2 things today:
1. Presidential Debate Tonight
2. Author Steven M. Moore Interviews Gina Fava
About the debate…
No matter your political affiliation, tune in tonight for the Presidential Debate between President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney at 9pm, because if you vote uninformed, then you have no right to complain!
About the interview…
The other day, I popped over for an interview with friend and colleague, Steven M. Moore. You may remember that I interviewed him last week, and I published his interview here. Well, Steve was kind enough to return the favor. Here’s the link to Steve’s Blog where he shares with his readers what makes Gina Fava tick, and where you can learn more about his latest works.
Here’s the interview in its entirety:
Interview with thriller author Gina Fava…
As a special treat today, I offer you an interview with fellow thriller author Gina Fava. A Buffalo, NY native, Gina lives in New England with her husband, Jamie, and their two children. A writer of award-winning short stories, Gina Fava is working to publish two novels, The Race and The Sculptor, both suspense thrillers based in Rome, Italy. She’s currently writing her next thrillers in both series. She travels to Italy often to research first-hand the red wines that her characters imbibe. An active member of MWA, ITW, and SinC, Gina’s a thrill-seeking bridge jumper, a Formula One racing fanatic, and a nut for blogging about skeletal recomposition. You can learn more about Gina at her website. Thank you, Gina.
1) Why, how, and when did you start writing?
I started writing to entertain myself in grade school. In high school, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot blew me away, and his Night Shift short stories prompted me to write to entertain family and friends. It wasn’t until I returned from studying abroad in Italy that I sent my short stories and feature articles out to the rest of the world. I think I needed to experience life a bit before I realized that I had novels clamoring to get out too.
2) What is your biggest problem with the writing process. How do you tackle it?
Characterization. I love my characters from inception, but it takes some development in their infant stages until I grow close enough to them to appreciate their true personalities.
3) Do you feel writing is something you need to do or want to do?
Both. Being a writer is a part of who I am.
4) Have your personal experiences (or situations) influenced you creatively? If so, how?
Yes, in one way or another, my personal experiences always infiltrate the pages of whatever I’m writing. But never more so than in my novel, The Sculptor, in which the main character meets her love interest in much the same way that I met my husband, while studying abroad in Italy, only without the serial killer (that we’re aware of).
5) How much of your creative ability do you think is innate and how much is learned?
I think everyone is born with a kernel of some innate talent. It’s how one chooses to cultivate it that decides whether it will pop or not.
6) What is the last book you read? What are you reading now?
Blue Covenant, by Maude Barlow was the last book I read, an excellent resource on the water crisis and water rights. I’m reading Preston and Child’s Still Life with Crows right now. I love anything by Preston and Child.
7) Whose writing inspires you the most and why?
Stephen King. His characters resonate for me. His style is like comfort food for my soul. Dean Koontz’s description is akin to poetry for me. Their fiction makes me strive to be a better writer. And, King’s On Writing, inspires me to figure out how. [Note from Steve: King’s On Writing is recommended for authors of all levels and all genres.]
8) Do you have a favorite genre?
Thrillers (especially suspense, historical, horror, and sci-fi thrillers).
9) Should writers read in their genre? Should they be avid readers?
Writers should always be avid readers, and reading outside their genre helps a writer to see life from a different perspective, which will ultimately give their own writing more depth.
10) How do you find your plots?
Dreams; headlines; twists on history; what-if extrapolations on real life; my husband’s genius spin on something he learned.
11) Are your characters based on real people?
Many of my characters are inspired by real people. Most represent an amalgam of bizarre and ordinary attributes peppered with gumption.
12) How do you name your characters?
I’ve always been enamored with interesting names, real and fictional (like Odd Thomas, Val Kilmer, or Benjarvis Green-Ellis.) I keep a journal of international names and unique words and mash them together until they fit a character’s personality and also reveal something about them. [Note from Steve: Odd Thomas is a famous Dean Koontz character; Mr. Kilmer is the actor who played Jim Morrison, among other roles; and Mr. Green-Ellis was a New England Patriots’ player—now with the Cincinnati Bengals.]
13) Which comes first, plot or characters?
Every story is different. My ideas start with either a unique character with something to say, or a twisted situation that needs resolution. Eventually, both meet up on page one.
14) Any comments about writing dialogue?
I love writing dialogue; it’s the flesh of every good story. I strive to convey volumes while using as few words as possible. My tendency is to spill my guts, but the lawyer in me is always trying to reign it in. What ends up in a scene is somewhere in the middle.
15) How do you handle POV?
Handling POV is just a matter of discipline. It’s like staying in one lane of a 4-lane highway. At times, you want to change lanes or even catch yourself veering into another lane, but you should never do it without signaling first because you’ll crash.
16) Do you find background material for (research) your books? If so, how?
Research for me involves Googling key terms and finding books, news articles, and blog posts on the relevant subject matter, and more often than not, I’ll learn something more that gives my original idea more bang for its buck.
Sometimes interviews are better than any written resource–a chat with an Army Ranger, or a drive-along with a police officer can provide invaluable insights.
Also, I return to Italy often (where my books are often based) and visit first-hand the best places to plant a bomb, abduct a victim, or taint wine.
Douglas Preston taught me a great lesson at Thrillerfest a couple of years back: Get into your character’s skin before you write the scene. So, I’ve shot the same guns at a shooting range; I’ve skied off the same Alpine cliffs; and I’ve toured the same wineries that my characters have poisoned. Research gives writing that proverbial edge.
[Note from Steve: Douglas Preston is part of the thriller writing team of Preston and Child mentioned earlier…an interesting collaboration, to be sure.]
17) Do you use an agent?
I’m actively seeking one.
18) Do you self-publish or traditionally publish?
I’m actively pursuing both.
19) What are your most effective marketing techniques?
Blogging; Twitter; Facebook; GoodReads; attending writer conferences and workshops; active membership in SinC, ITW, and MWA; attending book signings and launches of fellow authors; guest speaking at cultural events; reading excerpts at open mic events; etc.
20) Do you release trade paperbacks or eBooks?
I’m open to both.
21) What do you think of publishing services like Amazon, Smashwords, etc?
I’ve actively evaluating all publishing options.
22) What is your favorite place to eat-out?
Alden Park–excellent martinis and lettuce wraps.
23) What is your favorite drink?
It’s a tie between a lemon drop shot and Pinot Grigio Santa Margherita. [Note from Steve: I’ll second the Santa Margherita, especially in Boston’s North End or New York’s Little Italy–or in Italy, of course.]
24) What other interests do you have besides writing?
Traveling, movies, skiing, reading, political news, attending hockey and basketball games, etc.
25) What was the last movie you went to see?
26) What would I find in your refrigerator right now?
Homemade pasta sauce; homemade chicken soup; homemade apple pie; open-faced pickle/Swiss cheese/rye bread sandwiches (just finished re-watching Girl With the Dragon Tattoo).
27) If you could trade places with someone for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be?
At the moment, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge. Her life intrigues me, and she can always chat with the Queen in her robe and slippers.
28) What is your favorite (song) and why? Piece of music?
“What a Wonderful World,” the Israel Kamakawiwo’ole Hawaiian ukulele version. Because life is too short and far too wondrous not to appreciate it. [Note from Steve: Good advice for us all!]
In libris libertas….
Thank you so much, Steve, for the kind and generous interview. I appreciate your friendship, and, like your readers, I’m a fan of your writing advice as well as your talent. And to all of your readers, it’s great to meet all of you!
Is there a question you would have asked Gina Fava? Is there a question you’d like to put to either debate candidate this evening? Let me know!