What inspired you to write your first book?
I initially thought of writing as a way to make money, and lots of it, but as I did more research, I read time and time again that most writers will never be able to support themselves with their writing alone. That was a sobering thought, but I didn’t want that to stop me from at least trying. I continued to read books about how to write — I bought at least 20-25 books, some of which I have read multiple times — and when I tried it for myself, I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I wrote something that moved people emotionally. It’s that acclamation from other people that motivates me to continue writing.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes, I try to write simple sentences, changing the structure to make it easy to follow, and I don’t use big words that most people won’t know the meaning of. I like to think that my dialogue is full of conflict and reflects the characters’ traits and biases. When I write, I try not to create word combinations that would sound foreign if they were spoken out loud. I believe my style of writing is conversational and smooth, and that it conjures up images in the reader’s mind that are specific to that individual, instead of being so descriptive that there is only one possible image that can be thought of.
How did you come up with the title?
In coming up with the title, I wanted something simple that would be easy to say, not easily misunderstood, and was based on the crime that needed to be solved. It started out as a working title, and by the time the book was completed, I couldn’t think of anything else that personified both the crime and the one responsible for what happened.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The book starts out focusing on the death of Neil Baines, and how a small-town lawyer, Taylour Dixxon, found herself defending his wife, who is the one accused of perpetrating the crime. I chose a small-town lawyer because I wanted to highlight the challenges that these sole practitioners face, day in and day out, as they try to practice law outside of the big city. The message that I want the reader to come away with is that the job of a lawyer, especially in a small town, is vitally important to the sustainability of order in society. It can sometimes be a thankless job, but in the end, Taylour knows that this is where she belongs.
How much of the book is realistic?
I took bits and pieces of places and buildings that I know and made a fictitious town of Marlinsville, TX. Some of the pieces were patterned after where I live, with certain names of restaurants and streets and festivals that are similar, and I chose a central county in Texas (Falls) and the county seat (Marlin) for the actual spot on the map, but the description of the town itself is made up and has no similarities to the actual town of Marlin, TX.
Are the experiences in the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not at all. I did reach out to a small town attorney named J. Burton Hunter, III who helped me with some of the legal questions that I had, but the characters and experiences are not based on any actual events.
What books have most influenced your life the most?
The books that have influenced me the most are the scriptures of my church, including the Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon, as well as the books that I have read of several mystery authors, John Grisham, Dick Francis, Jeffrey Archer, just to name a few.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My biggest challenge is finding the time to do everything that I need to do with the limited resources that I have. Between writing, spending time with my family, working my day job, fulfilling my church responsibilities, marketing my book, and a thousand other things, I never seem to have enough time to do everything that I want. I am not good at prioritizing my time, and I do like to watch certain TV shows that I can’t seem to give up.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part was trying to tie everything together. I wanted to use most of what I wrote, but some of the scenes didn’t always fit, so I either had to adapt the scene or cut it all together if it didn’t move the story along. Also, there were times when I was simply too exhausted to type any further, but I needed to complete the scene so that I wasn’t falling behind schedule. I had to push through that more than once.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you know, and don’t be afraid to create characters that have flaws. No one likes a perfect protagonist or someone who is always happy. Inject humor when possible, but don’t overdo it. Decide early on if you want to write for the sheer joy of writing, or if you want an audience. If you want to write for an audience, then know who that audience is and write as much as you can.
Also, you need to read about the art of writing! Study and see examples of different points of view, learn how to develop plot and characters, and understand the underlying structure of a great story.
And finally, tell everyone that you are writing a book because 1) people think it’s cool that you are a future author, 2) it will motivate you to keep writing when your friends and family constantly ask about your book, and 3) it will help you to sell more books because you are creating buzz, and buzz sells.
This interview first appeared on Smashwords.