Friday, April 19, 2013

Interview With A Suspense Writer

Interview With Rosemary McCracken

1.      What type of books do you write? I write suspense fiction with a hen-lit component. Pat Tierney, my protagonist, is a forty-something widow, the mother of two daughters and a business woman who refuses to let life’s knocks get her down. In Safe Harbor, the first book in the series, Pat learns that her late husband was the father of a boy who’s now seven years old. Stunned at first by the revelation of his affair, she rallies to protect the child from danger.

2.      What is your newest book about?  Black Water, the sequel to Safe Harbor, takes Pat Tierney out of Toronto where she runs her financial planning practice and into Ontario cottage country. Her daughter Tracy has asked her to help find a friend, and feeling she’s let Tracy down in the past, Pat agrees to look for Jamie. She heads out to Ontario cottage country, where the investment firm she works for as opened a new branch. She picks up the reins at the branch and searches for Jamie, uncovering investment fraud, an illegal business and a long-buried secret that has twisted several lives. Black Water will be released by Imajin Books later this spring.

3.      What inspired you to write about Pat Tierney? I wanted a character in her middle years with the wisdom gleaned from running a business and raising a family. There are currently 39 million baby-boom women between the ages of 40 and 60 in the U.S. alone, and millions more in Canada and other English-speaking countries. They want to read books with characters they can relate to. They don’t want to see characters of their age relegated to small roles, they want them center-stage. Pat deals with issues that face many mature women: infidelity, love-the-second-time round, family and career. After considerable thought about what line of work Pat should be in, I made her a financial planner. As a financial journalist, I’ve spent years interviewing people like Pat. I know the issues they face in their work, and their concerns. They work in a challenging business. Investment markets have been murder in recent years.

4.      What inspired you to write Black Water? The emotional heart of Black Water—which I can’t expand upon or I’ll give away the plot—was a true story related by my late mother-in-law. It resonated with me, and found its way into this novel. I didn’t set out to write about it, but it insisted on being there. Black Water, like Safe Harbor, also deals with white-collar crime. Pat is a financial planner who cares about her clients. She’s a champion of small investors. The financial industry deals with money, and thus provides opportunities for people who are clever and greedy enough to challenge the system. Committed professionals like Pat want to see these bad apples weeded out and tougher penalties in place for white-collar crime.

5.      What did you do before you became an author? I’ve been a journalist for many years. I’ve worked on newspapers across Canada as a reporter, arts reviewer, editorial writer and editor. For the past fifteen years or so I’ve written about personal finance and the financial services industry. Which, as I’ve said, sparked the character of Pat Tierney.

6.      What is the writing process like for you? Because I’m still a working journalist, it’s difficult to carve out a set chunk of time for fiction writing every day. My days are often shaped by interviews for articles and publication deadlines. But because I’m a freelancer, I try to keep my summers free for writing fiction. I spend most of the summer at my country cottage where I can get a lot of work done on a novel. I can often complete the work and work on subsequent drafts when I return to my home in Toronto over the fall and winter.

7.      How does it feel to be a published author? Women writers often compare the publication of their books to childbirth. Since Safe Harbor’s release last year, I feel like my baby has arrived. The first few months were fabulous—holding the paperback, and seeing the ebook take off last spring and summer. But Safe Harbor is still far from established. As any parent knows, there is continual work involved in launching a child. With Black Water now in the final production stages, I’m about to deliver my second child. And I am sure that the two siblings will help each other come into maturity. 

8.      Any advice for struggling writers?  Keep writing. And take advantage of every opportunity to get published and launch your writing career. Enter writing contests, attend conferences for works in your genre, try to meet agents. And don’t let negative comments about your work get you down. They are usually just sour grapes.

9.      Where do you see book publishing heading?  The ebook is here to stay, and so is the printed book. I believe that over the next few years the two will learn to co-exist harmoniously.

            * * *
Rosemary McCracken is a journalist and fiction writer who lives in Toronto, Canada. Safe Harbor, her first mystery novel, was shortlisted for Britain’s Debut Dagger in 2010 and was published byImajin Books in 2012. Black Water, its sequel, will be released later this spring.
Check out Safe Harbor’s trailer at
And visit Rosemary on her website and her blog.

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