If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

August Interviews

8/5 Lucy Burdette, The Key Lime Crime

8/12 Maggie Toussaint, All Done With It

8/19 Julie Mulhern, Killer Queen

8/26 Debra Goldstein, Three Treats Too Many

August Guest Bloggers

8/8 Leslie Wheeler

8/15 Jean Rabe

August Interviews

8/22 Kait Carson

8/29 WWK Authors--What We're Reading Now


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ann Charles, author of the Deadwood Series

It’s beyond me why Nearly Departed in Deadwood, Ann Charles’s Daphne du Maurier Award winning book, wasn’t picked up for publication by the larger publishers. The book combines the best of romance, paranormal and mystery topped by a dollop of dry humor and wrapped in an unforgettable authorial voice. No matter, Ann published the book through Corvallis Press.
E. B. Davis

I’m going to assume that my readership knows your book (and if they aren’t, they should). Your setting is Deadwood, S.D., and at times throughout the setting seemed to be a character. Being from the East coast, is Deadwood a real place, and why did you set the book there?

Deadwood is definitely a real place and has been since the late 1800s. It’s the site where “Wild” Bill Hickok was murdered, Calamity Jane liked to spend her days and nights, and outlaws, miners, and cowboys hung out in droves. It’s located in the beautiful Black Hills and has been the setting for many true wild-west anecdotes.

I set the book in Deadwood because I spent summers there growing up. Over the decades, I frequented area museums, got to know the locals, and explored the area’s back roads and ghost towns. A few years ago, I was visiting my mom, who still lives there, the story idea for the book just kind of whopped me upside the head. I love Deadwood—the sites, the smells, the people. I couldn’t wait to fill the pages with it.

Part of the humor of the book is how your main character, Violet—an unwed mother of twins—deals with the turbulence of raising children. How much of that humor is perspective and how much is situational dilemma? Did you draw from your own experience?

When it comes to humor in my stories, I like to drop my characters into a scene that is ripe for comedy. Then, I sit back and let them react, chuckling as I type their thoughts, internal dialogue, and banter. For Violet, a lot of her wit and sarcasm comes from my own frustrations and experiences as a parent (and watching friends and family deal with their kids, too). Children can drive you to drink one moment, and then bring you to tears of laughter the next. It’s these extremes that lend to the kid-related humor in my story.

I think of your authorial voice as Deep Throat because Violet’s thoughts, attitudes and ideas are imbedded in your POV. We like her sarcasm and wit. How did you develop your voice?

Practice and experimentation.

I have been writing for publication for almost fifteen years now. It was in the midst of writing my third manuscript when I first stumbled onto my style (the genre mix of romance with mystery, adventure, and humor). But my voice wasn’t developed yet at that point. While I was writing my fifth manuscript, I read Dean Koontz’s book, Odd Thomas, and something clicked in my brain. I suddenly understood the purpose of setting and how to interlace action with plot. I also discovered how to unlock my voice and let it fill the pages. I had gained the confidence to stop writing what I thought I was supposed to and instead just let everything flow. It was incredibly freeing, and my critique partner was surprised at the change in my story telling. From there, it’s all been fine-tuning and experimenting, seeing what feels best and what sounds like crap.

One character we all love to hate is Violet’s co-worker Ray. I’ve had a Ray in my past, have you?

I’ve had a few Rays in my life. I come from small town America. Sexual harassment as a Human Resources violation was still kind of new outside of the city limits when I graduated from high school and entered the workforce. Many of the things that Ray says to Violet I’ve had said to me or I’ve heard said to someone else. With Ray, I wanted to experiment with a “villain” who wasn’t the story’s true villain. He’s fun to write, actually, because like most of my readers, I love to hate him, too.

I was interested in your format. The book is written somewhat as a journal. Was this due to Violet’s deadline? How did you decide on that format?

I’ve actually written in this format for years. As I write a story, I don’t keep a detailed outline of the story. Because of this, I need a way to keep track of the timeline, so I insert the date at the start of each story day. With Violet’s book, due to it being told in first-person POV, it comes across more like a journal than my third-person POV stories, which I liked when it was all said and done. Also, since Violet is on a deadline, I like how the date helps the reader keep track of the ticking clock.

There is a paranormal element in your first book, which I assume will unfold in sequels. But there is also an element of disbelief on Violet’s part. Will this doubt be a source of conflict?

Definitely. Violet is like me when it comes to paranormal abilities—we’re both “duds.” The paranormal element provides internal conflict for her. Imagine if many of the people you know and love claimed to hear and/or see ghosts, and yet you picked up absolutely nothing. You would wonder if they were crazy for claiming to see ghosts, or if you were crazy for not seeing them. This adds a level of uncertainty for her (and the reader, I’m hoping) as to which characters are legitimate in sensing up other beings, and which ones are full of it.

When you’re writing, how do you handle backstory? It almost seems as if you outlined your book, then sandwiched in specific lines of backstory that you needed to precede a plot point where it was necessary. Am I correct?

That would be very left-brained of me to write that way, and I’m very right-brained in my story-telling process. Here’s what I do in a nutshell: I come up with high-level plot details (for example, a midpoint note might be, “Someone dies here.”). Then I use scene and sequel to tell the story chapter by chapter, brainstorming continually along the way. It’s not uncommon for me to finish a chapter and, when one of my first draft critique partners asks what comes next, tell her, “I don’t know, I was hoping I could throw some ideas around with you and see what feels right.” I love the excitement of finding out the story’s twists and turns as I go, just like a reader. Many times, I’m as surprised by something that happens as my critique partners.

Can you give us the hook of the second book, Optical Delusions in Deadwood?

Someone is spreading rumors around Deadwood that Violet Parker likes to chat with dead folks.

With her reputation endangered, her bank account on the verge of extinction, and her career at risk of going up in flames, Violet is desperate. When the opportunity to sell another vintage home materializes, she grabs it, even though this “haunted” house was recently the stage for a two-act, murder-suicide tragedy.

Ghost or no ghost, Violet knows this can’t be as bad as the last house of horrors she tried to sell, but sexy Doc Nyce has serious doubts. Her only hope of hanging on to her job is to prove that the so-called, ghostly sightings are merely the eccentric owner’s optical delusions.

But someone—or something—in the house wants Violet stopped...dead.

Try this series if you like great writing, a mixed genre flavor and a fast moving plot. After reading her books, please write a review on Amazon and help spread the word about this fine author. Catch Ann at the following websites. http://www.anncharles.com/, www.anncharles.com/deadwood or http://www.1stturningpoint.com/, a site Ann co-owns with other authors to teach, share, and learn all about promotion.

Next week, I’ve asked Ann questions about her publishing experiences now that she has two books in the series in the market.


Warren Bull said...

Sounds fantastic. Part of the fun of having a blog is learning about new books to read.

E. B. Davis said...

It is a great read, Warren. I enjoyed Ann's writing, her plot and the premise of the series. Because I don't have kindle/nook, etc., I waited to read her first until it was published in paper. But the books are easily obtained through the normal vendors (even if you are located in New Zealand)!

Kara Cerise said...

I enjoyed Ann's first book and I'm looking forward to reading Optical Delusions!

E. B. Davis said...

Me too!

Pauline Alldred said...

Great interview. I have to get Ann's book. There's so much going on and the main character sounds fascinating.

Ann Charles said...

Warren and Pauline--Thank you for your comments and considering giving my series a try. I hope you get some laughs from Violet's adventures in Deadwood.

Kara--I'm glad you enjoyed the first book and I hope you have a blast with Violet and her merry crew again in book 2. While book 1 was fun to write, book 2 was even more entertaining because it was like going back to hang out with old friends, and the second time I didn't have to spend so much time introducing them to the reader. We could move into the fun stuff much faster.

Elaine--Thank you for the awesome interview and your wonderful support. Your questions were unique and I enjoyed answering them.


Donnell Ann Bell said...

E.B. and Ann, what a great deciphering of Nearly Departed in Deadwood. You know, I'm glad that NY didn't pick up NDID.... Does that sound petty? Sorry, Ann, it's not meant to be. But I truly think a marketing department, a committee and an editor would have taken this book and pigeon holed it to fit a particular sector of the market. There wasn't a thing wrong (promise you, I read it and looked for it <now that's me being catty :))))) and Nearly Departed in Deadwood is an out of the box book with out of the box characters, that readers of most every genre will love!

Great interview and ... so there :) xxoo

CarrieZ said...

I highly recommend Ann's Deadwood series. I read the first two, and I'm hooked! Eagerly looking forward to reading anything else by Ann Charles. :)

Ann Charles said...

Donnell--I love your petty and catty comments! Made me grin. And while I had wished and wished to be picked up by a N Y pub, in the end I have learned so much from having to do so much on my own. I also love having more control over my books/products. Sure, some capital and extra manpower would be awesome, but life is certainly not boring. Thanks for stopping by and cheering me on!

Ann Charles said...

Carrie--thank you for coming over and motivating me to get the edits for my next book, Dance of the Winnebagos, done pronto. I appreciate your support more than you know. Hugs, Ann

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks Ann! Next week, Ann and I discuss her publishing experience, and Ann discloses what she's made so far from her efforts. Stay tune...