Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Author Guest Post - Lynn Chandler Willis

Lynn Chandler Willis describes herself as a simple country girl at heart. She says her writing is fast paced, quirky, character driven. Here's how she answered her questions:
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)?

My guests would be Gypsy Moran, his sister Rhonda and their grandmother “Gram,” all characters in Wink of an Eye. There are some wonderful family dynamics going on with the Moran family. Their simplicity makes them incredibly complex. Where would we eat? A Tex-Mex restaurant on the moderately priced end of the spectrum. The Morans are blue-collar people you'd have a beer with.

Describe your most productive writing venue. What makes it best for you?

Right now, I'd have to say I lean heavy on novel writing. Writing a novel is a serious time investment but it's paid off for me. I have two novels out and both are award winners. My novel, The Rising, won the 2013 Grace award for Excellence in Faith-based fiction, and Wink of an Eye won the St. Martin's Press/Private Eye Writers of America Best 1st PI novel competition.

What makes a great short story?

Well placed beats, or actions. Unlike a novel, with a short story you have limited words to get in an entire story. Every single word must move the story forward.

What is your most productive time of the day (and do you need caffeine)?

Unfortunately, around 11:00 pm. I say that because I have to get up at six for the other job! For some reason, the muse starts poking me around that time. I think it may be psychological as I know I shouldn't be writing at that time when I have to get up so early so the rebel in me wants to win.

What themes do you regularly employ in your writing?

Everyone has flaws but people also have extraordinary strength in overcoming some of those flaws.

What is the most challenging area for you as a writer? What are you doing to address the issue?

Accepting that the first draft doesn't have to be perfect. I know writers who churn out 10,000 words a day while writing the first draft but may only keep 500 words of it in the final draft. I can't do that but I am upping my daily word count by just doing it. The words aren't as perfect as I want them to be but I have the foundation down on which to make them stronger.

What motivates you to write?

The characters pushing and shoving their way out of my head. They have stories to tell and I'm just the instrument they've chosen to use.

How did you develop the idea for your most recent work?

I had the character of Gypsy Moran in mind for several years. He wasn't always a private investigator but he was always in some type of investigative field. He was smart, sexy, cocky, a little bit of a jerk, and very flawed—but he was also vulnerable which made him endearing. I knew from the beginning I wanted the setting to be in the southwest but I wasn't sure exactly where until I saw the move “No Country for Old Men.” Seeing the vast openness of that area was like the proverbial ton of bricks. I knew without a doubt that was it. I started researching small towns in west Texas and when I found Wink, Texas, Gypsy found a home. I knew Wink of an Eye would be very character-driven so I wanted a setting that could hold its own as a secondary character and I found that in that tiny little town.
To learn more about Private Investigator Gypsy Moran and Wink of an Eye, or my other books, you can connect with me at:

Here's a quick little blurb for Wink of an Eye: Twelve-year old Tatum McCallen hires reluctant PI Gypsy Moran to prove his father didn't kill himself. Gypsy, on the run from his own set of problems, soon finds himself in the middle of a case involving eight missing girls, a cowardly sheriff, and undocumented workers. Aided by a sexy reporter, Gypsy begins unraveling secrets buried deep in his tiny hometown of Wink, Texas. Secrets so deep, exposing them threatens the only woman he's ever loved, and the very life of Tatum.


  1. Lynn -- what an interesting process you had to discover the right setting. It goes to show that if we keep ourselves open to ideas, they can come from anywhere at anytime.

    ~ Jim

  2. Thanks, Jim! I'm such a sucker for setting. I think it plays a pivotal role in establishing the whole tone of the story. Wink of an Eye would be completely different if it had been set in Boston in the middle of winter :)

  3. Speaking of Boston in the middle of winter--yikes! I am under three feet of snow, sigh. But I loved this book! And it's so funny,.I'm with you on the 11pm thing. Weird, huh? But for me, it's because after 40 years, my brain thinks that's when I will be on the news. But whatever you're doing, Lynn, seems to work!

  4. Awww...Hank! I used to work production for our local 6pm and 11pm newscasts. I know very well that adrenaline rush at 10:58 followed by the meltdown at 11:29 and then you're too keyed up to sleep :) And yes, I thought about you when I mentioned Boston in my comment!

  5. Thanks, Jim, for putting in a link to your blog or WWK's interview with Lynn today. I planned on visiting yesterday, but well other things got in the way. However, it worked well because I learned even more about Lynn through your questions. Lynn, I can't wait to read Wink of an Eye.

  6. Great questions. Can't do the 11 p.m gig anymore, but I liked it when I did. Keep writing. You're obviously on the right track.