Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Look in the Mirror


This week I am going to change things up a bit. One of my journalist friends, who visits my blog and has been reading all about the various authors I’ve hosted, asked me why I didn’t do one on myself. I explained I have an “about me” section, but she said there should be more. And then she proceeded to ask me some of the same questions I’ve asked others.  
So this week, in honor of a “Free week” for my Dead Man's Rules in the Amazon Kindle store, I decided to answer those questions and I am letting her turn the tables and featuring ME in My Writing Corner.
Tell me a little of your writing journey.  How did you get started?
I actually got started twice, and it’s one of the reasons I tell writers they should not give up and should stick with their writing journey once they set out on that path. In the early 80s I wrote several romance novels, attended the RWA conference a couple of times and pitched my books. I even sent one in to several places. I was so devastated by the rejections that I quit submitting. I never stopped writing, though, and it took years before I ever had the nerve to submit again. When I look back now I see how ignorant I was about the writing process and why I was more successful the second time around. I went back and re-read those rejections (yes, I kept them) and noted what the editors said. For instance POV? I had no idea what that was. Several writing classes later I was able to distinguish Point of View and stop head hopping. I also realized that they hadn't complained about the story so much as the lack of polish on my writing skills. The next time around, I polished my work and this time I did eventually get published.

Did you always want to be a writer?
I don’t know if I always wanted to be a writer as such, but I always liked making up stories. I can remember concocting fanciful tales of kidnapping and treasure searches even when I was ten years old. I would share them with my friends as we walked back and forth to school. In high school and college I always had a folder filled with paper that I carried around with me so I could write stories.

Why did you choose your particular genre?
Originally I started out writing romance. I always enjoyed reading Harlequin romances and devoured them when I was young.  I wrote several that were published, but I have also always been a big fan of mystery and suspense stories. It only seemed natural to combine the two. I was a big fan of Phyllis Whitney and her combination of romance and suspense. I loved her touch of gothic in her stories and the way she would weave a romance into the mystery. That was what I wanted to do,  so I began trying my hand at mystery mixed with romance. I still write some romance, but I found I have also really gotten involved in writing straight mystery stories as well.

What gave you the idea for this story?
The Dead Man story goes way back and was one of the first books I ever wrote and finished.  It was one of those stories I wrote in pencil on my notepaper. It may still be around somewhere but that story only laid the groundwork for my current work. It was the original story of Marco Gonzales, the dead man, who he was and who he became. 

The basis for this is an actual hand print on a wall in an old company mining store that used to get a lot of attention in the town where I attended junior college. I don’t even know if the handprint was bloody. I sort of made that up on my own because it fascinated me and my friends. We made a late night trip out to see it and we all wondered what had happened to the man who made it.

From there my story was born and Marco Gonzales, became the man who left the handprint. And what happened to Marco? Well, I let Cere, my heroine, try to track it down. Was he a hero or a saint? Was he killed or did he commit suicide? Was there a woman involved? And does he haunt the place where he died? Lots of fun questions there!
Speaking of characters, where do you come up with them? Do they come first or does the plot?
My characters just seem to sprout in my head in actual scenes. Usually my story ideas come first and then I start to come up with the characters that might fit in with that story.  Recently at Left Coast Crime I heard mystery writer Simon Wood give a good explanation of how to create a character for a story – he said if you’re doing a story about a theft in a razor blade factory, make the main character a hemophiliac. That makes perfect sense. I try to give my characters the biggest problems possible and make things look like they will never succeed.

And then again, sometimes I just dump everything on them and let them squirm around and try to get out.

What do you like best about your hero in Dead Man's Rules?
Rafe Tafoya is a very complex man, but what I like best about him is his loyalty – to his child, his family and those he cares about. But I also wanted to raise the question about how far he might take that loyalty, so I like the idea of making him a little mysterious too.

What about your heroine?
What I enjoyed about creating Cere Medina was making up the sort of daring person I wish I could be. Her competitors think she might go too far in trying to get a story and I’ve always admired perseverance in the reporters I’ve known, but I also have seen the integrity they display in setting certain journalistic boundaries. I wanted Cere to be ready to toe that line in pursuit of a good story, until the story becomes personal.  

What are you working on now?
I am working on the second part of  Dead Man, which features Cere’s free-spirited cousin Freeda. It's called Dead Man's Treasure. Now there is a character for you.  She isn’t quite sure what she wants to do with her life, and is willing to drift along having adventures as she searches for her father, until she meets up with a certain hard-nosed but determined attorney. But then her father wants to take her on a treasure hunt, and, of course, the specter of Marco hovers over everything. 

Anything else you would like to add?
 Dead Man’s Rules is free this week at Amazon.  I hope you will download it and begin reading Marco’s story.
How can readers reach you or find you online?

Email - Rebecca.grace@aol.com
Website:  www.Rebeccagrace.com
Twitter: @RebeccaGrace55

My thanks to my friend, Janet for the interview, and I hope you'll leave a comment. Are there stories or characters who just won't let you go until you write their stories? What do you like best about the stories you love?

2 comments:

  1. Enjoyed your interview of yourself :) Actually I did have that character--my very first book, the one that prompted me to actually sit down and write. Unfortunately, the book probably will never be published--requires tremendous work! Best of luck with your release. I'm heading over to download right now. Barb Bettis

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  2. Thanks, Barb. I hope you enjoy it.

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