- At what point did you get
serious about your writing, and why was that the critical point?
I wrote a book on nuclear waste management when I worked for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I had a strong reaction to my name on the spine and wanted more! I quickly realized that--although waste management problems were exciting to me--the book would not reach a very wide audience, so came up with a more fascinating topic. It hasn't been as easy as I thought, but I do have more readers now.
- Are you a
"plotter" or a "pantser?"
Definitely a pantser. I want to be in that corner with my character, trying to get out. If I'm tense about how a particular clue is going to pan out, then my character will be, also, and the writing will reflect that. Sometimes at the 80% mark I start to panic and vow that next time, I'll outline. But I forget pain easily. My only discipline is that I keep on track and meet my contract deadlines (see below for device!).
- In addition to your Sophie Knowles mysteries, you're also a professor, an
accomplished miniaturist, AND you write two other series. How do you find time to get it all in?
I'm good at using small pieces of time—even 5 or 10 minutes between meetings can be productive if I use the period to reconnect with one of my projects/jobs. That might mean reading one sentence and tightening it, or making a format adjustment. Anything to keep the projects at the front of my mind. Or, if I can't sleep I get up and do something like this, instead of tossing around. I love checking off a "To-Do" item at two in the morning!
- What do you like most about
With mysteries, there's no struggle with plotting. The structure is given to you, especially in my "cozy" sub-genre. Sure you have to have twists and turns, but essentially you need a killer, a body, a sleuth, and suspects. I do read a lot of "literary" fiction, where there are no requirements like that (not even for resolution at the end); I like reading it, but imagine it would be very hard to write. With mysteries, I also get to work out any frustrations by simply putting them in the book.
- Walk us through your
writing process: Do you have a certain day or time of day that you write?
Do you have a separate room in your house dedicated to you and your writing?
I'm lucky enough to have my own office and a great setup, thanks to my uber-techie husband. I have a large computer monitor, a TV next to it, and all the peripherals. Best of all, if I have a problem, I send him in and get a cup of coffee. I don't keep a routine schedule; some say Gemini’s are like that. It's true for me—I write whenever and still manage to meet deadlines. For my novels, I keep an Excel spreadsheet with a plot of Words vs. Days so I'll be able to see my progress at a glance.
- Do you have any agenda when
I'm glad you asked. Of course, character and story are prime, but I must admit that all my books (currently working on #19) reflect my philosophy, opinions, and values, in some way. In the first series, I wanted to show the readers a female physicist you would like to have lunch with, and science as a fun, rewarding area of study. My most favorite "fan" letters come from people who say they never thought they'd understand science, but now they feel they do. With the miniature mysteries, I wanted to give an insight into the world of crafts, how they're not just time-fillers, but ways for people to come together to produce something beautiful or interesting, often for charity. My third series--academic mysteries--are set on a college campus much like the one where I spent many years. Writing about faculty senates and student crises, and exposing some of the interesting pettiness that goes on in the Ivory Tower has been the most fun!
Thanks for letting me visit, Alyx!
For those who would like to purchase the book, or find out more on this amazing lady, you can either click on the book, which will link you to her website, or click here.