M.M. CHOUINARD – Her Psychological Thrillers Will Grab You

M.M. Chouinard is the USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon Charts bestselling author behind The Vacation, a standalone psychological thriller, and the Detective Jo Fournier series, featuring The Dancing Girls, Taken to the Grave, Her Daughter’s Cry, The Other Mothers, and Her Silent Prayer (releasing April 7th, 2022). She loves animals, coffee, amateur genealogy, and anything to do with Halloween, Serial Killers, or the zombie apocalypse.

When the body of single mother Melissa Rollins is found trapped inside a bedroom closet in her immaculate suburban home, Detective Jo Fournier is horrified to find that Melissa’s heating was turned up to the max while she died of thirst. As she delves deeper into the case, Jo uncovers a link between Melissa and a recent cold case: another single mother who was tied up and brutally murdered. Then, as the team works around the clock to stop a twisted killer, someone from Jo’s past catches up with her. They’re watching her family’s every move, and they will stop at nothing to get revenge. Can Jo save the people she loves and catch the killer before it’s too late?

Do you write in more than one genre? So far, my published books have all been in crime fiction, although I have written a women’s fiction manuscript and several literary shorts. I cover several sub-genres within Crime fiction, including my published police procedural series and a published standalone psychological thriller. I’ve also written an action thriller, a private-eye novel, and a traditional mystery I hope will be published someday.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I try to write in as many different locations as I can. I’ve been lucky enough to write full-time, and that means I have to work within deadlines, both those I put in place myself and those for my publisher. Writing on a schedule is an important part of that, and I can’t allow myself to lose time because I’m in an inhospitable environment for some reason. So I routinely write in cafes, at home, outside at parks, even at the doctor’s office. I write in quiet and noisy places, so I’m used to focusing in less-than-ideal settings when circumstances for me to do that.

Has an association membership helped you with your writing? I waited to join MWA and SinC until I had my first book contract, thinking it wasn’t a useful thing to do until I was a published writer. That was a HUGE mistake, and I’d advise every writer out there to immediately join whatever association brings together people in your genre. Between the events that have educated me on the publishing industry and craft, the write-ins that help keep me focused, and the ability to talk to people who’ve gone through things I’m going through, it’s all been invaluable.

How do you raise the stakes for your protagonist—for the antagonist? For me, there are two aspects to this. Raising the stakes for my protagonist in a within-book way is one thing, and it usually involves the antagonist taking action that impacts her in a personal way. Sometimes that means literally—my murderer may threaten her life or the life of someone she loves. But it always means psychologically. Even if the murderer isn’t threatening her directly, the murders they’ve committed always tap into some psychological struggle she has. So the race to get justice for a murdered child may tap into my protagonist’s own struggles with her mother, or a dysfunctional husband/wife relationship may challenge my protagonist to examine some dysfunctional attitudes she brings into her own romantic relationships.

In addition, I try to raise the stakes between books for the protagonist in my police-procedural series. She’s learning and growing, but life keeps handing her new challenges that build on the other things she’s learned.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew to enjoy? Hemingway. He was part of my curriculum fairly early in my school years (I believe when I was twelve or thirteen). At that age, I didn’t relate to the content or the pointedly masculine point of view. But what I did respond to even then was his writing style, and that kept me coming back. As I lived more life, his themes began to resonate with me, and I found myself fascinated with the points of view his work reflected.

 Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I’ve done both, and I think there are plusses and minuses for each. One big concern for me is that I’m not in law enforcement. I have never been, and that means no matter how much research I do and how many people I consult with, I’m always in danger of getting something wrong or writing a character that inadvertently reflects badly on a given law enforcement agency (or newspaper, or other agency I write about). It’s one thing for a mistake I make to reflect badly on me, but I never want it to reflect badly on anybody else. So for my police-procedural series, I set the stories in a fictional Western Massachusetts county and do my best to reflect how law enforcement functions in the actual region without pulling anybody real into it.

Where can our readers find you and your books?

Website: www.mmchouinard.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mmchouinardauthor

Link to Her Silent Prayer on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09Q3QQL98/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

 

15 Comments

  1. Heather Haven

    I’ve read all of Cindy Sample’s books and so loved the first book in her new Spindrift Cove Mystery series, BIRTHDAYS ARE MURDER, that once finished, I started reading it again. I just love her work and her mind! And she absolutely writes the best and funniest murder chases in the business. A rock-solid mystery writer with some laughs thrown in for extra measure!

    Reply
  2. Jan M Flynn

    I have heard both Ana Manwaring and now George Cramer sing the praises of Michelle Chouinard, and now I see that I’ve been missing some wonderful reads — a situation that I intend to correct immediately. I learned a lot from your thoughtful answers to the interview questions, and, Michelle, you set a sterling example, in terms of work ethic and self-discipline, to other writers, myself most definitely included. What a pleasure to make your acquaintance here!

    Reply
    • Michelle Chouinard

      Jan, you’re too kind! The thought of missing a deadline is terrifying to me, lol, so I guess that’s my secret. 😉 It’s lovely to meet you! <3

      Reply
  3. Katy

    I love the way this incredible woman’s mind works, and I have enjoyed reading her work. I very much look forward to celebrating her brain babies for a very long time.

    Loved getting to read more of the process!!

    Reply
    • Michelle Chouinard

      Aw, thank you, Katy! BTW, ‘brain babies’ is now my new favorite phrase…<3

      Reply
  4. Ana Manwwaring

    I’m a total MM Chouinard fangirl and I’m itching to get my hands on the new book. I agree with Michelle about joining writers associations . I joined SINC and MWA long before I had books, and every step of my journey has been informed by the knowledge and talent within these groups. Michelle is one of my guiding lights. George too, for his informative interviews. Thanks both of you.

    Reply
    • Michelle Chouinard

      SinC and MWA are THE BEST. So much expertise and so many awesome people, like you! <3

      Reply
  5. Vinnie Hansen

    I enjoyed learning more about our multi-talented Michelle!

    Great advice about joining organizations. For short story writers, I also recommend the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

    I liked The Vacation and look forward to reading another of Michelle’s works.

    For what it’s worth, Hemingway was one of the three authors on whom I focused for my master’s degree oral exam. I’ve read every published thing he’s written, every major critical analysis of his work, and more than one biography. I’ve visited his homes in Key West, Paris, and Cuba and even have a file-cabinet novel titled Hemingway’s Lover!

    Reply
    • Michelle Chouinard

      How cool is that?! I’ve purposefully gone to some cafes he frequented in Paris, and read A Moveable Feast the last time I was there–I’d love to see his homes and meet the six-digited cats! I’m definitely glad I kept going back to Hemingway. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Peg (Margaret) Roche

    Thanks again, George, for introducing another very interesting author. I look forward to reading M. M. Chouinard in the near future.

    Reply
  7. Michael A. Black

    You certainly sound like you’ve got it all together when it comes to your writing. I envy you being able to write anywhere. I’m always too leery about writing in a public place because I’m always looking around and can’t drop my guard enough to get in the zone. If it works for you, more power to you, but remember to be aware of your surroundings. As far as researching cops, you should consider joining the PSWA. It’s an organization that both George and I belong to and it’s a great place to get advice on police procedures. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Michelle Chouinard

      Hello! Well, if it sounds like I have it all together in terms of my writing, that means I’ve successfully pulled the wool over your eyes! 😉 Thanks for the tip–I just joined PSWA. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Donnell Ann Bell

    Hi, George, Hi, M.M Chouinard, I’ll have the pleasure of meeting you next week! Great interview, and I especially agree with your admiration of Hemingway and that the murderer isn’t threatening your protagonist direction. She’s still invested and that’s what counts. Enjoying reading book one of your series.

    Reply
    • Michelle Chouinard

      Hey Donnell! So excited to be a part of your panel next week! Can’t wait to meet you in person, and thanks so much for coming and checking out this interview! 🙂

      Reply

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JOHN SCHEMBRA – Award Winning Author – Vietnam Veteran – Police Officer

 John Schembra spent a year with the 557th MP Company in Vietnam in 1970. His time as a combat M.P. provided the basis of his first book M.P., A Novel of Vietnam.

After returning from Vietnam, he became a police officer with the Pleasant Hill Police Department, retiring as a Sergeant after nearly 30 years of service.

John has six other published novels in the mystery/thriller genre. One mystery, Sin Eater, has supernatural undertones. His latest book, The List, won the 1st place award in the Public Safety Writers Association 2021 writing competition. John has earned nine writing competition awards. You can find out more about him and his books and read their first chapters, plus a couple of short stories at his website; www.jschembra.com. John can be reached at his email; toto@pacbell.net.

John is currently writing his eighth book, Southern Justness, number six in the Vince Torelli series.

What brought you to writing? I’ve been an avid reader ever since I was a little boy (thanks to my mother) and have admired authors who could weave a story that made me feel I was there, inside their words. While with the police department, I wrote several trade articles on police procedures but didn’t get into fiction until I was 50. I‘d spent a year as an MP in Vietnam. Another police sergeant and Vietnam infantryman and I would swap stories at the police department. Other officers would stop and listen, and one of them told me I should write a book based on my experiences. So, one day, I grabbed a yellow paper pad and a pencil and started writing. 2 years later, my first book, M.P., a Novel of Vietnam, was published. In case you are curious, yes, I did do most of the writing on a computer.

I enjoyed writing the book, and many people liked it. I decided to write a second book, then a third, etc., etc., and here I am, working on my 8th novel!

Tell us about your writing process: I am strictly a pantser. I never was very good at outlining and dislike it immensely, so when I start a book, I write the first chapter, then write an ending. From there, I go back to the beginning and start filling the story in, letting it flow as an active document—a way to say the story flows freely as I write.

Who is your favorite author? Edgar Rice Burroughs. I was introduced to the Tarzan books by my uncle when I was eight or nine. Burrough’s ability to create new worlds, beings, creatures, and plants is amazing. He is the best I’ve read at writing to show, not tell. Burroughs has written eighty novels, and I have read every one of them, most more than once.

I do have to admit the best book I have ever read is Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. What a terrific story. It was books like Burrough’s and Hemingway’s that inspired me to become a writer.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? The five Vince Torelli mystery/thrillers all take place in the San Francisco Bay Area. Vince is a homicide inspector with SFPD, but his cases take him to various locations around the Bay Area. Since I grew up across the Bay from San Francisco, I try to use real places—streets, buildings, businesses, and surrounding cities are real places. I know when I read a book, if it takes place somewhere I am familiar with, it makes the story more enjoyable for me. Using real places makes the need for research a must. I use Google and Google Maps quite a bit when finding settings for various scenes. Also, I have a couple of close friends who are SFPD officers, so I rely on them to ensure I have Vince doing things according to SFPD procedures. Research is one of the tasks I most enjoy doing in my writing. I actually got the idea for my sixth book, The List, while researching information about the 19th century tunnels under San Francisco. I reconstructed the tunnels, which have mostly been filled in, and used them in several crucial scenes.

Do you write in more than one genre? Yes. I have two books, one at the publisher undergoing editing and getting the cover art done. The other one available through Amazon, Sin Eater, is about a serial killer in a fictitious college town in the central valley of California. There is a supernatural twist to the story that adds a dose of creepiness to the book. The other book, An Echo of Lies, is the story of a police officer who gets gravely wounded during a traffic stop. Not expected to recover fully, he makes a complete and astonishing recovery due to being possessed by a demon.

Do you have any advice for new writers? The best advice I can give is don’t let any doubts you have about writing stop you. If you worry about the mechanics too much, you will never get the book done. Attend a writer’s conference or two. Join a writer’s group— there are tons of them out there, easily found with a google search. Groups such as Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, California Writers Club can be very helpful in getting you started and on the right track. There will likely be a group near you, wherever you call home.

If you write with a public safety theme, check out the Public Safety Writers Association, which I am the president of. It is a nationwide group of very talented authors willing to help other members with anything to do with writing. We also have a wonderful three-day conference in Las Vegas every year, with terrific keynote speakers and many informative panels, plus it is loads of fun! It is well worth attending. Check us out at www.policewriter.com.

Thank you for taking the time to visit with me. Many thanks to George Cramer, himself an award-winning author, for having me as a guest on his wonderful blog. Keep writing!

 

6 Comments

  1. Marilyn Meredith

    I’ve read all of John’s books and have been a friend of his and his wife for many years–and it all began at a PSWA conference when he wanted to know about e-books. He’s a great president of PSWA and I’m proud to call him a friend.

    Reply
  2. Deven Greene

    Hi John,

    Thanks for letting us learn how you got interested in writing. You may be the first person to combine Tarzan and Hemingway in one thread. Your productivity is impressive. You seem to be turning out books faster than we can read them. Keep it up! You may want to consider releasing Cliff notes for those of us who get too far behind.

    Reply
  3. Joseph Bryce HAGGERTY Sr

    I’ve only read one of John’s books so far, RETRIBUTION, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As President of the Public Safety Writers Association, John epitomizes what it is to be a leader. He is gracious, knowledgeable and always helpful. I was having a problem with the company I was using to print my business cards and John graciously offered information on the company he uses. We are very lucky to have the board members we have, they are not only interested in creating the best environment to helping writers, but they recognize people as individuals with feelings and apprehensions. Thank you John for your leadership and your writing.

    Reply
  4. Madeline Gornell

    Hello, John! Great reading more about you. And the Tarzan connection is wonderful! I will never forget how kind and gracious you and your wife were to me at my first (and all) PSWA conferences One day, I’ll get there again. You are a great president, thank you! Love connecting on George’s blog.

    Just realized I haven’t read The LIst! How could that be…off to Amazon now…

    PS hubby was an AP in Vietnam.

    Reply
  5. Michael A. Black

    John Schembra is a quality individual and outstanding writer. I’m a big fan of his Vince Torrelli series and read his highly recommend them. His MP novel is a fascinating read, too. He’s a great president of the PSWA and is one of those guys I’d want standing next to me if my back was against the wall. Keep writing, John. Stay strong.

    Reply
  6. Jim Hasse

    I enjoy John’s Vince Torelli’s mysteries, but being a Vietnam Veteran I especially enjoyed “M.P., A Novel of Vietnam.” His experience as an MP was so different from mine as a member of a recon team. The few times I went to Saigon I spent some energy avoiding those of his ilk–the MPs.
    John’s productivity is amazing. As he is in the process of completing his 8th novel he obviously has a great work ethic. Besides that, John’s leadership of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA), has produced great results for the organization.
    George, thanks for featuring John today!

    Reply

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Thonie Hevron – Public Servant / Author / Friend

“The Felony Murder Rule is a real winner.” Michael A. Black

Thonie Hevron is a retired 911 dispatcher who makes her home in Petaluma in the Sonoma Wine Country, California with her husband, Danny. When not writing, Thonie rides horses and enjoys traveling. Her work has appeared in Beyond Borders: 2014 Redwood Writers Anthology and Felons, Flames and Ambulance Rides: Public Safety Writers 2013 Anthology. She is the author of four award-winning mystery/thriller novels, By Force or Fear, Intent to Hold, and With Malice Aforethought, are currently available on Amazon but will be re-published by Aakenbaaken & Kent (A&K) in the future. A&K has published the fourth mystery, Felon with a Firearm.

Please tell us about Felony Murder Rule and any comments about any other of your books: All the titles are elements of the main crime. My newest book is titled, Felony Murder Rule, which mandated a sentencing enhancement for felonies committed in which a homicide results. In 2018, this rule was abolished in California with one exception. The book takes place in 2018 before the court ruling. Meredith and Nick are tossed into a decades old crime involving her father. The clock is ticking as rival criminal factions jockey to use her to find a cache of stolen money.

At home one night, sheriff’s detective Meredith Ryan surprises an intruder leaning over her baby’s crib. Unable to catch him, she launches a dangerous journey to protect her family. The death of her father the next day steers her onto a path of deceit and mystery where the two incidents are connected by the mysterious man in her nursery. With Nick, her husband, they unravel her father’s involvement in a robbery/homicide years ago. To find the hidden loot, competing crime rivals plot to use her family as bargaining chips. Meredith and Nick must find the truth in the next 24 hours before the criminals close in on her family.

My series is called the Nick and Meredith Mysteries, but they’re really more thrillers than classic mysteries. They are stand-alones but follow Sonoma County Sheriff’s detectives on different cases. In By Force or Fear (an element of stalking), Meredith is stalked by a judge while she tracks a killer. Intent to Hold (an element of kidnapping) follows Nick and Meredith as they go to Mexico to rescue a relative being held hostage by a cartel. With Malice Aforethought is a necessary component of murder and a homicide is what the detective partners are investigating when they stumble upon a militia with violent plans.

What are you currently working on? I’m currently re-editing my first book, By Force or Fear. My current publisher, Aakenbaaken & Kent, has committed to re-publishing the three previous Nick and Meredith Mysteries. I want it ready when he hollers for it. They are currently on Amazon and self-published.

Has an association membership helped you or your writing? Yes, as a matter of fact. I belong to two such organizations. First, I joined the Police Writer Association back in 1997 or so when I first began to write seriously. It’s morphed into the Public Safety Writers Association. The thought of a bunch of police/fire/medical emergency personnel writing was captivating. Writing is a solitary enterprise—or at least, it used to be. The bottom line is you get what you give: I’ve gotten so much from these members. Expertise and experience sharing, networking, and building relationships with professionals from across the continent (including Canada). Sometimes, it’s just a shoulder (Marilyn, did you hear that?), but I found a terrific mentor and some darn good friends in this group. The second, Redwood Writers is my local writers club. Through membership and volunteering, I found out about goal setting, marketing strategies, immense help with the writing craft, and again, building relationships.

We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave, or do they run the show? My first novel took me almost a decade to write, so I was pretty clear on who was going to do what. By the time I was underway with the second manuscript, I had a plan, but these darn main characters decided to hijack the story. Originally, Nick and Meredith were partners and not supposed to fall in love. But things being what they are, in Intent to Hold, their feelings for each other emerged. By the third story, With Malice Aforethought, they both knew a relationship was unavoidable. So yeah, they tend to run the show.

Do you base any of your characters on real people? Funny, people ask me that all the time. Most of my characters are a mash-up of people I’ve known throughout my career in law enforcement. The criminal types are complete fiction, but the cop and civilians are part ‘so-and-so’ with a dash of ‘that guy.’ The only exception was a peripheral character in Malice. One of my readers recognized him (we had both worked with him), and we got a good laugh. He’d passed away at that point.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I’m an inveterate outliner. I like structure, and in mysteries/thrillers, the author has to intersperse clues and red herrings in appropriate places. I don’t like to go back and do it, so I plan them out. But, as I said above, sometimes the characters have their own agendas and take over the story. Thank God for computers. I’d hate to have to do all that on a typewriter.

What is the best book you ever read? Hands down, Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. It has everything: drama, history, humor, romance, physicality, and horses.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I’ve got another book percolating while I do my edits. It will be a new set of characters that I hope readers will be equally fascinated with. For now, it’s set in Ireland. I’ve never been there, but once Covid 19 is under control, I plan on traveling there and anywhere else where I can persuade my husband to go. He’s ready, too.

Comment by Michael A. Black: Thonie Hevron’s latest novel, The Felony Murder Rule, is a real winner. The engaging characters had me rooting for Meredith and Nick all the way through this complex case that involves a crime from the past that comes to roost in the present. Ms. Hevron’s smooth and elegant writing style, combined with the intricate plot and excellent characterization, makes it a very pleasant reading experience. ~ Michael A. Black, author of Legends of the WestDying Art and Cold Fury in the Executioner series (as Don Pendleton), and Gunslinger: Killer’s Brand (as A.W. Hart).

Where can our visitors contact you or buy your books?

With Malice Aforethought,

Intent to Hold

By Force or Fear

Felony Murder Rule

Featured book on Local Authors Distributor FB page

Facebook Thonie Hevron Author Page

Website: thoniehevron.com

Email: badgec65@gmail.com

9 Comments

  1. Jeane Slone

    Excellent interview questions, George.
    I love selling Thonie’s books at 3 Farmer’s Markets, two in Santa Rosa and one in Petaluma. Our local people love to read books that take place in their county. Thonie’s latest book is very popular and is set in her town of Petaluma, I love telling people that there is a chase scene on D Street! Keep writing Thonie you have a great fan base being established!
    Jeane Slone, distributor of local authors books.
    info@jeaneslone.com

    Reply
  2. Vicki Weisfeld

    Great interview. I’ll order the new book. Liked your comment about Lonesome Dove. My great-grandparents lived in Loving, Texas, a small town established on land owned by the grandson of cattle driver Oliver Loving, who with Charles Goodnight, created a famous cattle trail, well west of the Chisolm Trail. Lonesome Dove is a slightly fictionalized account of one of their cattle drives. So I always feel a pang of association when that novel comes up!

    Reply
    • Thonie Hevron

      Fascinating to hear of your association.. I always thought the Goodnight Ranch was the inspiration for Lonesome Dove.

      Reply
  3. Michael A. Black

    I was lucky enough to read an ARC of The Felony Murder Rule and thought it was a great read. I highly recommend it. Thonie’s an excellent writer.

    Reply
    • Thonie Hevron

      Thanks for the great comment, Mike. Coming from you means a lot!

      Reply
  4. John Schembra

    I’m half-way through “Felony Murder Rule” and can’t put it down. A wonderful story with great characters. I’ve read the first three books, and hope Thonie continues writing about the adventures of Nick and Meredith.

    Reply
    • Thonie Hevron

      Thanks, John. I think they have one more case hatching.

      Reply
  5. Marilyn Meredith

    Thanks for mentioning me, Thonie, at least I hope it was me. This is a really good book , folks. I’ve read them all, and if you like mysteries, be sure and get Thonie’s.

    Reply
    • Thonie Hevron

      Yes, Marilyn. That was you! You’ve given me some darn good advice through the years. You’re also one of the few offered shoulders that I trust. Thanks for that!

      Reply

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Deven Green – Researcher, Biochemist, Traveler – Author

My debut novel, Unnatural, Erica Rosen MD Trilogy Book 1, is a medical thriller

Unnatural features a San Francisco pediatrician who happens upon a Chinese girl with blue eyes. Puzzled by this seeming impossibility (Chinese people have brown or occasionally green eyes – but not blue), Erica eventually learns that the girl is the product of embryonic stem cell gene editing performed at a secret government facility in China. Erica and her roommate, Daisy (a Chinese American), head off to China to expose the secret operation and rescue the girl’s younger brother, who is being held at the secret facility.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I’m in between. I have a definite plot and resolution in mind, as well as many of the stops along the way. However, I do not make a detailed outline. As I write, I’ve found that I come up with ideas that are better than many I think of ahead of time, so I go along with those changes.

Do you write in more than one genre? I’ve been sticking to the suspense/thriller genre, mostly medical suspense/thriller. I enjoy using my background in biochemistry and medicine when developing my plots. Keeping the details accurate is challenging and fun.

What is your writing process? I come up with a general concept, either something I’ve read about or something that pops into my head. After that, I need time to develop a plot around the concept. For Unnatural, I decided to write about embryonic stem cell gene editing. Then I figured out the where and the who. My writing is more plot-driven than character-driven, although I do put a lot of thought into developing the characters.

What kind of research do you do?  I do a lot of research. For instance, for Unnatural, I learned about gene editing with CRISPR/Cas9. The technology that forms the backbone of my story, by reading A Crack in Creation by Jennifer Doudna and Samuel Sternberg. Dr. Doudna recently won the Nobel Prize for her work in that area. Another book I read was Young China by Zach Dychtwald, where I learned a lot about the current culture.  I also read relevant references online. I find the internet indispensable not only for researching the scientific aspects of my writing but also for maps, pictures, videos, and information on hotels, airline flights, and general fact-checking. I’ve found that such research often leads to pesky emails and website ads for things, such as hotels and restaurants in Beijing. A small price to pay for all the information I can gather from the comfort of my home.

Where do you write? I like to write in my home office, at my PC. I bought myself a large, curved screen a year ago, which makes my writing much easier. I can have my word document open while I search the internet for information. Sometimes I’ll reference an eBook I display on my screen. When I have finished the whole novel, I can scroll through many pages at a time to look for underlines Word has made. I find the large screen to be very efficient. I prefer to work in a quiet environment, but since I don’t live alone, that’s often impossible.  When I’m traveling (something I barely remember doing, but which I hope to do in the future), I bring my laptop but mostly use that only for typing short stories and editing, not for novel writing. For that, I like my home setup.

How much of your plots or characters are drawn from real life? All of my characters are fictional, although I give many of them attributes I have gleaned from people I have encountered. For instance, in the first novel I wrote (unpublished at this time), one of the characters was a graduate student in biochemistry who was also a nun. That’s an unusual combination.  However, years ago, when I was a biochemistry graduate student myself, there was another graduate student who was also a nun. Strangely, she also had a prosthetic leg. I let my fictional graduate student keep both her legs because one has to be careful not to make fiction as bizarre as real life often is—readers won’t go for it.

As I am very familiar with laboratory and hospital settings, it is easy for me to come up with accurate descriptions.  I had to google some specialized laboratories and equipment, however, to accurately describe some things. I found YouTube videos extremely helpful.

What are you currently working on? I am working on books two and three of the trilogy. Book two is titled Unwitting; I haven’t decided on a name for the third book. While the main story in Unnatural reaches a resolution, the next two books include developments in the lives of Erica and other characters introduced in book one, as well as new problems Erica finds herself thrust into.

How do readers contact you?

I can be contacted through my website https://www.devengreene.com

My blog is https://www.devengreene.com/blog

My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/devengreeneauthor

My Instagram name is: devengreeneauthor

 

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Jim Hasse

    I enjoyed reading parts of Unnatural as it was being developed, and my wife is reading the book right now. Researching what the Chinese are doing, it all seems very plausible. I look forward to Unwitting.

    Reply
  2. Deven Greene

    Thanks for reading the interview, Michael. When I wrote the novel, I had no idea the Chinese were already involved in the type of human gene editing forbidden by international agreement. Scary stuff!

    Reply
    • John Schembra

      Good interview, Doc. I’m really enjoying the book. The characters are realistic, the plot believable, and your writing style is great! I am looking forward to the next two! Keep,writing!

      Reply
  3. Michael A. Black

    Good interview. The topic sounds interesting,especially in view of the reports that the Chinese are involved in all sorts of gene splicing research activities with their military. Goo luck with your writing.

    Reply

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Award Winning Author Robert Dugoni

Highly Acclaimed Author, Robert Dugoni, Shares His Thoughts

Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon Internationally Best-Selling Author of 20 novels in The Tracy Crosswhite police detective series set in Seattle, the David Sloane legal thriller series, and the Charles Jenkins espionage series as well as several standalone novels including The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell,  a  #1 Amazon kindle download and The Cyanide Canary, a Washington Post best book of the year. Several novels have been optioned for television series. Robert is the recipient of the Nancy Pearl Award for fiction and many other awards.

I’m known mostly for my mysteries and thrillers, specifically the Tracy Crosswhite series, which is now eight novels. But I’ve always enjoyed other genres. I grew up mostly reading literary novels like The Great Gatsby, A Prayer for Owen Meaney, and The Old Man and the Sea. I got the opportunity to write a literary novel with The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, and it did very well. I have a second literary novel coming out next September, The World Played Chess. I’ve also written a successful espionage series with Charles Jenkins, a spinoff character from my legal series with David Sloane.

My 8th Tracy Crosswhite Novel, In Her Tracks, will be out in April 2021. The World Played Chess will be out in September 2021.

What brought you to writing? I’ve always loved to write. My mother would hand me classic literary novels when I was young, and by the seventh grade, I knew I wanted to write stories. In high school, I edited the school newspaper, and in college, I majored in journalism, and creative writing, then went to work for The Los Angeles Times. I ended up in law school and practiced law for a while before getting back to writing. It took me several years to get established, and since 2013 I’ve written full time.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I now write at home. My wife and I added on a beautiful office with a lot of windows and ambient light. I treat it as a job, though I love what I do. I write full days, five days a week. The one distraction I allow now is golf. It gets me outdoors in the fresh air with good friends, and it’s a great distraction.

Tell us about your writing process: Monday through Friday and some weekdays when the muse is flowing, I write from seven in the morning until around four or five. When I am writing the story, as opposed to doing research, I read Stephen King’s novel, The Green Mile, every morning until I hear the muse. Then I begin. When writing the first draft, I don’t edit myself. I treat it almost like an outline. I write as fast as I can, learning about the characters and what they want and need. Then on the second draft, I go back and begin to add and cut as needed.

What are you currently working on? I have a Tracy Crosswhite mystery novel, In Her Tracks, coming out in April. A literary novel, The World Played Chess, is coming out in September, and I’m completing the third novel in the Charles Jenkins series, The Silent Sisters.

How long did it take you to write your first book? It was an ordeal. I must have thrown out 1000 pages and wrote 19 drafts over several years. I did it backwards. I wrote before I studied story structure and really understood how novels were told. Now I can write three novels in a year. I understand story structure after studying The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler and other craft novels.

How do you come up with character names?  I often use the obituaries because you know the names were real. There are also websites, like fakenamegenerator.com, but I don’t stay on the site for long. It just seems like the kind of sight where someone is sucking you in.

What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?  Honestly, the hardest part is not trying to write from the opposite sex. I get asked questions all the time about how I write from the perspective of Seattle Homicide Detective Tracy Crosswhite. My answer is I don’t try. I write from the perspective of a person who has been grievously injured in her life and is struggling to find a life for herself and later, for her family. Tracy wants what we all want in her personal and her professional life. I always try to keep that in mind.

 Do your protagonists ever disappoint you? Actually, it’s usually the opposite. They usually please me. When I’m really into a story and into a character, and I let that character tell the story rather than try to force the story, the character will often do things I never thought of or considered. That’s one of the best parts of being a writer, having characters surprise us.

Do you ever kill a popular character? If so, what happens to your story? I did in the David Sloane series upon very bad advice. I won’t do it again. Readers don’t like it. They feel you’re trying to manipulate them. I did it because I was told that married protagonists aren’t interesting. I’ve come to realize that simply isn’t true. Marriage comes with its own trials and tribulations, and it is those that make the characters real.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I’m a pantser. I’ve tried outlining, but I’m usually off the outline very quickly. Instead, I do a lot of research, and from the research, I usually find my characters and often scenes that become the story.

What kind of research do you do? I try to travel to all the locations I write about. Beyond that, I do a lot of research, reading books, papers, watching documentaries and television shows.

What is the best book you ever read? Probably Lonesome Dove.

How do our readers contact you? Your website, blog links, any links you want to be posted?

 www.robertdugonibooks.com

Facebook.com/AuthorRobertDugoni

Twitter: @robertdugoni

 

14 Comments

  1. Connie Miller

    Great interview. Reading ‘The Jury Master’s got me hooked. After the last one in that series and knowing he was searching for a new publisher, when he finally landed one it was a great day!! Since then, well, look at him go!! Just so HAPPY to see!!

    Reply
  2. John Schembra

    Good interview. Always interesting to read how successful authors became successful, and their writing process

    Reply
  3. Brian Thiem

    Great interview, George. Robert Dugoni is one of my favorite authors. I was thrilled when he blurbed my first novel for me.

    Reply
  4. Peg Brantley

    Congratulations on all of those new releases! One of these days I’ll figure out what works for me. In the meantime, I’m thrilled to learn more about your books! I have THE CONVICTION, IN THE CLEARING, AND MY SISTER’S GRAVE, and will most definitely grab some more. Thank you, and continued success!

    Reply
  5. Debra Bokur

    Excellent interview with an inspiring author. Thanks for the post, George!

    Reply
  6. Jane

    I’m so looking forward to the next Tracy Crosswhite novel and beyond excited to hear there’s a 3rd Charles Jenkins book on the way!!! I love reading authors from the PNW and Robert is one of the best!

    Reply
  7. John Bluck

    It’s revealing that your protagonists please you. I assume the characters come alive and begin to talk. If a character would have to do what an outline says, then he’s muzzled. That’s why a detailed plan may hinder storytelling. It would block the character’s critical emotions, actions, words, and thoughts. I guess your typing or handwriting must almost happen like you’re on autopilot as the story unfolds, dreamlike. So, is it as if your brain wrote a dream script, but you don’t exactly know how your inner self did it?

    Reply
  8. Deven Greene

    Thank you for your interesting interview. I remember meeting you in 2012 (I think that was the year) at the San Francisco Writers Conference, where I took your course on writing thrillers. I asked you a question, which you answered thoughtfully.

    You are not only an excellent writer, but you are a wonderful and inspiring teacher. You are one of the few lecturers I remember from that meeting.

    Coincidentally, my first novel is being released next month. Thank you for all you do.

    Reply
  9. Marilyn Meredith

    Excellent interview! Always fun to read how a successful author “does it.”

    Reply
  10. Jess

    Great Q&A. I took Robert Dugoni‘s writing seminar at Killer Nashville. It was the best I’ve seen. How I wish he’d put together a writing book using those notes—or a pamphlet, or pdf. He’s the best conference teacher/speaker I’ve come across. He seems to care about his readers and other writers.

    Reply
    • Peg Brantley

      Wow, Jess. That would really be cool. And to get the word out, he could hold some online webinars. Do you think he’d let us have at his calendar?

      Reply
  11. Lenora Worth

    I love that you read “The Green Mile” for finding the muse. And that you’re a pantser.
    I’m a pantser, and sometimes that gets me into trouble. But I can’t write any other way.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  12. julie Royce

    Terrific interview of one of my very favorite authors. I’m lookinng forward to In Her Tracks.

    Reply
  13. Cindy Sample

    Thanks for sharing your writing journey with us and congratulations on the success of your multiple series. I’m looking forward to the next Tracy Crosswhite mystery.

    Reply

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