Today I'm interviewing the fabulous Norah Wilson, author of The Case of the Flashing Fashion Queen. (You can read my review here.) Norah has been traditionally published and has now taken the plunge as an indie.
Norah will be by throughout the day to answer your questions. Feel free to post them below.
Now on to the interview. Inquiring minds need to know!
Shéa: Thanks for agreeing to be my very first interview
victim participant. I really, really loved The Case of The Flashing Fashion Queen and I can’t wait to be nosy chat with you.
So, without further ado, the questions:
Just for kicks and giggles (and because I’m a dork), if you were a Star Trek® [or Star Wars® ] character, which one would it be?
Norah: What a great question! I think I’d be the Doctor on Voyageur. And yes, I do realize he’s just a hologram! But he’s attempting to evolve a more human personality as he acquires more experience. In a way, I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life.
Shéa: The Doctor was amazing! He was one of my favorites, too.
What inspired you to become a writer? Was there a person or an incident which made the “I want to write!” light bulb go off in your brain?
Norah: I’ve always wanted to write, but didn’t realize I wanted to write fiction. Initially, it was just the challenge of arranging words in such a way as to persuade the reader over to my point of view. If I’d gone on to be ... I don’t know ... an ad writer or a lawyer or some such occupation that allowed me to satisfy that need, I probably never have turned to fiction. The idea of actually trying to write a book came to me one day when I was reading what I considered a poorly written romance. I figured I could do better. I quickly discovered I could not. Well, at least not before a long period of apprenticeship.
Shéa: What authors inspire you?
Norah: Oh, God, so many! Since I was initially interested in writing romance, I was especially inspired by Anne Stuart, who has managed to thrive in this tumultuous business by adjusting to the market and writing exceptional books. I was also influenced by Linda Howard, Suzanne Brockmann and many others. But I always liked to change up those intense romantic suspense stories with the occasional funny one. Carl Hiaasen might be my favorite author in the world. And of course, I enjoyed Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, which won’t come as a surprise to anyone who reads a Dix Dodd mystery.
These days, the writers who inspire me the most are the ones whose imaginations just won’t quit. I think I am so in awe of them because my own imagination is so paltry by contrast. I’m fortunate enough to be paired with such an individual in my Y.A. writing (we call ourselves Wilson Doherty). Heather Doherty is my hero.
Shéa: I definitely picked up on your Janet E love! I'm also a fan of Brockman, Howard, and Stuart. Amazing writers who's stories still stick with me years later.
Do you have a writing “uniform” (Be honest. I write in my pajamas, after all. Lol)?
Norah: I am happiest at the keyboard wearing sweats (or leggings and a t-shirt in summer). It’s something I just fell into because most of my writing sessions are preceded by walking the dog, and that’s my dog-walking uniform. You know, roll out of bed on the weekend, walk the dog, put on a pot of coffee and sit down to work. Or come home from work, change, make supper, walk the dog and hit the keyboard.
Shéa: What is the last book you read?
Norah: That would be Colleen Gleason’s “The Shop of Shades and Secrets”, a romance with a mystery and a paranormal element. It’s been described as Dharma & Greg with ghosts, which I thought was very apt!
Shéa: I'm going to have to check that out. As you know I'm a huge Joss Ware fan (Colleen Gleason's alter ego.). In fact, I'm totally in her debt for introducing me to the wonderful world of Norah Wilson an Dix Dodd!
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Norah: For me, writers block is always about not knowing where to go next. (See note above re my paucity of imagination.) You would think I could just sit down with some writer friends, kick the problem around for a while and jump-start my muse, but nooo. I’m my own worst enemy that way. On my solo projects, I usually have to suffer it out until I solve it on my own. Not sure why.
That said, the Dix Dodd books are the exception. Maybe because they don’t have the same seriousness or intensity as the other solo stuff. Whatever the case, I brainstorm all the time with my YA partner, Heather Doherty. She’s all, “It would be so funny if Dix did this,” or “You know what Dylan has to do now, right?” I’d happily have slapped her name on the cover with mine, but her response to that suggestion: “Um, maybe not.” Not because she doesn’t think Dix Dodd rocks, but because she writes child lit and YA lit. Probably not the best match for Dix’s penis humor.
Shéa: What’s your all-time favorite quote about writing and/or reading?
Norah: That would have to be Elmore Leonard’s sage advice: “Skip the boring parts.”
Shéa: That's excellent advise.
Why did you decide to self publish?
Norah: I guess I just need to frickin’ make something happen. Traditional publishing is so slow. I do have an agent, and she is presenting my stuff to the market, including the jointly written YA material, but it can take 6-12 months for the major houses to weigh in on a project, and you have to wait for 80% of them to pass on the first project before floating the second. I’m even writing in multiple genres (cosy mystery, dystopian romance, paranormal romance, etc.) to try to make more efficient use of that time. We certainly haven’t given up on traditional markets, but dude, it can be like watching paint dry. So when I got rights back to my first mass market novel LAUREN’S EYES, I decided to give self-publishing a whirl. When I saw that it wasn’t exactly rocket surgery to put up a book, I decided to do the same with my Golden Heart-finalling romantic suspenses. What did I have to lose? I couldn’t have given them away to New York. But to my delight, they’re all doing very well. Three of them are in the top 10 highest rated romances at Smashwords, and sell steadily. I’ve since published the Dix Dodd mystery and launched The Merzetti Effect, a paranormal romance.
Shéa: I'm thrilled to hear you're books are doing so well! I'm also excited about reading the Merzetti Effect.
What was your inspiration for Dix Dodd and the delicious Dylan?
Norah: The idea in writing this book sprang, as I’ve said, from the need to diversify. As for where the characters came from, basically they evolved over drinks at the pub with the aforesaid Heather Doherty. We’re both 40-somethings who’ve arrived at the point in our lives where we’re just too old to take crap from anyone. Thus Dix was born. And the delicious Dylan? Well, his origins should be obvious. I did mention we’re 40-somethings, right?
Shéa: Well, I'm close enough, so I'm going to say that's a big ten-four! lol
You’re going to write more Dix. Right? RIGHT????
Norah: LOL! You bet! Actually, the second one is almost ready to go. FAMILY JEWELS will see Dix head to Florida to bail her eccentric mother out of legal hot water. Of course, Dylan and Mrs. Presley have to go along for the ride. There will be more hijinks and, of course, more sizzle between Dix & Dylan. (Mmm, sizzle….)
Shéa: Oh, goodie!
Any words of wisdom for newbie authors or authors thinking of taking the plunge into self-publishing?
Norah: I read a great article this week to the effect that self-publishing is not a yard sale. Don’t bring that purse with the broken strap or the shirt that will be perfectly fine if the buyer just replaces that missing button. That is not the path to self-publishing success. Write the best book you can possibly write. If you can afford it, have someone edit it for you (I know a good free lance editor who’ll work for a penny a word). If you can’t afford that kind of investment (and there’s no guarantee you’ll get it back, at least not overnight), trade critiques with other writers. Recruit some beta readers. Take what they tell you and make the book stronger. If you want a reader to buy your second book, you have to give the first one your all. And when it’s gleaming from all that polishing, pair it up with a good quality cover. It doesn’t have to cost the earth. I’ve spent as little as $35 for a high resolution stock image that just had to be dressed by a graphic artist, to $125 for a professionally designed cover, to $250 for a custom painted cover. What you want, hopefully, is to put a product up that is virtually indistinguishable from its traditionally published counterparts.
Thanks to Norah for the FANTASTIC interview. I really enjoyed it. She'll be returning the favor and grilling, er, interviewing me next month.
In the meantime be sure and check out her blog, Norah Wilson Writes.
You can buy The Case of the Flashing Fashion Queen at any of these fine online retailers: