Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gerrie Ferris Finger, Guest Blogger

I've been waiting to host Gerrie Ferris Finger on my blog. I loved her debut mystery, The End Game,
and I've been reading her books since she first won The Malice Domestic/St. Martin's Minotaur Best First Traditional Mystery Contest. You all know I'm a fan of traditional mysteries. So, please join me in welcoming Gerrie Ferris Finger with a piece about interruptions.     

Scriba Interrupta

The interrupted scribe. Sounds better than the interrupted author. Either way, it’s a pain in the brain.

The dictionary says an interruption is: an act or instance of interrupting; break off, disturbance. For this writer, disturbance fits the last half of 2013 to a tee.

Be that as it was, I got the manuscript completed, and to my satisfaction. Now I’m on hiatus. I like the word hiatus. At the University of Missouri, my advisor was on hiatus in France, and I had a interim advisor that I liked because he okayed everything I wanted to do, no questions asked. Hiatus is a positive word.

I fear, though, that my brief hiatus will be interrupted because the ARCs (advance reader copies = proofs) are due any day for Murmurs of Insanity, the fourth in my Moriah Dru/Richard Lake series. It’s scheduled for release in July, 2014. I have three weeks to read the entire novel -- which is in book form with a cover -- and return it to my publisher with corrections. There will be corrections, I guarantee. After ten novels, there always have been.

My hiatus has already included noodling out the plot for the seventh in the series. It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait to begin. I’ve read two books by favorite writers, played a round of golf, and now I itch to get back to creating. I also know what’s ahead. Interruptions. Gone are the days when I can steam through a first draft, uninterrupted, for a couple of months -- all the while looking forward to leisurely making it make sense in the editing/revising process. Stopping and restarting lately has me whining, and my husband offering me cheese. My fellow writers can concur that when continuity is broken, writing becomes hard work.

I begin novels in June and January. In June of 2013 I began working on the sixth in the series, American
Nights. In September The Devil Laughed was to be released. My publicist had booked many promotional gigs, but I wanted to start AM to get a solid idea where the novel was going before I was interrupted, an interruption I knew was coming.
From the start American Nights became a difficult, ambitious project. I got into the research and struggled with the draft because of my husband’s surgical interruptions. When he can’t play golf, the words “road trip” come at me constantly. They can mean going to the beach, to see grandchildren two hundred miles away, a late lunch, etc. Enjoyable as it is, it’s still an interruption, and a thought drain during the early days of the draft when my passion runs high, ideas flow, and the characters surprise with twists they make happen.
Summer was gone too soon and my husband was back on the golf course, and I had to take to the road to promo Devil -- to speak  at one book festival after another. I love book festivals, but I had rewound and gotten crazy about the new story and the characters. All I wanted to do was write the darn thing while I was exhilarated and loving the challenge.
Some time ago, I’d begun to see a pattern to this series. Trouble-free projects followed by difficult projects. The first manuscript in the series, The Last Temptation, had a wacky plot and unique characters to develop. We’d been in California on a golf trip and I fell in love with the real characters we ran into. There wasn’t much interruption when I wrote that book because I had an e-book series going with a California publisher and no traveling promo to do.

The second in the series -- which was published first -- The End Game (won the St. Martin’s/Malice
Domestic First Traditional Novel) was more difficult. The interruptions started about this time. Fan conventions, book signings, book clubs, but in between I wrote The Devil Laughed . I’d been inspired to write it when I went to the Cape Fear Crime Festival. So interruptions do pay off, at times.
Book Four, Murmurs of Insanity was complicated. And the interruptions came at me like bats from a cave at twilight. So I decided to write a book in the series that featured something I’ve never done, but think must be delightful. Riding motorcycles. Running with Wild Blood, scheduled to be released in 2015, happens when Dru and Lake hook up with an outlaw motorcycle gang to solve a murder the gang is accused of committing. Despite interruptions, it was a wild, delicious ride because the novel wrote itself.
I thought American Nights would be another delight, because it takes off on Arabian Nights -- tales that I savor.  But it was grueling to keep continuity with all the major interruptions. I really needed a cabin in the woods for three months. After the promos for Devil died down, came a family wedding of some eight days. Yep, start to finish, a must-go-to destination wedding far from home. When I got home and recuperated, I found I had to begin at the beginning. Then came surgery. I’d put off gall bladder surgery for years, but the time had come. I healed fast, but I needed to begin anew to pick up the thread.
The holidays are always interruptions and I heretofore I had my manuscripts finished by November, but not this one. Thanksgiving was a road trip, so was Christmas. January had me restarting the book and revising. Here it is almost March before I begin on another. Oh, I will. I’ll interrupt my hiatus to do it.

Bio and links:
Retired journalist for The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, in 2009, Gerrie Ferris Finger won The Malice Domestic/St. Martin's Minotaur Best First Traditional Novel Competition for THE END GAME, released by St. Martin's Minotaur in 2010. She grew up in Missouri, then headed further south to join the staff of the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. There, she researched and edited the columns of humorist Lewis Grizzard and co-wrote a news column with another reporter for three years. The series that started there is still going strong today. Murmurs of Insanity is the latest addition and will be released in the summer of 2014.


Gerrie Ferris Finger said...

Thanks, Lesa. I do ramble on, don't I? Best to you.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Gerrie. A pleasure to host you! Thank you.