Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Authorsday Guest. W.S. Gager

Today I welcome mystery author W.S. Gager. I put her under the microscope and see what she has to say.
Please give a warm blog welcome to W.S. Gager

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Since I was named editor of the eighth grade newspaper. Prior to that I had always written and just thought that was what everyone did. My English teacher was a typical stereotype who wore big bottle bottom glasses and didn’t seem to like any of her students. Her comment was: “You’re the only one who I actually enjoy reading your weekly journal,” which was high praise. I’ve always written ever since. My ambition in college was to work at the Washington Post as another Woodward and Bernstein. Never quite journeyed that far. I got as far as upstate New York for a summer and realized I liked the Midwest but loved the wine country. I’ve have always earned my living with writing just in different forms. It wasn’t until I was recovering from surgery more than three years ago that my dream of writing a novel reared up and I couldn’t stop it. This time I was going to accomplish it. I’ve since written three manuscripts and the third one has been published.

How did you pick the genre you write in?
After I wrote my first full-length novel I gave it to a friend in a writer’s group I belong to for feedback. My reading material at that time had all been predominately romance novels. I have always been a voracious reader and many times I thought “I could write something better romance than this.” Hence, my first novel was a romance. When we met to go over it, she was very sweet but I will never forget this: “Honey, I don’t think you are a romance writer.” Least to say I was immediately crushed but stayed to listen to what else she had to say. Her next sentence was: “You’re a mystery author.” She went on to relate how the mystery had overtaken the romance by leaps and bounds and that was well done. After I thought about it, I did some soul searching and realized she was right. I much preferred creating a great whodunit and the rest is history.

Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I am a panser. Just something about me that fails to conform to an outline. Must be that inner rebel from my terrible teens. When I start a new book and currently I’m gearing up to get the first draft of the third Mitch Malone Mystery done, I have an idea of what will happen and good idea of what characters will be in the beginning and the first three chapters swirling around in my head. From there anything can happen and usually does. The third book will take place in the high stakes world of real estate where I have a part time job. It won’t be based on anything here but the research and possibilities have been great. It is also therapeutic because when I get frustrated, I just let my mind think of different ways to kill off the bad guy in my book whether it is fast and quick or more drawn out. You just can’t stay angry when you have been picturing them lying in a pool of blood on the floor. I just have to keep telling myself it is fiction and I can’t do any on-the-job research. Luckily no sharp objects are near me. LOL.

Why did you pick the publisher that ultimately published your book?
I picked it for a number of reasons. It was a smaller press, was located in the Midwest and the publisher seemed to have a great relationship with its authors. It also was willing to publish my book! Each year Oak Tree Press holds a contest and the winner gets a publishing contract. Mitch grabbed the publisher’s interest and didn’t let it go and I received the publishing contract. In addition, she has agreed to publish the subsequent Mitch Malone Mysteries. Don’t get me wrong, prior to entering the contest, I had a stack of rejections and was frustrated and hoped I would get some feedback from the contest. I got the best feedback and getting published by way of the contest worked for me.
Describe your book.
This is a fun one. My book is an amateur sleuth style mystery. If I had to say it would be a cozy mystery, but I don’t like that term because my main sleuth is anything but cozy. When I started writing, I wanted to incorporate the feel from the hard-boiled detective era when a good detective wouldn’t be caught dead without a trench coat. Mitch Malone, my main character, isn’t a detective, but a newspaper reporter with a great eye for detail, but not comfortable being in the 21st century. I also wanted the book to have a noir feel. I can’t really tell you why, but I like that era and that’s what came out. My first Mitch Malone book was just busting at the seams to get out of my brain that I just had to go with it. Although, I must admit when I started the series I thought it would be about the female foil to Mitch, Patrenka. However, the more I wrote, the more Mitch took over. I do like Patrenka and she will be an ongoing character, maybe making another major appearance in book 3, or at least that is the plan for today . . .tomorrow may be a different plan.

What do you consider your strengths in terms of your writing?
My strengths in writing are dialogue. I was a reporter for various newspapers for a decade and always wrote people’s words down verbatim. From that, I could look at my notes and see whether the quotes I did were accurate if they sounded like the people who said them. After working at newspapers and when my children were small, I did a little speech writing and used the same principals. Each character has his/her own voice and way of talking. This also helps me with their characterization. I always recommend to writers having a problem with dialogue is to go to a busy place like the mall, restaurant or even the park and listing to snatches of conversation without looking at the people. Get a picture in your head of who you think would be saying that and see how close you are. Of course you can be way off and that adds a comedic element. In A Case of Infatuation, Frank is that comedic level. He has a very tough, low, ragged voice and when you see him, it doesn’t fit his build or occupation as an accountant.
What do you consider your weaknesses? Proof reading, proof reading, proof reading. I have such a picture in my mind when I write and I get so excited to put it on the paper that I tend to not type little important works like a, the, it, etc. When I reread and edit, I don’t always catch those then either. I have a great critic group who does help me. I would recommend finding a critic group even if it is online, they can really help move your writing to the next level. I would not be published today if not for them.

What’s your writing schedule?
I need a writing schedule? LOL! I would love a writing schedule but my life right now doesn’t allow that. I have to be flexible and take what I can get. It seems the minute I schedule “writing time,” a crisis erupts. My best writing time is in the car traveling to sporting events, family reunions, shopping, etc. I have a laptop that can plug into the lighter and away we go. Of course I am not driving! In the car there are no distractions and I can get a lot done! That’s what works for me and it is amazing how much time I spend in a car. Not good for my green footprint, but great for my writing!

What place that you haven’t visited would you like to go?
I would like to go to Italy. I spent a summer 20 years ago backpacking through Europe but we never made it to Italy and I would love to hear Italian conversation and get a feel for a Latin culture. Honestly, I just love to travel and would go anywhere I could get, the budget just doesn’t allow for much.

What’s your favorite food?
Hamburgers. In my book, Mitch is on a quest for a great hamburger and I believe he was channeling my hunger. I love a great tasting hamburger with fresh tomatoes that when you bit into it is a kaleidoscope of flavor that leaves juices running down your chin. Makes me hungry just thinking about it.
Book Blurb:
Crime Beat Reporter Mitch Malone's rules are simple: He never lets the blood and guts he covers bother him. He always works alone. And he hates kids. Mitch breaks all three rules when he unwittingly agrees to smuggle a potential witness out of a suburban Michigan home while police investigate a mob-style-hit that's left two dead bodies. Mitch sends his intern (a real hottie, but nonetheless an interloper) to interview neighbors, hoping to throw her off, but when he finds the pint-sized survivor the killer overlooked, he decides she might be helpful. When the FBI accuses him of the murder, Mitch goes into hiding with the bombshell intern who doesn't talk and the precocious preschooler. Mitch works his contacts to regain his freedom from his roommates only to find they each hold keys to a bizarre story of disappearances, terrorists and the perfect hamburger recipe.
Author Bio:
W.S. Gager has lived in West Michigan for most of her life except for stints early in her career as a newspaper reporter and editor. Now she enjoys creating villains instead of crossing police lines to get the story. She teaches English at a local college and is a soccer chauffeur for her children. During her driving time she spins webs of intrigue for Mitch Malone's next crime-solving adventure.


Margaret Tanner said...

Great interview,
A romance writer turned mystery writer, that sounds intriquing. I enjoyed your excerpt, even though I am not a mystery fan.
Best of luck with your writing

WS Gager said...

Thanks. Was a big surprise to me because I do love a good romance! Wendy

KM Fawcett said...

Nice interview. I'm now hungry for a juicy cheeseburger. :)

J Hali Steele said...

Your answer to being a plotter or panster is great, especially the inner rebel comment.;) Enjoyed reading the interview very much.

Joselyn Vaughn said...

Great interview, W.S. We'll have to plan a book tour of Italy. I want to go too.

WS Gager said...

Thanks everyone for taking a read. Hope you get a chance to pick up a copy and enjoy the read and don't get too hungry for hamburgers!
W.S. Gager

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