Tuesday, January 12, 2010
My characters are much braver and lead much more exciting lives. I think I’m living vicariously. I like what Donald Maass says about letting your characters do all the things you’d like to do, but have never had a chance or dared to do. What fun!
What is the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?
During college, I spent three semesters at the University of Costa Rica in San Jose, Costa Rica. My friend and I decided to return to Kansas overland through Central America by bus so we bought these enormous, red backpacks in which we carried everything we owned. We might as well have stamped “gringa” on our foreheads. Everyone saw us coming from Nicaragua to Mexico!
When did you first discover you were a writer?
Second or third grade, I think. My sister and I had a little newspaper we wrote and I always kept a diary. By junior high I was writing poems, plays, and short stories.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading?
My first love is a good mystery, but I love suspense novels as well. I read all my favorite ACFW inspirational writers but also am a big fan of mainstream writers such as Earlene Fowler, Diane Mott Davidson, and Marcia Mueller.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
Two books that are prequels to A Deadly Wilderness, that are now resting in peace in a drawer, although I’d love to see Mine to Avenge, which was a Genesis finalist, published as a prequel. The sequel to Wilderness, entitled No Child of Mine, is now ready to be submitted to my publisher for consideration. I also have a mainstream suspense novel The Dead Parent Society, which placed second in the Molly Contest, that I’m ready to market. Right now I’m working on my first romance, The Glove, and a romantic suspense novel set primarily in Laredo, Texas, which focuses on the problems the gun trade is causing the U.S. and Mexico.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Physically, I work out on the treadmill for at least 45 minutes every evening, seven days a week. I spend a lot of time in my car, sitting in traffic, so I listen to praise and worship music on the radio or CD player to remind me to stay grounded spiritually. I also rely on my Sunday school class to help me start every week on the right path.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Some come from the telephone book, others I see in the credits rolling on TV shows. My characters have pretty run-of-the-mill names, however. Like most of us real people.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of?
Besides raising two wonderful children and remaining married to my husband for twenty-one years? The publication of my first novel at age fifty-two. It’s been a long, hard road, and I’m proud of the perseverance that it took to keep writing at the crack of dawn every day before my “day job” kicks in.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
This turned out to be the hardest question for me to answer. I think I’d be a cat. Not exotic, but cats are really independent, yet loving, creatures. They might curl up with you one minute and then roam off all on their own the next. They seem content with their own company, but willing to share their perch on the back of the couch, too.
What is your favorite food?
Well, I’ve lost fifty pounds in the last two years so bread, cheese, all Mexican food, pasta, French fries, cheeseburgers, bagels with lots of cream cheese . . . just about anything fattening sounds wonderful to me.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Lack of time. At least that was my excuse. I work full-time, I have two teen-age children, I have a second job as a proofreader for two court reporters. Just finding the time to write is an on-going challenge. But I realized that I had to find the time to make my dream come true, even if that meant sacrificing. So I write at six-thirty in the morning, I carry my laptop to work with me and spend my lunch hour writing, I grab an hour in the evening, whenever possible. I carve out the time, period.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
First, grow a thick skin, then join a writing organization (like ACFW), get in a critique group, attend conferences, and continuously work to improve. Be humble. Above all else, never give up. Someone said the only writers who don’t get published are the ones who give up. That’s my mantra.
A Deadly Wilderness is a story about greed and deceit and murder. But it’s also about having faith in second chances and in love. Here’s an excerpt from the flap copy:
An idyllic hike in a wilderness park turns deadly when Homicide Detective Ray Johnson tumbles into a ravine and lands on a corpse The victim’s ring finger has been severed, turning Ray’s misstep into a murder investigation. Ray’s determination to find the man’s killer leads him to the wealthiest enclaves in San Antonio. From there, it’s a surprisingly short trip to the city’s dark underbelly inhabited by drug cartel lieutenants and paid assassins and, ultimately, to death’s wide open doors.
A Deadly Wilderness is a romantic suspense novel that will take the reader along on a tumultuous journey as the consuming need for material wealth drives a deadly wedge among family members who haven’t learned when enough really is enough.
The journey ends where it began—in a deadly wilderness. Not everyone will survive the trip.
Please give us the first page of the book:
“Mom worries about everything.”
The irritation in Marco Acosta’s voice made Ray Johnson hide his smile. The boy sounded like an irritable old man, not an eight-year-old. Ray’s amusement faded as he contemplated the reasons Marco had grown up too fast. He edged his way up a narrow spot in the rocky trail and glanced back at Benny Garza. Marco’s foster cousin showed no sign he saw irony in Marco’s complaint. Benny’s mother was in prison, doing time on a drug charge. Marco was lucky to have a mother who cared so much.
“Your mother worries because she loves you.” Ray eased back and adjusted his sunglasses as a cluster of juniper gave way to an open space lit by the early morning sun. “It’s been a rough year for everyone.”
“She’s not going to let me go camping in Big Bend with you.” Marco’s breaths came in puffs between the words. The terrain became more tortuous and the path meandered along a deep ravine. “She doesn’t want me to spend the night away from home.”
Sweat rolled down Ray’s neck and soaked the back of his T-shirt. Susana’s reluctance to let Marco out of her sight was understandable. She’d lost so much already. “I’ll talk to her when we get back. I promise.”
Eyeing the ground to make sure he stayed on the trail, Ray tightened his stride to allow for the boys’ shorter legs. Marco raised a water bottle to his mouth and drank. His tennis shoe was untied. “You need to tie your shoe, Marco.” The police-officer-slash-Boy-Scout in Ray sprang to attention. His nerves hummed with the realization Marco wasn’t paying attention—to his shoe or the sudden jagged swerve in the path. “Watch where you’re going!”
Marco tripped over the shoelace and stumbled toward the ravine. The water bottle flew. His arms flapped.
Ray flung himself forward. His fingertips brushed the strap of Marco’s backpack. The boy glanced back, face startled, eyes wide, his lips a tight O. Then, he disappeared from sight. Ray teetered. The toe of his boot caught in the root of a cedar tree, halting his momentum a split second before gravity kicked in and the weight of his six-foot-four frame dragged him forward. He pitched headfirst into the narrow fissure.
He thrust his hands at bushes and branches but clutched only air. Tumbling, he smacked into rocks. Prickly pear and yucca scratched his face; branches punctured skin.
His head bounced like a soccer ball against the ground. Pain ping-ponged through his skull. He finally landed on his back, arms flung wide, his left foot twisted under his right leg. Noise still rang in his ears.
So much for a relaxing break from an endless parade of murder investigations.
Sounds intriguing. I'm hooked. How can readers find you the Internet?
At http://www.kellyirvin.com/ and I’m also on Facebook.
Thank you, Kelly, for spending this time with us.
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