Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Today's mystery author guest: Lisa Bork

As promised yesterday, fellow Midnight Ink mystery author Lisa Bork is visiting my blog today to answer my interview questions and ones asked by my blog readers. To read Lisa's bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Above is the cover photo for the second book in her Broken Vows mystery series, For Richer, For Danger, which was released on September 1st.

In For Richer, For Danger, after years of ambivalence about parenthood, Finger Lakes sports car dealer Jolene Asdale is now driven to adopt her foster child, the daughter of fugitive robbery suspects. But some major roadblocks pop up, including an open hit-and-run case and a recent murder—with the silent, uncooperative birth mother as the prime suspect.

See what Lisa Bork has to say in response to my questions below, and feel free to ask her additional questions in comments.

1. Who or what inspired you to start writing and when did you start?

Boredom inspired me. When my youngest child entered school full-time, I had too much “free time” on my hands. Writing filled the void: I could work at home, be creative and productive, get a little brain exercise, and still be available for my children as needed.

2. What tools and process do you use to “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?

No tools. I imagine interesting personal issues each character can face and how the issues and characters can play into a mystery. My books tend to have themes that only become apparent after I’ve finished writing the story and asked myself, “So what is this really about?”

3. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

I write whatever comes to me, whenever it arrives. The reason for the murder and its discovery always come to me first, to be molded into the story at the “right” moment.

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. It’s the characters, why they behave as they do, and how they face a challenge that makes a story interesting, just like the “characters” in our everyday lives.

5. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

Biggest challenge: finding my voice. My first completed manuscripts didn’t interest an agent or a publisher, but everything clicked with For Better, For Murder.

Inspirations: boredom, a desire for creativity and a need to be productive, along with a lifelong love of books and writing.

Motivations: positive reinforcement. When my critique group enjoyed my stories, I wanted to keep writing. When my agent offered to represent For Better, For Murder, I immediately started writing For Richer, For Danger. When Midnight Ink purchased both manuscripts a year later, I was motivated to write the next two books in the series: In Sickness and in Death plus To Love and To Perish. When I was named a finalist for the 2009 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, I immediately wrote a new cozy mystery.

6. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?

School days and hours are for writing, but I only write when I feel like it, then in huge spurts. I can spend days thinking about how to get from one plot point to another before I write anything. Months can go by where nothing gets written because other activities call, and I’m fine with that—writing should be fun, not forced.

7. What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?

Absorb the ample information available on writing, agents, publishers, etc. Join some professional writing associations, especially ones related to your genre. Find a critique group to tell you what they really think or feel about your work—then listen to them, especially if they are all saying the same thing, and adjust your work accordingly. Know not every good book gets published. Be patient. And remember if you had fun writing, you won!

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.

I’m addicted to the Scrabble application on my daughter’s iPod. Scrabble has always been my favorite game. The CPU only takes seconds to think of a word, which takes all the waiting out the game. It’s the greatest!

9. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?

Eventually I would like to write a fifth and final book in the Broken Vows mystery series for 2013, finishing the family’s story arc. Beyond that, I’m waiting for fresh inspiration.

10. Is there anything else you would like to tell my blog readers?

Just that I wrote my books with the intent to entertain. The mysteries are lighthearted, fast-paced page-turners: part murder, part romantic suspense, and part family saga. If that’s your kind of mystery, I’d love to count you as one of my readers!

Thanks for inviting me to visit, Beth. It’s been fun. :)


Linda R said...

I've read both of Lisa's books and loved them! Thanks for posting this interview, Beth ~

Kathleen Ernst said...

I'm looking forward to the next book, Lisa!

Keith Raffel said...

Lisa, do you race cars? What's the fastest you've ever driven? How do those experiences find their way into your books?

Dru said...

I've read both books in the series and I can't wait to read the next one. A year is so long to wait.

Lisa Bork said...

Thanks, Linda and Kathleen. Nice to hear from some happy readers!

I agree, Dru, a year is so long to wait. If you want, I'll send you an email with a few lines about what's coming in book three.

Keith, I do not race cars. The fastest I've ever driven is 120 mph, and not on tires approved for that speed. Enough said there :) I thought a protagonist who sells cars would be able to meet a lot of interesting and mysterious people--and Jolene does, Keith, she does!

Alan Orloff said...

Good interview, ladies! Lisa, my burning question is this: Who wins the Scrabble games, you or the iPod?

Lisa Bork said...

Alan, I think I'm way ahead. Even with the computer, I feel that need to compete. Sad, isn't it?

Beth Groundwater said...

All I can say is "120 mph???!!!" Okay, Lisa, we want the whole story. When? Where? How did you evade arrest? ;-)

Lisa Bork said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kaye George said...

I'd love 5 books in this series. They're great so far!

And Lisa, I, too, have driven 120 on the interstate in my own car. (Montana, no speed limit) Or maybe faster. My speedometer only went that high. :)

Earl Staggs said...

Lisa, I enjoyed the interview. Some of your responses were similar to my own if I were to be asked the same questions. Except the one about driving 120 MPH. I'm not that brave. Good luck with your new one and all your future books.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Sounds like a wonderful series, Lisa. I've added your books to my TBR list.

Thanks for interviewing Lisa for us, Beth.