I’ve always written in one form or another. I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision, I always thought of myself as an author. By this time of my life, I know I am one.
What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?
I adore the whole writing process—coming up with the idea for the book, creating new characters and problems for ongoing characters, describing the various settings, moving the plot along, reading chapters to my critique group, rewriting and send it off to the publisher to be edited. And of course, holding the finished book in my hand.
What I like the least is the time it takes to promote each book. Don’t get me wrong, there are different types of promotion I truly enjoy, one is being a guest on a blog like yours. I also like doing blog tours. However, to really keep a book in front of prospective buyers, promotion is an ongoing process—too much time on Facebook and Twitter.
I am not fond of the usual book signings where you sit in a book store with a smile on your face and try to engage passers-by. What I do like is giving a presentation about some phase of writing or about my experiences as a writer and about my books. I enjoy book and craft fairs and talking to strangers about my books, not so crazy about the time taken away from writing to do these.
How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing?
Because I’ve always been a busy person: raised 5 of my own children and several grandkids, worked in many jobs along the way—I’ve learned to be a multi-tasker, something I believe helps me in my daily life, not just writing. I’ve lived a long time and had many experiences so it’s inevitable that some of these experiences have turned up in my books in one form or another.
Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book--as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?
Many authors call this being in the zone. It’s when you don’t have to think hard about what to write, it just comes easily. With me, it happens periodically in any book I’m writing.
You’ve written nearly 40 novels and are working on yet another.
At the moment, this is where I am. A new Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is expected in a month or two called The Crushing Death. I am developing my promotion for it. I am also writing the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery which I don’t have a final title for.
What’s your favorite time management tip?
Always do what is most important first. If you don’t, you’ll be worrying about whatever it is and not be able to focus on the next task as you should. I do this with my writing too. I like to finish pending projects, or even something like paying bills, so I can put my full concentration on my writing.
Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?
I’m a bit of both. I have some ideas written down before I begin including new characters like murder victims and suspects. I don’t always know how a book is going to end until I’m well into writing it. As ideas come to me during the writing process, I write them down. I refer to my notes all along the way.
If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?
Set aside time to write at least five days a week, but take time off to live.
Did music help you find your muse with this book?
I’m not an author who listens to music when I write—I’m too busy listening to my characters speak.
Tell me more about Not as it Seems.
Tempe and Hutch travel to Morro Bay for son Blair’s wedding, but when the maid-of-honor disappears, Tempe tries to find her. The search is complicated by ghosts and Native spirits.
How about an excerpt from Not as it Seems?
(From Chapter 1)
Tempe and her husband, Hutch, traveled to Morro Bay for her son Blair’s wedding. Blair asked Hutch to officiate at the ceremony, and both he and Tempe looked forward to meeting Blair’s fiancée and her family.
Soon after checking into the Bay Cottage Inn, on one of the main streets of Morro Bay leading toward the beach, Blair arrived.
Her son’s anguished expression alarmed Tempe.
“Oh, honey.” She hugged him. “What’s wrong?”
Blair sank into a chair at the table in the small room. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep anything from you. Amaresh’s best friend is missing.”
“What do you mean?”
“No one has heard from her and we’ve talked to everyone who knows her and she doesn’t seem to be anywhere. Amaresh is so upset I don’t know whether or not we’ll be able to go through with the wedding.”
“You have gone to the police, right?”
“Of course. They were reluctant at first to even take the report. The desk sergeant went through the rigmarole that Kathy, that’s her name, Kathy Welling, is an adult and has the right to disappear if she so desires.”
“Amaresh became so angry I was afraid of what she might say. Though her eyes blazed, she explained carefully that Kathy is one of her best friends and was looking forward to being the maid of honor in her upcoming wedding. Finally the officer took down all the information, but I don’t think the police are doing much about it.”
“Oh, honey, that’s terrible. Have you checked with her family and all of her friends?”
“Of course, Mom, but no one knows anything.”
“What do you want me to do?” Tempe asked.
“I was hoping you’d ask. Do you think you could see what you could find out?”
Tempe glanced at Hutch who ran his fingers through his already mussed auburn hair and frowned.
He said, “Don’t you think it would be better if the investigation was left up to the local police department?”
Blair shook his head. “No, I don’t. They aren’t going to work fast enough for Amaresh. What do you say, Mom?”
* * *
Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?
Barnes and Noble
Marilyn, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.