Q: Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
AL: A little bit of everywhere. As an Army brat I spent time on three continents, but also spent considerable time in Southern California before retiring to Lynchburg, Virginia, where I now live.
Q: Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
AL: The Jordan Davis mystery series started as a traditional romantic suspense with a cozy (amateur sleuth) flavor. I didn’t have a series in mind at the start, but after bouncing around ideas, it began to morph. I wanted a heroine who was out of the ordinary. What could be more unusual than a Jewish, motorcycle-riding free spirit whose business is a funeral boutique geared toward granting the last wishes of its clients, however bizarre they might be? Having Jordan cross paths, and then hearts, with a gorgeous, uptight judge who got out of Lynchburg and didn’t look back until he had to, and then found himself involved in Jordan’s murder investigations led me to the idea of a series. Sexier and less alcohol-laden than Nick & Nora Charles, solving murders set against the background of Lynchburg, Virginia, a small southern city. I also wanted the town to be a character, giving the flavor of the New South, still strongly religious, a mite rebellious, but kicking and screaming its way into the Twenty-first Century.
Q: How do you create your characters?
AL: I look around Lynchburg and they present themselves. Society matrons, Junior Leaguers, zealous, ambitious men of the cloth, good ol’ boys, country lawyers, scratch golfers and gossips with secrets of their own—they’re all here. I just have to go to the Community Market or River Ridge Mall and keep an open eye and ear. Then I change the names to protect the innocent—and the guilty.
Q: What inspires and what got you started in writing?
AL: I realized I had the makings of being an author when I started rewriting the endings to unsatisfying movies, TV shows and books. I was initially afraid of writing. Finally I understood I was a storyteller, and from there I outlined an idea, plopped myself down with a pad and pen (and later a computer) and began to write a story like the kind I wanted to read but couldn’t find enough of, and got through to “they lived happily ever after,” I knew I had what it took to be a novelist.
Good writing inspires me, wherever I find it. I read multiple genres, and when I find a writer who keeps me glued to the page, I’ll keep buying his/her books, sometimes even paying full price <grin>. When I see great screen or television writing, like “The Big Bang Theory,” which has some of the best writing on any sized screen, I’m not afraid to let people know.
Q: Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)
AL: My favorite place to write is sitting on the couch in my living room. What I need more than anything is my best friend sitting on the other end of the couch batting ideas back and forth. I will admit that a nine-pump venti soy chai latte, extra hot, no water or foam, helps.
Q: How do you get your ideas for writing?
AL: When writing a series, I am working with continuing characters, so the first question I ask is, “who can I kill this time?”
Q: What do you like to read?
AL: My tastes run the gamut from historical romance, dystopian fantasy, vampires and shapeshifter stories, thrillers, mysteries, science fiction, history non-fiction, and romantic comedy. My virtual “to be read” pile (on my Kindle) has several hundred books waiting for me to get to. Fortunately, I’m a fast reader. Even more importantly, my husband no longer has visual proof of my addiction.
Q: What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?
AL: Write. Nora Roberts says you can always fix a manuscript, but you can’t fix a blank page. Learn the plotting basics for the genre you want to write, then use tape flags or paper clips on the books in that genre you like the best to see where those plot points fall in those books. You will find the best written books have amazingly similar plot arcs, often within a page or two of the same percent along. Get the best dictionary and thesaurus you can afford. Learn the rules of grammar and use them or when you break them, know that you’re doing so. If you have trouble with grammar and spelling, get a friend or critique partner who is good with them to proof read your work.
Editors these days do not have the time Maxwell Perkins did to nurse and develop new talent. If you’re going to submit to a publisher, large or small, your work must be as technically perfect as possible. Badly spelled work with errant grammar will get rejected. If you plan to become an independent (self-published) author, it’s even more important to put out the best presented writing you can because you have nobody to blame but yourself.
Oh, two more things: finish the frakking book! And never be afraid to submit your work or enter a contest. The greatest fear is rejection. Yet if you don’t enter or submit, you’ve already rejected yourself.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
AL: Every writer would like to be the next Nora Roberts, Stephen King, JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins or Daniel Silva. Most of us are lucky to make a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year. Major success is a combination of talent and timing, often with an emphasis on the latter. You can’t control sales figures. You can control the quality of your writing. Put out a product you can be proud of, because your name or pseudonym is on it and your reputation is behind it.