Where there any specific authors or books that sparked ideas for your upcoming debut novel?
Sure, I was reading 'A Reliable Wife' by Robert Goolrick two and a half years ago and something clicked for me. I liked how I felt the characters' neediness and desperation. The way he described them (in sometimes too much detail!) really left an impression on me. I particularly liked his voice in the book (I'd describe it as minimalist).
What things did you research during the writing of the novel?
TIME PERIOD. Lol! About the time I thought I had it nailed down, something wouldn't fit and I'd have to do hours more of research to either reassure myself it would work or to find a viable solution. I think it ended up changing at least four or five times. Other topics I found myself researching were transportation during the 1800's (packet/steamer ships, railroad lines, and how far you could travel in a week by carriage), building of the Brooklyn Bridge, spying in the 19th century, clothing in the 1890's, Spanish cigar rolling papers, Upstate New York, and poisonous fruits/vegetables. It's amazing how many rabbit holes you find yourself going down...
How long did it take you to write 'M'?
Almost three years. I've come to realize I'm a v-e-r-y s-l-o-w writer and can't really crank out a book in three months. Plus, I think a first novel always takes the longest and you are allowed that time. I have friends who are prolific outputting machines (you know who you are) and I marvel at them. I'm definitely the tortoise when it comes down to it BUT I can say my first drafts are equivalent to a second or third draft once I've crossed the finish line. Haven't quite figured out if that's a good thing or not.
Why do you write?
I guess the easiest way to answer this question is to simply say, I can't NOT write. There's something inside of me that compels me to write, kind of like a balloon that's going to pop if you don't let the air out of it. I'm miserable if I don't write (and usually miserable when I do write, but that's another story). It's something I've always come back to and it will be a part of my life for as long as I'm inspired to do so.
What have you learned from writing 'M' and the novel creating process as a whole?
There are two things I have taken away from writing my debut novel. The first is, I can do it. I have what it takes to plot, write, re-write, finish, edit, edit some more, polish, (and so soon–to publish) a story. I think for a lot of authors, that's a huge hurdle to jump over. I've always had a difficult time finishing and polishing a work because of the amount of time and dedication it requires. It's so easy to get distracted or have the dreaded "new-fresh-exciting idea" pull you away. So I'm thrilled I'm almost to the point of being able to say I've cleared that hurdle. And second, I can say I have a better understanding of what my voice is like. Now, I'm deathly afraid of pigeonholing myself where every novel feels the same. I'm hoping every story I write is unique and different from the previous ones. Only time will tell. And even though I can't define what my voice is in concrete terms to someone, I can say I'm comfortable with where I was at for 'M'. Yet I'm noticing a change (an evolution, perhaps?) in my voice as I work on my second novel.
How would you describe your 'style'?
Like I said earlier, I don't want to pigeonhole myself into a certain style because as a person and writer, I'm inquisitive. I'm not happy with status quo. I want to grow and change (for the better, hopefully!) and would be very unhappy with writing just say only suspense novels for the rest of my life. So what I've been able to settle on is that my novels are relationship driven. Whether it's family dynamics, romance, etc. I find myself questioning and contemplating why people treat each other the way they do. Why do people betray others? How do we deal with forgiveness? Can we truly forget wrongs? How do we find redemption? Why do we need to be loved? I think it's fascinating!! So much so, I guess it's what I decide to focus my writing on.
To be cont'd...