Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Today's Mystery Author Guest: Tracy Weber
As promised yesterday, fellow Midnight Ink mystery author Tracy Weber is visiting my blog today, with answers to my interview questions. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Also, Tracy is running a contest for a free autographed copy of her first mystery release, Murder Strikes a Pose, the cover art for which appears above. Tracy 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, Seattle yoga instructor Kate Davidson tries to live up to yoga's Zen-like expectations, but it's not easy while struggling to keep her small business afloat or dodging her best friend's matchmaking efforts. When George, a homeless alcoholic, and his loud, horse-sized German shepherd, Bella, start hawking newspapers outside her studio, Kate attempts to convince them to leave. Instead, the three strike up an unlikely friendship. Then Kate finds George's body. The police dismiss it as a drug-related street crime, but Kate knows he was no drug dealer. Now she must solve George's murder and find someone willing to adopt his intimidating companion before Bella is sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer on her trail, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.
Sounds like a fun and fascinating read to me! Below are Tracys answers to my interview questions.
1. Who or what inspired you to start writing and when did you start?
I blame it all on a bad workout and Susan Conant. I’m a pretty faithful exerciser, but riding a stationary bike is terminally boring, so I distract myself by reading. I love anything related to dogs, so when I discovered Susan Conant’s series a few years ago, I devoured them.
One day, after a particularly brutal workout and a passage from Black Ribbon that make me laugh out loud, I decided to learn more about her. Less than two hours later, I stumbled across a website dedicated to cozy mysteries, and thought, Huh? Wonder if I should write a cozy about yoga? I filed the idea in the too-crazy-to-be-pursued file for two years, then started writing. The rest is, as they say, history.
2. What tools and process do you use to “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
My characters stalk me. Meaning, they live inside my head and harass me until I write them. Kate (my protagonist) is particularly insistent, though her friend Rene likes to butt in as well. They can be really quite annoying. I get to know them by typing their stories.
Sometimes they give me an idea about themselves that isn’t fully formed, but comes to me as an image or word. Then I do Google Image searches until they visually reveal parts of themselves that way.
Hopefully all of the above means I’m creative, not psychotic.
3. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I do both. The first draft is by the seat of my pants. Who has time to outline when you’ve got characters like Kate and Rene harassing you to hurry up and write them? While I write the second draft, I outline what I’ve already written, identify plot holes and inconsistencies. I try to fix those in the third draft. After that, it’s only 27 more drafts until the finished product!
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?
Character, character, character. But then again, according to the yoga teachings, our character is defined by the actions we take and our reactions to the world around us, and isn’t that plot? This question makes my head spin. ;-)
5. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
Oddly enough, my dog is the biggest inspiration in most of my life. My work is Kate’s story, but Kate adores Bella (her German shepherd) and Bella makes Kate a better person, just like Tasha does me.
My biggest challenge? Probably finding the time to write, teach yoga, run my business, and market myself as a new author. I hope human cloning is viable soon.
6. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I’m lucky. I own my own business, so I’m able to work any eighteen hours a day I want. Seriously, sometimes it feels that way. But my writing ebbs and flows based on the other competing priorities of my life. Sometimes several weeks will go by without my having time to write a word. Other times I do it nonstop. I’m most creative late at night, which drives my husband crazy. Most weeks I probably dedicate 30 hours or more to fiction writing. Blogs and other writing are on top of that.
7. What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Don’t give up! Writing is a TOUGH business. No one gets published without facing rejection. When I was trying to land an agent, I allowed myself 24 hours to feel bad about every rejection, then I forced myself to do something proactive. Send out another letter, connect with another author, write another page.
You can’t please everyone, and yet when you write, you so desperately want to. (At least I do.) Just keep writing what you love and know that your work isn’t defined by what any one person thinks of it.
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.
Dogs are my love and a dog is the center of my books, but I started out as a cat person. I’ve owned cats most of my adult life, but I didn’t get my first dog (as an adult) until the age of 40. She was worth the wait. My cats disagree, but that’s another story…
9. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m currently writing the second installment of the Downward Dog Mysteries, tentatively titled A Killer Retreat, as well my yoga blog. I definitely plan to keep going with Kate and Bella’s stories, but another series is forming in my mind. I’m pretty sure those characters will start harassing me soon, so I’ll probably have to start working on that one as well.
10. Is there anything else you would like to tell my blog readers?
Check out my author website and my weekly yoga blog.
And, of course, Murder Strikes a Pose is available at Amazon, Midnight Ink, and other major booksellers. Autographed copies can be purchased from Whole Life Yoga.
I’d love to hear what you think of the book and/or to talk at book clubs or other venues. Keep reading, and go after your dreams!
Thanks, Tracy! Now, who has a comment or question for Tracy Weber? Good luck in the contest!