Here we are again. It's interview day! This week I've got G G Collins, author of Reluctant Medium, stepping up to the plate… er, sitting in the interview chair. Let's see what she has to say.
1. Please tell us about yourself.
When I'm not writing, I love to travel. I travel low to the ground, using public transit and staying in neighborhoods off the beaten track, especially when they have great indie hotels and restaurants. Some of my favorite places: Queen Anne in Seattle, Rue Cler in Paris, northwest Portland (the one in Oregon). Every week finds me at the movies. I see the good, the bad and the ugly (gosh, that sounds like a movie title). Usually I proclaim one or two movies truly good every year.
I hate to drive, love margaritas (especially at The Shed in Santa Fe), and despise shopping. Except at Jackalope (also in Santa Fe) where I can wander for hours. Don't forget the say hello to the prairie dogs. The "dogs" graciously played a role in helping my character find her brother.
And someday I hope to have my own apartment and save the world. Now I'll do my death-defying fire-breathing twirler dance.
2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?
"Reluctant Medium" is a paranormal mystery.
Reporter Rachel Blackstone has a nose for news, but she never expected to be a newsmaker. While summoning her dead father with a Native American ceremony, an evil spirit slips through. Her efforts to return the spirit uncover a scam involving both the quick and the dead. Rachel discovers the wisdom of a Hopi shaman may help her, but she must discover her own power first or die trying.
3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?
"Reluctant Medium" is the first in the Rachel Blackstone series. It can stand alone.
"Lemurian Medium" is the next installment, scheduled for publication in June 2013.
In "Lemurian Medium" Rachel watches in horror and disbelief as a close friend disappears into a painting at a posh gallery in Santa Fe. Was the mysterious artist involved? Or was it just the run-of-the-mill haunting? Rachel must travel the astral plane to rescue her friend. Why she was lured to this strange land becomes more apparent as she learns about the ancient culture. Can she accomplish the rescue and return from the astral plane before cataclysmic events cut off escape? If not, she will be forever lost in the cosmos.
Returning from "Reluctant Medium" are best friend Chloe, the gang at "High Desert Country" magazine, her psychic cat and her spirit animal, the wolf.
4. How long have you been writing?
Full time: about 20 years. I began writing press materials at a book publisher. Then I was offered my dream job of reporter. I began as a general reporter where I learned a little something about a lot of things--just enough to be dangerous! Later on, I was named Arts Editor. This was a great job because I could combine my love of the arts with writing. While doing this, I was invited to attend a Duke University dance critic fellowship sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. When I moved on, I picked up "Reluctant Medium" and completed it.
I've added two blogs to the mix. One is "Reluctant Medium at Large in Santa Fe" which is a companion to the book. We explore the metaphysical, walk around Santa Fe, learn about the city's ghosts and just have fun.
The other is a general reporting blog called "Parallel Universe: Perspectives at Large" that includes interviews, reviews, reporting and commentary. I just couldn't give up the serious side of writing. A sampling: comment on Newtown, movie review, interviews with creative people, water shortage in the US, a new series on staying local while traveling and health related articles.
I can't imagine doing anything else.
5. >From where or whom do you draw inspiration?
From odd places. I tend to be an eclectic reader. I ran across the Native American ceremony to return the dead while reading. Couldn't stop asking: What if the wrong spirit returned? My library is filled with metaphysical books and I enjoy watching TV shows such as "Ancient Aliens," "Ancient Discoveries," and anything on the Bermuda Triangle, the Dragon's Triangle, ley lines and power centers. I never miss "Supernatural!" I'm a Jensen Ackles fan. Currently, I'm researching astral projection, Mesoamerican deities and the lost continent of Lemuria. During my reporting days, I participated in a ghost hunt with serious investigators. It's all fodder for stories.
6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?
Write, write, write. You can't become a writer without putting your butt in the chair and hammering out words. Over and over. Read a variety of books and use them as lessons in style. You will develop your own style as you study what other writers do with their words. Early on, it doesn't hurt to go to writing conferences or belong to a critique group--as long as it's a kind group. But mostly beginning writers go to these to get the fundamentals and move on. You don't want to become stuck with the wannabes.
I highly recommend reporting for a weekly or daily publication as a great way to learn your craft. Deadlines have a way of pushing a writer to learn fast. If you work for a weekly you'll be writing 3 to 5 stories a week, depending on length. You'll learn to manage your time. Schedule your interviews during the first half of the week if you expect to meet that Friday morning deadline. Reporting tweaks your research and interviewing skills which you'll likely need for fiction books--and definitely need for nonfiction.
If you aren't the reporting type, set your own deadlines--then keep them. If you have trouble beginning your book, write scenes you already have outlined on paper or in your mind. Just write. No excuses.
7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?
Probably female, but I have received good reviews from three men (thanks guys!). "Reluctant Medium" readers will enjoy exploring the paranormal. My story does include some mild horror effects--but if you read Stephen King, you've got nothing to fear from my horror elements. It's also funny (one reviewer said "laugh out loud funny") and it has a great friendship at its core between the two lead characters that readers like. Reviewers have also said after reading "Reluctant Medium" they want to visit Santa Fe. I'll try to keep that local color coming. Still others have expressed an interest in the reporting aspects as Rachel does her job, and the spirit animal who becomes an ally.
8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?
In reporting you don't have time to outline. I keep most of it in my head, but do write the highlights down. But it's nothing detailed. I know some writers create lengthy outlines, character descriptions, background information. To me, by the time I did all that, I could have a finished book. I enjoy the surprises my characters spring on me. But really, there are as many methods to writing a book as there are writers. Do what works for you.
For research, I'll read a couple books on the subject, use a lot of sticky notes to mark what I want to use. I also check out Web sites for additional information. I'll be doing more research for my third book "Atomic Medium" in which Rachel will time travel to the 1940s US during WWII. I want to get the details correct. No cell phones! No computers! Get out the slide rule--what?!
9. Some people feel indie authored books are of lesser quality than those that go through the traditional publishers. Do you agree with them? If so, how can independent authors raise the bar and remove this stigmatism?
Of course I don't agree. Having worked for a publisher, I have some insight. Even when we expressly asked an author to submit his/her manuscript, it might lie around for months. Then one day, with the editors and publishers in a tizzy, we'd receive word that everything was to be returned with the standard rejection letter. Not fair! But that's what can happen.
Publishers often have a connection to a group of writers (probably they were in writing groups with them), or their connections can be political or business. Where do you think stories you see on your local TV news or newspaper comes from? People the reporters, editors, camera operators know or know about. You meet a lot of people in the news business and if you keep a good contact list, it's not difficult to come up with an expert or someone who has the disease of the week.
The submissions process is so antiquated many good manuscripts slip through the cracks. There are biases for and against young writers, middle-age writers, "older" writers, women's books, men's books; not another book on unicorns! People run publishing companies and they each have their own ideas of what makes a good book--if they even get around to reading the manuscripts on their desk, the floor, the closets, the hallways....
The best way to increase respect is to write well. Prove them wrong. If we each write to the best of our ability--wherever we happen to be in our creative evolvement--then we have contributed to raising that bar. Have your manuscript edited professionally. It's difficult to catch all of our own errors, as many of you already know. And just to go on record: Not every book a bricks and mortar publisher releases is a well-edited, well-constructed, interesting book worthy of several hours of a person's life. We've all read books and scratched our heads over a deplorable editing job.
10. Any pets? If so, tell us what role they play in your writing, if any.
Yes, my character has a cat. She is inspired by a cat I had until a few years ago. Now she's waiting at the Rainbow Bridge, but I can enjoy her every day as I write about her in "Reluctant Medium." She's psychic of course, but not reluctant about it.
11. Which retailers or others sites can readers find your work at?
12. Where can readers find out more about you?
G G Collins can be found lurking on Shelfari, Goodreads, Library Thing and Book Blogs. You can see for yourself my, sometimes weird, reading material. I write a book review from time to time and check in with my favorite threads. See you there!
Working as a general reporter is one of the most educational jobs. Where most people specialize in a specific area, it’s the job of a reporter to ask questions, learn quickly and write even faster about many subjects. In one day, you can cover a fundraiser for MS research, meet an entertainer in town for a weekend performance and attend a press conference for a local brewery. The next day, it’s the new heart center at a hospital, getting a first grader’s take on saving a historical building and welcoming the new sharks at the aquarium.
The result of thousands of interviews, press conferences and performances is that journalists learn a little bit about many things. It was Alexander Pope who wrote, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” He also authored in the same poem: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” That could be applied to reporters as well, many of whom rush to breaking news sites that could be the results of a terrorist attack, a landing hurricane or a bank robbery.
So is this woman dangerous? Only to the characters in her book, or is she…?