Friday, July 21, 2006
Today and Monday we catch up with suspense novelist Wanda Lee Dyson, author of the critically acclaimed "Shefford-Johnson Case Files" novels, Abduction, Obsession and Intimidation. Her next book, due out in hardcover in October by Revell, is a gripping real-life thriller that blazed across national headlines and news broadcasts. She is also a founding member of Keep Me In Suspense, a group that promotes inspirational mystery and suspense authors.
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WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING HABITS?
I work “full-time” at writing, and like most writers, my office is a spare bedroom in the house, so I’m there most of the time. I try to work a basic 8 hour day starting somewhere around 10 am and usually coming back after dinner and working for a while, but it’s not all working on a manuscript. I also have endorsements to write, novels to read, emails to answer, a website to update, articles to write, teaching material to work on for the conferences I attend, as well as working on the appointment schedules for the Colorado, Philadelphia, and ACFW conferences.
When I’m working on a manuscript, everything else takes a back burner. I shut off the phones, turn up the music, and hunker down until it’s time to go make dinner.
ARE YOU AN "OUTLINE" OR "MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO" WRITER?
A little bit of both, actually. I started out as a pure “make it up as you go” writer, but over the years, I’ve found myself plotting more and more of the story ahead of time. While I’m not the type to have a formal outline and long summary written down first, I do have notes all over the place or pieces still in my head that are waiting to make it to paper. I like to write complex story lines, so the fact that I outline a little more is just pure survival for me, I think.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT YOUR BOOKS?
One reviewer said that my books “give up none of the pace and terror of the best secular police thrillers” and “a shining example of what Christian fiction is becoming.” That had me dancing on my toes.
But it was a fan that wrote me and told me that he had never been a big fan of Christian fiction until someone gave him one of my books, that I think I still hold most dear.
WHAT IS THE WORST THING ANYONE SAID ABOUT YOUR BOOKS?
To be honest, I haven’t had any negative reviews, but I guess the worst thing anyone ever said was that one of my books just had too many little subplots.
HOW MANY BOOKS DO YOU READ A MONTH?
It depends on my work schedule. Earlier in the year, I was working on a non-fiction project that had a very tight deadline, so for two months, I could only stare longingly at the “to be read” pile, but usually, I’ll do somewhere between 10 and 15 books just for the pure pleasure of reading, another 2 or so for work, and another couple for research purposes.
AS A READER, WHAT MAKES A BOOK INTRIGUING TO YOU?
(WHAT DOES A BOOK NEED FOR YOU TO PICK IT UP?)
Because my time is so limited, I have to be a little more discriminating than I used to be so books are divided into two categories. 1) authors I always read. 2) a novel with an unusual plot twist. I look for something a little out of the ordinary, either in plot or in the character. Not all of them live up to the promise, unfortunately, so I have a stack of books that I lost interest in within the first few chapters.
But while I enjoy most of the books I buy, I’m always looking for that book that will keep me up all night because I can’t put it down. Characters so real I feel I know them and a plot so dire I can’t figure out how the main character is going to survive, pull it off, or win. Luckily, every once in a while, I find one and then I go back and read it again, this time to figure out what the writer did that made it such a good read.
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Come back on Monday for the second half our our conversation with Wanda Dyson. Find her online at WandaDyson.com and Keep Me In Suspense. She is also a contributor at the Keep Me In Suspense blog.
Related link: Q&A: WANDA DYSON, PT 2
Q&A: CORNELIA READ (A Field of Darkness)
Q&A: T.L. HINES (Waking Lazarus)
Q&A: LORENA MCCOURTNEY (On The Run)
Q&A: KATHRYN MACKEL (The Hidden)
Q&A: MINDY STARNS CLARK (Blind Dates Can Be Murder)
Q&A: GINNY AIKEN (Decorating Schemes)
Q&A: CRESTON MAPES (Full Tilt)
Q&A: BRANDILYN COLLINS (Web of Lies)
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)
Q&A: VICKI HINZE (Bulletproof Princess)
SHE'S THE SHERIFF!
A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at StudioWell.com. Watch the trailer on YouTube.