Tuesday, August 16, 2016

PM Drummond - Guest Author

PM Drummond is the author of the reader-nominated Kindle Scout winner, Perdition-Virago Series Book 1. (And I met her through the “secret” Kindle Scout Winners group.) She has an MFA in Writing and writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels.

What is the background noise when you write and why is it there?

No background noise. I live in a forest because it’s so quiet (except for my Chihuahua, Smidgen, barking at squirrels, cats, raccoons, and bears). I like to write with no distractions. I think I get distracted easily, but my husband says a meteor could drop on the house when I’m writing, and I wouldn’t notice.

What is your most recent excellent read (book, short story or essay) and why?

I’m currently reading Charlaine Harris’ Midnight series. I’ve read all her stuff including her earlier cozy mysteries. She’s a storytelling genius. I’d read her grocery list if she’d send it to me!

Are you a plotter, pantser or something in between and why?

Both. I’ll start out with the beginning of the story, the end of the story, just a scene that pops into my head, a character, or a vague story problem. I throw that onto a plot outline I derived from the hero’s journey with various other influences incorporated into it. Then I figure out the rest of the plot points (so during that part I’m a plotter). I see those plot points as the steel towers of a suspension bridge.

I start writing (mostly pantsing) at one end of the bridge making my way from tower to tower with my cables of writing until I get to the end. Sometimes I cheat and skip to another part of the bridge if a scene is really screaming to be written, and then I go back to where I left off. I’d really be an unsafe bridge builder in real life. Good thing I’m just a metaphorical bridge builder.

When you start reading a book do you always finish it? If not, what causes you to permanently put a book down?

I don’t always finish books. I probably put down about 20% of the ones I start to read. I have my own list of things that cause me to stop reading a story. I think everyone has that list and everyone’s list is different, which is why there are all different kinds of stories in the world (thank goodness).

My list includes things like non-interesting beginnings that take forever to get to the story problem (I don’t mind a slow start as long as it keeps me enthralled), gratuitous violence or sex that has no story purpose, a lot of bad story mechanics (spelling, grammar, head-hopping, etc.), or an overwritten story (too flowery, the writer trying to impress the reader with overdone descriptions, or $20 words where $2 words would do).

Do you read reviews of your books? Why or why not?

Yes. I feel an author can learn from reviews. Sometimes you learn how to improve your writing. Sometimes you learn what different perspectives readers have, and it reinforces that a writer can’t make all readers happy.

What do you do that you suspect causes your copyeditor to pull her/his hair out?

I use em-dashes A LOT, and even though I have a Masters Degree in writing, I am seriously comma-challenged. I think I just didn’t get the comma gene in my DNA, or maybe it mutated into a superfluous em-dash gene.

When you compare your first draft to your final draft, do you net add words or subtract words? In general, what is it that you add or subtract between first and final draft?

The final draft is longer. I get ideas while I’m writing, so I make notes to add the ideas on the re-write. But I also take things out if they don’t add to the story. I took out a whole scene in Perdition that I loved. It broke my heart. Marlee accidentally zapped a cranky professor at work. I used to work at a university, so maybe it was a fantasy of mine.

So to summarize, I take out the bad or non-working stuff and add more good stuff, and somehow it gets longer.

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

My current work, the Virago Series, of which Perdition is the first book, developed from a variety of sources, so this answer is a little long. I was watching a show on an educational channel one day about the government trying to weaponize telekinesis and remote viewing. When the show was over, I wanted to change the channel, but the cable remote was across the room and I thought, “Wow, wouldn’t it be nice to have telekinesis?”

Then I got up to get the remote, tripped over one of my dog’s toys on the floor, and spilled my ice tea, and I thought with as clumsy as I am, if I had telekinesis I’d make a complete wreck of everything. That was my “aha” moment when Marlee was born. She’s a telekinetic hot-mess. She reminds me of Lucille Ball with superpowers.

At that time, I happened to be reading Carlos Castaneda’s 1968 book The Teachings of Don Juan, which is about Dr. Castaneda’s training with a Yaqui shaman named Don Juan. When I was plotting Perdition, I incorporated a fictionalized backstory from one of Castaneda’s accounts in the book of tribal warriors killing the entire family of an evil shaman. That backstory blossomed in my head and became several plots. So Marlee’s one book became a six book series.

Watching another documentary about the history of the Vikings’ war boats and raids, I stumbled upon the Viking attack on the monastery at Lindisfarne. That story became an important part of two of my other characters’ backstories.

The whole experience taught me to read and watch a wide range of things—especially non-fiction. You never know when something will spark a storyline in your brain’s plot engine.

Name three writers from whom you have drawn inspiration and tell us why.

Charlaine Harris for her fantastic characterization, plotting, and tying her stories and series together.

Darynda Jones for her crazy characters (go Charley Davidson!), her hilarious plot situations, and her hot heroes.

Faith Hunter for her kick-butt heroines and superb paranormal world-building. Her Jane Yellowrock heroine has a Native American background, which I think is cool especially since I’m from Native American descent and so is my character Marlee.

Okay, I have a bonus fourth writer: Stephen King. He’s written no matter what his crazy life has thrown at him. In fact, he’s taken some of that crazy stuff and turned it into great plots. I’ve read his book “On Writing” three times. Two times on my own, and once because it was required reading during my Masters in Writing program.

 What is a piece of writing advice you think is worth sharing?

Write your stories to the best of your abilities and never stop learning. Don’t go all gonzo worrying about pleasing everyone with your stories. Even best-sellers have one or two star reviews. That’s what makes reading and writing so wonderful—its diversity.

This interview has been fantastic. I previously only published short stories in anthologies. Perdition and the Virago Series are my maiden voyage into full length novels. I’d love to hear from readers and build a connection with them. Here are ways we can connect:
My website:  PMDrummond.com

Amazon Author Page at www.amazon.com/author/pmdrummond (all lower case or it doesn’t work for some reason—go figure). 

I love, love, love Goodreads, you can find my author page at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15427667.P_M_Drummond 

Here’s a quick blurb for Perdition – which you should check out.

Freak is a relative term.

What do a creepy moth, naked werewolf, Harley-riding monster killer, ancient vampire, and crazy old lady hiding in the woods have in common? It seems they’re all trying to thwart Marlee Burns’ goal to be normal. Of course her uncontrollable telekinesis and the mercenaries trying to kidnap her don’t help much either. Now she must embark on a journey to discover the origins of her power and get rid of it, before whoever is trying to catch her and dissect her like a lab rat succeeds.


  1. Great interview! You made me laugh with my first cup of coffee :-) How clever of you to turn a trip and spilled iced tea into a character and a series!! -- Kate, writing as CT Collier

    1. Thanks, Kate! Now I just need to figure out how to make a story of me catching my bicycle on fire while I was riding it (true story)! -- Pam Drummond, writing as PM Drummond

  2. Interesting interview. I live in forest too. My dog barks when a bear or a deer walks by. Hard to write when that's happening.

  3. Kristina -- The winter we stayed over at our place in the UP, I watched the coyote tracks wander down the lake's edge, cut into the woods shortly before our property and cut back to the lake somewhere past our cabin. Once the dog was gone, the coyotes no longer make that detour; their tracks continue to follow the lakeshore. The deer knew whether or not the dog was outside or on the screened porch and responded accordingly!