I understand you're a journalist.
I spent nearly twenty years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
where I covered local and national stories, edited columns and co-wrote a column with a beloved colleague and friend. A
newsroom is a fascinating place and, it's true, ink seeps through the skin and mixes with the blood and the itch to write
cannot be cured.
You have a new book out.
We’d love to hear about it.
WHEN SERPENTS DIE (Desert
Breeze Publishing, 4/2009), is a contemporary romance e-book. Laura Kate
O’Connell must leave her dangerous overseas assignments as a reporter to return to her Georgia hometown to raise her
two young cousins.
Her attorney, Royce Lee,
is believed to have committed suicide, but the evidence doesn’t support what the influential townsfolk would like to
believe. A suicide means no further investigation into his messy life, and no
ugly secrets revealed. But Laura Kate will follow her instincts, no matter what gentry wants.
Although her family was impoverished, she’s gentry herself. When
her rich Uncle Wallace and Aunt Eleanor died, they left her a plantation along with “her girls”.
She meets Jack Rhodes,
Royce Lee’s partner. Sparks fly, but she doesn’t fully trust him.
He seems to pop up in the most suspicious places and circumstances. She’s warned to back off the case, and someone tries
to kill her. Murder becomes more than a puzzle to solve; it’s personal.
She finds she has to
depend on Jack, but that could be dangerous. Besides, she can’t get past
his charisma and the way he makes her feel. She
must throw in with him to solve the case and save her own life.
You’ve recently signed
with a new publisher. Can you tell us about that?
Two publishers, actually. Desert
Breeze is publishing four novels in my Laura Kate Plantation Series, of which WHEN SERPENTS DIE is the first, or Book
1. St. Martin's Press is publishing a mystery, which I hope will become a series.
Desert Breeze is an e-book
publisher, isn't that true?
The Laura Kate Plantation Series is a romantic suspense, perfect for e-books. E-books have become another way
to enjoy reading. They won't replace paper (or at least I hope not), and New York publishers like St. Martin's
are offering their titles in e-book format.
Do you like to read on
I’ve never used an e-reader,
don’t own one, but they're certainly a godsend for trees.
Has the road to publishing
books been long, hard, eventful?
All of the above. After
my first book, I got a New York agent. I wrote three books with her, including
WHEN SERPENTS DIE under a different title. She couldn’t sell my books.
After we parted, occasionally I’d get the query bug, but that didn’t
pan out. I spent an entire year without once contacting an agent or publisher
while a manuscript of mine sat on a big independent publisher’s desk for two years.
That manuscript went on to win a big prize, didn't it?
Yes, THE END GAME will be out on April 27, 2010, just in time for Malice Domestic, a big book fan convention in
Washington D. C. and one of the sponsors of the competition. St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books was the other sponsor.
You have several
books in print (or upcoming releases). Is there a favorite among them? Why?
THE LAST BUS TO ALBUQUERQUE (Longstreet
Press) and SOUTHERN BY THE GRACE OF GOD (Longstreet Press) are the writings of Lewis Grizzard. After his death in
1994, I complied and edited his newspaper columns into the two books. Grizzard was a humorist and columnist for
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, my career home for twenty years. He became my mentor. That fact alone makes these two books favorites. He was a funny,
dear man and I still miss him.
“Q&A on the News”
(Longstreet Press) is a collection of the best news columns I wrote for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
I wrote LOOK AWAY FROM EVIL (Writer’s
Showcase, 2000), a mainstream novel that reflects the mystique of the South and its quirky characters.
What does your writing
schedule look like? Are you a morning writer? A night owl?
My writing schedule works
around my golf game, which works around my sore back. I’m not an early
riser, and, once up and coffeed-out, I tackle the emails. When the dreaded
writer’s block begins to cramp my brain, I do housework. Folding socks is
so much fun and a very good reason not to sit at the computer.
Do you have a writer’s
cave? Can we see a picture?
Nothing so dramatic. I have a small study/office that overlooks palms and our garden.
Lots of interesting things going on to distract me from writing. I am easily distracted.
Do you have a day job?
How do you balance the two?
I’d say golf is work,
and sometimes I win money.
What advice do you have
for aspiring writers?
Slog away and don't give up.
Improve your craft; give your talent a chance.
What is your next project?
Finish the edits for HONORED DAUGHTERS, Laura Kate Plantation Series, Book Two.
Do you have any writing
rituals? Like special music, times of the day, food quirks, etc?
I write in the afternoon
when all excuses not to write have been made and fulfilled. I find I can only
create (i.e. pull the plot out of my head) for about two hours. My brain becomes
a sieve after that. I love to revise. It’s
all there in front of me. I just have to make it make sense. And for that, I can sit until my back-side starts to shout, “That’s it!” around cocktail
Today, writers need not
only write great books, but be great promoters of their books, too. What kinds of things do you do?
I don’t think I’m
unique in saying I’d rather write than market. I’ve been on radio
and TV and did book signings. Promotion is work and takes me away from my
palm trees and my garden. And golf.
If you could interview
any of the characters in your books, which one would it be, and why? What shocking thing might that character say?
Jack Rhodes. He handsome, drips southern charm, is witty and irreverent. Among other things, he’d say, “Why in hell did you create me, then make
Laura Kate hate me?”
Now, here is the totally
off-writing subject question. What’s the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done?
Too X-rated to be discussed.
What else would you like
to tell us?
I’ve already said enough.