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

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

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, October 16, 2013

Threads Author Polly Iyer

Think about the worst moment in your life. A moment that changed irrevocably everything you’ve ever known. Would you take that moment back?

What if that moment offers you a different life, allows you to do things you would never do otherwise? Meet people you would never know? 

Think again.
That one moment transforms the lives of a dozen people, each keeping a secret they can never expose. A single thread ties them together. Inextricably and forever. Cut it, and someone dies. 

Now, would you take that moment back?          
                                                                             Polly Iyer (Threads, description)

Polly Iyer writes romantic suspense. After being a finalist in RWA contests, Polly chose Indie authorship, which has suited her well. One of her first manuscripts, Threads, eluded her revision efforts until this year when she perfected the script and released it. I’m glad she did. Its structure fascinated me, and I knew while reading it that I had to interview Polly again. Please welcome Polly Iyer back to WWK.                                                                            E. B. Davis

When did you write Threads, and how many manuscripts had you written before attempting to revise Threads?

Threads was the first book I wrote, and I had no idea what I was doing. That was the year 2000. At
least once a year I’d pull up the book on my computer and work on it, but I was never quite satisfied for reasons I couldn’t explain. It’s a complicated plot that spans a seven-year time frame, and it shifts back and forth. In between, I wrote ten other books. Five are published under my name, three under a pen name, and two are still unpublished.

I loved your unusual plot structure. Although the reader doesn’t understand, the beginning is actually the past. Then, the script continues in the future taking the reader to a time that is not quite to the present, showing what transpired in between and setting up the present with a past that impinges on the future until it catches up—a true suspense structure—like a tidal wave. How did you devise this structure?

Wow, it sounds complicated. Actually, the book originally started in the present and went back in time, with many other structural changes along the way. At one time I had divided it into Books, highlighting different characters and plot sections. I’d seen that done many times by famous authors, but the longer I kept it that way, the less I liked it. When I finally started at the beginning of my heroine’s journey, it seemed right, though I realized switching time frames might be confusing. A main character doesn’t come in until much later in the book, which I also worried about. At one time I had a prologue that introduced him immediately, but that didn’t work either. You can see why this book took thirteen years to publish. I kept working to get the story right because I loved my characters, especially the hero. That goes to my personal conclusion that I write men better than women. The blurb for this book was hard to write without giving something away, which is why it’s so ambiguous.

One of your themes is overcoming adversity. In some of your novels, you up the ante by adding physical handicaps to your main characters’ traits, such as Abigael Gallant in Insight. Is life a battlefield?

For many, yes. One reviewer said I make heroes out of damaged people. I like that description. Perfect people are boring to me, not that I know any. I think sometimes disabled people are portrayed as victims. I had a friend who was a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down, and he was one of the most positive people I’ve ever known. The forty-nine years he spent in a wheelchair was devoted to helping others like him. He died last year at sixty-six. I will miss his optimism. He was a real hero. I think most people have things in their past or present—whether physical or psychological—that form the people they become. I love to explore that in my books. Characterization is just as important as plot to me. You can’t have one without the other.

Taking down the bad guy attracts readers to your work, and your villains are despicable. Do you write them from your nightmares? Will you create a female villain?

Hmm, interesting idea. A female villain. I’ll have to give that more thought. It’s been done recently: Chelsea Cain and Alexandra Sokoloff for two. Notice they’re both women authors. Female villains have been around for decades in comic books.

The villain in Threads is very different from the one in Mind Games. In Threads, the villain is evil through and through, without remorse; In Mind Games, I hope I wrote the villain as a sympathetic character. At least I felt sorry for him. I sometimes have greed as the villain, as in InSight, Goddess of the Moon, and Murder Déjà Vu. In Hooked, one semi-villain is driven by sexual obsession, and that makes him take the wrong path. I made him rather a buffoon, but his weakness drives the book, and it costs him in the end. I don’t want my readers to expect repetitive storylines and/or characters in my books.  

Although I’ve deemed your work as romantic suspense, some of your books fit into psychological drama, much like the film Rear Window. Did you study the work of Alfred Hitchcock?

Who hasn’t? His work is the classic “put the ordinary hero/heroine in extraordinary/dangerous situations” scenario. This doesn’t work as well when there are cops and detectives, because a reader expects danger. In InSight, my cop is at a disadvantage because he loses his hearing during a job-related explosion, and he’s fighting to stay relevant on the force in some capacity. No one wants him there, even the other cops. His disability is a liability he refuses to recognize, so he is always in danger. When Hitchcock made his films, the technique was fresher than it is today, but it still works if done right.

You normally write one-off books, but last year you introduced psychic Diana Racine in Mind Games,
a popular book, and continued her character in Goddess of the Moon. Has the series bug bitten you? Will you continue writing Diana Racine novels?

I wouldn’t call it a bite. More like a nibble and a sequence in my writing career. I’m working on the third book now and am having trouble with it. One problem I see with some series is that the main character/s don’t grow. I don’t want that to be the case with Diana. In the first two books, she makes the same mistakes. I’m trying to have her mature in the third book and not make her a perpetual victim, which would be formulaic, in my opinion. That means I have to find other ways to make the book exciting without diminishing her part in the story. Not so easy.

I doubt there’ll be more series. Although I know they sell better, they kind of pigeonhole a writer, especially if they’re successful. I don’t have a big enough fan base for that to happen, so I’m clear either way. The “fans” I hear from read all my books, not just the series, though there are those too. I’m a stand-alone writer by nature. One of my writing heroes is Sidney Sheldon. I loved his stand-alone novels.

What prompted you to form Parkwood Press with Ellis Vidler, under which you both publish your novels? Will you publish other authors?

Parkwood Press is not a licensed publisher. It’s something two friends, critique partners, and supporters devised to highlight their books. I’ve clearly stated on my website that the name is an umbrella name, nothing more. So no, no other writers need apply. I don’t see why they would want to. 

In how many reading formats do you publish your work?

Interesting question. Though all my books except Threads are in paper—it will be soon—I don’t do signings or appearances but concentrate on ebooks. I’m beginning to move my books out of Amazon exclusivity to embrace other reading formats by distributing my books through an epublisher. I’m still putting them up on Amazon myself, just not in KDP Select. This will make my books available to not only mobi, but to epub, PDF, and other formats, but also to distribution outlets here and around the world. This is a long-term strategy. I don’t expect to see much happening for a while with this change, but I feel a writer has to take chances, and that’s what I’m doing. 

I’m envious of Ellis and your artistic talent. How do you capture the essence of your books pictorially? Content? Tone?

Mostly, it’s seeing a photograph that inspires us to make the cover. It might be a mood photo, such as Goddess of the Moon, Murder Déjà Vu, and Hooked, or one that depicts something in the book—my other three.

Most writers start with short stories, but you recently wrote your first short story. Tell our readers about your experience. Will you use that art form to promote your work using characters from your novels and offering them to the public?

I wrote the short story for an anthology to see if I could. I’m delighted the story was accepted. I learned a lot, mainly that I’m a long story writer. I like the minutia I can insert in a long story, like the character development 350 pages allows me. I try to write a tight story. I don’t know if I always succeed, but I try. Short story writing is getting in and getting out. I won’t say I’ll never write another one, but it’s not a comfortable fit for me. If I get a great idea, I might give it another shot, but it would have to be a doozy.

What’s next for Polly Iyer?

I’ll finish the third Diana Racine book, I hope, then edit a couple of other books that are already finished. One is titled Cross Currents, and it has something to do with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist. I’ve always been afraid they would find the stolen paintings, and that would kill the book. In reality, I’d be happy to dump the book if they did find the paintings. The empty frames at the museum are a sad sight. The other is a book titled Achilles’ Heel. That will take a lot of rewriting because I borrowed a part for another book. There’s still enough story left, because I always have more than one storyline. Achilles’ Heel had three. Then there are a couple of books half-finished that I like but got distracted from finishing. There will always be a book on the 

Thanks, Elaine, for having me once again. I’m delighted to be here to answer your probing questions. I hope I didn’t go on too long.


Jim Jackson said...

Polly, Thanks for sharing with us today and best of luck on the upcoming projects.

I think you're right about the difference between short stories and novels. It's not an easy switch for many of us.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

I've always thought that short stories were a great way to start writing, like warming up for novels since there are fewer characters and fewer complications. I acknowledge that the forms are different and that there is a discipline for each type. I was surprised that Polly wrote her first short after having written so many novels.

Treads was a gripping story, one I won't forget for the villain's evilness and for the courage of the MC.

Thanks for the interview, Polly.

Sarah Henning said...

Hi, Polly! You're books sound totally awesome! I really need to get my hands on Threads and check out that neat plot structure. Thanks so much for visiting!

Warren Bull said...

Hi, Polly,

Thanks for sharing with us on WWK. It's interesting that every author has a different path toward and after publication. I admire your persistence.

Maggie Toussaint said...

I'm a fan of Polly Iyer's writing and it doesn't matter to me whether she writes stand alones or series novels. Her characters are what make her stories, and they stand out in my mind long after the book cover is closed.

Nice post. Interesting to know more of your writing process.

Polly Iyer said...

Jim, I'm too blabby to write short stories. I want to tell everything, and I realized when I got back the edits to the anthology short I wrote, that I put in a lot of inconsequential stuff the reader didn't need to know. I'll remember that if I ever write another one.

Polly Iyer said...

First, thank you, Elaine, for inviting me. There a different types of villains. I wrote one that I actually felt sorry for. He was doomed from the beginning. I wanted readers to feel sorry for him. The villain in Threads is pure evil, and I think readers will HATE him. Both were fun to write.

Unknown said...

Polly, I love art heist books! Finish Cross Currents next, please. Great interview, congrats on your successes.

Polly Iyer said...

Sarah, I hope the structure of Threads isn't confusing, but it was the only way I felt the story made sense.

Polly Iyer said...

Warren, I'm not sure what I'm doing is the right course. Everything a self-published author does is trial and error. The one thing that's important is not to get stuck in a rut and be afraid to change paths. If we screw up, we have to know when it's time to change again. Thanks for commenting.

Barb Goffman said...

Very nice interview. Thanks for sharing all that. I'm eager to read your short story. When is the anthology scheduled to come out?

Polly Iyer said...

Thanks, Maggie, for your kind words. A good story is a mix of plot and character, but if I don't like my characters--I become them--I can't write the story. You've been a great support and inspiration.

Polly Iyer said...

I love heist stories too, Diane. Since Whitey Bulger hasn't revealed the location of the Gardner paintings, I'm feeling more confident now to get back to Cross Currents--after finishing the still untitled third book in the Diana Racine series. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Polly Iyer said...

Barb, I have no idea when the anthology is coming out. I'm eager to find out myself. I'm certainly a novice to you and your short story expertise. You were my inspiration after I read your book of shorts. Loved them. Pleased to see you here.

Gloria Alden said...

Polly, reading your interview makes me want to go to Amazon and load up on your books now. They sound fascinating. I've thought so before, but haven't gotten around to ordering any yet, but I will today.

I started with novels first and only wrote a short story when the Guppies decided to publish an anthology. Since then I've written at least a dozen - 6 published - and enjoy writing them.

Linda Lovely said...

Polly, good interview. I agree with Maggie. Your characters make the book. But I do think you've already written a female villain (won't mention which book so I don't give anything away). I'm also looking forward to Cross Currents. Art heist books are run.

Polly Iyer said...

Thanks for saying that, Gloria. If you read any, I hope you enjoy them. I have one of your books on my Kindle, which I left at my son's house. Now all I need is time to read.

Polly Iyer said...

You are so right, Linda. I did write a female villain. How could I forget? And she's a witch, isn't she? It's one of my earlier written books. Thanks for stopping by and reminding me.

E. B. Davis said...

Did I miss a book, Linda? Okay--tell me which one, Polly.

Ellis Vidler said...

Well, it's no secret that I love Polly's books. I enjoy the psychic aspect of her Diana Racine series, but the standalones are so good, so complete, that I find them very satisfying to read. Threads, her latest published book, may be my favorite. I love the characters and they way they develop through the novel. But my favorite villain is in Mind Games, her first Diana Racine novel. They're all good, and I'm fortunate to have her as a critique partner.

Shari Randall said...

Polly, thank you for stopping by. I used to live in Boston and am still totally fascinated by the whole Gardner Museum heist. Really looking forward to your take on that.
Thanks for sharing your insights into writing and your example of perseverance. I just finished writing a novel that I based on some short stories I wrote years ago. Rewriting is part of the writing process!

Nancy Adams said...

Hi Polly,

I love the blurb you wrote for Threads. It sounds absolutely fascinating!

Thanks for the insightful interview. I always love hearing how other writers go about the process.

Looking forward to reading more of your books!

H. S. Stavropoulos said...


Loved hearing about your process. Gives me hope about that one unfinished book that I go back to again and again.

Please do publish the story about the Gardner heist. Those empty frames got to me too when I visited the museum.

I agree with you about short stories. They really do flex different muscles and I've only been able to do it well once (likely that was published). For me, it felt like an inspiration and not easily replicated. I'm more comfortable with the longer format of novels.

Can't wait to read Threads. Thanks again for sharing.

Polly Iyer said...

Elaine, I sent the evil female villain to you in an email. Can't give it away online, and I know you've read the book.

Polly Iyer said...

Ellis, where would I be without you? Your support and expertise has made every book I've written better. I learn how it's done from your wonderful books. From Ms. Toussaint too. 'Nuff said.

Nancy Lynn Jarvis said...

Females make the best killers. I know, I've written them. They are the most fun and have the most interesting reasons for turning to murder.

Kara Cerise said...

Threads sounds fascinating! I'm intrigued by your description.

I also enjoy art heist books and look forward to Cross Currents. I'm curious what happened to the paintings from the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum. Are they stashed in an attic or displayed on a wall?

Polly Iyer said...

Nancy, the blurb for Threads was the hardest one I've ever written. Anything more specific would have given away too much. I wracked my brain over that one. I hope the blurb tempts readers. Thanks for your comments.

Polly Iyer said...

Hi Shari. The Gardner heist still confounds the experts. It always fascinated me. My book's results are pure fiction. It'd be funny if it came true. Thanks for commenting.

Polly Iyer said...

Nancy Lynn, never cross a woman. They can be more evil than any man. And they're fun to write.

Polly Iyer said...

Kara, Cross Currents deals with one painting, the Vermeer, but what I did is purely fiction. I wish it would work out the way I wrote it. Thanks for stopping by.

Polly Iyer said...

Helen, keep on keeping on. Sometimes getting away from a story for a while is the best remedy. Maybe not 13 years, but some time. I am totally psyched now about getting back to Cross Currents. First, the third in the Diana Racine series. I can't believe how many people want that, which is why people write series. I agree with you about using different muscles writing short stories. They aren't muscles I'm used to, so I'll stick to the long stories. Best of luck with your long story.

VR Barkowski said...

I'm a huge fan of standalones for the exact reasons you mention, Polly. A great plot will entertain me once, a great character arc will keep me coming back. Unfortunately, solid character arcs are rarely sustained over many books, and after two or three entries, most series survive solely on plot.

For me, writing a short story is a completely different process than writing a novel. Reading shorts is different as well. While the depth of character and detail that a novel allows can carry me into another world, short stories, no matter how well-crafted, always leave me wanting.

Looking forward to Cross Currents. Has there ever been a more compelling art mystery than the Gardner heist?

VR Barkowski

Polly Iyer said...

Nice to see you here, VR. I've read very few series, mainly because they usually disappoint me after a few really good books. And now I'm writing one and know why. I am stymied on the third book because I don't want to do the same things I did in the first two books, and you're right--it becomes a plot book, which is good, but the character shouldn't suffer because of it. Now, with all the interest of Cross Currents, I'm eager to get back to it. But it really isn't a heist book. No one could write a better heist than the real thing.