Tess Gerritsen on Her First Foray Into Gothic Fiction

Mindy:             Today's guest is Tess Gerritsen, whose books have been bestsellers in the United States and abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe award and the Rita award. A Retired medical doctor, Tess joined me today to talk about her newest and first Gothic novel, The Shape of Night.

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Mindy:             Your newest, The Shape of Night is a dark and sexy psychological romance thriller set in a haunted house. So tell us a little bit about the new one.

Tess:                 It's about a troubled woman who rents a mansion on the coast of Maine. She's running away from something she has done and so she hides out in this house, which she soon realizes is haunted by the sea captain who used to live there which becomes this Ghost and Mrs. Muir set up until she discovers that every woman who's lived there has died in that house. And now the house takes on this threatening tone. So the question is, is it the ghost that's killing people or is there somebody else who is a murderer?

Mindy:             Fascinating. I love it. It almost feels like with this sea captain and the dead women there's a blue beard feel to it.

Tess:                 I think the readers are gonna have a hard time trying to understand whether this ghost is friendly or not.

Mindy:             Interesting. I like it a lot. So speaking of the ghost and bringing a ghost into it, you've got sexy and psychological and it's a thriller and it's a romance and in some ways it is a ghost story. So that is a lot of genres packed into one book and a lot of my listeners are actually aspiring writers. They're very aware of marketing and how marketing operates and works and how it's really helpful to find a niche that your voice fits into. And you are just throwing everything at the wall with this one. Lots of genres. I think it's fantastic. I love it. I'm a genre blender myself, but do you worry at all about genre blending drawling some readers in while others might be turned off by that?

Tess:                 Well, I think there's always a risk when you make an abrupt change in the kind of book you're writing that you will lose some readers. But it also means you're going to pick up new readers as well who've never come across you or maybe weren't interested in crime novels. Yeah, I wasn't really aware I was blending genres when I wrote the story. I thought of it as being an updated Gothic novel. You know, when I was growing up, I loved Gothic novels. For those who aren't really familiar with what actually goes into a Gothic novel, it generally has a mysterious house with secrets. It has an innocent heroine and it has a brooding hero. So those three elements go into a Gothic novel. Now, Shape of Night has the mysterious house, but the heroine is in no way innocent. And the brooding hero happens to be a ghost. It's a Gothic novel. But, uh, I just updated it.

Mindy:             I love it. I love it. You speak about reading Gothic novels, uh, growing up on them, I was a big fan of Mary Stewart.

Tess:                 Oh yes, yes and I, yes. And you know, Victoria Holt and Daphne DuMaurier and actually if you want to go back all the way to uh, to Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre, I mean, I think that may have been one of the original Gothic novels.

Mindy:             Absolutely. Absolutely. And you mentioned DuMaurier. Rebecca has probably the best opening line in the history of Gothic literature. You can't argue with that.

Tess:                 No. Yeah. Absolutely. Right. And in a way, Shape of Night, there is an echo of Rebecca in this particular book.

Mindy:             Then the romance angle, is that something then that is developing with the ghost?

Tess:                 Yeah. Well, I mentioned that Gothic novels have a brooding hero and yes, that is absolutely what happens. She starts to fall in love with this other resident of her home. He may not be alive, but he is a perfect lover. And in some ways, when you think about what makes the perfect lover from a female point of view, it's somebody who knows what you want, fulfill your needs. And the case of this heroine, she has very specific needs. She needs to atone for something she's done that was very bad. It's also kind of convenient to have a ghost as a lover. You don't have to cook them breakfast. He doesn't leave his clothes strewn all over the place. He doesn't mess up the bathroom. It's almost like the perfect lover who comes in, gives you his attention and then vanishes.

Mindy:             That does sound nice actually. So is this your first official foray then into the Gothic world?

Tess:                 It is. Well, I'm trying to think about, you know, I've written 28 books now and I have to go back and think, did I ever write anything like this? It is the first time I have delved into the Gothic world. Now, I used to write romantic suspense. My first 10 books I would consider romantic suspense novels and I have not done that for a long time. It's very backwards and full circle to my roots.

Mindy:             You mentioned your career, which is longstanding. You've been publishing since 1987 you have 28 books published and you've got three decades in publishing. So for my listeners who are also writers, can you talk a little bit about staying invested in the craft and ways to keep your imagination firing over that long a period of time?

Tess:                 I think it's most important to be curious, to be curious about a lot of different things and to be aware of what's going on around you. So I make it a point of reading multiple newspapers every day. I subscribe to a lot of magazines from wide variety of subjects, from archeology to forensics to nature, and I travel a lot. I think that travel really opens your mind to new possibilities. A number of my novels were started because of something I saw on a trip. I was on a Safari with my husband in South Africa when we had a little run in with a a leopard, and I came away thinking, wow, it's really a dangerous out there in the Bush. And the writer's mind is always going to - what could be even worse? And my mind went to what if the most dangerous animal in the Bush is not a lion or a leopard? What if it's actually the two legged ranger who is there to protect you? What if he is actually the person you should be most afraid of? And so that turned into a book called Die Again and I can recite case after case where being away from home got the creative ideas going.

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Mindy:             I think that's very true. I think when you are living your day to day life, you get stuck in those day to day cycles, dishes, laundry, dusting, food, all of the things that are never finished, especially if you are a female author and if you are also having to work, raise children or take care of your own home. Not that men don't do those things, they do as well, but the onus is usually landing on the female, right? You do get stuck in those cycles and those cycles are literally mind numbing. It's hard to think outside of the box when you are in the box and you're, your day is the cycle of things and then you're exhausted at the end and it's time to sit down and be creative. So I agree completely. Getting outside of your comfort zone, doing things, seeing things, interacting with other than the daily is always very healthy

Tess:                 And pursuing your interests and your hobbies. That really helps to have a hobby that you're passionate about. I've long been interested in archeology and particular Egyptology and that led to a book because I had just never stopped reading about Egyptian mummies. I was in Italy when I had a nightmare and that nightmare became a book about Venice. Be aware that dreams are fantastic. They're sort of these, these ovens in which we are baking all these ideas without our even being aware of them. And sometimes I'll wake up and I don't know what that exactly what the plot is, but there's a thread from a dream that you can play with and eventually weave into a story.

Mindy:             I agree with that completely. There may not be a plot because it's a dream, but there might just be a visual that gets you

Tess:                 Right or an emotion, you know, waking up scared. Why was I scared?

Mindy:             Waking up scared is the worst and multiple times I have posted on Twitter and no one has backed me up on this, but I have, you know, a reading lamp attached to my bed and the kind with a bendable neck and I can't tell you how many times I've woken up in the middle of the night trying to figure out what the hell that is.

Tess:                 A good writer's mind. It's never still, it's always moving around, whether it's working on the story that you should be working on, incubating something that's about to happen. And it's a problem being married to a writer and my husband has often complained about that. He'll often say, you're not in the present, you're off somewhere else. You're thinking about something else. And yeah, that's the way we are. It's, it's tough being married to us.

Mindy:             We are not the easiest people to love, but sometimes we pay the bills. So, so speaking of writing and the publishing industry, technology has changed publishing in many, many ways. Even when I was first querying, which was back in the late nineties I was still sending out physical self-addressed envelopes with my query letter trying to get an agent and I'm sure that you dealt with that and also any number of different scenarios that I will never be familiar with, but technology has not been the death knell of paper books that everyone predicted. But I am curious from the perspective of a writer who has been doing this before we had the internet before we had cell phones and technology. How do you feel that tech has affected appearances? Because I feel like I am so accessible to my readers and my fans and I don't mind doing it at all, but I feel that I am very accessible online and people can get to know me that way and that's wonderful. I'm fine with that, but I'm curious if author appearances aren't what they used to be because now all anyone has to do is shoot you an email or tweet you.

Tess:                 I am not finding that the audiences are shrinking when I do go on tour or when I make a special event. Um, and I think it's because when you appear before an audience, you're giving them special, you're giving something extra. I mean, yeah, I can do Skype interviews with book groups and I have done those. But when you get in front of an audience, there's something that turns on inside you as a performer. And I'm up there and I'm telling stories, I'm telling the stories behind the stories and I don't normally speak about when I'm doing a Skype interview. So you have to give your audience something special if you're going to appear before them. And that's, that's what I try to do. I just don't read, I don't like to go to do a reading because I figure they can do that themselves. So I try to tell the secrets behind where this book came from.

Mindy:             I agree. I have a hard time even reading when they do ask for a reading because I sometimes will actually see people like following along and reading along, which is fine. I mean everyone has their own processing, but I'm just like, why am I reading to you then?

Tess:                 I will read like a couple paragraphs sometimes just to get them into the mood or to introduce, um, what the story is about. But other than that, I mean the idea of standing in front of an audience and reading for 20 minutes is it bores me to tears and I would think it would be for them as well.

Mindy:             Oh, definitely. And I am a performer. There's no doubt about that. But I'm not an audio book reader. Those are two different, well, audio book readers are performers, but I can't do voices or anything like that.

Tess:                 Yeah, they're very special. It's a very special talent and I would never do it myself.

Mindy:             Oh no. It's definitely a skill. So speaking of audio books lately that has been the delivery system that has just caught on. Audio book sales are through the roof. People are using them, people are buying them, people are invested in audio. I mean, I personally love it, especially when I'm traveling. It's a fantastic way to filter my environment. It can be on a plane. I can read, you know, two or three books on the road, catch up with my TBR. When you are reading, do you prefer a physical book, an ebook or an audio book?

Tess:                 I don't listen to audio books very often because most of the time I'm sitting at my desk and I'm too impatient to wait for somebody to read a story for me. I just want to get the words in front of me and read myself. When I'm traveling, I go to eBooks because they're just practical and when I'm at home, I prefer a physical book. I'm consuming books in multiple ways. I think that's the way readers are doing it these days. If they have long drives, yeah, audio books are fantastic, but if they're home in bed, a lot of us still like to have a physical book.

Mindy:             I do too. I like to have that physical book. There's been research done about that tactile experience of touching the pages and turning the pages, but then you're also smelling the book like you are interacting with that object that you don't in a way when you are holding an eReader or listening to an audio book.

Tess:                 Well I love being able to flip back and forth and that's where a physical book is superior to everything. Being able to just go back to another chapter and say what? What was that name again? And it's particularly true for nonfiction. I would much prefer a physical book for nonfiction.

Mindy:             Oh, definitely. When reading nonfiction, I am usually making little notes and highlighting and writing inside of the book. That is definitely a physical book genre for me. You write thrillers featuring female protagonists. Do you find your readership to be mostly female or is that a dividing line that doesn't really exist as much these days?

Tess:                 It goes by country. Strangely enough in the US my readers are primarily female and they're primarily 40 years and older. And I think it has to do with the life cycles of women. When we are below that age, we are so busy raising children, we don't have the time to read a book. I have noticed that when I do my tours abroad, when I'm in Germany, my audience tends to be much more, you know, 50/50. And it also depends on the, on which book we're talking about. I wrote a book some years ago called Gravity in which everything was flipped. It was mostly men reading that story. I think it has a lot to do with the genre. What calls a particular member of the audience. Unfortunately it does seem there is some prejudice against female writers among male readers. There are a lot of men who will just not read a book by a woman.

Tess:                 They don't trust us to tell a good story. They don't trust us to write what they would be interested in. So I was on tour once, so one of these warehouse clubs signing books and there was a man nearby picking up thriller novels. My publicist said, why don't you come and get a book by Tess Gerritsen? She'll sign it. He'd said, Oh I don't buy books by women. And I looked at the books he was holding and I knew that some of those books were ghost written by women. They just had men's names. He was already reading books by women. He just didn't know that.

Mindy:             To follow that up. Because you are writing crime thrillers that is a male dominated arena. Do you run into any type of sexism inside the industry?

Tess:                 Not that I'm aware of. I think the industry from my perspective has been very friendly to me. It doesn't seem to care whether I'm male or female. It may be because I do have a technical background. I am a medical doctor. They respect that knowledge base and I could write about medicine more authoritatively than any guy thriller writer who's not a doctor. So I think just having that background probably puts me in a special category.

Mindy:             Yeah. More than likely it does. I am curious then quick follow up, what do you think is the cultural difference that you have men showing up in your audience and in your readership in a place like Germany and not in the US?

Tess:                 Yeah, that's a good question. I never, I was never quite sure about that. I wonder if German men are just more open to books by women. Are they more liberal as readers? Is it that American men are more sexist? I have no idea why. It's an interesting puzzle and I think I probably have a larger percentage of male readers in the UK as well. It's America seems to be peculiarly sexist when it comes to choosing which author you're going to read.

Mindy:             My very first book is a post-apocalyptic survival and it was suggested to me to try to do it under a pen name. My numbers would be better.

Tess:                 I understand why they gave you that advice. I mean it makes a certain amount of sense because who reads post-apocalyptic thrillers, it tends to be men.

Mindy:             So you mentioned your medical background and you do write medical thrillers specifically. So as a person with your MD, you are obviously highly qualified to write about that subject matter. So when you're reading or you're watching a TV show or participating in that genre, as a consumer, do you ever come across something that just makes you shake your head or roll your eyes or just want to cry?

Tess:                 Oh all the time. It's just, you know, it's funny cause my husband and I are huge fans of this TV show called Midsommer Murders set in England and just about every other week we encounter a mistake on that television show and just shake our heads and laugh. It just happens. And I'm certainly guilty of making mistakes. I have made mistakes about cars. For instance, I made some mistake about what year this particular car was made. It didn't make a difference to the story. It was just a throwaway detail. And yet I got caught out by several men who wrote to me and said that particular car was not made that year. There are people out there who are experts in their own little spheres of knowledge and you are always going to make mistakes. You just can't avoid it. The mistakes you make are not in subjects that you don't know because you're careful to research those. They are in subjects that you think you know, you just assume you know this and so you don't even bother to look it up and that's when you make errors.

Mindy:             That's interesting. It's very true. My first book is about post-apocalyptic survival. Like I said, it takes place in a world where there's very little water, very little drinkable water, and I researched water like crazy. I could tell you so many things about water because of the work I did for this book. Yet at one point I have people driving cars and using gasoline and this book takes place like 30 years after the world ended. Gasoline stops being viable after about five to seven and I didn't know that because I worked so hard.-

Tess:                 I didn't know that either.

Mindy:             It's true. It stops being a combustible product because the chemicals break down.

Tess:                 Let me guess. A guy told you that? The funny thing is you were probably 100% correct on everything to do with water and your story, and it's the throwaway detail that you did not know you did not know where the mistake was made. You know, as writers, we have to be forgiving of other writers and that's all I can do.

Mindy:             Very, very true. I always am forgiving as well. For me, my hangup is corn fields. I am a farmer's daughter. I live in Ohio. Movie and TV producers - and my listeners know this because I've gone on this rant a few times - but they never get corn right. They never do it right. It's very beautiful and it's very mysterious and it has all these elements that they like visually. The actors are never interacting with corn correctly. They'll be saying, well, we got to, you know, get those harvest in. The corn is green. It's bright green. That's my area. Farming in the Midwest and it's never right.

Tess:                 Well, the only way I know to interact with corn is to eat it with butter.

Mindy:             Butter, and salt. That's good stuff right there. Last question. Let my listeners know where they can find you online and where and when they can get The Shape of Night.

Tess:                 You can find me on my website . The Shape of Night comes out in the United States October 1st just in time for Halloween, which is sort of the perfect season for it.

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T. Jefferson Parker On Knowing When To Leave A Character Behind

Mindy:             Today's guest is T. Jefferson Parker, the bestselling author of 13 standalone noir crime novels as well as three separate series featuring the characters Merci Rayborn, Charlie Hood, and his latest Roland Ford. He joined me today to talk about knowing when it's time to create a new character as well as the bittersweetness of leaving an old one behind.

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Mindy:             We're here to talk about The Last Good Guy, which is your third book in the Roland Ford series. So you've created quite a few series that focus on an individual investigator. So when do you know that it's time to create a new one?

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Parker:             Good question. Yeah, yeah. I have, I have written I guess three series now about different eh, heroines and heroes. I feel like sometimes that the character has, has reached her or his maximum level of entertainment value and want their job to be done. They have, you know, reached a point in the series of books where the reader will feel satisfied that they know that character well enough and it's time to, you know, move on to another one. I think essentially as long as I'm deeply interested in the character, then I always feel like there's going to be another book in there and at some point it's going to be time to say, that's enough. I'm going to end this. And I'm going to go onto the next character.

Mindy:             Do you ever miss the ones that you've walked away from?

Parker:             Yeah, I do. Sometimes ones that I walk away from or characters who die at the end of the book, you know, I miss them and I go, Gosh, I wish she was still here. I wish he was still here. In terms of the characters, the series leaders, Roland or like Charlie Hood or MercI Rayborn. I do miss them when they're gone. And when people go to book signings and do tours and stuff and they ask about, are you going to write about Silent Joe again? I know I'm not. And yet I always say, well, you know, probably not, but I'd kinda like to. And that's, and that's true.

Mindy:             Yeah, absolutely. I have, uh, characters in some of my own books that have open endings and people will say, are you going to write another one? I want to know what happens. I mean, more than likely, no, I'm probably not going to return to that series because that particular genre is no longer a viable genre. Um, but that's a horrible answer to a reader.

Parker:             It is. That's the writer's answer.

Mindy:             Exactly. Exactly. That's an industry answer. Whereas they're asking me about a character that they care about as a human being and I'm just like, well, you know, the money just isn't there.

Parker:             Yeah. And you want to be with that character. You want your readers to ask about those characters that go, well, what about Merci? Or what about Joe or whatever. You got them where you want them and it's just so nice to have characters that people care about and then you can't do what they want, which is to bring them back again cause you're doing something else. I mean, I literally stopped writing Merci Rayborn books. I wrote three of them in all, it was only three, but still it's a lot of writing about one character. I literally stopped that series, brought that series to a halt so that I could write Silent Joe, which was a story that just sort of presented itself to me. And I saw this character. I had to write this book and I had to say goodbye to Merci in order to write that book and then that book led to another book. There's too many good characters to get to.

Mindy:             And you do have to follow inspiration once you have it. Ignoring it is folly.

Parker:             You can't because, no. As you know, I mean that's what gets you through the year of work that it takes you to write one of these books. It takes a long time and you need lots of inspiration to keep you at work

Mindy:             Coming up, the importance of setting in fiction and how to create a place readers want to return to.

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Mindy:             I want to talk about setting a little bit. You are a California native and all of your books reflect that. So you have just deep California roots in all of the books. And the setting is really imperative often to everything that's going on. I mean, not only as a backdrop, but also as a character itself in many ways. So if you could talk about that for a little bit. I've always found literature of place very highly compelling.

Parker:             Yeah, me too. Me too. As a reader, you know, my first demand is, is I want to know where I am, what day it is, what time it is, what's going on, where I am geographically, you know, I don't care where, I just want to have a really firmly rooted grasp of, of where I'm at. And, uh, and as a writer, I've found over my many years of doing this that I really love, writing about where I am. So my first few books take place in, in Laguna Beach, California where I was living at the time that I wrote them. And then a couple about Newport Beach, California, and then Tustin, California. These are all places I've lived. And then a little bit in LA. And then when I moved down here to San Diego County, to Fallbrook, almost 20 years ago, my books followed south, you know, down into San Diego County and down into Fallbrook where I live now.

Parker:             I love being able to go out into my little town. I live in Fallbrook now and look at the streets and the people and talk with people and do my errands. And do my stuff and see the marines from Pendleton, which is right next door coming and going to our wars and stuff and talking to them. I love being able to, to make this little town real, you know, and it, it really informs the books. The setting is so important and, and as you said, it's not just window dressing, it's, it's the fabric of the life that you're living here and, uh, reflecting the world around you. In a small town like this, you get to write about the world around you, through the small hometown eyes, if you will, and I treasure that. I think it's something that readers like. I think I like this place, even if they've never been here.

Mindy:             I'm from the Midwest, I'm from Ohio. It's interesting to me how often I see country life, especially the Midwest and also Appalachia represented completely inaccurately. Would you say California, and at least as a Midwesterner, you automatically have an idea and it might be wrong. So do you see California or especially small town California represented accurately in books, movies, television?

Parker:             Yeah. Good question. You know, California is really a whole bunch of little tiny microcosms, all the same place at the same time. My California if you will, Fallbrook. Okay. It's San Diego County, 37,000 people. We call ourselves the avocado capital of the world, proudly. And we have lots of citrus and Avocados and commercial nurseries. Fragrant, floral, little place. Woodsy. Homes are kind of tucked away. And it's very much a mom and pop town. It's not a bunch of franchises. Joe's hardware. Bicycle shop that specializes in bicycles and vacuum cleaners.

Parker:             Quirky, quirky little world that I live in, you know, which is completely unrelated to Los Angeles even though Los Angeles is only an hour and a half drive from here. So, so to answer your question, I think a lot of the writers I know are neighbors. I know Don Winslow and I know Mike Connolly and I know Robert Crais and those guys write about their little pockets of California, I think really brilliantly. So I don't often read a novel. Did I go, Oh God, that's, that's nothing like it really is. I think for the most part, people writing about California are getting their little portion of it, right.

Mindy:             Ohio is usually wrong. And I say that as like from a really small town like population 2000, when I see it represented and I'm a farmer's daughter, grew up farming. Farming is never right ever in movies. I have a huge problem with the way cornfields are represented. They love the way it looks, but they're never doing it right. The cinematic shots of the green corn is beautiful and everyone loves it, but they're never interacting with it appropriately. Like ever.

Parker:             That's a crackup. Do you know my mother was a farmer's daughter only child. She grew up in Kenton, Ohio. Grandma, Grandpa May, Elmer and May were corn farmers. So I know exactly what you're talking about.

Mindy:             There isn't really anything quite like a corn field when you're out in it. Basically, you know, they have the animal wranglers and gun wranglers for movies they need to bring a farmer in.

Parker:             They should, they should.

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Mindy:             We're here to talk about The Last Good Guy. The book features white supremacy. So it's timely, but unfortunately it's also evergreen. Did the news cycle inspire you at all with this or was this a, an idea that had been cooking?

Parker:             You know, it's an idea that had been cooking forever in my little brain pan and I've written about it before I kind of hatched this book around the time the Charlottesville protest turned deadly. I've always been interested in hate and you know, white supremacy and any version of that kind of thinking. Growing up in southern California, you know, weirdly enough southern California is correctly known as the liberal bastion, but, but back to the idea of little microcosms living together, you know, there's all, there's a long and sort of infamous, uh, a string of white supremacists who have lived and operated and agitated from southern California, from San Diego County where I live from Fallbrook, where I live. I mean there's a notorious one. Yeah, I've always been interested in those people and what they do, they make great, bad guys and what they're doing. Is it timely? Unfortunately it is evergreen now. I mean, they're up to it again. Just open the news and check it out. And there they are.

Mindy:             I'm curious about your research. So when you're researching something that is obviously difficult, I have a duty as a writer to get into the mind frame of even your villains. So you know, how, how does that research work when you're dealing with something that is, you know, uncomfortable?

Parker:             I don't feel uncomfortable when I brush up against those kinds of people and those kind of ideas. Some people scare me. I've been to supermax prisons and talked to people in those prisons and they scare the living daylights out of me. And there's bars between us. These kinds of organized, you know, haters, political extremists and stuff. I can tolerate that. I don't finish the book feeling like I blighted myself, you know, I mean, I've written about some really dark people back mid career. I wrote some really scary books. A couple of them. I literally felt like, you know, taking a hot shower at the end of the day after I'd spent eight hours creating these characters and telling these stories and it the left, uh, you know, a bristling sort of bad feeling on my skin. I don't feel that way anymore. Maybe just because I'm older and feel a little tougher.

Parker:             And so much of the research I do now is, is online and is videos and people are so eager now, you know, to reveal themselves and to tell you what they're doing. I mean, you can go online and see anybody doing anything at any time practically, you know, I mean, you can watch cartel torture if you want to. There's that distance too. I think I'm seeing these people and listening to these people, these, these haters kind of BS philosophy that they spout on about, I feel like I can take it now. I don't feel quite so, so tainted by it all.

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Mindy:             And it's interesting too. You mentioned doing the research online. You have a fourth wall, you know, there's a screen. You know that it's real, but at the same time you're watching a screen. And so even though it is very different from sitting across from someone and talking to them about their activities or their past, I think it's interesting talking about dark topics and diving into the research. My most recent book is about the opioid crisis. So I'm like, Hey, you know, we've got the Internet and boy, you're right. You really can find anyone doing anything. I did so much research and was simultaneously highly alarmed at how easy it was for me as a novice to learn so much about how to do like step by step youtube videos about how to tie off and find a vein. And I'm so grateful for those as a writer and yet disturbed as a human. Yeah,

Parker:             I totally hear you, Mindy. I, I've been there too. Yeah.

Mindy:             And people, you know, asked me similar questions. Uh, how do you write such dark topics? You know, the truth is it doesn't bother me either. So when I answer the question that way, sometimes I'm like, oh, did that, do I sound a little off now?

Parker:             It doesn't bother me at all. Yeah, you can't really say that then and it's not quite true, but I, I know what you mean. You're a reporter in, in a lot of ways. I think while all of us are novelists, I mean we're creating stories, at heart we're kind of journalists and we kind of have a cold eye for the facts.

Mindy:             Yeah, very true. I feel very much more like a funnel than anything. Things pass through it. They don't stay inside.

Mindy:             Lastly, what has changed in publishing over time and how to stay invigorated as a writer?

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Mindy:             So you have been publishing for quite a while since the mid eighties is that right?

Parker:             Yeah. 85 exactly. 31 years worth,

Mindy:             You have been in writing and publishing for a really long time. Um, what has changed for you? Like in the industry,

Parker:             The industry? This is writer to writer now.

Mindy:             Yeah.

Parker:             The Internet has revolutionized the world really. And certainly our jobs, you know, the research that we do changed immensely. I guess more specifically though, um, I'm proud to have seen novels especially, but books in general have survived the digital age. We're still writing and we're still reading and, and kindles did not take over the world. And even that's still reading, you know, in spite of the mountains and mountains of entertainment that you can get, gaming and TVs and in movie theaters. In spite of all of that, much of which is really quite good, our little books hang in there and they survive and they move people in ways only books can. I'm proud to be a part of a genre that I write in, you know, the noir and the crime writing that goes back, uh, you know, maybe all the way back to Edgar Allen Poe if you believe the scholars. I think books have weathered the great storm and books will be with us forever.

Mindy:             I agree. I mean, we started with oral storytelling, passing it down and, you know, we're still here. From the creative end. Do you ever get tired or are you ever worn out?

Parker:             Yeah, I get tired. I get tired. Um, but I gotta admit Mindy, I really kinda like what I do. I always tell students this, young people, you know, writing, if you want to be a writer, don't forget that writing should be fun. And I don't mean fun all the time. I don't mean fun all day. I don't mean every day. But I mean there, there has to be a point where you write a sentence and you sit back and look at it and go, that is a good sentence and I take satisfaction in doing that. You know, and a good sentence becomes a good page and a good page becomes a good chapter. And the draw of creativity, you know, that funny state you get in as a writer where you're funneling just like you said, you know, you're funneling things from the outside, mashing it through your brain and then your fingers and then onto the screen and then onto the page is really kind of magical.

Parker:             I like that a lot. Um, it's exhausting too, for me, get to the point where I can begin writing a book. The hardest part of writing for me is not writing. You know what? I'm sitting around trying to hatch a story idea, make a story work, you know, in my brain and, and okay, I know I got Roland and he lives here in Fallbrook and he's going to get another case and you know, what's it going to be? What am I going to do? You know? And I'll spend weeks and months in that weird state. You probably do too. You're waiting for the story to coagulate just enough so that you can begin writing it. And then once I begin writing, then I'm pretty happy.

Mindy:             Yeah, it's true. I get tired of being behind my screen so much, almost in a meditative state when you are writing and it's um, you know, it cuts you off from the outside world when you're good writing happens, but it also cuts you off from other people. Can make me a little bit unhappy if I am stuck inside in my own mind in front of a laptop. But when I'm not writing, I'm also very grumpy and unhappy.

Parker:             Oh, there you go. Can't win either way.

Mindy:             No, you have to get it out or else, uh, you know, it's, it'll explode. So that's, it's just a process thing for me. And it sounds like it's similar for you, so I'm going to let you go because I know you've got another interview lined up.

Parker:             Okay. Well, it's been really good talking to you, Mindy. Congrats on your success, your Edgar, and just very cool.

Mindy:             Yes. Thank you so much and congrats to you and this, uh, new series. I'll be diving into those,

Parker:             This new one, as a writer. I think it will grab you on page one when you read it. Anyway, have fun. Awesome. Thank you so much.

 

International Bestselling Author Jeffery Deaver On Using Setting as Character and His Newest Release - The Never Game

Today brings a special guest to the show. Number one internationally bestselling author Jeffery Deaver dropped by to talk about his newest release - The Never Game - which introduces a new series character, Colter Shaw. Also covered: character as setting, blending the world of survivalism with gaming, and writing a message without hitting your audience over the head with it.