social media.  I also write grant applications on a contract basis, do some consulting work and spend time taking care of two granddaughters.

[CJ: Sounds like a busy, satisfying life. :-)]

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I’m more of a pantser writer.  I have stories in my head and I sit down and start with Chapter One.   Every day, I read the previous five or ten pages to immerse myself in the story and then continue.  My characters will sometimes take the story line and bolt off into the blue. This usually adds interest and fleshes them out, but I sometimes have to rein them in.  It makes for occasional rewriting. 

[CJ: Rewriting can be painful but usually the story becomes much better for it. Thank goodness! Wouldn’t be much point to it if it didn’t, right?]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

Primarily, women writers.  I’ve always been amazed that women overrode the barriers they faced and just wrote, because they had to.  Not only the 18th and 19th century women like Jane Austen or the Brontes, but early 20th century like Kate Chopin or Charlotte Perkins Gilman.  And I’m astounded at the English like Doris Lessing and Iris Murdoch.  Their use of language makes me realize that we speak different languages…well VERY different dialects.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Hoo, sales?  Kidding!  The biggest challenge I’ve faced in fiction writing is trying to cram way too much information in.  My first couple of drafts of Edited for Death were liberally sprinkled with information dumps and my daughter finally said, “Just write one story.  You’ve got two of them here.”  When I realized she was right, I slashed and burned and a  better book and story emerged from the forest of words I’d created.

[CJ: I love the image you’ve created there. Makes me think I’d probably love your novels too!]

Right. Enough of the niceties. Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

A well-reputed publisher offers you a major contract but requires you change something about your plot that completely goes against what you want for the book. What do you do?  

Oh…moan and groan. [CJ: :D] I’d want to make sure I understood why they wanted to make these changes, probably try to negotiate to keep my ideas intact and then, when all else fails, go away.  It’s much more cavalier and easier to say this in these days of self-publishing!

[CJ: Brave lady!]

What fictional character are you most like and why?

Murphy Brown

Murphy Brown

Some people used to call me Murphy Brown!  I guess I’m more outspoken than I think I am.  But in literary fiction, hummmmm.  Probably Lisa Scottoline’s Bennie Rosato.  A little brash, in control (read: control freak), outwardly sure of myself.  I sure wish I could afford Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos.  My daughter and I left our finger- and nose-prints on the window of a Ferregamo store in Paris once, but that’s probably as close as I’ll ever come!

If you could only read one genre for the rest of your life, what genre would you choose?

That’s like being put in solitary! All in all, I think I’d have to say mysteries.

[CJ: Makes sense! And yes I agree. It’s a tricky question. Glad I’m the one asking and not answering! :-D]

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Well, that was fun. For me at least! If you’d like to hear more from Michele, check out her website.

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

19 Comments

Filed under Hot Seat, Writer interview, Writers, Writing