At one point I toyed with the idea of writing a book about a donut shop robbery, told from multiple people’s perspectives. I have no idea how the idea originally came to me, but—upon reflection—it’s probably a good thing it didn’t pan out.
What about your most recently published work?
Mortom is a ‘non-traditional’ mystery about family secrets and how far people are willing to go to expose them. When Andy Crowl’s estranged cousin dies, Andy goes to the small town of Mortom to survey the estate. Inside the house, he discovers a dead rat with a key and note that says: Follow me. From there, he has one week to decipher a series of clues to unravel the mystery of his cousin’s death.
Do you find it more difficult to write your first draft or to revise?
Each draft is its own challenge and joy. It’s exhilarating to start a project from scratch and see what comes out, but it’s also fun to polish, tweak and tighten the final product. That said, first drafts come more easily to me, whereas revisions can often feel endless. It’s not uncommon for me to spend hours on a single paragraph, trying to get the words just right.
Do you have any revision tips to share?
First drafts are usually ugly, horrible creatures that bare little resemblance to the finished product. Rewriting, without question, is 90% of the process. Once I get to the final draft, I don’t look at the work for at least a week or two, which allows me to revisit it with fresh eyes. At that point, I print and read the entire book aloud. It takes a fair amount of time to do this, but it’s the best way to ensure your dialogue and prose ring true.
What has been the hardest thing about publishing for you?
I had no idea how much work went into marketing a book. Even with a publisher, I still spend hours promoting my work on social media and reaching out to book bloggers. Striking a balance between writing and marketing can be daunting, but to be successful you absolutely have to treat your writing as a business.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Never give up. Anything can happen from one day to the next. I once had an agent tell me I should write more like Gillian Flynn, and shortly thereafter Gillian Flynn’s agency requested one of my manuscripts. The world of publishing is a crazy, subjective place.
What is the most memorable writing comment you’ve ever gotten? It can be the best, or worst; you decide.
Shortly after the release of Mortom, a woman left a review that said she “disliked the characters so much she wanted to throw the book across the room” . . . but she couldn’t stop reading and finished the book within 24 hours. To this day, that’s still my favorite review. I don’t care if you laugh, cry, or even torch my book on your grill—if I’ve evoked any sort of emotion, I’ve done my job as a writer.