Debra Purdy Kong is an established mystery writer with two published series: The Casey Holland mysteries and the Alex Bellamy mysteries. She has her own blog, and she’s also a co-contributor on The Write Type blog, posting marvelous articles about the state of the publishing industry, such as How Social Media Helps, and Hurts, Are Conferences Losing Attendees? and Interesting Info on the State of Publishing.
When Debra asked me to take part in a blog tour that focuses on the writing process, I jumped at the chance if for no other reason than to introduce this fascinating woman. The arrangement is that I answer four questions about writing, then choose three other writers who will do the same. So I choose . . . you and you and you! All you have to do is answer the following questions on your blog and add a link back to me.
#1) What Am I Currently Working on?
Right now, I’m still concentrating on posting a blog a day, and I’m working on a non-writing project. That project should be finished in about three weeks, and then I will begin writing a new novel, something fun and whimsical. It started when my dance class suggested I write a book about them. One woman even volunteered to be the victim, though I can’t imagine why anyone would want to kill her. She is lovely, charming, and utterly delightful. I wasn’t going to write the story since it seemed a good way to lose a lot of friends, but at the lunch the other day, I almost whacked one of my classmates with my dance bag, and she deadpanned, “I’m not the one who volunteered to be the murder victim.” So I decided to write the book. I mean, how could I not use such a perfect line?
#2) How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?
I don’t really write to a genre. Libraries and bookstores used to be set up with a mystery section, a romance section, a science fiction section, and then all the rest of the novels. That’s what mine are — one of “all the rest.” (When I’m forced to name a genre, I say suspense/mystery because my novels fit better in that category than any other.)
The disheartening aspects of not having a genre are more than offset by the joy of having created four unique visions of the world, dozens of characters who would not have life without me, and vivid word pictures that exist only in my books.
Each of my books shows a particular vision of the world as I know it. A Spark of Heavenly Fire shows the horror of an all-too-possible pandemic, the even more horrific steps the government is ready to take, and the various ways, both heroic and craven, people might react to such an eventuality. More Deaths Than One shows the unthinkable results of mind control experiments, experiments that have actually been perpetrated without our knowledge. Daughter Am I is a more light-hearted romp, a treasure-hunting tale of finding oneself in a most unlikely way. And Light Bringer hints at a world where the Sumerian myth of a tenth planet — a planet of doom — is fact.
#3) Why Do I Write What I Do?
I write what I do because those stories captured my attention and kept it during the long months it takes me to write a novel. I know I’d be better off if I tried to write books that would capture the attention of a large readership, but I can only write what I’m enthusiastic about.
#4) How Does My Writing Process Work?
Seems silly, I know, in this electronic age, but I write fiction in pencil on loose-leaf paper. (I have a better mind/writing connection using pencil and paper than I have with a keyboard; a mechanical pencil is easier on my fingers than pen, and paper is easier on my eyes than a computer screen.)
I don’t know the entire story before I writing, but I do know the beginning, the end, and some of the middle. That way I can have it both ways: planning the book and making room for surprises.
I need to know a bit about the hero, but most of the time I get to know the characters the same way a reader would — by the way the characters act. I also need to write the story in the order it happens — it’s more satisfying for my logical mind and easier to keep track of — but if I get to a place where I know something happens without knowing what, I will skip it and go back later when I know what is missing.
So, there you have it. That’s how I write.
What about you? What are you currently working on? How does your work differ from others of its genre? Why do you write what you do? How does your writing process work?
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.