Faye Snowden is the author of The Killing series (Flame Tree Press) featuring homicide detective Raven Burns. A Killing Rain, the second book in the series, was released in June, 2022 and was selected as one of CrimeRead’s best gothic fiction novels of the year.


Faye has published short stories and poems in various literary journals, anthologies, and small presses. Her articles have appeared in Writer’s Digest and Salon. Her short story, One Bullet. One Vote,” was selected for inclusion in The Best American Mystery & Suspense 2021. Faye is a member of MWA, as well as Sisters in Crime, and served as secretary for SinC National. Aside from her publications, she managed two boys, a husband, five dogs, and three writing fellowships over the years. Today, Faye works and writes from her home in Northern California.

A Killing Rain (Flame Tree, 2022) – Former homicide detective Raven Burns returns to Byrd’s Landing, Louisiana, to begin a new life but soon finds herself trapped by the old one. Her nephew has been kidnapped by a serial killer, and her foster brother becomes the main suspect. To make matters worse, she is being pursued by two men— one who wants to redeem her soul for the murder Raven felt she had no choice but to commit and another who wants to lock her away forever.

Do you write in more than one genre? I love this as a lead question because it’s an important one that’s not asked often enough. Even though I describe myself as a mystery author, I write all kinds of things. I’ve been lucky enough to publish in Salon and Writer’s Digest and craft short stories that were well received. As for longer works, I started by writing romantic suspense. I’ve recently been enjoying the journey of creating southern gothic crime fiction. But it’s important to strengthen your writing muscle by experimenting with other genres. Writing short stories does that for me. I don’t know how good I am at it, yet, but I would love to be one of those people who could sit down and dash off a short story in one sitting. I’ve read that Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, was such a person. If you are ever looking for writing advice that will both inspire you and make you smile, check out his Zen in the Art of Writing. I dream about taking up his challenge of writing one short story a week for 52 weeks. New Year’s resolution, anyone?

What brought you to writing? Absence brought me to writing. The things that were missing in existing media. I’ve said before that I used TV and books as an escape when I was growing up. The problem was that I didn’t see a lot of stories with people like me in them. I found myself rewriting the stories I watched on television or read in books by filling them with African Americans and strong female characters essential to the plot.

I think the first thing I ever wrote for public viewing was a poem called Insanity. I don’t know where it is now. But I remember my English teacher at first accusing me of plagiarism and then saying that if I did write the poem, I had a talent that needed to be developed. I decided to focus on the latter half of that backhanded compliment, and now here I am today.

Tell us about your writing process. My writing process changes with each book. But basically, the first thing I start with is an idea or maybe some questions. For the Killing series, the questions I started with were these— in what ways can a daughter escape the sins of her father? And how much should she be held accountable for those sins?  I usually have a character in mind by then. Sometimes, they show up whole, and I don’t have to do much development. Others I have to spend some time getting to know them. Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird has a great chapter on how to develop character. After that, I build a skeletal outline and then free-write. What happens after free-write? You guessed it. Edit, edit, edit.

When I think about the editing piece, I’m reminded of the rumor that Jack Kerouac wrote his famous novel, On the Road in three weeks on a continuous roll of computer paper (Jack Kerouac’s Famous, ‘On the Road’ Again’, NPR). I remember going through college and grad school ultra-impressed by that. Now that I’m a writer myself, I’ve learned that what many seldom mention is what happened after. The scroll draft went through many revisions, rewrites, and edits, as it should have. To me, that proves my mantra. Write fast. Edit slow.

Kerouac’s Famous scroll

We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave or run wild? Yes! My characters do not obey. You’d think it would be Raven who believes that rules regarding her job are mere guidelines and authority figures should be challenged as the character I have the most problems with. But, no. She’s easy. It’s the laidback Billy Ray, her former partner, who is going to much darker places than I’d like. I’ve found through the years that sometimes you have to let characters go where they will. Chances are it’s the story that is driving them into other lanes.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? Byrd’s Landing is a fictional town in Louisiana based on the years I’ve spent growing up there. I like fictional spaces because they allow you the flexibility that real settings do not. And because I based the fictional setting on the place where I spent my formative years, it’s a rich, fertile ground for storytelling.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Yes, the first is to read and read widely, even things outside of your comfort zone. Ray Bradbury is credited with saying, “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” (Our Top Ten Ray Bradbury Quotes, NEA) I always tell new writers to fall in love with reading, especially if they weren’t already in love with it.

The second is to study the craft. I used to think that anyone could write, but I don’t think that now. Anyone can start writing from pure exhilaration after stumbling upon a brilliant idea. If they lack craft, however, they will run out of steam when the excitement does. I think it was Neil Gaiman who said inspiration will only take you so far, but it’s craft that will get you the rest of the way.

The third is to be professional. This is a business, after all. Don’t publicly trash agents or other writers or other writers’ works. And put some distance between you and your work product. Be thoughtful about suggestions for improvements, and become that writer who finds value in the editing process.

And finally, find your community. I belong to both Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I would be lost without them.

How do our readers contact you? I hang out on Twitter and Instagram occasionally. A lot of people are gravitating toward my Facebook page as well. Here’s a snapshot of where you can find me in the ether.

Website: fayesnowden.com
Facebook: /faye.snowden.9
Instagram: @fayesnowden
Twitter: @faye_snowden



  1. Jamie Collins

    Faye – So wonderful to see your mention of Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird. It is a must-have tool in any author’s toolbox. Such a wonderful resource. Enjoyed your post!

  2. Marie Sutro

    Such a poignant statement that absence brought Faye to writing. So grateful she is bringing such vivid light to the literary world!

    • Faye Snowden

      Thank you, Marie! That made me smile and will keep me smiling all day.

  3. Vinnie Hansen

    A wonderful interview, Faye, full of wisdom and sound advice. I didn’t meet Bradbury like Michael but stumbled across the author speaking to a rather small group of students at the community college where I started my higher education. One of my favorite mystery/crime stories is his “The Utterly Perfect Murder.”

    • Faye Snowden

      Thank you, Vinnie. I’m going to check out that story. I missed that one.

  4. Kaia Misk

    Thanks for sharing this great information. So helpful to new writers.

    • Faye Snowden

      You are welcome Kaia. Glad it was helpful. Take care.

  5. Darlene Dziomba

    Great interview Faye, your characters sound intriguing. I found your explanation of “can anyone write” particularly interesting. I’ve had that discussion multiple times recently. I agree with your view. Of course anyone CAN, but do they have the craft. Thanks for posting.

    • Faye Snowden

      You are welcome, Darlene. Glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Lee and Lisa Towles

    So much wisdom here – thank you Faye and George for sharing this with us 🙂

  7. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Faye and George, I come away from reading this interview inspired. Inspired to keep going, to try new things, and to be the best person I can be. A rather tall order, wouldn’t you say? Faye, you have been so influenced and touched by others before you, and you have that special magic of being able to influence, to touch, it forward–to grow and to help others grow behind you. Thank you.

    • Faye Snowden

      Oh, Pamela. Thank you. I’m glad you were inspired. And with thinking like that, I bet you are already that good person you strive to be. You take care.

  8. Michael A. Black

    Great interview. You give a whole lot of excellent advice on writing. I’m glad you’re finding so much success. I met Ray Bradbury once and found him fascinating. Thanks for sharing your expertise and good luck with your series.

    • Faye Snowden

      Thank you, Michael. How lucky you were to meet Ray Bradbury. He has always been one of my favorites

  9. Debra Bokur

    I love the “write fast, edit slow” statement. Author Terry Pratchett said, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story,” and I keep that quote taped to the bottom edge of my computer screen to remind me not to get bogged down in the trifles during the initial draft. I’m going to add your quote, Faye! Thanks for sharing your insight, and I look forward to exploring your books.

  10. Karen A Phillips

    Great interview, George. I so agree with Faye on “don’t publicly trash agents or other writers or other writers’ works.” Writing is hard work and the more positive we can all be in being supportive is crucial to success for all.

    • George Cramer

      Faye & Karen, I couldn’t agree more about trashing people. I learned the hard way several decades ago. I still remember the well-deserved consequences.


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BARBARA EMODI – Cozy Mysteries from Nova Scotia

 Barbara Emodi writes sewing and craft-related cozy mysteries based in Nova Scotia, Canada, where she lives. She travels frequently and writes in the winter in Austin, Texas, and Berkeley, California.

For many years Barbara led a double life. Publicly she was a journalist, radio commentator, government strategist, and public relations professor. In her private life, she wrote and sewed for herself and her family, immediate and extended. She has published two books about garment construction.
Often when Barbara sewed, she thought of the people she’d met and the stories she could tell and of the things she knew and the things she suspected. As a result, she now writes mysteries for people who make things on the premise that those who create can investigate. A sewing pattern, a knitting stitch, a missing person, a dead body––to her mind, understanding them all requires the same skill set. Crafting for Murder is the first in a series.

Crafting for Murder – Seamstress, crafter, and empty-nester Valerie Rankin has plans to open a crafter’s co-op that will put Gasper’s Cove, Nova Scotia, on the tourist guide map. But one month before the opening day photo shoot, she still has to pin down a venue, patch up the family business, iron out corruption in town council, and unravel why anyone who tries to help her ends up dead. It’s a lot, even for a woman who’s used to making something out of nothing. But with the help of her Golden Retriever, an ex-con who loves cats, and a community of first, second, and third cousins, she just might pull it off.

Crafting for Murder will be released on February 25, 2023, and will be available through all the usual outlets and on pre-order here.

My responses to some interesting questions:

What brought you to writing? I’ve written for a living, journalism, and things like that, my whole life. But that’s calling-a-cab-writing. You know you have a job and a word count. You write it, and you file it. But then I ended up working for a public figure who needed a column written for the newspaper at home. He asked me to write it. I remember one afternoon typing out, “My father was a coal miner…” with tears on my face, and then I thought, “Hang on, Barbara, your father was a pharmacist.” This gave me the idea I could write fiction.

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? I write cozy mysteries. I chose this genre because I feel completely unqualified to write about sex or violence. In a cozy mystery, characters are extremely important. The readers tend to be folks who are interested in people they can identify with. It seems to me as a writer that if you get too linear with crime-clues-solving the mystery, the story can get very procedural and factual—hard to slip in character development in a steady way. So, I use subplots as little side stories that give space to show who the characters are. Also, let’s face it, even cozies involve bad stuff like death and betrayal, etc. I think that can get tiring for someone sitting down with a cup of tea looking for a diversion, so I also like to use subplots to build platforms, generally using humor as a resting place for the reader every now from the action. The subplots involve secondary characters, and these are percolating alongside stories that surface about every 4-7 chapters. I also like two subplots, one that is funny and one that has the main character struggling, and we hope, eventually, overcoming a weakness or vulnerability.

Do you base any of your characters on real people? I don’t think I could write if I didn’t. In fact, to get into the story, I generally have someone in mind when I develop a character. I keep myself from being sued by using the traits of several people mixed up into one. My siblings like to read what I write because they can pick up mannerisms and expressions and know where I got them. I did describe one living room, however, as “decorated in the style of furniture from dead relatives combined with impeccable housekeeping …” Remind me not to give my across-the-street neighbor a copy of the book.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? Ha, ha, ha. By disposition, I have a mind like a squirrel cage, so I make multiple cards with what I think are great details or ideas and then try to fit them into some kind of plot line. I work hard at it, and it wears me out to plot, and I hate it. But I try because I know it’s not easy to get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going. So, I have an elaborate plot all written out before I start. I never look at it or refer to it again. At halfway, I realize I am writing a totally unrelated story, so I stop and make a whole new plot to fit. I guess I am a pantser who creates a workable plot in the middle of the book. It’s a system that wastes the maximum amount of time.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? Real, completely real; only the names have been changed. I write about small communities in Nova Scotia, which are by definition stranger than fiction anyway, so they are the perfect setting for my writing. Interestingly, the most accurate parts are the ones people not from here might query. I had one editor tell me that she couldn’t stand the fact that everyone in my book was related, “and yet another cousin appears….” I read her email on the way out the door to the wedding of my niece to my son-in-law’s nephew. I had no idea what she was talking about.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I started late in the game but couldn’t have written fiction earlier as I consider my life up to now just gathering material. That said, all I want to do now is get it into as many books as I can.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Although fiction is pretend, it must come from an authentic place. Be as authentic as possible; don’t try to be, or sound, like someone else. You might think the real you isn’t all that interesting, but the real always is. When you can access that, you are in the zone. Trust your subconscious. Sometimes stuff is thrown up from somewhere onto the page when you are in the zone you hardly recognize, except for the fact it just sounds right, and like you. Don’t try too hard or labor too much. Go for the glide.

Groups I belong to:

Sisters in Crime

Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter

Readers can learn more about me at my website https://babsemodi.com and sign up for my newsletter there too.

I love to hear from readers, and they can contact me directly at babsemodi@gmail.com


  1. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    I loved this interview. Thank you, George and Barbara.
    Barbara’s sense of humor is delightful, and I laughed into my morning coffee more than once reading this. I’m heading off to buy the book… if for nothing more than to find out how a golden retriever can be an ex-con. So intriguing!
    All the Best,
    Pamela Ruth

  2. Donnell Ann Bell

    Oh, from one mind like a squirrel cage to another, I loved this interview, Barbara. I created a character of a woman I met years ago. She wore a full-length mink coat with tennis shoes. Had to use it. Inspiration strikes at the most interesting of time.

  3. Michael A. Black

    Nice interview, guys. I love the idea of a seamstress solving murders. MY mother did a lot of sewing and was also a talented artist. I think there are a lot of similarities to crafting a garment and writing a novel. Good luck and keep stitching out those plots.


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D.M. ROWELL – Writes from Viewpoint of Kiowa Storyteller

D. M. Rowell (Koyh Mi O Boy Dah), like her protagonist, Mud, comes from a long line of Kiowa storytellers. After a thirty-two-year career spinning stories for Silicon Valley start-ups and corporations, with a few escapes creating award-winning independent documentaries, Rowell started a new chapter, writing mysteries that also share information about her Plains Indian tribe, the Kiowas. She enjoys life in California with her partner of thirty-eight years, their son, and a feral gray cat.

Never Name the Dead: No one called her Mud in Silicon Valley. There, Mae was a respected professional who had left her Kiowa roots far behind. But when her grandfather called, she had to go back and face her childhood rejection by the tribe. She owed him that. What she didn’t expect was that this visit was only the start of a traditional four-day vision quest that would take her into dark places involving theft, betrayal, murder—and a charging buffalo. And that was only Day One.

What brought you to writing? A life-long passion for reading, specifically mystery novels, fueled my desire to write a mystery series. As a reader, I enjoy series with reoccurring characters and ongoing story arcs. Reading a series allows me to visit old friends year after year.

As I wrote NEVER NAME THE DEAD, I planned it to be a series starting with four books spanning four sequential days emulating a four-day Kiowa vison quest (with a few murders thrown in). The first book is the first day of the vision quest of self-discovery for my main character, Mud. The novel takes place in less than 24 hours, and the second book starts fifteen minutes after the first ends, taking Mud into her second day of the quest with another murder to solve. At the end of her fourth day and fourth book, Mud’s vision quest ends with Mud finding the way to unite her worlds—and solve another murder.

Tell us about your writing process: I try to write for 3 to 4 hours every day. While I’ll start the morning with the intent to write first thing, I let myself be distracted by daily tasks before feeling comfortable enough to sink into my story. I’m not a planner. I write as the story unfolds for me. I’ll start the story once I know the murderer, the victim, and why. After a few chapters, I’ll see the reveal. That gives me my endpoint. Everything in-between comes about as I write it.

The first draft captures the story. At the end of my first draft, I go back through the story to paint a deeper picture and get it in shape to hand off to my editor. I have an excellent editor at Crooked Lanes Book, Sara J. Henry. She knows just where and how to direct the critical trimming needed to make my story shine.

What kind of research do you do? In NEVER NAME THE DEAD, I share a lot of information and insights into the Kiowa tribe, culture, and history—all from the Kiowa perspective.

My research comes from a lifetime of learning from Kiowa elders in my family and tribe. The history and traditions shared in the novel come directly from our oral traditions, originally told by tribal elders.

I was fortunate to grow up with my Kiowa grandfather, C. E. Rowell. He was a master storyteller, artist, and recognized Tribal Historian. My grandfather taught me about our Kiowa history and introduced me to other elders, including a 101 years-old!

I spent over a decade collecting memories, songs, and stories from tribe elders to preserve for future generations. Much of the footage can be seen in my documentary, Vanishing Link, and in a series of Kiowa language lesson videos posted here, www.thekiowapeople.com.

How long did it take you to write your first book? Ten months.

I wrote my first draft of NEVER NAME THE DEAD while taking courses for the UCSDX Creative Writing program. I followed teacher extraordinaire Carolyn Wheat through Novel I, II, and III. At the end of the Novel courses, I had my first draft completed. It took two more drafts before I had the book ready for readers. From start to first draft, it took six months, then four more months to complete drafts two and three.

How long did it take to get it published? I was extremely lucky! I had an agent and a book deal with Crooked Lane Books nine months after finishing the novel.

How do you come up with character names? My main character has three names. LOL!

She is known as Mae in Silicon Valley, where she has built a digital marketing agency on the cusp of national attention. In Oklahoma’s Kiowa country, she’s called Mud, a childhood nickname that stuck.

The main character’s first two names were the easiest for me to come up with. Much in my writing honors my Kiowa culture. I wanted to add a bit of my mom’s side of the family into my novel by using my mom’s name, Mae, and her mother’s childhood nickname, Mud, for the main character’s names. It delighted me as a child to hear one of my great-aunts call my grandmother “Mud.” Even now, it makes me smile.

The hard part was finding how to explain the two names of the main character, especially “Mud.” That was resolved by adding a third name and a Kiowa Naming Ceremony. I won’t reveal any more about the names other than to say that Mud’s Kiowa name speaks to the journey Mae/Mud is on through the first four novels as she finds a way to blend her two worlds; traditional Kiowa spirituality and Silicon Valley tech savvy.

What are you currently working on? I’m working with my editor, Sara J. Henry, on edits for the second novel, SILENT ARE THE DEAD. The title has just recently been finalized.

Who’s your favorite author? I stretch favorite authors to include oral storytellers; that makes the question very easy to answer. My all-time favorite storyteller is my grandfather, the late C. E. Rowell. Grandpa excelled at bringing stories to life. He was an artist, master storyteller, and a man of distinction within the Kiowa tribe. He was a Tribal Elder recognized as the Tribe Historian and Reader of the Dohason and Onko pictoglyph calendars called Sai-Guat, or Winter Marks.

My grandfather brought the people and stories to life for me. No storyteller has captured my imagination as deeply. Grandpa inspired me to follow our traditions and be a storyteller.

C. E. Rowell sharing a story from one of the Kiowa Calendars with tribe members (1999)

Do you have any advice for new writers? Believe in yourself and write your stories! I didn’t write until late in life because I did not believe I could do it or do it well enough. Finally, I started writing for myself, and the story flowed. My happiest moment as a writer came when I finished the first draft. I wrote the book I always dreamed of doing!

How do our readers contact you?
Visit my website at www.dmrowell.com.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100041233668050
Twitter: @DMRowellAuthor

Be sure to say hello if you see me at Left Coast Crime or Bouchercon.


  1. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    The last phrase of your book’s logline got a chuckle-out-loud from me and your inspirational words warmed me right along with my morning coffee. I love how you describe the intertwining of your own life with the words and stories you put on the page. Also, your website and Facebook page are both lovely. Congratulations from a new fan in the Bronx.

    • D. M. Rowell


      Thank you so much for all your positive words and energy. Love hearing them! And absolutely love having a fan in the Bronx!

  2. D. M. Rowell

    Thank you! The cover was designed by the very talented Kara Klontz.

    So glad you’re writing! I’m having so much fun finally letting my stories out. I cannot thank the the Creative Writing Program at UCSD Extension and their very talented staff enough for helping me improve as a storyteller.

  3. D. M. Rowell

    Thank you! It’s kinda fun making the story happen so quickly. So glad you are writing. Enjoy it!

  4. Michael A. Black

    It’s great that you’re continuing the family tradition of story telling with your writing, Ms. Rowell. Best of luck to you and “Mud.”

    • D. M. Rowell

      Thank you Michael! I hope you enjoy Never Name the Dead.I feel very fortunate to share our Kiowa stories in this way.

  5. Bruce Lewis

    I agree with Karen. You ability to write four novels, each based on a day in a vision quest, is a remarkable achievement.

    • D. M. Rowell

      Well book 2 is showing me my folly. LOL! In my mind in works so well.

  6. Karen A Phillips

    Fascinating post. Writing a novel that takes place in less than 24 hours sounds like a challenge! I started writing late in life, too. Absolutely love the cover!


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BRUCE LEWIS – From Crime Reporter to Crime Writer

Bruce Lewis was a crime reporter for several California daily newspapers, where he earned six awards for best news and feature writing. Bruce is the author of the Kim Jansen Detective Series. His debut novel, Bloody Paws, won a Maxy Award for best mystery novel of 2021. Bloody Pages, a mystery novel dealing with intergenerational violence, was released on August 11, 2022. Bloody Feathers, Book 3 in the series, will be released on March 3, 2023. On December 11, 2022, his publisher, Black Rose Writing, posted the first of Bruce’s ten episodes, Death of the Stray—A Veterinarian’s Revenge, to Kindle Vella. He is working on a fourth novel, with the working title, Bloody Robes.


Bloody Feathers A bullet explodes the cremation urn of a beloved bookseller during his memorial, sending shrapnel into a dozen mourners, including Detective Kim Jansen. As she recovers, Jansen finds herself tangled in four mysteries tied to John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, one of the world’s most valuable books.

Who’s your favorite author? – Stephen King. King is a master storyteller—as we all know—whose writing technique is invisible, with his characters driving every story at a mad pace. For light reading, I enjoy Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, C. J. Box’s Joe Pickett, and Nevada Barr’s Anna Pidgeon.

What is the best book you have ever read? Shipping News by Annie Proulx. The quality and complexity of her writing is astounding. I read it long before I became a novelist. It would be interesting to re-read it and see what magic I could glean for my own books. I wish I had her talent.

How long did it take you to write your first book? – I got the idea a dozen years before starting it. In late 2019, I started writing it at a relaxed pace. I’d walk a mile and a quarter down to a coffee shop, write for an hour, then walk home. I would do that a few times a week. I wrote parts on my iPad and some on my iPhone while riding buses in Portland, Oregon, where I lived for six years. Bloody Pages, book 2, took 90 days. The difference: a publisher encouraging the next book in what would become a series, learning tricks from other novelists, and creating an outline before starting. As a former newspaper reporter accustomed to working on a deadline, I’m a fast writer. I suspect I could write the next one in less.

How do you come up with character names? They pop into my head. I try to keep them simple, so they don’t distract from the storytelling. Sometimes, I use versions of family names for the fun of it. For example, my mother’s first and middle name was Dorothy Maxine, and my grandmother was a Reid. I combined them into Maxine Dorothy Reid. In Bloody Paws, she’s a homeless meth addict. No, my mother, who passed away many years ago, was not a drug addict or homeless, nor was my grandmother, who died 25 years before I was born.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I practice a hybrid style. I’m a planning pantser. I create a one-page outline of the entire book, one line per chapter. Before I write, I add another paragraph or two describing what happens in each chapter. I always know the beginning and end of the book before I start to write. With a direction in mind, I write by the seat of my pants to fill in details. I see each chapter like you would see a scene in a movie. I visualize it, then write what I see.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I do both. If I think a particular location, like a restaurant, might object to what I write (such as a serial killer as one of their regular patrons), I’ll use a fictional name. Otherwise, I use real names and real locations I’ve visited personally.

What advice do you give to up-and-coming writers? Don’t fret about how long it takes or obstacles that might arise. Just get the story down on paper. Once it’s down, you can begin shaping it the way you like. And, for gosh sake, don’t worry about getting an agent or writing a bestseller. And write a little or a lot every day to achieve your goal.

What is the most challenging part of the writing process? The editing. I love writing. Hate the editing. VERY important, but also VERY Tedious. I’m working on ways to produce a cleaner manuscript as the story unfolds rather than do all the editing at the end. Polishing creates the gem. I wish I were more patient with the process.

-Oregon Writers Colony – https://oregonwriterscolony.org/contact (member news
-Willamette Writers—Portland Chapter
-California Writers Club—Mt. Diablo Branch
-Portland Audubon Society
-Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum

My contact information
Email: BloodyThrillers@gmail.com
Website: BloodyThrillers.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NovelistBruce/

Instragram: PDXWalker

Where books are available
Online: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble
Independent Bookstores: Powell’s (Portland), Reasonable Books (Lafayette), and Gallery Books (Mendocino)



  1. Violet Moore

    Jack Reacher, Harry Bosch, and Joe Pickett are my favorite male protagonists.

  2. Deven Greene

    Interesting interview, Bruce. Bloody Feathers sounds very interesting. You reminded me of a book I haven’t read, but should read – Shipping News. Thanks!

  3. Michael A. Black

    Polishing creates the gem… Excellently said, Bruce. Best of luck to you with your series.

  4. Karen A Phillips

    Thanks for this post, George. Always good to meet writers I have not heard of. The premise to Bloody Feathers is very intriguing. Good advice from Bruce Lewis. And I agree, the editing part of writing can be painful, but oh so necessary.


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STEPHEN M. MURPHY – Mystery – USA and Ireland

Boston native STEPHEN M. MURPHY graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the University of San Francisco School of Law. After graduating from law school in 1981, he served as a law clerk to the justices of the New Hampshire Superior Court. While in New Hampshire, he worked on a murder trial that inspired his first Dutch Francis novel, Alibi. For over 34 years, he represented plaintiffs in personal injury and employment litigation. He is Past President of the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, which voted him Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2008. SuperLawyers have also named him as one of the Top 100 lawyers in Northern California. He is the author of several books and is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters-in-Crime.

ABIDING CONVICTION: Lawyer Dutch Francis defends a high-profile murder case in which a judge is accused of killing his wife, when his own wife, TV news broadcaster Ginnie Turner, goes missing. As he confronts an ineffectual police department, suspicious that he is involved in his wife’s disappearance, he decides to take matters into his own hands. Exhausted by the murder trial, he struggles to balance both responsibilities, pushing him to the brink of losing everything he holds dear. At first, he thinks Ginnie was kidnapped in retaliation for her recent stories about sex scandals. But after receiving bits of her in the mail—fingernails, hair—he realizes the kidnapper may actually want to punish him. Could his defense of the judge be the reason?

Do you write in more than one genre? Yes. I write mysteries, legal thrillers, and historical fiction set in Ireland. I am still trying to get the latter published.

Where do you write? I generally write at a local café called Simple Pleasures.

What, if any, distractions do you allow? I like to listen to music, preferably jazz, blues, or classic rock and roll while writing.

What are you currently working on? I am writing a mystery featuring a San Francisco judge whose father and son are charged with the murder of a high-tech executive in the Tenderloin.

How long did it take you to write your first book? It took me nearly ten years to write ALIBI, a legal thriller/murder mystery set in New Hampshire, based on my experience as a law clerk to the superior court.

How long to get it published? About five years.

What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? I confess to having great difficulty figuring out how women think, which I’m sure is a character defect on my part.

Do you have subplots? Yes.

If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? I tend to link my subplots by theme rather than plot. For example, in ABIDING CONVICTION, my latest Dutch Francis novel, the protagonist’s lawyer has to search for his missing wife while trying a high-profile murder case in which a judge is accused of killing his own wife.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? Both. I tend to write a rough outline at first, start writing, and when I have a first draft, go back and outline in more detail. I’ve tried outlining an entire book at the beginning but just couldn’t do it.

What kind of research do you do? For my Dutch Francis legal thriller series, I research the geography of the various towns in New Hampshire that are mentioned. Since I lived in New Hampshire for only one year –forty years ago – I find Google Maps and Google Earth invaluable to reacquaint me with the area.

What obstacles do you face when writing about historical figures? The biggest obstacle is creating realistic characters rather than just ones known to history. That means delving into their personal lives, other things they did that did not make them famous and personal relationships. For my Irish historical series, I include many historical figures and have to avoid getting caught up in the history and ignoring the stories I’m trying to tell.

What is the best book you have ever read? It’s tough to single out one book, so I’ll give you two. PRINCE OF TIDES by Pat Conroy and SHANTARAM by Gregory David Roberts. I’ve re-read both and found them just as enjoyable the second time around.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I plan on writing novels in both the Dutch Francis and the Irish history series.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Learn to love the process. The publishing business is a rough one: full of rejection both by agents and publishers. Don’t write just to get published because that may never happen. If you love writing, write for yourself or to share with family and friends. Publication is an added bonus.

How do our readers contact you? steve@stephenMmurphy.com or www.stephenMmurphy.com. My website has a link to various booksellers for my books.


  1. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Thanks for this post, Stephen (and George).
    Ten years to write the first book is long, but from what I’ve seen, not all that uncommon. I figure you wrote it while ALSO working full-time representing plaintiffs. Then five years to get the book published. For all of us yet to be published, you are indeed an inspiring model for what Winston Churchill encouraged about perseverance in the darkest of times– “Never, never, never give up.” ( In truth, he said about TEN ‘nevers,’ I believe).
    I’m wondering, did you acquire an agent? If so, how long did that take? I’d love to hear that story. And if you got your first book published without an agent, that piques my interest too. Did you find the journey a lonely one? Did you have much support along the way? Inquiring minds want to know. Thanks again,
    Pamela Ruth

    • Stephen Murphy

      Pamela: Thanks for your post. Yes, perseverance is an important attribute for any writer. I did have an agent for my first novel. It took years to find one, but once I did the book sold fairly quickly. However, my agent was unable to sell the second book in the Dutch Francis series, ABOUT POWER, so I self-published it on Amazon. For my latest book, ABIDING CONVICTION, I did not have an agent since my agent retired, but was able to sell it on my own to Oceanview.
      As you can tell, it’s been a long journey, which fortunately has been made easier by my writers’ group, which has been most supportive.

  2. Michael A. Black

    Sounds like some sound advice, counselor. Best of luck on your new one.

    • Stephen Murphy

      Thanks, Michael. You may not remember but you read the first chapter of ABIDING CONVICTION through the MWA. You inspired me to keep going.

      • Michael A. Black

        Damn, now that you mention it, I thought there was something familiar about your summary. Well, congratulations on your success. I’m flattered that you remember me.

  3. Jim Guigli

    “If you love writing, write for yourself or to share with family and friends. Publication is an added bonus.”

    Great advice!


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SONJA DEWING – Traveler with Amazing Setting

Sonja Dewing uses her adventurous spirit and travels to inspire her short stories and novels. She’s worked as everything from a waitress in a haunted Inn to an Instructional Designer for an unnamed government agency.


Now she’s a full-time author and helps other writers through her business, The Women’s Thriller Writers Association. She was nominated for a Silver Falchion for Best Action/Adventure and won second place from the NM Press Women for her novel Castoffs of the Gods and her short story A Glass Mountain. Her published novels include Toy of the Gods, Gamble of the Gods, Castoffs of the Gods, and, coming soon, the final book in the Idol Maker series, Relics of the Gods.

You can start the series with Toy of the Gods – Leslie needs a break. Instead, she’ll have to face down an Inca god and drunken monkeys. Get your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07P71ZKGB?tag=sdewing2309-20

What are you currently working on? I never just have one thing going on. I think that’s the curse of the over enthusiastic creative, perhaps, but I love being busy. I’m finishing book 4 in my series Relics of the Gods, and I’m producing a podcast – The 5 Minute Author, that’s all about writing and self-publishing tips, and I’m producing my first audiobook. I decided to try a short story audio first. It’s a short horror I wrote under a pen name called Evil Nuns from Space.

How do you raise the stakes for your protagonist? At some point in my book, I ask myself, what’s the worst thing that can possibly happen to my protagonist besides death? That question has always led to some fun and interesting twists. Like in Castoffs of the Gods, Leslie Kicklighter is exhausted from traveling the Amazon river all day but finds herself stranded, away from her friends, and has to find a way to get back to safety. It’s when we truly test our characters that we see what they are capable of.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I call myself a plantser (no – not misspelled). Before I start drafting a book, I have very specific scenes in my head. I’ll put those down as a rough outline, then fill in the rest of the story as I write.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? All of my locations are fictional but based on real locations. When I was in the Amazon basin, I stayed in an eco-resort. I used that resort as my fictional resort in Toy of the Gods. My second book is based in New Mexico, where I live. Then book three is based in the Amazon again, and book four will be in New York City and Iceland, some of my favorite places.

What kind of research do you do? The best research I ever did was to travel to the Amazon in Peru. This was after I had written the draft of my first book. So when I came home, I spent a month rewriting the novel with the jungle as an antagonist. I learned so many things that I would never have gleaned from watching a YouTube video or reading about it. For my current book, Relics of the Gods, I traveled to New York and visited all the places that show up in the book.

How long to get it published? It was a long road for my first book. In search of an agent, I had several male agents tell me no one would read an adventure with a main female character. And I believed them. Until I finally changed my mind and went with a small publisher. I needed someone to tell me my book was good enough to publish. But then two things happened. A stranger gave me a 5-star review on Amazon, and I found out my publisher had never fully read the book. That’s when I took the book back and self-published it.

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? Absolutely. Every character has their own goals, which are often not in sync with other characters. That’s what creates my subplots. For example, in Castoffs of the Gods, Leslie is in the Amazon to find and rescue her friend, AJ is there to find out more about her magic powers, Alex is there to steal an artifact, and others are there for other reasons. Each of those goals will conflict with the other and create subplots. I weave them in through the actions of the characters.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Yes. In your early writing career, please don’t give your writing to friends or family. They’ll tell you two things because they don’t understand that writing is a process (aka, like any job, it takes time to get it right). Either they’ll be really nice and tell you they loved it, or they think they need to be honest and tell you it’s terrible (which might discourage you from ever writing again!). Instead, find a review group of other writers who can share constructive criticism to make the story and your writing better.

How do our readers contact you? They can email me at sonja@womensthrillerwriters.com. They can check out my work at sonjadewing.com or find out more about my group at womensthrillerwriters.com


  1. Violet Moore

    I passed this quote on to my critique group.

    “It’s when we truly test our characters that we see what they are capable of.”

    • Sonja

      Thanks Violet. 🙂

  2. Michael A. Black

    Evil Nuns From Space… That sounds like an intriguing book. You sound like you take your writing seriously. I’m glad you didn’t listen to those male agents. Keep on trucking and good luck.

    • Sonja

      Thanks Michael! 🙂


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