Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Today's Mystery Author Guest: Sherry D. Ficklin

As promised yesterday, fellow Colorado mystery author Sherry D. Ficklin is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post.

Above is the cover photo for her recent mystery release, After Burn, the first book in her YA Military Brats series. In the book, Reece Barnet and her father have just relocated to sunny North Carolina, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. Just as Reece is starting to fit in, a rash of bomb threats rocks her father's experimental aircraft squadron. When the authorities track the threats to Reece's school, she decides to do some investigating of her own. Can she uncover the shocking truth of the person behind it all?

Below are Sherry's answers to my interview questions. Please leave a comment for her, and if you have a question of your own for her, ask it! Every comment is an entry into a contest for a free ebook copy of After Burn!

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

I’ve been writing for about five years, professionally, though I feel like I’ve been telling stories all my life. I was writing some fan fiction one day and my husband said, “you should really write something all your own.” So I did.

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

It’s pretty intense. I have a notebook for each novel where I keep my character stuff. Everything from a very in-depth history to pictures of things they might wear and postcards of places they are from. The notebooks for this series have scraps of fabrics, song lyrics, and random things like that. Anything that reminds me of a character gets stuffed inside.

For some of my new characters I am doing something new. I gave my MC a Facebook page where I go on and post as her. It’s been a great way to sort of crawl in her head when I feel disconnected and also a fun way to get plot ideas. Most of her status updates actually end up in the book as chapter headings. So if you follow her posts, you get a glimpse of whatever novel I’m working on in that series. It’s been really fun.

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

That depends on the series. The Gods of Fate, for example, was a complete surprise to me, plot wise. I sort of wound everyone up and let them run loose. Honestly, I didn’t know how it was going to end until I got there myself. They just took me along for the ride. For my other series I’ve had to do varying degrees of plotting. The new YA series I’m working on has gotten the most time on the plot board so far. It’s a time travel novel so I really had to step carefully with the plot so as not to tangle anything up.

4. In the age-old question of character versus plot, which one do you think is most important in and which one do you emphasize in your writing? Why?

Ironically my adult paranormal mystery series, Palmetto Moon, is much more character driven. There’s a murder to be solved (or two or three) but it’s all sort of secondary to my character and her personal entanglements. My GOF books are much more plot driven, and in some ways that’s easier. Murder is easy, personal issues are hard.

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

The early rejections were hard. Heck, even now getting rejected is hard. It’s a little easier when you can cry into a stack of your paperbacks, though. It’s a tough business and it’s easy to take rejections personally. I’m not so much inspired to keep publishing, I’m just one of those people who is too stubborn to ever quit. If I ever stop writing, it will be because I’ve fallen in love with doing something else. But I doubt that will ever happen.

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

I do two full days a week, 9-4pm. I have little children in the house so that’s all I get most weeks. But if I’m on a deadline or editing a draft, I will lock myself in my office and push for days at a time.

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

Relax. Finish your book. Polish your book. And don’t take no for an answer.

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 watch really terrible TV. Right now my obsessions are Castle (because of my long standing crush on Nathan Fillion) and The Secret Circle.

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

I am currently finishing up the first of my new YA series with my co-author and friend Tyler Jolley. It’s a steampunk/time travel novel. I’m really excited about it. My book launch party for Hindsight is the 8th so I’m gearing up for that. My first YA mystery novel, After Burn, just came out last month so I’ll be working on the next one of those later this year, and I just finished my next Palmetto Moon novel, Grave Secrets, which I’m hoping will be out later this year.

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

You can check out all my books over on my website and you can follow me on Facebook. I love chatting with readers and writers and speaking at events so if you’d like to have me, there’s a contact page on my website. Thanks so much for having me here today!

Thanks, Sherry! Now, who has a comment or question for her? Remember that every one is an entry into a contest for a free ebook copy of After Burn!


Anonymous said...

I love the notebook idea. I have one for the novel but dont haven anything as extensive on my character - but probably should. thanks.

Lilly Faye said...

Sherry, I wish a book like yours had been around when I was a young Military Brat!

Best of luck with it,
Kathleen Chalmers

jenny milchman said...

Cry into a stack of paperbacks! That is great :) Congrats on all your success--great interview.

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks for your comments, Anonymous, Kathleen, and Jenny! You are all entered in the contest. The contest is running today, too, so anyone else who wants to comment and enter it, please do so!

Thanks so much for visiting and offering a copy of your ebook as a prize!

Sherry Ficklin said...

Thanks everyone. Kathleen, I too, was a Brat back in the day. It ws the driving force behind the book. I really wanted to do soething for those kids. They go through more than most people realize.

And Jenny, before I had paperbacks to cry into, it was packages of Oreos, lol. Oreos work too.

Thanks so much for having me Beth! I'm actually getting ready for my Book Launch party tonight for my newest YA novel, Hindsight. I'm so excited (and nervous)!

Susan Spann said...

Great interview!

I have "e-notebooks" for my characters too, where I keep track of personal histories, likes, quirks, and anything else that might come in handy. It also helps with continuity as the series goes along, for sure!

Sherry Ficklin said...

It really does! I can't tell you how many times, through the course of mus GOF trilogy i was writing and had to stop and bust out the notebook to check what the character wore/looked like. It's a life saver.

Beth Groundwater said...

Congratulations to Jenny, who won the copy of Sherry's ebook!

Sherry Ficklin said...

Hey Jenny, I sent you an email but haven't heard back yet. Maybe it hit your spam folder? Let me know which format you'd likfe your book in and I'll send it over!