Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Today's Mystery Author Guest: Heather Graham

As promised yesterday, fellow mystery author Heather Graham is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Also, Heather is running a contest for a free autographed copy of her latest release, Let the Dead Sleep, the cover art for which appears above. Heather will select the winner tomorrow evening from among those who leave a comment today or tomorrow.

Whoops! Here's an update! The giveaway actually includes much, much more:
-A copy of LET THE DEAD SLEEP, Heather's new hardcover novel;
-The complete Season 7 DVD's of "Supernatural," Heather's favorite paranormal series;
-A copy of THE GHOST HUNTER'S FIELD GUIDE: OVER 1000 HAUNTED PLACES YOU CAN EXPERIENCE by Rich Newman, a five-star rated guide to haunted sites in all 50 states.

In Let the Dead Sleep, the centuries old bust of a demonic man was stolen from a New Orleans grave. It's an object desired by collectors and by those with wickedness in their hearts. One day, the current owner of the bust shows up at Danni Cafferty's antiques shop on Royal Street, the shop she inherited from her father. The woman is desperate to rid herself of the object, but before Danni can buy the statue, it disappears, the owner is found dead...and Danni discovers that she's inherited much more than she realized. In the store is a book filled with secret writing: instructions for defeating evil entities. She'd dismissed it as a curiosity... until the arrival of this statue, with its long history of evil and even longer trail of death.

Michael Quinn, former cop and now private investigator, is a man with an unusual past and a former colleague of Danni’s father. He believes that doing the right thing isn't a job-it's a way of life. And the right thing to do is to find and destroy this object weighted with malevolent powers. He and Danni are drawn together in their search for the missing statue, following it through sultry New Orleans nights to hidden places in the French Quarter and secret ceremonies on abandoned plantations.

Sounds like a spine-chilling read! Below are Heather's answers to my interview questions. Please leave a comment, and if you have a question of your own for Heather, ask it!

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

I was doing dinner theater when we suddenly had three children. (Okay, yes, we noticed!) But I really couldn't afford the time to audition anymore. I loved reading--which I think is the element that gets most writers writing!) When Derek was born I decided to try writing and bought Writer's Digest Writers' Market--still think it's a phenomenal tool for writers!

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

Life usually inspires what I write--something or something that I've seen or a situation that I've heard about. Or a place! Once you have one element, you find the others that fall in with it. Sometimes the characters create the situation and sometimes it's the other way around.

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

I start with an idea, or sometimes, once I'm in a series, the situation. I write up an outline or proposal. Not that I have to stick with it but--especially if I'm dealing with series or the paranormal or world-building in any way--it's there to give me a pathway to follow while I work. I might find a detour somewhere along the way, but I know I have somewhere to go.

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?

I will always think characters lead plot--if you don't love/hate/become involved with characters, you won't be invested in what is happening.

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

Writing a good solid story that is still a different good solid story. Which comes back to characters. Everyone of us is different; if our characters become as real as friends or people we know, we can work on making them as different as they are in real life.

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

I work whenever and wherever. Our children helped to keep us on schedule for years--up, and off to school, and then work. But then their lives become involved and I'm glad. I can work anywhere, on planes, trains, and in automobiles, day or night. My children were noisy so I don't need quiet! Their lives are still involved, and I'm now trying to see them all over the country, so I'm grateful again!

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

There's the standard--sit down and write! And perhaps, more than that, remember that you're going to need to follow through. I know many good writers who sit down and begin but lack the discipline to follow-through. When you really want it, remember it's a profession. Be smart, keep reading what you love to keep your passion for books alive, and then write, write, write--with discipline!

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.

Ah! I have become a massive Miami Heat fan. I love what the team has done for my city. Yep, even in Miami, you can meet strangers at a sports bar and you're suddenly best friends.

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

I'm working on the second book in the Cafferty and Quinn series. It involves a painting that was created during the same summer in which Mary Shelley began Frankenstein. Love doing the research on it!

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

 I'm very lucky in that I get around a lot. Only one of five children is still in this area--they are literally in every time zone! We also go to dozens of conventions. I try to reflect where I've been and what was so wonderful about it on Facebook and my sites. You can visit me on Facebook, or at my website or I'm also doing a blog right now on my 30 favorite things to do in NOLA (Cafferty and Quinn are based there on Royal Street)!

 Thanks, Heather! Now, who has a comment or question for Heather Graham? Good luck in the contest!  


Anonymous said...

Book really sounds like good reading and enjoyed your interview, thanks for sharing with us!

Beth Groundwater said...

Whoops! The giveaway actually includes much, much more:
-A copy of LET THE DEAD SLEEP, Heather's new hardcover novel;
-The complete Season 7 DVD's of "Supernatural," Heather's favorite paranormal series;
-A copy of THE GHOST HUNTER'S FIELD GUIDE: OVER 1000 HAUNTED PLACES YOU CAN EXPERIENCE by Rich Newman, a five-star rated guide to haunted sites in all 50 states."

Patricia Gligor's Writers Forum said...

I enjoyed reading your responses to Beth's questions and "Let the Dead Sleep" sounds really intriguing.
I agree that character trumps plot every time.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Heather and Beth,

Heather, I've been a big fan for many years! Beth, great questions. I enjoyed reading the interview.
I agree the only way to be a writer is to actually write, put in the time and effort.

Kath said...

Fascinating premise!!! NO is my favorite city for spookY. I love your humor about suddenly having three children!

Great interview, Beth.

Terri P said...

Heather - I enjoy your books and love hearing your inspirations. And hte improance of characters can not be overstated!


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for your kind comments. I'm glad that we're giving away the field guide--the thing is, there are so many places out there to go, too, where people can experience places (and decide for themselves about ghosts!) Naturally, NOLA is full of them!

Lynn M said...

I love the books I have read by you -- thank you for a great post.

Michelle said...

Hi Heather - First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer Beth's questions about yourself and your writing. I haven't read any of your books but I think I may have just found a new author for me to try. This book sounds quite interesting so I will be checking it out.

Ruth McCarty said...

LET THE DEAD SLEEP sounds like a great book. I agree that characters make the book. You really have to care about them. Thanks to you and Beth for the interview.

cindy said...

Think I have found a new author to try also. Heather I love your books.

Margo said...

Love your plots,vibrant characters and settings. After reading your Bone Island Trilogy, I was inspired to stop agonizing over writing a cozy and tried my hand at a ghost story. That's finished and I have a second half written.
Just wanted to say thanks.

Unknown said...

Hi Ladies,

Just wanted to comment that the very things I love most about reading Heather's books are the characters. I like to get to know them and honestly they seem so likable. Like a close friend, I can immerse myself in their stories and always feel emotional through their journeys. Thank you,Beth, for the great interview and Thank you, Ms. Graham for the great books!

Linda Todd said...

Heather, I've enjoyed your workshops, etc., every year at the Jambalaya Jubilee conference, and I have several of your books. Looking forward to seeing you again this year on the 13th.

Warren Bull said...

If there were ghosts I think they'd reside (I almost said live) in New Orleans

Unknown said...

What I love about reading Heather's books is that you'll read a scene and say . . . Hey, I was there! Heather has an uncanny knack for taking a real-life moment and turning it into riveting fiction. THAT'S Talent--and why I read all of Heather Graham's novels!!

colbymarshall said...

Congratulations on your book, Heather! Yep, as far as advice for new writers, that advice is perfect. Learning to write with discipline is what is always toughest, and even after years, I'm not sure I have the hang of it yet. But I'm learning new ways all the time, as I'm sure you are, too! :-)

mike said...

Heather, where is your blog located? I trust Jazz Fest is one of the 30. I hope to read one of your books soon.

Beth Groundwater said...

Keep those comments coming, folks! Heather will draw the name of the contest winner tomorrow evening.

Mike, you asked where Heather's blog is. You can find it at:

Unknown said...

Thank you for asking such great questions, Beth! I love Heather Graham!!!! I especially liked the question you asked about how she come up with a plot, etc. I appreciated all writers/authors so much. I have met people I would never meet in real life and been to many places I would not see in my life.

Meb Bryant said...

Thank you, Beth, for hosting Heather Graham. I've enjoyed reading her work for years. I had the pleasure of meeting her, ironically, on Royal Street (the location of LET THE DEAD SLEEP) at the Hotel Monteleone at the 2010 Pen to Press Conference.

She was everything one could hope for in an author!

Unknown said...

Thank you all so very much, and Beth, thank you!Trust the cyber-age--the computer wasn't showing me new comments yesterday; I sincerely thank you, Beth, and everyone!

Unknown said...

Hello Everyone! Heather has picked a name out of a hat and the winner of the giveaway is Margo! Margo please email directly your mailing address and we will send you your prize next week. My email address is:

Happy Reading!