1. What does it mean to you to be called an author?
Frankie- People have different ideas about what it means to be a writer versus an author, and which is better. K.M. Weiland’s site is called “Helping Writers Become Authors,” which implies that author is the preferred state of being. Dean Wesley Smith, on the other hand, defines a “writer” as being active and forward-looking, already working on the next book while the “author” rests on his or her laurels. Rather than step into the middle of that debate, I’m just happy that I have the opportunity to write entertaining stories, and share them with other people.
Lian- That is why I love this question. It means something different to everyone.
2. What is the first book that you remember reading?
Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever. I don’t think it had much to do with inspiring my literary career, but I liked the pictures.
I loved Richard Scarry when I was little!
3. If you could have lunch with 3 authors (past and present) who would they be and what do you think you would all talk about during lunch?
C.S. Lewis, E.F .Benson, and Sarah Caudwell. I wouldn’t say a word; I would just listen to the conversation. Oh, and it would have to be at a nonsmoking restaurant. Otherwise Sarah Caudwell might just puff away on her pipe and not say anything.
That is a super fun image.
4. If you could be friends with a character in one of your stories who would it be and what kinds of things would you do together?
Pat Flanagan, the pessimistic newsblogger/English Instructor in the Molly Barda mysteries, is modeled after a very good friend of mine who passed away two years ago. We used to search out little hole-in-the-wall diners. Years ago we found the most amazing apple pie at a place called Champion’s in Escondido. They’re still there, and they still don’t take credit cards.
I sorry to hear about your friend. it is terrific that he can live for you as one of your characters.
5. Who do your stories appeal to?
People who enjoy the Molly Barda Mysteries are diverse age- and gender-wise, but what they all seem to have in common is experience working in extremely bureaucratic organizations. They also have excellent taste.
–Well, we can’t fault them on their taste. 😉
6. What is your all time favorite book or author?
There isn’t just one, of course, but I’ll say Sarah Caudwell, because she’s much less famous than she deserves to be, and every time I read something by her I fairly collapse with envy. Her writing is hilarious and perfect.
7. Which of your current works in progress are you most passionate about?
I’m excited about writing in the Miss Fortune world. Working within the constraints of another author’s characters and setting is a real challenge, but as they say, creativity thrives under constraints.
-That sounds like it would be challenging.
8. What or who inspired you to begin writing?
I write what I like to read, so I guess you could say I’m my own inspiration.
-I have heard that all good writers start out as happy readers.
9. How do you avoid or defeat writers block?
There are definitely days when I don’t want to face my work in progress. What works for me is to have a system and just keep at it, step by step. First, outline the plot. Then, turn the outline into a series of beats. After that, expand the third-person present tense summary into the first-person past tense story, and don’t worry about getting everything perfect. Once I get to that point I have a completed first draft, and it’s a lot easier to go back and edit.
-Having a system is a great way to keep on going.
10. How do you define success as an author?
If my writing can make someone burst out laughing as they read, that for me is success.
-Success! My mom laughed her head off while reading Sinful Science!!