Okay, folks, hang onto your hats, because you're about to be part of blogging history. I think.
Here's the deal. Tracy Sharp is a hot new crime/horror writer I met online (and when I say "hot," I mean that her books are definitely not for the younger set. In the sexual, give-Antonin-Scalia-a-stroke kind of way.
So Tracy and I came up with this new, different, and dare I say it again? history-making format for a blog double-interview. It starts here and now, it'll continue over at Tracy's blog, then wind back over here, and so on. For as long as we feel like doing it, so don't miss a minute of the fun.
Before we go any farther, I'm going to show you Tracy's newest Leah Ryan mystery--released today! and the trailer for it (I helped with the tag lines). Check it out, but don't go away.
And now, the interview. Drum roll, please:
TS: The hurricane got me thinking of how challenging it might be to write in those conditions. So the first question is: "What were the most challenging conditions under which you’ve written?"
JM: When I wrote my first novel, it was while I was working as a shopping center maintenance man. I had a small, unheated maintenance closet in a building far away from the center offices, and I kept a notebook in there and wrote in longhand, during breaks and whenever I could steal a minute. That novel was never published--nor should it have been--but the mere fact that I finished something, working under those conditions, helped convince me that I wanted to keep heading down the writing path.
Since then, I've written in all sorts of places--my home office, libraries, the occasional coffee shop or restaurant or airport, sitting in the car with the laptop balanced on my lap. The Western author Louis L'Amour used to claim that he could set his typewriter up on a folding tray in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard and write. I don't know if he ever actually tried that--sounds dangerous, to me. But the lesson was not lost on me. A writer writes, whatever and wherever he has to.
My turn: Have you ever stolen a car? If the statute of limitations is not yet expired, you can answer tell me about a "dream" you had of stealing a car. And if now, what made you decide to make Leah Ryan a car thief?
TS: Haha! I love that question! I've never stolen a car, but I knew people who had, way back when. I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, and there are actually railroad tracks running through my home town. A lot of the kids I knew were pretty mischievous because none of us had any money and there wasn't much to do except look for and get into trouble. The trick was not getting caught. Several of those kids ended up doing time and a few died pretty young. I'm actually the odd one because I was more of an observer than a participant. Though I was never there when said vehicles were stolen, I'd heard about it after the fact ;)
Why make her a car thief? It wasn't something I planned. It just happened. There's a scene where Leah is in high school, smoking in the bathroom and unable to bear the thought of going to her math class, and she's pretty depressed. Her family has effectively blown apart as a result of her sister's abduction years before, and her parents are barely aware of her because they are wrapped up in their own pain. So she decides to steal a car. Just like that.
What are your recurring themes and why do you think you keep returning to those?
JM: I guess there are a few themes that I keep coming back to, though it's not a conscious process. One is the idea of family as the people one chooses to be surrounded by, rather than necessarily the family one is born into. People gather communities around themselves, or fit themselves into communities, and those self-selected gatherings seem to be as important as blood relations, if not more so. Another common theme is the separate but related issues of race and class; how those factors impact a person's life, and how those impacts might be overcome or otherwise dealt with.
What's your day job, and how does what you do there affect your writing?
TS: My day job is as an Internet Sales Coordinator which just means that I pull internet orders and make sure nothing looks shady about them in terms of potential fraud, and hand them out to our sales guys. I spend lots of time on the phone with banks trying to clear shady looking orders. It's a blast. *cough* I do other various and assorted jobs at work too. I can go home and not bring the job home with me, which is important for me to be able to focus on the writing when I'm not at work.
Favorite genre to write in and why?
JM: I've written in a lot of genres, and never wanted to limit myself to one, because I love reading in many genres and I've loved writing everything from westerns to sword & sorcery to occult horror. But I guess the thing I find myself drawn back to again and again is suspense. I like to create suspense--real page-turning, can't put it down, knife-edge suspense--in every book I write, in whatever genre. That's always a primary goal. I find myself drawn to supernatural thrillers, crime thrillers... so I'll have to say the suspense/thriller genre is my favorite.
What was the first thing you wrote (after childhood) that you showed to somebody else, with the idea that you might want to be a writer?
Not so fast! To see Tracy’s answer, you’ll have to visit Tracy’s blog, Blithering Fool! Keep checking back until it's posted (I'll let you know here, too).
And because I know you're curious, here's information about Tracy's Leah Ryan books: