Today and Friday, we turn the spotlight on suspense novelist Sandra Ruttan, member of the KILLER YEAR: Class of 2007 and co-founder and submissions director for Spinetingler Magazine.
Sandra's debut suspense novel, Suspicious Circumstances (Tico Publishing), hits shelves in January:
The video appears to show a woman falling to her death, but the cameraman says the police sent him away without investigating. Reporter Lara Kelly is intrigued, but suspicious. She finds enough evidence to print a story about an apparent suicide.
Detective Tymen Farraday, the newest detective in a precinct plagued by rumors of scandal and corruption, is sent to check Lara’s sources. Before Farraday and Lara are even sure they can trust each other they discover a body. When Lara is attacked Farraday is forced to protect her and as they untangle a deadly web of corruption, murder and abduction, they find themselves in the path of a killer.
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AS A NEWBIE NOVELIST, WHAT'S SCARIEST FOR YOU?
It keeps changing: I was afraid people wouldn’t like the book, afraid I’d miss corrections when I was editing, afraid of meeting people in the business… Nervous about being on a panel at Bouchercon. At some point, I think I’ve been scared about everything. The process of getting published for the first time seems both exhilarating and nerve-wracking simultaneously.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO COMBAT YOUR FEARS?
The only thing that keeps me sane sometimes is the network of friends I have supporting me.
HOW HAVE YOUR "KILLER YEAR" CLASSMATES HELPED YOU THROUGH THIS CAMPAIGN?
The moral support has been great, and it also helps to feel connected to people before you even meet them. Instead of finding my place at Bouchercon, I already had people waiting for me. I never had to feel lost or alone. I have some very close friends within the group, and I know I can go to them for advice and support.
WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING HABITS?
Well, when I write a book I’m a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week automaton. I pretty much live, eat, sleep the book for about six weeks. I’ll keep paper beside the bed in case I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea.
Generally, I get up early, work out, clear my email for the morning and then write until time to run errands. I write more in the afternoon, and after supper. I usually go over what I wrote the day before when I start, tighten it up a bit if needed, and then move into what comes next. When I’m wrapping up for the day, I have a short list of what I’m dealing with next in the book, but I don’t pre-plot. I never know exactly how things will unfold.
AS A READER, WHAT MAKES A BOOK INTRIGUING TO YOU? (WHAT DOES A BOOK NEED FOR YOU TO PICK IT UP?)
There are some authors I automatically buy books by: Mark Billingham, Laura Lippman, Stuart MacBride, Ian Rankin, to name a few.
Other authors get on my radar in a variety of ways. I notice people online, mostly. If I see them posting on blogs with intelligence, or on DorothyL or other discussion groups, I pay attention to how they write, to what they say. That’s why I first went to Cornelia Read’s website, almost a year ago, and then approached her for an interview.
I do pay attention to who authors recommend. For a while, I’d been very hit and miss in my reading. When I found authors I liked, I started reading interviews with them to see what authors they liked; the referrals were always solid. Sometimes, when I’m going to conventions I’ll read books by people who’ll be there.
Basically, something about the book needs to appeal to me. I prefer noir, police procedurals, realism. I’m not as crazy about cozies or chick lit. My reading schedule is so hectic now that it’s harder and harder to capture my interest. A lot of what I read is for interviews, review copies submitted to Spinetingler or manuscripts in progress for friends, and I actually have to work to get a chance to read my favourites. I’ll bank off two days when I get a new Rebus book, for example.
KILLER Q&A: SANDRA RUTTAN, PT 2
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Click on over for the second half of our Q&A with suspense novelist Sandra Ruttan. Find her online at SandraRuttan.com and her blog, Sandra Ruttan: On Life And Other Inconveniences. You can also find more at the Killer Year website and the Killer Year Blog. Killer Year also has its own MySpace page.
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KILLER YEAR: Class of 2007
Adopting Killer Year
Q&A: CORNELIA READ (A Field of Darkness)
Q&A: LEE GOLDBERG (Monk, Diagnosis Murder)
Q&A: ANDREW KLAVAN (Damnation Street)
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