Wednesday, May 17, 2017

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Blair McDowell

     Tell me a about yourself. What got you started in writing?

I’ve been a “writer” since somebody first put a pencil in my hand. I’ve always made up stories. However my love of writing fiction didn’t have free compass until I retired from University teaching, during which time I wrote six professional books and many articles.

Once retired, I returned to my first love, fiction. My sixth Romantic Suspense, Fatal Charm, will be released some time during the summer.


How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?

    With a friend, I run a B&B on Canada’s Sunshine Coast. That means mornings are a pretty busy time for us. When we’re through with our chores I fortify myself with a double espresso and settle down to write. I aim for 4 hours a day of just writing. No Facebook, no mail, just writing. Some of that time may be in on-line research, but not unless it’s directly related to what I’m writing.

     How and where do you write? Do you prefer a lap top or some other method of getting your words down?

I work on a laptop. At home, on the west coast, I have a large comfy chair and a lapboard in my bedroom. When the tourist season is over, I travel, Italy, France, Greece, the settings of my books. This year it will be to Scotland. My laptop is always with me. But I also carry a small moleskin notebook. I make note on people, on accents, on appearance, on anything that catches my fancy, and particularly on place. I put these notes into a file on my laptop daily.

But my favorite writing space is on the veranda of the little Caribbean house where we spend our winters. I can raise my eyes and watch the little yellow birds at their feeder and gaze at the sea in the distance as I try to figure out how I’m going to get my heroine out of her latest peril.

 What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?

My least favorite part is certainly marketing. I want to be working on my next book instead. My solution to that is to have someone help me with marketing.

My favorite part? Creating people and helping them solve their seemingly unsolvable problems. I love plotting.
  
     How did you come up with your book idea? How long did it take you to write your book?



Where Lemons Bloom took about eight months to write, another four to make changes suggested by my editor. Fatal Charm, due to be released this summer, about the same. Working with a good professional editor like Kinan Werdski at Wild Rose Press takes time, but it always produces a better book. I’m that rare writer who actually enjoys the editing process.

As to where my ideas come from? Place, always they come from setting. I stand in the Parthenon, the Louvre, on a cliffside on Santorini, and the ideas come pouring in. My characters seem to be born of my settings.

     What types of marketing do you do to promote your writing?

I don’t. I leave that to my wonderful Marketing Assistant, who knows what she’s doing.

It seems to me the best responses we had on the last book were from advertising on professional sites. Reviews help also, and they’re necessary BEFORE the book is out, so I suggest to other authors that you line up reviewers who have been good to you in the past, and get prepublication reviews.

     What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?

The latest book out is Where Lemons Bloom, the story of two people who unexpectedly come together after life-changing experiences. They find their second chance in a small inn on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Except, this being a story of suspense, there are some pretty dangerous people who find their very existence a threat.

The next out (soon I hope) will be Fatal Charm. A failed jewelry heist at the Louvre five years ago results in extreme danger for a young Berkeley jewelry designer and her history professor boyfriend, Colin. To right a wrong, they travel to Paris and Brittany, with danger dogging their footsteps.

And I am presently working on a book as yet untitled, set in the Scottish Highlands.

I usually have one book just out, one in the editing stage and one just started. I’m not happy if I’m not writing.

Do you have a project on the back burner? Tell me about it.

That would be my Scottish book, as yet untitled. A young woman visiting Scotland for the first time discovers the diary of a woman who died 200 years ago. From that point the story moves back and forth in time between the two interwoven tales, one in the present, one in the past. There are, of course, an unsolved murder and other mysteries to unravel.

What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?

Don’t be discouraged. Writing is as much about perseverance as about talent. Take courses in writing. They’re offered evenings through many universities. And they do help. Then write. And submit your writing to publishers. Often you’ll hear nothing back. That has happened to all of us. Don’t stop submitting. Contests too are a way to get critiques of your writing. And join your local writers’ group. Also join RWA. RWA offers courses and their magazine is full of writing helps.

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Question for Kathryn:

I feel we are losing “storytelling”. I understand about POV, but is there never a place anymore for the kind of magical telling of a story? The kind of storytelling that Michener did in Chesapeake and Hawaii? That Rutherford did in Paris and Dumas did in Camille? I feel we are losing something important when we never allow the omnipotent point of view.

I think books have simply evolved through the years, and not necessarily in the best way. I also think readers have become too busy, and many want an 'easy' read, one that will fill their minds with people and places, not something they may have to struggle to get through, though the telling might be beautifully done. 

Like converting from eight tracks to cassettes and then to CDs and finally to audio plays, there is something to be said for going with the flow. Publishing has also changed through the years, and it's up to the writer to keep up. 


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 Learn more about Blair: 


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