Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cori Lynn Arnold - Guest Author

Please welcome guest author Cori Lynn Arnold. I know her from the Guppy Chapter of the Sisters in Crime where she has more than filled my shoes at the web maven. She describes herself as productive, anecdotal, traveler, short, and curious. She says her writing is sardonic, characters, feverish, mystique, and curious. 

All those who comment will be entered to win a free paperback copy of Northern Deceit. Drawing to be held on Saturday at 9 am. Now, assuming you too are curious, here are her choice of questions and her order preference:

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

I thrive in environments filled with people that will leave me alone. In other words, strangers. As I live in Connecticut, the ability to wander off to the next small town coffee shop is pretty easy. When do I stay at home, I have a tendency to find a hundred other things to do: email, laundry, dishes, even cleaning the bathroom. But writing in the company of strangers always focuses my productivity to the task at hand. I also write pretty well in my cabin in the woods. With no electricity, no running water and nothing on my “to do” list, a lot of writing gets done.

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 read between three and five (or more if I’m traveling) books a month. I read in my genre just before I start to write on a big project, and also while I’m writing. In the late evenings, I read non-narrative nonfiction like Bill Bryson’s At Home and Sam Kean’s The Disappearing Spoon to keep me from staying up all night reading. But I love to journey to Megan Abbott’s noir worlds of Bury Me Deep and Queenpin or Marisha Pessl’s Night Film or Patricia Highsmith’s Suspension of Mercy in the early morning and afternoon.

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

Although it’s not always possible, I usually write early between nine and noon, and then I have another short burst of productivity sometime in the afternoon or early evening. I almost always have a word count goal in mind. Caffeine is an absolute must. I start with coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon and apple cider chai for special writing treats during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Alcohol is a no-go, even in small amounts.

What makes a great short story?

I love to work toward a great ending when writing a short story. The hook and characters are always important, but the ending that makes you gasp for breath, laughing out loud or shedding a tear will leave a lasting impression on me.

What themes do you regularly employ in your writing?

I like to explore the idea of relationships going horribly wrong. My antagonists are victims of their jealousy, secrecy, or greed, but at some point in the past they were people like you and me with normal lives and normal relationships. How they were wronged, and how they choose to deal with it forms my themes. With my Baker & Hicks series, they are always uncovering the antagonist’s motive with the clues. As we begin to understand the why, the who becomes more obvious. Even for my short fiction, a failed relationship (parental or spousal) is often in the central theme.

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

Growing up in Alaska, one favorite conversation starter is to explain what brought you to the state. Most of those stories start: “Everything in my life was going wrong, so I headed up to Alaska.” I’ve always known Hicks was from Alaska and to get Baker there I thought I’d throw the worst life could give her. With a trial separation, a bumbling temporary partner, and an emotional case ripped out from underneath her (plus a dash of betrayal from her best friend for good measure), when Hicks calls her for help, she holds on to the idea like a life raft. The rest flowed out of me from my vast experiences in the 49th state in the middle of winter.

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received and why was it so valuable?

I’ve heard the same bit of advice many times and it has taken many forms: “butt in chair, hands on the keyboard,” “just write,” or “you can’t edit a blank page.” With any art—and I’ve tried a few—the hardest thing to do is to overcome the fear of not being good enough, but the first draft of anything isn’t good enough. It is so important for me to pile on layers of meaning, threads of plot and pithy wit that it is impossible for me to lay down all the words in one go. Most of the time I’m not entirely sure what I’m driving at until I’ve rewritten it a few times. Rewriting is like magic to me. I’ve kept, and shared, key versions of my first published short story “Street View”. The first four versions are almost unreadable, but many of the ideas I wanted to explore came out of different revisions. As with all art, it’s important to be persistent.

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

Patience is the hardest challenge I face in life and in writing. I know the novel will benefit from distance, but I want to edit it as soon as I’m done with the first draft. I force myself to step away from manuscripts by taking on other projects like writing short stories, exercise routines and volunteering at the library. I know that breathing down my husband’s neck as he’s reading my manuscript will make him crazy, but I want to see what he’s writing in the margins. To give him space, I try to hand my husband manuscripts just before he’s about to leave town, something he does quite often.

For more information about Cori Lynn catch her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/CoriLynnArnold or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/corilynarnold

Here’s a quick blurb for Northern Deceit

Angry over being kicked off a case in Rochester, New York, Detective Louis Baker makes a rash decision to fly to Alaska when her partner, Detective Bert Hicks, calls from North Pole, Alaska. Not only is his mother missing, but he needs to be bailed out of jail. When his mother’s charred body is found down a desolate road, her secret life begins to unfold, and the harsh Alaskan wilderness becomes as formidable as finding the killer.


  1. I met Cori Lynn at Bloody Words Toronto in 2014 and we soon became fast friends. I was lucky enough to win a copy of Northern Deceit and absolutely loved it. Fast paced with a unique setting and believable characters. Good luck to all who enter!

    1. Judy, I've been following your publishing journey like a novel itself! http://www.judypenzsheluk.com/
      -cori lynn

    2. She has that effect on people, doesn't she Judy? I met her at Left Coast Crime and had the same experience! Can't wait to read it, Cori—and your cover looks great, BTW!

  2. Your book sounds fascinating, I love the idea of making the location just like another character. Thanks for sharing Debi Huff

    1. Thanks, Debi! I came by the idea honestly. Weather is a weapon in Alaska ;)

  3. Cori, you're so luck to have a cabin to go to in order to write without interruptions - that is unless you have cell phone reception. Your book sounds fascinating.

    1. I have cell reception, but it makes me feel a little bit safer :) But I turn off email notifications.

  4. "I thrive in environments filled with people that will leave me alone."
    Hey Cori, I guess it's good that you're out in a cabin in Connecticut, :)
    Keep Writing!
    Can't wait to read it.
    Any accompanying art work or any chance you'll have a version on audio?

    1. I am working on an audio version with an actress friend of mine! She wanted to get into the biz, so we are trying it out.

  5. Knowing what an author thinks goes into her own work is fascinating. Thanks for the insight, Cori!

  6. Debi you are the winner! Please contact me via my email to arrange sending you a copy of Northern Deceit

  7. My Goodreads review of Northern Deceit: Maybe even a little more. It was a good mystery, and a lot of fun. Part of the fun was I used to live at Eielson AFB, and North Pole Alaska, where the book is set, was just outside the front gate, so I know the Village well. Two little quibbles [though it is possible these were "in-jokes"]. The book starts with an incident at "West High School." We find out later this is in Rochester NY. Anyone in Alaska knows this is the name for the very first High School in Anchorage [then called Anchorage HS]. The second was a grocer in NP complaining people from NP went to Fairbanks to get food instead of his store. That used to be very true, but NP has had a Safeway for some time. Nevertheless, this did not take away from the book, and, because the author has actually lived here, there was finally a book about Alaska that "got it right." Well done.