Rich, I was thrilled when you told me your debut book was releasing as an ebook. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
No doubt frighteningly more than I realize. I consciously draw on experiences from childhood, college, vacations, marriage, raising kids, skills and talents, and careers. For example, in Perilous Cove, I used a vacation excursion we had on a whale watching boat, as well as years living near the
Pacific Ocean. The result is a
character with a job as a tour guide on a whale watching boat.
My mom had a strong personality, but she also liked to have fun and had some great sayings and opinions on life. She’s always in the books in some form, male or female.
And something that many women writers find interesting: my main protagonist is always female. This is a challenge, because I know very little about fashion, makeup, etc. I guess that’s why the suspense genre works for me: If I get in a fashion bind, I can always blow up something or crash a car to render what my characters are wearing inconsequential. You think I’m kidding?
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Hey, I’m from
is normal here! But for me I think it was after I finished my first year of
college in Dallas. On almost the spur of the moment, my roommate (another
Californian) and I decided to take a detour on the way home. We headed north in
his ’56 Ford pickup, through Colorado, Yellowstone, up into Canada and across
to Victoria, then down through Washington and Oregon to California—all for
about $95 each. Those were the days of really cheap gas and no cell phones. We
camped out, and slept in the truck when it rained.
When I was in college and borrowed a guy’s car to get to student teaching at the high school, I wouldn’t buy the gas if it was more than $.15 per gallon. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I’ve always been a voracious reader and, like many readers, I thought it would be cool to have my name on a book on the shelf. But it wasn’t until I was in my fifties that I began learning the craft of writing fiction. Six years later, I entered the 2009 Zondervan First Novel Contest and got a call that I made it into the semi-finals—and that they had to have the completed manuscript in a few weeks. It was only about 80% done. Yikes! When I typed The End, I think that was the moment it struck me: I had written an entire book. I made the deadline.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Through grade school and teen years, it was exclusively science fiction. Then I branched out to adventure (Clive Cussler-types), and then into mystery and suspense. When I began writing and those female characters cropped up, I began reading romances. I don’t read many. I mean, seriously, do all women have that much angst in their lives? *Note to romance writers: Enough with the second-guessing of whether he loves me or loves me not.
I also really enjoy YA (young adult). Those stories bring a sense of returning to what I love about story. And I guess this list wouldn’t be complete without revealing my guilty pleasure: vampire and paranormal stories. I know, I know, but how can you not want to see how the beautiful, intelligent girl falls for the bad boy bloodsucker?
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Stay away from Facebook for a few days at a time and the whole world around me goes into balance. Amazing. I know as authors we’re required to have a “platform” and all, but the whole social media thing kind of wears me out.
Now, I’m not talking about your blog, Lena. Nope, this is the best thing ever. Really. Not kidding.
Oh, and I live on an iPhone. It tells me where to go, what to do, and who to meet. I’d be a mess without it. I capture writing ideas in Evernote, and read ebooks with Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, and Nook software readers. The iPhone is my only e-reading device.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Names are great, aren’t they? And so important to the story. I keep a running list in Evernote on my phone and jot an entry whenever I hear a great name.
In this book, Perilous Cove, I changed Natalie’s name and another key character’s name right before I finished the book. After I’d lived with the characters for so many months, the old names just didn’t feel right.
I try to pick unusual names that are memorable, but also straightforward in pronunciation. It bugs me when I read a book and I’m not sure how to pronounce a character’s name.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I was a Campus Life leader in Youth for Christ for many years, and I worked with high school students. One guy in particular was a hard case. And while he didn’t give his life over to God in Campus Life, he did later. He went on to become a church youth director, and now pastors a new church in Santa Cruz. He credits his time in our Campus Life club as the beginning of his faith, and he’s leading many others in their faith walk. Now that’s really cool!
Yes, it is. Things like that keep our lives going and growing. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A fox. Great fur, small and fast, smart (at least in theory).
What is your favorite food?
But there are so many! Hmmm…as I ponder what I’ll have for lunch…I like just about anything Mexican, except I can’t stand cilantro. Tastes metallic to me, like a mouthful of tinfoil that short out the fillings in your teeth, you know? Well, maybe you don’t know if you love the stuff. But there isn’t much better than chips, salsa, and a great burrito.
And I always ask for more cilantro in my food. I love it. All our tastes are different. Differences make the world go round. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I have a lousy memory, so hands down it was figuring out an organization method for keeping track of scene content, character traits like hair color and type of car, ages, and clues and hints. I’d get about 50,000 words into the book and I couldn’t remember what I’d written. It took me about four years to develop the methodology using a combination of MS Word, a notebook application, and an age/year chart in Excel.
I’m working on my third book, and recently purchased Scrivener and moved the manuscript into it. There is a bit of a learning curve, but I think it’s really going to work for me.
I just keep a running file about each character and open it while I’m writing if I need to check something like that. Tell us about the featured book?
The germ of Perilous Cove began when a friend’s husband collapsed from a cerebral hemorrhage. While he was incapacitated, she dug into their finances to pay the bills and found hidden bank accounts, thousands of dollars in cash in cans in the garage, a huge life insurance policy he’d taken out on her without her knowledge, and many other suspicious things that appeared to put her safety in serious question.
In Perilous Cove, Natalie’s husband dies, leaving her with grief, debt, and a nasty mother-in-law. Now someone wants Natalie dead, and all the evidence points to her husband. She flees to the only sanctuary no one knows about, her late aunt’s lighthouse keeper’s cottage in Perilous Cove, California, where she builds a new identity and life. But there is no place safe, especially not Perilous Cove.
I’m going to love reading this book. Please give us the first.
He’d killed before. Once. Not that he was particularly opposed to it.
Tarz Broderick kicked the shoe of the man sprawled against the wall. The schmuck’s head came up and his eyes slowly focused. Duct tape secured his wrists and ankles. Three outside wraps with three more in-between. Inescapable.
“Nick Moreno, I presume,” Tarz said, watching the man’s eyes dart wildly as consciousness returned. Blood ran from his temple, staining the once white dress shirt.
Tarz turned to survey the small desk area and sighed. It could have been simple, easy in and out. The office should have been deserted. But that’s why they called it work, as dear ole daddy liked to say—often right before a whipping.
Tarz yanked the handles of the filing cabinet, a four-drawer, putty-colored unit of superior quality. Locked. He didn’t have time to mess with finding a key, so he hoisted his pry bar, wedged it into the drawer crack, and drove it home with his palm.
He could have come back later if he’d known someone would be in the office, but he’d rounded the corner into the L-shaped office and there Nick had been, working under the light from a single desk lamp. Oh, well.
Plus, Tarz didn’t have time to waste. He’d promised to drop by his sister’s apartment tonight. Dumb girl had gotten pregnant by a married man. She wasn’t saying who—knew her big brother too well to give up the slimeball’s name.
Tarz shrugged and worked the bar back and forth against groaning metal. Family was family. The money for tonight’s job would buy a nice baby gift for sis, plus keep him living high for a couple of months at least.
Yeah, I’ll really like this book. How can readers find you on the Internet?My website and blog are at www.perilousfiction.com , and I also interact with readers and other writers on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PerilousFiction . By email it’s firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thank you, Rich, for dropping by to share your new book with us.
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Perilous Cove (Perilous Safety Series - Book 1)
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