A Chat with Megan Edwards

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“Every wall is a door,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. If you swap out the word wall for obstacle, it’s as true to life as you get. Whether it’s the sensation of feeling boxed in, running up against impediments, banging your head repeatedly, or simply not knowing what’s on the other side, a wall can either curtail your journey or provide a chance to forge your own detour. For Megan Edwards, the fire that completely destroyed her home subsequently became the spark of imagination that led to the smokin’ hot keyboard she has today as a published author. Getting Off on Frank Sinatra is the launch book of her new mystery series.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q: If we could time-travel and visit the bedroom of your 10-year-old self, what might its contents—and bedside reading material—have revealed about your career dreams of the future?

A: At ten, I was living in Berkeley, California. One book I read that year was Ishi: Last of his Tribe, the partly fictionalized story of the last Yahi Indian who lived in San Francisco until his death in 1916. I loved going to the anthropology museum at the university and thought I might one day become an anthropologist or archaeologist. I did later study classical archaeology, although I never worked in the field professionally. Also that year, I was confined to bed for a couple of months with an illness that was never diagnosed. While recuperating, I read a book about bookbinding. I wrote, illustrated, and bound my own book, a story about a rabbit that gave everyone else gifts but never received any. It wasn’t a great story, and the binding was far from professional, but I guess it was technically my first book!

Q: What advice would the adult you give now to that 10-year-old self?

A: Keep that inquiring mind! Don’t let anybody force or nudge you in directions you don’t want to go, just because they’re safe, respectable, or normal.

Q: Who would you say had the most influence on the person you grew up to be? A favorite memory to share?

A: My mother always got great books for me to read and encouraged me to pursue a wide range of interests. She gave me Ishi: Last of His Tribe when it was first released. “I think you’ll like this,” she said, and she was so right. I was enthralled. She also encouraged and provided for my artistic tendencies.

Q: In what way(s) did your study of Greek and Latin in school shape your outlook about the human condition … and the challenges of wordsmithing those views into something that would one day captivate readers?

A: I am grateful to have a familiarity with Greek and Latin literature and language, not so much because I agree with what those cultures valued and promoted, but because they have been so influential in shaping the world we live in today. I’ve always loved words, grammar, and etymology. A background in Latin and Greek has given me a sort of “operating system” I draw from all the time.

Q: Are there particular books that truly resonate with you and/or authors whose work you admire?

A: As a child, I loved C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books. I still admire his storytelling brilliance. Three books I admire right now are Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos, Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen, and The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. The first is an amazing tour de force that is sadly underappreciated because the film version featuring Marilyn Monroe has completely overshadowed it. The second is the best memoir I’ve ever read. I admire the third because it’s an enthralling story about a horrible topic: the Black Death. In spite of the gloomy subject matter, the story conveys a message of hope and has the best ending of any novel I’ve ever read. While it’s difficult to choose just a few titles when there are so many fabulous books, these rise to the top of my list right now.

Q: What did you learn about yourself from the devastating experience of becoming “stuffless” when your home totally burned to the ground in 1993 and you had to start over?

A: I’m still learning from that experience! One realization that appeared rapidly is that “stuff” had been keeping me from doing things I longed to do. In the years since, “stuff” has once again accumulated, but my relationship with it is utterly different. In a nutshell, it was my boss before the fire. Now, I’m the boss. I now prize access over ownership. I’m not quite a true minimalist, but I admire the concept and lean toward it. We’re all only visitors on earth, and the platitude is correct: you can’t take it with you. I’ve learned that I like seeing myself as a traveler through life, and that I like to travel light. I will admit, however, that I’m a virtual hoarder. My digital attic never runs out of space!

Q: One of the positive outcomes of that tragedy was the development of your first book, a travel memoir called Roads from the Ashes. Were you actually writing notes the whole time on the road or did the concept for the book not come together until you finally settled into a home without wheels and a windshield?

A: I did keep a journal while traveling, but the idea of writing a book came after we’d been on a roll for a couple of years. When we first set out, we never dreamed our journey would last as long as it did, and it took a while for me to realize that the beginning stages of the Internet revolution were a fascinating time to be traveling the continent and possibly worth writing about. When we hit the road in 1994, email was just becoming ubiquitous. In 1996, my husband and I launched our first website, roadtripamerica.com. It’s older than Google, which may be the reason we did at times feel like pioneers. I wrote the book toward the end of our odyssey, and it was published just before we decided to make Las Vegas our home.

Q: Tell us about Marvin, the road dog.

A: Marvin was a white cockapoo. Or maybe he was a bichon. Because he was a rescue, we never knew for sure, but he was white and fluffy, and he didn’t shed. He was very friendly, and he loved our motorhome—when it was parked. He definitely preferred being settled to being in motion, but he was a good sport and wore his own special seatbelt without complaint when we were on a roll. He could be a scoundrel, of course, like the time he chased a mule deer through a campground in western Oregon or the time he disrupted an entire newsroom in Staten Island. Good thing he was cute!

When we finally settled in Las Vegas, we called our new house Marvin’s Resort. He loved it because 1. It didn’t move, and 2. It had a pool with a shallow beach area. Marvin wasn’t a swimmer, but he loved basking.

Q: Marriage is all about compromise, especially cohabiting a tiny place. I’m trying to fathom what it must have been like for you and your husband to share an RV (and miniscule closet space!) without driving each other crazy. How did you manage to make it work?

A: We had about 200 square feet of living space, so yes, some negotiation was required. Early on, I remember showing a visitor around and saying, “We don’t have much space, so we have to get along.” The man replied, “Honey, when you aren’t getting along, the whole world isn’t big enough.” He was so right, and there were times my husband and I did drive each other crazy. Thankfully, we worked it all out, and those negotiations still govern how we live together now. One thing about a motorhome that helps make up for the lack of interior space is that you can move it. Having a backyard the size of North America makes a big difference.

Q: You originally went to Las Vegas for a six-week stay. Seventeen years later, you’re still there. How did this come about, and what’s the principal attraction that happily keeps you there?

A: We were still living in our motorhome when I finished writing my travel memoir and decided to try my hand at fiction. The protagonist in the novel I began writing had to be a Las Vegas native. As I wrote, drawing from my limited, biased, and heavily stereotypical knowledge of southern Nevada, I realized I would never be able to craft an authentic character and backstory without spending some time in her hometown. So, off to Las Vegas we drove, thinking that a week or two—six at the most—would be more than enough time for me to learn everything I needed to know about a city I was sure I would dislike. We found a pretty nice RV park on Boulder Highway, I bought myself a bus pass, and I proceeded to learn what I could about Las Vegas beyond the neon.

Whenever you spend time getting to know a person or a place in depth, your opinion changes. In the case of me and Las Vegas, mine quickly changed for the better. As I rode every bus line to the end, wandered around neighborhoods I never knew existed, and took a hike or two in Red Rock Canyon, I got over being surprised and started wanting more. I was also discovering the city’s amazing libraries at the time and reading up on its unique history. I feel fortunate that my husband and I both felt like we’d found a home after we’d been here a month or so. But—if someone had told us nearly seven years before when we left Pasadena, California that we would drive all over the continent and then decide to live permanently in Las Vegas, I would have said, “Never!”

Q: A lot of people have impressions about Las Vegas based on what they’ve seen in movies—many of which involve glittering casinos, scantily attired showgirls and Bugsy-esque mobsters. What was the most surprising thing you discovered about Sin City once you actually became part of its population?

A: Las Vegas is the most conservative place I’ve ever lived. I shouldn’t have been surprised—Las Vegas was founded by Mormons and boasts the largest Mormon population outside of Salt Lake City. Although expanding population has changed things, the city used to have the highest number of churches per capita in the country. Another feature that surprised me is its large Hawaiian community. Hawaiians call Las Vegas “the ninth island.”

Q: Las Vegas is the setting for the debut book in your mystery series. Is it just because you live there and are familiar with it or was there another reason that influenced your choice?

A: I came to Las Vegas to do research for a novel and found way more fascinating material than I ever anticipated. I could write twenty more novels and still have ample subject matter for more. It’s a writer’s gold mine!

Q: Where did you get the idea for Getting Off on Frank Sinatra? Is it based on real events?

A: When I was first in Las Vegas, I taught for a year in a private prep school. While the story is not based on that school or actual events, I have drawn from my experiences to craft a story that is entirely fictional but also, I hope, authentic.

Q: If Hollywood came calling to make Getting Off on Frank Sinatra a mini-series, who would you like to see play Copper Black?

A: I’ll go with Abigail Breslin, but I’m sure there are a number of young actors who could do a great job. It’s important that Copper be the right age—twenty-something and still caught between family and true independence.

Q: What was the transition like for you going from nonfiction to fiction? For instance, is one easier/harder than the other?

A: After my travel memoir was published, I developed an itch for making things up. When I started working on a novel, it didn’t take me long to realize that fiction set in a real location requires just as much truth as nonfiction, even when the plot and characters are fabrications. When I chose to set a novel in Las Vegas, I had to be able to paint Las Vegas believably, because readers don’t like to be pulled out of the story by errors and inaccuracies. In addition, fictional characters must behave according to their constructed personalities, which is why authors often comment that their characters tell them what to do. So—I find fiction every bit as challenging as nonfiction. It must ring true to be successful, even though the stories may not be based on real events.

Q: What governed your decision to make this book the first in a series versus a stand-alone title?

A: The idea of creating a series grew while I was working on the first book. I’d had the idea in mind, but as I worked on the first project, I saw some longer arcs connected to Copper’s life that could be developed in subsequent stories. In addition, I saw the potential for some of the secondary characters to have larger roles in future novels.

Q: What are some of the benefits/challenges you envision in having a recurring character rather than writing a new protagonist each time?

A: When you create a recurring character, it’s a little like marriage—you’re committed to that character for better or worse. I tried to create one with enough depth and potential for growth to carry a story—and then another story. I also created secondary characters with their own backstories that can fuel events in new stories.

Q: Do you allow anyone to read your chapters in progress or do you make them wait until you have typed “The End”?

A: My husband is my biggest fan and harshest critic. I run things by him all the time. I have a few other friends from whom I elicit impressions while working on a project, but I never give it to my editor until I’ve finished a complete draft. It’s important that the person in that role experience the whole work at one time. First impressions of the work as a whole are important.

Q: How did you go about finding a publisher for your work?

A: When I first completed a manuscript back in the early 2000s, I signed with an agent. While no fiction deal came of that relationship, I kept writing, querying, and submitting. It’s perhaps ironic that I landed my first fiction contract without an agent, but I know my earlier experiences all contributed to my securing that deal.

Q: What are some of the things you’re doing to promote your work and which ones are the most effective for you?

A: I am active on social media and blog once a week on my website. I speak at events and host signings in bookstores and other retail locations. I’m especially appreciative of media coverage (newspaper, TV, radio, and Web), because it reaches potential readers very efficiently.

Q: What would our readers be the most surprised to learn about you?

A: I’m pretty boring, but I did attend fourteen different schools by the time I graduated from high school, including three in Costa Rica. My father was a career army officer until I was about twelve, which meant my family moved often. My four years at Scripps College, where I earned my bachelor’s degree, were the longest stretch I spent at any one school, and I spent one of those semesters in Rome.

Q: Any advice for aspiring authors?

A: Go for it! Find a way to make yourself write, whether it’s committing to a blog or a writing group. For most people, deadlines are essential. The only other advice I have is that you really do need to know the rules. You can break them later, but you must know them first.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you?

A: My website is meganedwards.com. I’m on Facebook at megan.edwards.author, Twitter @MeganEdwards, and Instragram @meganfedwards. I’m also on Goodreads.

 

 

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Early Out

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In the early 19th century, a young Spanish scout named Rafael Rivera wandered off from Antonio Armijo’s trading expedition – en route to Los Angeles – and came back to report he had just discovered a breathtaking oasis in the middle of nowhere. Though long traversed by Southern Paiutes, the Patayan and even the Anasazi, “The Meadows” (as it would be named by European adventurers) would soon become a happenin’ hot spot and refueling venue in more ways than one. We simply know it as Las Vegas – the backdrop for debut author Jesse Kaellis’ gritty collection of real-life stories about the gambling capital of the world.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q: What prompted you to write a book about the twilight glitz that is the casino subculture of Las Vegas?

A: I wasn’t really planning on writing a book. I started writing stories that I was posting on an online writers forum that was connected to a free dating site. I developed a following. When I had a body of work together my girlfriend helped me proof it and I started making submissions mostly to Canadian publishers. My girlfriend found out about a contest, the Simon Fraser University/Anvil Press 1st Book Contest. This was under the auspices of the SFU Creative Writing Department and the winner got a contract with Anvil Press, a mid-level lower mainland publisher. I shortlisted and I came in third place. The head of the department, John Mavin, kindly sent me comments from the reviews. I realized that I had a lot of raw talent and a strong voice. My style was unique; that was the feedback that I received.

Q: You’ve indicated that the book is a memoir about Vegas, boxing, violence, sex, love, grief, narcotics, the death industry, irony, despair, surfacing, humor, black humor, arcane jobs and subcultures, and the alchemy of transforming pain into empathy. Traditionally, autobiographies about people who aren’t well known to the general public are a tough sell in the publishing industry. What was the thought process that made you pursue it anyway rather than opting for a straight work of fiction?

A: Because some stories are stranger than fiction? People of notoriety have stories but can they write? Those stories are usually ghost written. I don’t read fiction and I only ever wrote one piece of fiction which was transparently my alter ego. My stories were earned the hard way, I lived them. But I have a voice; I have a style, a style that is not contrived in anyway. I wrote a story, it’s in my book, and it’s called ‘A story about nothing happened’ and, of course, the point being that there is always something happening if I have eyes to see and a voice to describe my perceptions. To sum it up, I wrote about what I know; if nobody wants to read it, then that’s just my hard luck.

Q: How much creative license did you take in relating real-life events?

A: Zero; no embellishment and I didn’t spare myself at all. People call my book painfully honest. It didn’t pain me, or I should say the pain was already there. The surcease for me was in writing about it. For instance, giving up in a fight, a boxing match, that’s never going to be okay. I made a decision at a moment in time; I took the back door because I wanted out of there and I did it in front of friends and strangers, and I didn’t have to do that and it was not remotely worth it. I learned the hard way.

Q: What do you feel distinguishes your book from the competition?

A: I do believe that I have a unique style, one reviewer, an online magazine I did an interview with years ago; she said I have a gift for literary simplicity. The first thing I do is figure out what I want to say, then I want to get there fairly directly. At the same time, I’m writing and remembering and getting insights as I write. The story is pulling me along. I’m also looking for that payoff, and it could be a sentence or even just a single word.

Q: Tell us about your choice of title and what it means to you.

A: “Early Out” is a term that any casino dealer is familiar with. All it means is that you get to go home early. Let’s say you have a dead dice game, no action, and there is another game with a little bit of action. So let’s say it’s a six pm to two am shift. Around midnight you are on a dead game and, “Who wants to go home?”

I always did because I wanted to get home and party, a party at which I was the only guest. They count the bank, get a fill, if they need it, bring up the lid and lock it and then the crew goes home. We maybe stop at the back bar to get a drink. See the casinos pay dealers minimum wage. Most of your income comes from tokes, tips. Casinos have a rock hard bottom line. Why pay dealers to stand around, even if it’s just at minimum wage? These joints count every penny.

As well, “Early Out” has a more sinister connotation, given how hard I pushed it over the nine years that I lived in Vegas. “I got so high this time that I never came down, never came back.”

Q: Is Early Out your first published work? If so, how difficult was it for you to construct?

A: It is my first published work; no—wait, I had three pieces published in SubTerrain Magazine, a quarterly literary magazine, published by Anvil Press. That was a couple of years ago. Writing it was not difficult. I wrote it one story at a time. I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have to develop characters, I mean all I did was remember and write. I started with the Vegas stuff and after a while I felt I should provide motivation for the protagonist, I mean, why was I such a lowlife? I didn’t alibi, but I did delineate a bereft childhood. I figured that was fair enough. Everybody comes from somewhere. Nobody is born a monster, or perhaps they are, I don’t know. Maybe I was concerned with being a sympathetic character. One of the reviewers from the SFU Creative Writing Department wrote that in many ways I was not likable but he did like me and he had empathy for me.

I wept when I read that because I knew I was doing my job. This is what I’m saying, honesty is not just in the facts but it is in the tone, the “feel” of my narrative. My character came through as authentic. And I may be a sympathetic character because of my flaws and deformities, because we all fall short.

Q: Did you start with a working outline or simply let the creative juices flow from one day to the next?

A: I just wrote it one story at a time. The more I wrote, the more I remembered.

Q: How long did it take you to write Early Out?

A: About ten months.

Q: Were you editing throughout the process or did you wait until the whole thing was done?

A: I was proofing it. I have little formal education. I didn’t complete grade school. I was an undiagnosed dyslexic as a child. I didn’t read until I was eight years old. I have taken no creative writing classes. Just the same, I’m articulate and I write the way I talk. I wrote on instinct and I improved as I went along. I believe that my book gets stronger and ends strongly.

Q: Tell us about the audience you’re hoping to attract and what the book’s takeaway will be?

A: I have no idea—how about anybody under the sun? Naturally I’m hoping that I can touch everybody, anybody. I wrote a story, or dozens of stories and I stitched them into some kind of intuitively non linear order. I didn’t write it to an audience, how could I know, and I still don’t. What’s the takeaway? That the book is interesting? Many people read it in one or two sittings. There is nothing that I could ever write that would fundamentally change this world, and how about this? The world doesn’t need changing. Be careful how you hear that. This is a perfect world. Careful.

Q: How did you go about choosing a publisher for your book?

A: I took whoever wanted me and I was grateful for it. I was resigned to dying in complete obscurity. There were more than a few people that knew I would find a publisher, “You’re too good.” They believed in me more than I ever did my own self, particularly my ex girlfriend. I got Mountain Springs House, got a contract that I signed last March, and I was happy for it. At one point, at what seems like a lifetime ago, I thought I was going to get one of the Big 6 publishers. That story is partially told in my book.

Q: What do you know about the publishing industry now that you didn’t know when you started?

A: This has been about three plus years now. I was warned about how tough it can be but it takes going through it yourself to really know the vagaries of this business. The publishing industry is in upheaval at this time in particular. It really hasn’t shaken out yet, if ever. It has been painful at times and difficult, it has also been exhilarating and moving for me. My book has touched people. I wanted to be known, that’s why I wrote it. That’s why guys fight, as well, by the way. Fight in the ring. They are making a statement: I am. There is no higher expression of individuality in my perception. And women also fight as well, especially now a days.

Q: What would you have done differently in your journey to publication?

A: I wouldn’t have alienated one publisher in particular. I didn’t need to do it. There was nothing but a loss in it for me, I had a bi-winning moment and I burnt this guy down and maybe every other publisher on the lower mainland, but live and learn; and I got a second chance with another publisher.

Q: What are you doing to promote the book?

A: Not enough really. You can always do more—I’m doing online stuff, using my blog, interviews…

I found a service that places books in Nevada and Northern California for a nominal fee. They put paperbacks in casino gift shops and at the airport, convenience stores. They are based in Reno and Las Vegas and I expect to move books through this venue.

I am at number 3 on the Smashwords bestseller list in my genre. I broke the Amazon top one hundred about ten days ago; I had some really low numbers.

Q: Were you a voracious reader growing up? If so, what are some of the books and who are some of the authors that most influenced your style of storytelling?

A: Once I was able to read, yes, was an avid reader. My reading wasn’t restricted and my parents were left wing types, so: Mailer, Baldwin, Claude Brown, Alex Haley, George Orwell, Upton Sinclair, Jerzey Koszinski, Primo Levy, Joyce Carol Oates, Nick Touches, many more.

Q: What are you currently reading?

A: I’m not currently reading a book.

Q: What would your fans be the most surprised to learn about you?

A: I don’t leave much room for speculation in my book. I’m not sure. My left eye is smaller than my right eye – noticeably. Seriously, I don’t know. I’m standing naked in my book, pretty much, but I don’t tell everything and I never will. God knows all, nobody else.

Q: If Early Out were turned into a movie, who would be in your dream cast for it?

A: I would like Daniel Day Lewis to play me, just because he’s a great actor. I don’t think you could turn my story into a movie—the scope of it. It could be a cast of thousands. However, any one story could be turned into a screenplay.

Q: What’s your best advice to aspiring writers who want to get published?

A: I am probably the worst person that could give advice. When publishers that allow unsolicited submissions give you submission guidelines then you better obey. But I didn’t and I don’t. I mean if you follow their guidelines it can be very time consuming. I’ll advise this; make multiple submissions. Tell the publisher that you have multiple submissions out there and you don’t have to list them by name. It’s an industry practice no matter what they say. You can’t wait on each single submission. You have an average six week turnaround. Be careful with contests, they can get costly. They generally charge an entry fee. Use your instincts if you have any.

I’m not organized, I’m not patient, I have thin skin, and the whole process has been inordinately painful for me, so, take heart. If I can do it, you can do it. Just don’t give up.

Q: What’s next on your plate?

A: My biggest problem with this business is that it is a business. I wanted the deal where I would be discovered and be transformed into an overnight star, something like what happened to James Frey. I know and I have known that I need to publish more material, and I do have a good deal of stuff that I can use, I think I have a book’s worth already. Now I just have to light a fire under my rear end and do it.

 

 

 

 

The Blade

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What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Unless, of course, a villain has plans to completely obliterate it from the map. While investigating the theft of a 4000-year-old artifact, a federal agent finds herself confronted with an international fugitive who threatens to destroy Sin City. Such is the pulse-pounding premise of The Blade (Stone Creek Books), an adult thriller recently published by Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore. The pair took time from their busy schedules to talk about the collaborative process of bringing their ideas and characters to life.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q: How and when did the two of you become collaborators?

A: Lynn: Joe and I belonged to the same writing critique group that met every week. During the middle of each session we’d take a break and we’d all chat. Sometimes we’d share ideas about other projects we’d like to do. I had this idea about a book I wanted to write, but it wasn’t in my comfort range because of the genre. Joe thought it was a great idea, and after a year or so, he finally threatened me that if I didn’t write the book, then he would. We decided to give co-writing a whirl.

That produced The Grail Conspiracy, our first collaboration, which did very well. It was ForeWord Magazine’s book of the year and an international bestseller. So far, it’s been translated into 24 languages.

Q: So how does your collaborative process work (i.e., brainstorming, logistics, editing one another, utilizing each other’s respective strengths)?

A: Lynn: I can only vouch for what Joe and I do. At first it was very difficult, not because we disagreed on anything, but rather because our styles and voices were so different. Joe wrote male action-adventure with a very bold voice. I wrote historical fiction with a more lyrical voice. So blending took a lot of work, but we stayed with it. As a matter of fact, friends are always guessing which line one of us wrote! They’re usually wrong, but we never tell.

As far as the mechanical process, we do outlining and brainstorming so we know the story. Either of us could write it. Then whoever feels they have the best handle on a scene takes on the first draft of that scene. We send it back and forth for revisions. Using Dropbox makes it easier. We drop a file in the shared Dropbox folder and voilà! The other picks it up.

Q: Where do you get your ideas for the fascinating characters and compelling stories the two of you compose?

A: Joe: An idea that sparks a story can come from anywhere, anytime. Movies, newspapers, magazines, other books. What we look for is the seed that grabs our attention. Our first book written together came from an article in Discover Magazine about a cup found by an archeologist in Israel. He believed it was the Holy Grail and subsequently discovered that traces of blood residue were present. Could it have been the blood of Christ? What if someone used the DNA to clone Christ? The result was our first thriller written together, The Grail Conspiracy. An article I stumbled across on the Internet about the Germans working on an atomic bomb at the end of WWII prompted our latest thriller, The Blade.

Q: When it comes to character development and dialogue in a thriller such as The Blade, do you think it’s easier for a female to write from a male’s perspective or a male to write from a female’s perspective?

A: Lynn: I don’t think it matters to us. Joe and I have never decided to write scenes because of a character’s gender. We don’t take on specific characters when we write; we take on scenes. When Joe has a better handle on a scene or better vision, then he does the first draft of it. If I feel I have a strong image of a scene, then I do the first draft. We both have our strengths, but they aren’t gender-related.

Q: Do you revise as you go along or wait until the novel is complete?

A: Joe: Because there are two of us and we exchange drafts of each chapter many times, the revision process is ongoing, with the final one after input from our editor.

Q: What is your strategy behind short chapters vs. longer ones?

A: Joe: Most of our chapters average 1000 words. We do that to keep the reader turning the pages. If they see that the next chapter is only a couple of pages long, they will decide to read just one more. And then one more…

Q: If The Blade was made into a movie, who would you choose to play Maxine, Kenny and Applewhite?

A: Lynn: Maxine –Julianna Moore, Kenny – Hugh Jackman, Applewhite – Tommy Lee Jones or William H. Macy?

A: Joe: I see Naomi Watts as Maxine, Jude Law as Kenny, and Brian Cox as Applewhite

Q: What’s the best part of working with your partner?

A: Lynn: We left our egos behind years ago. We both have a vested interest in the book so we sort through plot, the details and motivations together. It’s great to have a sounding board and brainstorming partner with the same goal. And the really good part is if someone criticizes something, I can always say, “Joe wrote that part.” 

A: Joe: Like Lynn said, we both have a stake in the book that no one else has. Our spouses give us both a mountain of support, but they are not writers nor do they think like writers. I can ask my wife her opinion and she will give it honestly. But she doesn’t see the big picture; she has other things to think about. I’m sure it’s the same for Lynn and her husband and family. Having a writing partner means I can make a suggestion or throw out an idea, and Lynn will analyze it while considering all the consequences of how it would impact, improve or detract from the story.

Q: Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you handle it?

A: Lynn: Because Joe and I write together, I don’t think we’ve ever had writer’s block. Having a brainstorming partner tends to prevent that. Of course we have plot issues we have to work out, but not true writer’s block. One thing we have learned is that when we come to a stumbling block we talk through it and something eventually pops up. We also know that there will come a time in the process that is devoted to revision.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about writing?

A: Joe: Entering into the “zone” where you lose track of time and place as the words flow freely.

Q: Learning to write compelling fiction takes a lot of time, study and practice. It’s also not uncommon for a writer’s style and vision to evolve and undergo reinvention from what it was originally. Do you ever go back and read your earliest writings? If so, what’s your reaction?

A: Lynn: Yuck! Yes. When I first decided to take writing seriously, I wrote a book called Talisman Rose, mostly to see if I could sustain 100,000 words.  I wrote it on a typewriter which convinced me to get a computer and printer.  Well, I discovered that I could write my way through 100,000 words. But that manuscript rests in a box high in the closet that I never intend to show anyone.  Every time I write a book, I learn something new. Sometimes I look back in horror and slap my forehead asking myself if I really wrote that.

Q: Like many writers, the two of you have ventured into indie publishing rather than going the traditional route. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages you discovered during the process of taking The Blade from concept to publication to marketing?

A: Joe: With the advent of indie publishing, writers have become a self-contained business and must handle most or all of the facets of sales and marketing. It takes away from writing time, but it’s also liberating and fulfilling.

Q: What’s next on your plate (collaboratively or individually)?

A: Joe: What’s next? Maxine returns in The Shield (working title). Former OSI federal agent Maxine Decker is recruited by a blacker than black government operation to track down the theft of alien artifacts originally collected from the 1947 Roswell Incident. Stay tuned!

A: Lynn: As a note of interest, I have just handed over my first four books, written under the name Lynn Armistead McKee, to enter the digital world. Those books are a totally different genre than what Joe and I write. Woman of the Mists, Touches the Stars, Keeper of Dreams and Walks in Stardust are historical fiction in the tradition of Clan of the Cave Bear, but not quite as far back. These are stories about the extinct aboriginal peoples of Florida before European contact.

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Readers can learn more about the authors at http://www.sholesmoore.com/p/author-bios.html.