Naturally, when designing characters’ personalities I did think about some people that I actually know. Throwing some of the quirks and eccentricities of real people into my fictional characters helps to make them more interesting and believable, but no character is entirely based on a real person.
Greta Cribbs – 29 November 2015
The Back Flap
In 1985 Amelia Davis is brutally murdered in the woods outside of Laurel Hill. Her killer is never caught. Thirty years later, David Jenson comes to town on what he calls “personal business,” though he won’t tell anyone what that business is. Could he have some connection to the town’s most infamous cold case?
Sarah Hathaway has just returned to her hometown in the wake of a failed acting career. When she meets David she is immediately drawn to him, but it is the mystery of what exactly brought him to Laurel Hill that keeps her up at night. Determined to find the answer, she embarks on a journey into the unknown that will change her life forever. Along the way she discovers truths about Amelia’s death that prove more sinister than anyone ever could have imagined.
About the book
What is the book about?
Amelia’s Children is a paranormal mystery told from the point of view of Sarah, a young woman who has just returned to her hometown in the wake of a failed acting career. Desperate for a break from the monotony of her new life, she is immediately drawn to David when he first comes into town on what he calls “personal business.” Though he is not telling anyone what that business is, Sarah is determined to find out. When David finally confesses the strange circumstances that brought him to town, Sarah realizes that it is in some way connected to Amelia Davis, a local woman who was murdered in 1985 and whose killer has never been caught.
When did you start writing the book?
I started writing Amelia’s Children in July.
How long did it take you to write it?
The book came together surprisingly quickly. I had already thought through most of the plot twists before finally sitting down at the computer, so at that point it was just a matter of putting down on (virtual) paper what was already in my head. The entire process took about three months, with the last few weeks being devoted to proofreading, revising, and formatting.
Where did you get the idea from?
I based Sarah’s character on myself. Though her backstory is completely different from mine, she shares my worldviews and my occasional feelings of not fitting in.
I am a huge fan of Twin Peaks and Supernatural. When I was writing David’s character I pictured him as being a combination of Agent Cooper and Sam Winchester. The small town setting was also partly inspired by Twin Peaks, and partly based on my own hometown.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
I don’t really remember struggling with this book. It came together very easily in my mind. I guess I did spend a good bit of time fussing over the details of Amelia’s murder, though. Because I knew that Twin Peaks was lurking in the back of my mind while I was writing it, I actually tried to avoid centering the book on a murder. I originally wanted the crime that Sarah and David investigate to be something else, but I couldn’t think of any other event that would have been powerful enough to bring together all of the characters the way I needed it to, so I went with an unsolved murder. I also took quite a bit of time deciding who the killer was going to be. I wanted to make sure I didn’t steal any ideas from either Twin Peaks or Supernatural when it came time for the big reveal, so I had to put some serious thought into designing the villain’s character.
What came easily?
Once I knew that the mystery was going to be a murder, and I had my killer as well as the motive for committing the crime, everything else just sort of fell into place. I knew all of the events that had to happen in order for Sarah and David to eventually find the murderer so, as I said before, it was just a matter of putting (virtual) pen to (virtual) paper.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
Naturally, when designing characters’ personalities I did think about some people that I actually know. Throwing some of the quirks and eccentricities of real people into my fictional characters helps to make them more interesting and believable, but no character is entirely based on a real person. Even Sarah, who is based on me, has a completely different personality than I have. I may see the world in much the same way that she does, but I could not imagine myself being as bold as she is in questioning David about his past or pushing the investigation of Amelia’s murder.
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
I can’t point to any specific authors as my primary inspiration, but I think my writing was helped by the fact I have read some of the most popular books that have come out in the past few years. The main examples would be The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner, as well as the sequels that came after them. When I first started trying to write books, while I was still in school, I based my style more on the classics than on anything current. Now, we all love the classics, but they don’t always make an easy read, and they aren’t the kind of addictive stories that keep the reader enthralled from beginning to end. I think one of my main weaknesses was that I used to view each chapter as a self-contained story with an obvious beginning and end. Switching my focus to reading newer fiction taught me the importance of ending as many chapters as possible in the middle of the action, rather than at the conclusion. This way the reader is eager to see what happens next.
Do you have a target reader?
This is a hard question for me to answer. Who is my target audience? Well…people like me, I guess. People who like horror movies, but prefer creepy over gory. People who will sit up all night reading if a mystery, no matter how small, is introduced at the beginning but the answer is not revealed until the end. People who love Twin Peaks, Supernatural, The X-files, Lost, and all of my other favorite TV shows. The truth is, I really don’t know. I’m aware that having a target audience is an important aspect of promoting my book, but it’s the one I struggle with the most.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
I have to have a definite plan before I start to write. Though I’m willing to let individual parts of the story “write themselves”, I have to know where I’m going. I have to have the main details nailed down before I sit at that computer and start typing.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
I’ve tried outlining in the past, but I didn’t outline Amelia’s Children, and I think it was easier to write because of that. I did not limit myself to having to write certain events in a certain order. I knew most of the events had to happen before I started writing, but I actually played around quite a bit with when they had to happen. I even ended up taking some of the really dramatic stuff that I had planned for the end of the book and moving it to the middle to prevent the story from slowing down too much. If I had been following an outline, I would not have allowed myself to be that flexible.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
Some of both. If I see an obvious mistake in something I’ve just written, I can’t move on until I’ve fixed it, but of course we writers have a way of not seeing mistakes while we are still in the writing process, so going back over the book once it’s finished is a crucial step.
Did you hire a professional editor?
For this book I did not, but I spent a considerable amount of time proofreading and checking up on my own grammar. I also enlisted the help of others who could read my book with unbiased eyes and point out mistakes I may have missed.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
No. I’m afraid that if I have too much noise around me I’ll get distracted and start making mistakes.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
I did not submit this work to any agents or traditional publishers.
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
Honestly, it was the guarantee that the book would be published without the waiting period and all of the possible rejections that come along with the process of traditionally publishing. Though I believe that I wrote a good book, I’m not blind to the fact that there is a lot of competition out there, and I was ready to go ahead get Amelia’s Children on the market now. The fact that ease of publishing an eBook has removed some of the stigma that used to be attached to self-publishing helped me to make the decision.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
I designed the cover myself on Gimp 2.8.
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I’m advertising on Twitter and on my blog, as well as doing as many author interviews as I can.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
Since becoming an Indie author myself, I have decided to start reading some of the Indie books that are available on Amazon. Having seen what’s out there, the biggest piece of advice I have to give is: Know the language. Bending grammar rules in your writing is fine, but you have to know the rules before you can bend them, otherwise it just looks like bad grammar. If you’re unsure about sentence structure or the correct use of a certain word, do a Google search. There are countless websites out there that can help you with this.
Where did you grow up?
In a small town in Georgia, very similar to the one in which Amelia’s Children takes place.
Where do you live now?
About ten miles from the house where I grew up.
What would you like readers to know about you?
In addition to writing, my hobbies include playing piano, dancing, and studying Spanish. These are things that may become the inspiration for future books.
What are you working on now?
I’ve started on a new book that is also paranormal, but has more elements of urban fantasy than mystery. The main character is Damian, who has spent the past five years trying to forget his traumatic past, but now his friend is in trouble and his mysterious family is somehow to blame. In order to save his friend he has to step back into the dark world from which he has been trying his entire life to escape.
End of Interview: