Friday, November 22, 2019

Author Spotlight: Alison Gaylin

The year may be winding down, but I've still got a few Author Spotlights up my sleeve- not to mention the Winter/Spring book preview, End of the Year Book Awards (an Extravaganza) and 31 Days of Bookmas (over on Instagram). But for now, I'm excited to bring you an interview with Alison Gaylin, author of the acclaimed Never Look Back- released this past summer-, Edgar winner If I Die Tonight and the the bestselling Brenna Spector series. Time to start your holiday shopping...

Who: Alison Gaylin
Latest Book: Never Look Back
Follow! @alisongaylin

What do you tell yourself when you begin to doubt yourself as a writer? How often do you doubt yourself?
I doubt myself pretty much every day – my impostor syndrome runs deep. But I tell myself the same thing I do when I think about getting older: It beats the alternative. If I’m not writing something, if I’m not in the process of telling a story, I feel deeply unsettled and unhappy. All the insecurities that plague me while I’m in that process of writing are nothing compared to the feeling of having no story to tell. And those days when the process is going well – when I come up with a solution, or get to know a character better, or just have a good writing day – nothing beats that feeling.

What is the worst reason to become an author?

To make money and/or get famous. You can do both of those things a lot more easily on Instagram.

What is the best?

Because you can’t not do it. I think writing should be something of a compulsion.

How long did it take to complete your latest novel?

Not counting revisions, about nine months. Though, as I always say, it takes me six months to write the first hundred pages, three months to write the rest of the book. I find creating characters and setting up a story to be the hardest part, and I tend to do a lot of rewriting then, as I have a lot of false starts. Once I get the boulder to the top of the mountain, the compulsion kicks in, and it’s a lot easier to finish that first draft. NEVER LOOK BACK, though, was an especially arduous revision process, as I changed a lot of the structure. So, while that part took me about a month, there were many, many sleepless nights.

What’s your favorite thing to do to procrastinate from writing?
Reading or watching movies, because it’s inspiring. But if I’m going to be honest, the way I procrastinate most often is clicking on Twitter hashtags.

Who has been the most difficult character for you to write?

Probably Brenna Spector because she has perfect autobiographical memory, and I definitely do not. Though there were only three books in the series, I really had to re-familiarize myself with each one before writing the next – and still, I’d get tons of copy editors’ queries about things I’d gotten wrong. You want to set yourself up to big fail, write a series based on a character with perfect memory.

The easiest?

Probably Jackie from If I Die Tonight, because when I was writing her, I got to put a voice to my biggest fears as the mom of a teenager.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Author Spotlight (and Video!) with Robert Parker

Cheers and happy Friday Reads, all! I'm extremely excited about today's Author Spotlight because a) it features an author I adore and b) it's happening on a new medium for me. Rob Parker, author of- among others- Crook's Hollow and A Wanted Man- graciously took the time to make a video response to my interview questions.

Aside from sharing invaluable insight into the writing and publishing worlds, Parker closes out with some fantastic book recommendations, so there's much to enjoy in this week's spotlight.

A quick note- if you're interested in the 'Brit Grit Lit' genre mention, check out my 2018 interview with Parker over on Crime Reads: Grit Lit: An American Phenomenon Goes Global.

Who: Rob Parker
Latest Book: Crook's Hollow (re-released!) 
Follow: @robparkerauthor

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Author Spotlight: Jayne Martin

I haven't highlighted a flash fiction author in a while, so I'm excited to bring you an interview with Jayne Martin, author of the recently released collection Tender Cuts. Described as the love child of Joy Williams and Raymond Carver, Martin's bite-sized tales provide snatches into lives both ordinary and extraordinary. Illustrated by Janice Whitby and Indigo Roth, Tender Cuts is a deceptively quick read that deserves to be savored.

Who: Jayne Martin
Latest Book: Tender Cuts
Follow! @Jayne_Martin

What advice do wish someone had given you when just started out as a writer/author? 

I started my writing career writing movies for television and did that for about 25 years before writing a word of fiction. Back then the advice I received was mostly about how to get an agent. I wish someone had told me not to take myself too seriously, that no one cared whether I wrote or not. The world was not waiting breathlessly for my next script, so I shouldn’t wrap my entire self-esteem up in whether I was “succeeding” or not. Write because it gives you joy to do so. Whatever comes of it is largely out of your control.

Who or what is your spirit animal?

The hummingbird. I have a tattoo of one on my right shoulder. Their combination of energy and stillness as they hover in one place – that intense focus -- is the same combination I need in order to write.

What’s the most creative thing you’ve done to market or promote your books?

I had bookmarks made with the book cover on them to give away, and at my book launch luncheon there were heart-shaped cookies with “Tender Cuts” written on them. I’m planning on ordering candy hearts with the same for AWP giveaways.

Do you have a secret for handling bad book reviews? And, yes, what is it?

I’ll let you know when I get one. Undoubtedly, it will be coming because a reader’s response to a story is entirely subjective. A writer can’t possibly please everyone, nor should they try. I don’t expect to be devastated by it. I’ve been a professional writer for 40 years. Likely, I will just think whoever wrote it is a moron. Conversely, I will think anyone who gives Tender Cuts a good review is a genius.

Have you ever been embarrassed to tell someone that you’re a writer/author?

Yes. When I was just starting out in Hollywood it was tough. It seemed that everyone was a “wanna-be” something. The first question would always be, “Oh, what have you done?” Meaning, what have you gotten produced. Well, nothing yet. Or "who’s your agent? I’m looking for one." Nobody wanted to know you. It’s still tough for new writers, and I see a lot on Twitter, for example, calling themselves “aspiring writers.” I always tell them, if you’re writing you’re a writer. You may not yet be making a living at it, but don’t let the world’s insatiable need to assign monetary value to everything define who you are.