Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Today's Mystery Author Guest: Liesa Malik
As promised yesterday, fellow Colorado mystery author Liesa Malik is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Also, Liesa is running a contest for a free autographed copy of her book, Faith on the Rocks, the cover art for which appears above. Liesa will select the winner tomorrow evening from among those who leave a comment today or tomorrow and will announce the name in a comment on this post.
In the book, when widow and retired special education teacher Daisy Arthur takes up romance writing with a quirky group of aspiring authors, she finds herself tangled in merry mayhem that suddenly turns deadly. She must go in search of a killer or risk becoming the next victim. Thank goodness that the handsome police lieutenant on the case is the father of one of Daisy's past students, or she could be in deep trouble. Daisy sees Lt. Gabe Caerphilly as a potential Mr. Right in her romantic-fiction world. The question is, does he see her as anything more than a suspect?
Sounds like a fun read to me! Below are Liesa's answers to my interview questions.
1. Who or what inspired you to start writing and when did you start?
It seems that I've been "writing" since I could hold a pencil. My second grade teacher introduced our class to the idea "the pen is mightier than the sword" and I thought that was really cool. While I admit I haven't written much for publication, as a marketing professional, a lot of my work has been in writing. Overall, without my terrific critique group though, I think I'd still be working on that great American novel that never was.
2. What tools and process do you use to “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
Beth, what a great question! Each of my characters tends to be a conglomeration of people I know or used to know. When I sit down to write drafts and notes for a novel, I'll often "interview" my characters to get their backgrounds. Those notes are around when I need them during the crafting of a new story.
3. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
As a control freak, plotting is a big part of my writing. I feel it's like working on a Sudoku puzzle, looking for patterns and exploring plot ideas. But I do a quick, seat-of-your-pants writing session for each of my subplots, then transfer the resulting 5-to-10 paragraphs onto 3x5 cards. When all the subplots are done, I play with the cards on my dining room table until I've put together a storyline that appeals to me.
4. In the age-old question of character versus plot, which one do you think is most important in a murder mystery and which one do you emphasize in your writing? Why?
To me, there is no such thing as a completely new idea, so I have to come down on the side of characters as the most important element in a murder mystery, especially for the cozy sub-genre I work in. Yes, people want to figure out who-done-it, but I find it more satisfying to answer "why" Mr. Jones killed Ms. Scarlet in the drawing room. Heh, Heh.
5. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
Do you have a few hours on this question? Seriously, every aspect of the writing process continually challenges writers. I think this is because there are no "right" or "wrong" ways of doing things. For me, the biggest challenge is the feeling of being alone in a vacuum. Is this phrase good or only good enough? Does my writing have any merit? Why was something I wrote rejected? Luckily, again, a critique group has helped me tremendously, as I receive honest feedback and great observations that help me hone my craft.
6. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I work from home, and spend a great deal of time working with marketing clients, so you could say I'm writing around the clock. But where my creative writing (for blogs, and novels) is concerned, I think I really only write for an hour and one half each morning. I plan to extend that as much as possible, but even in that amount of time, 1,000 words plus is doable. I usually get up around 5:30 each morning, and write from 6:00 to 7:30, when I take a break for breakfast and to walk my dog. I'm back at my desk by 9:15 to start my other work. Then, sometimes at lunch or if I have free time in the afternoon, I'll put in more hours.
7. What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Jump in! The water's fine. No one has the one key to writing success, so believe in yourself, write who you know, and most of all, have fun!
8. Now here’s a zinger. Tell us something about yourself that you have not revealed in another interview yet. Something as simple as your favorite TV show or food will do.
Goodness! What can I say? I'm not much of a foodie (except for the PBC and B mini sundae at Freddy's Steakburgers) and I love watching Jane Austin movies. My sister recently introduced me to "Downton Abbey" so I am lost in English fun this summer.
9. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I have recently finished the first draft of my second novel, another Daisy Arthur mystery. The next several weeks will find me focused on polishing that text and prepping it for submission to Five Star (fingers crossed here). After that, I'd like to think about writing an historical novel or thriller, not quite sure which. I'm also hoping to build more of a clipping file by trying my hand at some articles for magazines.
10. Is there anything else you would like to tell my blog readers?
What an opportunity! Thanks, Beth. Here are some items:
1) Read a Beth Groundwater book! I'm in the midst of A Real Basket Case but I also enjoyed Deadly Currents.
2) I'd love for you to check out my website – a weekly blog where I talk about things like Littleton, CO, writing, pets (I have a few in my mysteries) and special friends. Hope you'll join me there.
3) If you'd like me to visit your book club or other group, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4) Lastly, keep reading. It's a great way to treat yourself well, and you deserve it.
Blush! Thanks for the plug, Liesa. Now, who has a comment or question for Liesa Malik? Good luck in the contest!