My love of stories started when I was very young. Listening to my father’s simplified version of Shakespeare at bedtime awakened my imagination. When I was six, I moved from suburban Boston to Italy with my family. Living in a two-bedroom apartment in the industrial city of Turin we didn’t own a television. I spent my free time reading The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and many other juvenile fiction classics. My passion for literature really took hold during those years.
We returned to the States when I was eleven, to the same house on an acre of grass and trees that we had left. The main floor of our home was always neat and clean, with plastic covers on the common area furniture to keep the children and the dust off, while downstairs my father’s thousands of stacked books held dusty court. To this day, I love well-used books.
When I was younger, the thought of writing a book seemed so arduous to me. I wanted to work in business. At Boston College, I majored in English because I loved the subject. I figured I would learn about business by working in companies, not by studying them. After working in commercial real estate, investment banking, and in my own recruiting firm for many years, I decided that what I really wanted to do was write novels.
What inspires you to write?
I like to do jigsaw puzzles. I find the process of searching for pieces and snapping them into place very satisfying. Taking a story idea and working it into a finished product is sort of like working on a puzzle. Coming up with the pieces of the story (the characters, conflict, theme, and setting) and making them all fit into a cohesive whole is rewarding because it’s challenging; and because the final product is a personal part of me and of my world-view that I get to share with others.
Tell us about your writing process.
For my first book, Sufficient Ransom, I outlined the entire story in fair detail. After I wrote the first draft I saw that I needed to change a lot of the story, because it wasn’t working. So I went back and changed the outline and kept doing that, back and forth, until I was happy with the plot. I used Excel to organize my outline.
I did create detailed character sketches for each character. After the first draft I made some major changes in the sketches too, because my original conception of them had changed.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
They talk and I record what they say. When I’m alone sometimes driving, I’ll talk in the voice of one my characters. I think about my characters a lot, asking myself what they would do in certain situations. This helps to tease out the nuances of who they are.
What advice would you give other writers?
Learn as much as you can about the craft of writing before you start your writing project and also as you are in the middle of it. Learning how to write is an iterative process and one that necessitates making lots of mistakes in the beginning. We learn as we do.
Also, seek out professionals who will honestly tell you what’s wrong with your story. After I completed my first draft, the novelist whom I consulted bluntly told me what was wrong with Sufficient Ransom. Consulting her early on saved me lots of time working on a story that wasn’t working. Each professional I consulted afterwards, as well as some well-read, literary friends who read the manuscript, helped me see what needed to be improved. Develop a thick skin early on. Criticism should be viewed with gratitude not an ego.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I published with CreateSpace, a division of Amazon. I had queried agents and some independent presses. One press asked to read the whole manuscript after the initial query. Their interest was the encouragement I needed to keep plugging away, having been rejected so many times before. In the end, when they passed, I wasn’t too disappointed because I knew I had a chance to make it with Amazon. I also knew that most authors these days, regardless of how they are published, need to market themselves. The work of getting the word out has to be done one way or other, so why not keep more of the profits.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
My crystal ball tells me…. I have no idea!
All I can say now is that I am truly grateful for the advances in technology that have made my dreams of becoming a writer real.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Thriller, mystery and suspense, historical fiction,
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print