Sunday, June 26, 2011

Toni Dwiggins interview

1: What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
Morning, after taking in the day’s news in the paper and getting well caffeinated. Also, usually after a walk/hike chewing over plot issues.

2: Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
I’ll take notes with paper/pen (on those hikes, waiting in line at the market, etc) but once I start writing it’s all on the computer. So easy to delete that overwritten paragraph I loved the day before!

3: What do you draw inspiration from?
I’ll get ideas from the news, from overheard conversations, from those painful life lessons—that sort of thing. Inspiration, when it comes, most often comes from the characters on the page who start insisting it’s their story. In which case I shut up and type. And, I’ll sometimes take inspiration from my cats, who always do what they’re intended to do. They know it’s time to nap in the sun and so they do.

4: Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count?
Not word count, but I will set a goal of, say, finishing a scene or solving a plot problem. If I reach the goal I get chocolate.

5: Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?
I’ve been traditionally published, a good long while ago by TOR Books. Going Indie is a new venture, with a new series.
For the cover art, I knew it had to be fairly simple (to work in thumbnail, in grayscale). I wanted something that would give the reader an idea what the book is about at a glance. In this case, radioactive material loose in Death Valley. From there, I found some stock photos of rad symbols and deserts and learned the basics of Gimp and came up with a not-too-awful cover. I posted it on Kindleboards and people gave me great suggestions. I also heard from a cover artist who liked my concept and offered to improve it (my words; he was more circumspect). I think he did a terrific job.

6: What drives you to choose the career of being a writer?
I come from a family of writers. Dad was a newspaper aviation reporter, and then wrote books on the topic. Mom wrote a couple of B-movie scripts. Aunt and Uncle wrote westerns and detective stories. When I was twelve I barged into a meeting of hardboiled writers in their living room—having just finished reading GONE WITH THE WIND. I announced, with tears and snot running, that GWTW was the best book that ever had been written or ever would be written. A lot of polite coughing and a few snickers and one muttered you try it. The next day I wrote a short story about a little girl who loses her favorite doll, simply heartbreaking, and sent it to the New Yorker. Got my first rejection slip. And then just kept on trying.

7: Do you own an ebook reading device?
A Kindle, which I am finding to be very useful and very easy to read. Still love paper books, but that Kindle is soooo handy.

8: Who are some of your favorite authors and What are you reading now?
Favorite authors: Kate Atkinson, Barbara Kingsolver, Nevada Barr, CJ Box, Marcia Talley, Lisa Brackman, Scott Turow, Olen Steinhauer, Laura Lippman, Michael Chabon, and a boatload of others. I have a lot of favorites. Plus, I’ve discovered more favorites since getting the Kindle: J. Carson Black, Michael Wallace, David Dalglish. Right now I’m reading two books: Black’s THE SHOP on my Kindle, and Barbara Kingsolver’s THE LACUNA in hardback. Love ‘em both.

9: What do you think of book trailers and do you have any plans to have any?
I’ve seen a couple; one very good, one not so much. Don’t have plans right now to have one but never say never.

10: How did you come up with the title of your latest book?
The book is set primarily in Death Valley, and Badwater is an iconic site there, the lowest elevation in the country. Badwater also a play on words, because the bad guy is threating to contaminate the national park water supply.

11: What are you working on now that you can talk about?
The next book in the forensic geology series. It takes place in my forensic geologists’ home town—Mammoth Lakes, in the Sierra Nevada range. A volcano is rumbling, and FEMA has sent a rather psychopathic emergency-ops guy to get the town ready to evacuate, and the mayor’s body has just been found in a glacier.

BADWATER is available at:

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