Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Interview with Clea Simon, Author of “The Ninth Life,” the first Blackie and Care Mystery.

What made you decide to be an author? I have always loved stories and learned to read before I realized that I was doing it (I remember sitting on my dad’s lap and telling him to turn the page – he was reading too slowly!). From a very early age, I made up stories about my pets and the animals I’d meet in the woods behind our house, so writing mysteries with cats in them was a natural development.
What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least? I love creating worlds! I love the people I meet – both the fictional ones in my books and the readers who come up to me at conferences and readings. I don’t like the business side of things, but that’s just a reality. I also hate hate hate hate when I find something silly – a typo or an awkward sentence – in a book after it has been published. These are infuriating!
How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing? Well, I have always been a reader – and because I’ve always loved the written word, I worked for decades in newspaper and magazine journalism. So between these, I like to think I’ve learned how to tell a story. As a reader, I know what readers want – and as a professional writer, I’ve learned how to deliver that: suspense, believable characters, and more.
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? Yes! That often happens, but it was very strong with “The Ninth Life.” This is a much darker book than any of my earlier mysteries, and it is narrated by Blackie, a black feral cat. In many ways this is his book – not mine!
You’ve written 20 mysteries and three nonfiction books and are working on a 21st novel. What’s your favorite time management tip? For me what works is having a certain number of words I have to write each day, Monday through Friday. I love writing – it’s a passion – but it is also a job, and I find that if I approach it like a job, I get more done. And it’s still tons of fun.
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 very much a “pantser.” I mean, I do have an idea – or ideas – about a book. Like, I’ll know some big secret about a character that I know will be revealed. Or I’ll have an idea about something I want her or him to face. But otherwise, I only plot as I go along. It makes it more fun for me and, I hope, more fun for the reader. But it does mean I have to work harder when I revise to make sure that everything comes together.
If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be? Write every day. You won’t get better unless you do the work.
Did music help you find your muse with this book? If yes, which song did you find yourself going back to over and over again as you wrote? I love music – as you can probably tell from my Theda Krakow books, I used to be a rock critic. But with this book, I found I couldn’t listen to anything. I really needed to concentrate! Go figure!

Tell me more about The Ninth Life.
Introducing Blackie, an unusual feline hero, and his companion Care in the first of this dark new mystery series.Three figures, shadowy against the light. That’s all I remember from my past life, as I am dragged, dripping and half-drowned, from the flood. My saviour, a strange, pink-haired girl, is little help. She can barely care for herself, let alone the boy she loves. And although she has sworn to avenge the murder of her mentor, she must first escape the clutches of drug dealers, murderers and thieves. I would repay her kindness if I could. But we are alone in this blighted city – and I am a cat.
The past is an enigma to Blackie, the voice of Clea Simon’s dark new mystery. Combining elements of feline fantasy and cozy whodunit, The Ninth Life introduces this unusual hero and his companion, Care: two small creatures in a nightmarish urban landscape, fighting for their lives, and for the lives and memories of those they love.
How about an excerpt from The Ninth Life?
At first, they were shadows. Bars before the sun, dark against the light. I could make out three: two brown, or mostly, and – in between – a taller figure, black and narrow. Three vertical lines against a dull white sky. But as I watch, they begin to waver, their outlines rippling and losing shape as the light around them dulls into the dusk. Into the mud. Receding from me as I go under. As I, too, start to fade . . .

No! I gasp, choking, and begin to cough, breaking the surface with a desperate effort. Water in my mouth. My nose. Burning my throat as I gag and spit. I can’t see, can’t hear anything but my own ragged breath. I have broken through, but I cannot last. The cold is weighing on me, dragging me down . . .

No! I cry in protest, my voice a wordless howl as I fight to stay afloat. Flailing, I gulp in air and swallow water, my last breath exploding from me in another cough. I am going numb. Losing the fight. My own sodden limbs conspiring to drag me down.

No! Hands grab me from behind. Pulling at me, hauling me backward – ducking me. I kick and flail. Find purchase beneath my feet and twist, lashing out. The loose gravel beneath me gives way to dirt, and I scrabble for balance as I turn, ripping myself loose from those hands to glare at the person now before me.

‘Whoa.’ He steps back. She – I shake the water from my eyes. Her body slim as a boy’s, but with the hint of curves. Her hair ragged and short. Dripping, a strange shade of pink. ‘Calm down, why don’t you?’

I hiss, my throat too raw for words. I don’t know this person – this girl – but I have felt the awful strength of those hands. Hands that reach for me now. I jump back without thinking – too exhausted for anything but pure instinct – and feel one foot slide back into the icy flood.

On all fours like a beast, I pull myself out and shake off what water I can, all the while keeping my eyes on the stranger. This girl who now stares back is pale, her face as bloodless as I feel my own to be. Her cheeks wet from the rain, her eyes red. Who is she, and how did she – how did I – get here?

Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?

Website Links:
Website: http://www.cleasimon.com
Blog: http://cleasimon.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clea.simon.author/
Twitter: @Clea_Simon

Buy Links:

Clea, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.

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