Please welcome fellow member of the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime Kelly Cochran to this week’s edition of 10 Q & As. Kelly describes herself as conscientious, resourceful, suspicious, witty and blondish. Her writing is humorous, approachable, twisty, thoughtful and fun.
Kelly’s short story “Blinded by Murder” appeared in the most recent Guppy Anthology, Fish or Cut Bait. In addition to her other attributes, she is also generous. She is offering to provide one lucky commenter with a copy of Fish or Cut Bait and a second commenter with a copy of her novel, Buying Time.
Without further ado, here are her other eight questions and answers.
You have a table for four at your favorite restaurant and can invite any three people, living, dead, or fictional. Who are your guests (and why) and where are you eating (and why)?
First, I want to thank you Jim for getting me a table at the 21 Club in Manhattan for my birthday. Yes, today is my birthday. Though the table inside the private dining room in the wine cellar seats more than four it is the perfect place for an intimate party. If the food and the wine cellar aren’t enough to draw you in to the former speakeasy, the history should be. The floors have been walked on and chairs sat on by the likes of Earnest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, and Alfred Hitchcock among others.
I’ve invited Brené Brown because of her inspirational views on vulnerability. Being a writer is a very vulnerable thing. Fiction writers create fiction, but in reality, the truth of who they are is there within their words for the world to see.
My second guest is Paula Poundstone. As a standup comedian, another vulnerable occupation, she has the gift of making people laugh. She is naturally funny, which in my view is the best kind of funny. She has also battled her own demons in the public eye and survived.
Lastly, I’ve invited my husband to my party because somebody has to pay! All kidding aside, he’s at my party because he is truly my best friend and who doesn’t want their best friend at their birthday party?
Describe your most productive writing venue. What makes it best for you?
Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found my most productive writing venue. This is evidenced by the fact that my second book, Borrowed Time, isn’t currently on anyone’s nightstand. But I can imagine it. The window looking out over the ocean, the chair custom made to fit my derriere, lots of wood furniture, plants, and a masseuse on standby. The serene environment is what I dream about. My mind is always cluttered, so I need an uncluttered surrounding to provide balance. Until such time as I win the lottery and create my perfect writing venue I am happy at my cubicle-like, utilitarian desk.
What is your most productive time of the day (and do you need caffeine)?
I find I am most productive early in the morning or late at night. I definitely need caffeine in the morning, but only one or two cups (a Coke if I’m feeling thirsty). Late at night though, no caffeine for me otherwise I wouldn’t be able to sleep and I’d find my late night turning into my early morning!
Name three not well-known authors you would recommend and tell us what you like about their writing.
Lately I’ve ventured into reading books I might not normally pick up, books outside my wheelhouse. The first is P. A . De Voe. Her expertise in ancient China amazes me. She educates and entertains at the same time. Her short story “Lotus Shoes” explores young Mei-hua and the cultural expectations of foot binding.
Next would be Kaye George and her Death in the Time of Ice. Her writing makes you care about her characters and their future.
And my final recommendation is better known, but she’s my favorite author - Anne Tyler. She is a master of the slightly different, average character. It amazes me how she brings the reader into the mind of her characters and the lilt of her writing leaves me wanting more and sad that the story has come to an end.
What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received and why was it so valuable?
In the early 1980’s I signed up for a writing course with Writer’s Digest. I was lucky enough to have my life touched by author H. Paul Jeffers. In corresponding with him, I told him how afraid I was of not succeeding. His words to me were encouraging and I will never forget him telling me that if I do not write I am guaranteed not to succeed. Though it took me over a quarter of a century to publish my first book, it was his words I remembered when I first saw my words in print.
What is the most challenging area for you as a writer? What are you doing to address the issue?
Do I have to pick just one? I have many challenging areas. The most challenging I would say is time management. I’m an Indie author and I always say the best thing about being and Indie author is you can set your own deadlines and the worst thing about being and Indie author is you can set your own deadlines. I know if I had a publisher deadline hanging over my head I would go without sleep to meet it. But as an Indie, my television addiction seems to get in the way. Two things I am doing to address the issue is setting up a “writing time” and transitioning from a pantser to an outliner.
What motivates you to write?
Apparently nothing. I really have been procrastinating and there is no excuse especially because the most incredible feeling of accomplishment comes when I see my words in print.
What motivates your protagonist? What influenced who they are today?
My protagonist Aspen Moore, like me, also suffers a little when it comes to motivation. But, also like me, when the nth hour is upon her she rallies. And when she does it is generally those people around her that she cares about who keep her going. As a member of the Witness Security Program (WitSec), the struggle between Aspen’s past and her present greatly influences who she is becoming. She struggles with connecting to the people around her when she can’t be her true self and as a result her life is quite the circus.
Check out Kelly’s books and find out more about her at www.kellycochran.com, visit her on Facebook and she’d be delighted if you followed her on twitter
In Buying Time, Aspen Moore starts a new life as a personal concierge, selling her time to those who don’t have enough. The best perk is getting to focus on other people’s lives instead of facing the demons in her own.
When her most loyal customer dies and his suicide looks eerily like murder, she anonymously tips off the police so she won’t expose a secret she desperately needs to keep. But a string of crimes long enough to make a real detective sweat threatens her livelihood and ultimately her life. Her only hope is to untangle the mess before there’s permanent damage. Pursuing the truth means solving a decade-old land deal while juggling a quirky DJ and his dog, an eccentric paraplegic, a curious set of twins, and a flirtatious neighbor with spy gadgets.
With each passing hour the danger increases and for Aspen, buying time isn’t an option.