D.C. Brod says, “Since I plot as write, I have no idea if that Brazilian wandering spider I used in Chapter One is going to make it to the end.” Note: Town House Books is hosting an author dinner for D.C. Brod on 3/23. Tickets go on sale 2/20!
How did you discover that you were a writer?
I can’t remember not wanting to be a writer. I was always making up my own stories, sometimes borrowing characters from my favorite books. (Early attempts at fan fiction, I guess.) I wrote my first mystery in seventh grade. It was some kind of district contest. We were given a list of character names to use in a mystery involving the theft of, I think, a gem, and with names like “Johnny and Jenny Goodfellow” and “Dirk Snively,” it seemed obvious what was expected of these characters. But I wrote the story I wanted to write, making Dirk a hard-boiled private detective and Johnny and Jenny the hapless victims. (At the time, I was a big fan of the Mike Hammer TV show starring Darren McGavin as Hammer, probably in reruns at the time.) I knew I wouldn’t win, but I loved writing that story. And I was right. I didn’t win. But I remember my teacher took me aside and told me how much she’d enjoyed it and encouraging me to keep writing.
Describe your writing process.
I do best when I write every day. I use mornings writing new material and afternoons for revising. I’ve always had trouble focusing, and find that meditation can help. I work either in my home office or at a coffee shop—Limestone and the new Starbucks in St. Charles are my favorite places. They’ve both got a nice buzz. I like to work at a clutter-free desk, which is a challenge for me. (And probably why I crave an empty table at a coffee shop.) I’ll sometimes read poetry before I start writing—that kind of language precision is something I strive for.
I don’t outline. Tried. Can’t. The story grows out of my characters. The first time I read E. L. Doctorow’s quote: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” I felt liberated.
I do a lot of my research after the first draft is finished. Since I plot as write, I have no idea if that Brazilian wandering spider I used in Chapter One is going to make it to the end. The internet is great for research, but it can suck you in like a black hole. I’ve gone on line to research poisons and wound up ordering a pair of shoes from Zappos. Now I use “Freedom,” which locks me off the internet. Yes, I have that little self control.
I love revising. The fresh writing can be a bit scary. Blank pages and screens can be intimidating. I get something down as fast as I can. Once it’s there, I’ve got something to work with.
What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?
The Robyn/Lizzie books were inspired by my mother who spent a number of years in assisted living before she passed away. Lizzie is, mostly, my mother. (I think she’d approve.) Getting Taken was inspired by a painting by my favorite artist—Franz Marc—that has been missing since the end of World War II. The scene I’m reading introduces the subplot, which coils its way into the main plot at the end.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a short story to appear in a collection of stories for a Camelot anthology, and I’m using the character I’ve created for that story in the sequel to Heartstone, which is in its beginning stages. And then there’s that book on my back burner that I’ve been wrestling with for several years. Neither the book or I are sure what it wants to be. Some day, we’ll both know.
Next month, Town House Books is hosting an author dinner for me and Getting Taken on Thursday, March 23rd. (Tickets go on sale this Monday—February 20th.)