Please welcome fellow Kindle Scout winner Tricia Hendricks to answer ten questions today. She describes herself as quiet, thoughtful, passionate, impulsive, and spontaneous. Her writing is entertaining, accessible, humorous, character-centric, and fun. Here are her other chosen questions and answers.
Describe your most productive writing venue. What makes it best for you?
I haven't tried too many venues, honestly. I either write with my laptop on my lap, sitting on the sofa in the living room, or else I'm at my desk. I do have an Alphasmart, which is a scaled down word processor that theoretically could allow me write anywhere besides, perhaps, the ocean, but I haven't used it as much as I expected to. Perfect conditions for me are a well-lit screen and a comfortable chair. I haven't tried writing in a bookstore or coffee shop. One of these days I'll give them a go.
What is your most productive time of the day (and do you need caffeine)?
Since I write full-time and have no obligations to anyone (and because I live in Las Vegas, which is a 24-hour town), I tend to not keep any sort of schedule at all. I'm awake when I'm awake and I'm asleep when I'm not. So there's no best time for me to be writing. I'll sit at the computer all day (or night) and depending on my mindset, I'll either write immediately or I'll surf the internet for hours. I don't need caffeine to wake up, but I'll use it to stay awake if I'm on a roll, writing-wise.
How many books do you read in a typical month? Do you read in your genre while you are writing? What’s your most recent “great” book?
I'd say I average 4-5 books a month, depending on how much writing I need to do. I do read in my genre while I'm writing because it keeps me in the proper frame of mind, however I try to be cautious about not allowing what I’m currently reading to leak into what I'm writing. Often, however, this isn't an issue as I've been reading a lot of horror lately, and I haven't been able to set aside time to write any horror.
A cozy mystery is as about as far from horror as you can get! In saying all that, the latest great read for me is actually a techno-thriller: Zodiac Station by Tom Harper. He employed a non-linear storyline told from multiple points of view that kept me reading long after I'd meant to stop. [Ed. Note: I also read Zodiac Station this year and gave it my top rating.]
Name three not well-known authors you would recommend and tell us what you like about their writing.
Adrian McKinty is my favorite crime fiction writer at the moment. He's Irish and typically writes about Irish characters, although the settings can be places like America and Mexico in addition to Ireland. He writes about protagonists who are imperfect and self-reflective who take steps to do the right thing even if, as is often the case, it might kill them. I'm absolutely not a fan of the stoic, superman action hero. I need my protagonist to hurt and to doubt and to overcome himself as much as he overcomes outside forces. McKinty is criminally underrated, in my opinion. His Sean Duffy series is brilliant.
JM Guillen is a diamond in the rough. I believe he's only self-published at this time. What I like about Guillen is that he writes in several genres and he's always trying new angles. He's massively creative and I admire a writer like that, probably because I can't seem to stick to one genre either. It's easy to fall into a rut or a formula, but I think if more writers were as aggressively creative as Guillen, we'd have far more interesting books available to us. Definitely an interesting writer whom few have heard of.
Simon Kurt Unsworth is more well-known than the other two writers I've cited because his The Devil's Detective has been a hit and has been featured in many Best Books lists for the year, but I still don't think he's as known as he should be. He writes in the horror genre, which has something to do with it, as horror writers generally aren't as much a topic of discussion beyond the Big Names like King and Koontz.
Unsworth has a quiet, unassuming writing style that sneaks up on you. One moment you're admiring a poetic turn of phrase and the next you realize you're actually terrified by what's happening on the page. He's written quite a few ghost story collections that are great reads. I hope with the second book in his Detective series (The Devil's Evidence), he gains the attention he deserves.
What themes do you regularly employ in your writing?
This question is a bit tricky for me since this post is supposed to be focusing on my cozy mystery, which is the first I've ever written in that genre. In my other writing, which I do under my real name (the cozy is under a pen name), I enjoy writing about redemption and forgiveness, received from others and from oneself. I find it fascinating to explore the mindset of someone who has done something awful and desperately needs to atone for it and who needs to learn to love himself in the aftermath.
The cozy is a bit different, since it's more about the mystery and doesn't delve as deeply into characterization the way I typically do. Still, I managed to give the main character Nicholas a bit of angst because he's simply more interesting that way. I believe characterization is more important than plot, though of course you need both and they need to be strong.
What motivates you to write?
Usually I'm motivated to write a story that I desperately want to read which doesn't exist. I'm filling a void, a demand, even if it's only a personal one. Thankfully, what I want to read seems to be what a few other people want to read as well. Writing is definitely a compulsion and a pleasure, even when it hurts.
How did you develop the idea for your most recent work?
For A Festival of Murder, I wrote something that I thought was cute and quaint and inspired the need to wrap up in a blanket and settle into a soft chair with a mug of hot chocolate. That's my definition of a cozy mystery. So you've got the snowy setting in the mountains, the holidays, Nicholas' love of all the accoutrements of Christmas (eggnog, Christmas sweaters, Bing Crosby), and of course the closed environment, which is the isolated mountain town.
Having lived in that area of Colorado for a couple of years, I knew it would be a great location for the mystery that Nicholas and his neighbors face. The fact that Nicholas is a former alien abductee is a bit of fun that I think sets the mystery apart from others and allowed me to write some crazy, quirky characters.
What motivates your protagonist (if not a series, then use the protagonist of your most recent novel)? What influenced who they are today?
Nicholas Trilby is an introvert, but he is an introvert because of fear, not because it's his natural personality. He made a mistake when he was younger and shouldered a lot of blame for it, which has colored his interactions with people years later. He's afraid of that rejection again, so it's turned him into a mistrustful hermit, but in his heart, Nicholas cares for people. So when this murder happens and he begins to learn what motivated his neighbors to move out to this remote location, he begins to see them not as antagonists but as friends, which makes his investigation become more difficult as he's faced with the potential task of fingering one of them as the murderer.
Hopefully I've piqued your interest in Nicholas' story. I'd love it if you would check out A Festival of Murder, which is a Kindle Scout selection available on Amazon for the Kindle and in paperback at http://amzn.to/1OUdMgu.
Just in case you want a little more, here’s a quick blurb for A Festival of Murder: What's worse than being abducted by aliens? Not much! But being accused of murder around Christmas time is a close second...
Nicholas Trilby moved to the Colorado Rockies in search of much needed peace and quiet. Unfortunately for him, solitude made him easy pickings for a passing UFO. Now safely returned to Earth, he's a reluctant celebrity in a quirky little tourist town that insists on naming him the Guest of Honor at its annual Alien Fest.
When a hostile reporter from The Roswell Explorer is discovered dead in the nearby lake, Nicholas knows he's in trouble once again. This time it's not little green men he needs to watch out for, but a motivated detective. With the help of his odd, alien-loving neighbors, Nicholas is in a race against time to clear his name. But what if Nicholas himself is the killer—and he simply forgot?