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Recently, I’ve been very particular with my reading list. I’ve looked out for stories written in a certain perspective, or technique. A tendency to get caught up in a style of writing that takes several books to satisfy. Though I always love a mystery, I’ve fallen into the military Sci-fi genre, please don’t ask me why. I’ve yet to answer that one myself. Romance, of course, if I can’t have the perfect happy ending, someone should. This urge usually comes around Valentine’s Day. Then there is the time traveling, soul-searching comedies, yes, they’re out there. Depending on whether I wanted to be enlightened, amused, educated or distracted, what I select is anyone’s guess on any given day. As a writer, I tend to stick with one style, thank god. I commend any writer who skips between genres, like trying on a new pair of shoes. This is why I can’t walk in heels. Since I can’t write that way, reading different genres and authors are the next best thing. Don’t know if it’s weird that I stick with only one particular genre at a time.
These are the last four books I’ve read and you kind of get the idea of my reading habits.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter
IQ by Joe Ide
The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore
If you see a theme going here, you’re probably right. I normally don’t see it until I’ve stopped. The next bunch I have only my list is pretty clear this time. Books I’ve wanted to read but never got around to them.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Gunslinger by Stephen King
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke
This list has existed for years and I’ve yet to get to any of these books. It’s 2017 and I hope I can get one off this list. Though I have been itching to read Born A Crime by Trevor Noah and Carrie Fisher Princess Diarist. I see a trend coming on.
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First, thank you for this interview. I want to start out with the genre in which you write. Mystery is often the domain of our male counterparts. Though there are some great women mystery writers, from Agatha Christie to Gillian Flynn. Do you think you and other female mystery writes get their due?
I think that being a writer is difficult no matter whether you’re a male or female, or what genre you write. When I write I work to make the story and the characters the best they can be, because that is important for all genres, and try not to spend too much time worrying about who else is writing what. There are so many amazing and talented writers out there, and when I read I try to take something away as inspiration to make my own writing better.
You have a series, the Count to Ten Series. How hard is it to write for a series and how did it evolve?
I love reading series, and I love writing them, I enjoy getting to really delve into the characters and who they are and how they develop over time. I always knew I wanted to write series, and I always know how many books will be in the series and how the series will end before I start writing. I think the toughest parts about writing a series are deciding how much information from previous books is important enough to include in each book, you want a balance of revealing enough to catch up new readers, but not so much that you bore those readers who have already read earlier books. Another tough one can be revealing enough about who the characters are and what motivates them without giving away everything in the first book. For example in my first series, which is completed and includes five books, it is not until book four that you really get the full back story on one of the main characters which explains why she does certain things.
Give us an insight into your main characters. What made you want to bring them to life?
My two main characters from One, the first book in the Count to Ten Series, are Annabelle Englewood and Detective Xavier Montague. Annabelle’s past has led her to believe that no one can love her, Xavier’s previous marriage had him fighting for the woman he loved in spite of what she did, their histories lead to a rift developing between them that almost ends in disaster. My inspiration for my characters usually comes from something that I think would make an interesting back story and then I think about how it would affect a person to have gone through something like that. I also like my two main characters to have personalities and back stories that play off each other.
As a mystery writer, how much research do you do?
I think research is very important. I am often researching things for one of my books, it might be something like approximately how many hours of air would you have if you were trapped in a certain sized airtight room. Or it might be something like which drug would work best if my villain wanted to use it to subdue one of his or her victims. Or even how many average sized photos would it take to wallpaper an entire house. The internet is a super helpful tool that is always at your disposal, but sometimes its good to be able to talk to someone, like approaching a doctor to ask about specific treatments and medications and injuries.
Most writers experience writers block. Have you? If so, how did you overcome it?
Yep! Not so much writers block as in I don’t know what I want to write next, I’m a planner so I always have everything all planned out, for me sometimes I’ll just get stuck on one word, or one sentence, and I can’t make it sound just right so I start getting distracted. Or I just don’t feel like writing and I can’t seem to shake it off and get back to it. Typically when I feel that way I will procrastinate for a while, maybe even a couple of weeks, and then I just make myself get back to writing, I’ll set myself larger and smaller goals, so a goal of when I would like to have my work in progress complete, and a daily goal of how much I want to write each day, that seems to help me get back into the writing groove!
Every author has a different way of writing. How do you write? (For example: outline or just write)
I’m a planner. A big planner! I usually start with a very brief story idea. Next I get to work on my characters figuring out who they are and what their back story is. After that I’ll work out the plan for the series, how many books, how do I want it to end, and what are my story ideas for each book. When I’m ready to work on a specific book I start by writing the story in 50-100 words, this helps me really figure out exactly what the main point of the story is. Then I’ll write a slightly longer outline, approximately 250 words, this helps me flesh out the story a little more. After that I plot out each scene with dot points, this helps me work out the flow of the story, making sure I reveal information throughout the book and don’t do an information dump in any one spot. Any specific notes or ideas I have for a scene will get written beside its dot point so I don’t forget. After that I’m ready to get writing!
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Which social network worked best for you?
Finding a balance between writing and marketing can be difficult, especially if you’re not so good at the marketing side of things. There are some sides of marketing that involve more of a one off kind of thing, such as building relationships with bloggers, once you’ve laid the ground work then you have people you can go to when you release a new book and are after some reviews, or if you would like some help promoting a sale of giveaway. Other sides of marketing require more a day to day effort, such as social media. I have found Facebook to be particularly helpful, especially in networking with other authors, and for providing opportunities to ask questions from other authors who are more experienced, and for advertising sales and other special events.
Everyone gets criticism about their work. What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author and how did you handle it?
Even though you know not everyone is going to like what you write, it can still be tough when people don’t like your stories because you pour so much time and energy and love into each book. However there is always a flip side to every criticism. One negative review I received for one of my books was from someone who hated one of my characters, so much so that she decided she did not wish to continue reading the series. The way I handled that was by looking for the positive, I thought it was also quite a compliment that I had created a character who was real enough to evoke such strong emotions from a reader. So I think the best way to handle criticism is to remember that its just one person’s opinion and to try and find the positive.
You mix romance with mystery. It follows a growing trend of the blurred lines of genres. Did you do this intentionally or did your stories evolve organically this way?
I really like to include lots of different genres in my writing, mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, I think that each angle brings in something to the story. I think my stories just evolved organically to be a mix of genres. I really enjoying reading and writing anything crime related, but I love character development and a big way I think people develop is through their relationships, so I love to add in that romance side to my stories. I think the two sides play well off each other, as the crime element is developing the characters are growing and learning about themselves through this budding relationship, and both usually come together as the story reaches its crescendo.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
If you love writing so much that you would write even if no one ever read what you’d written then keep writing and never give up!
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/janeblythe
Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)