Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Denise Swanson on Writing Double Time
LUCY BURDETTE: I met Denise Swanson years ago at the Bouchercon world mystery convention in Milwaukee. Denise was a newly published author and I was desperate to follow in her footsteps. Now here she is fourteen years later, a New York Times bestselling writer with two series! I knew you'd want to hear about how she does it...welcome Denise!
DENISE SWANSON: Some authors write three, or four, or even five series, and although my hat is off to them, I have no idea how they do it. Just the physical act of writing as much four hundred thousand words a year boggles my mind. Then there’s coming up with plots, keeping all the characters straight, and making sure that each storyline is unique. Thinking about it makes my head swim. Which is why, I feel like a total wimp when I confess that writing a second series scared me to death.
I’ve been writing the Scumble River mysteries for thirteen years, bringing out my fifteenth book, Murder of the Cat’s Meow, last September. I knew my setting and characters and was extremely comfortable with the process. But in 2011, my agent and editor suggested (okay told me) that now that I was no longer working as a school psychologist, it was time to be a more productive writer. Yes, those were their exact words and I’m pretty sure they rehearsed their speeches.
So after much gnashing of teeth, I admitted that a fictional woman named Devereaux Sinclair had been nagging me to tell her story and maybe, I could write a second series. Dev, as she assured me everyone called her, lived in Shadow Bend, Missouri, and owned an old-fashioned dime store. She lived with her grandmother Birdie, and she had two BFFs. Poppy Kincaid, a beautiful bad girl who owned Gossip Central, the local nightspot, and Boone St. Onge, a lawyer who handled mostly real estate and divorces.
With those facts in mind, I started writing the first Devereaux’s Dime Store mystery, Little Shop of Homicide. Since one of my biggest fears was that readers and reviewers would find my two series overly similar, I was careful to make Dev everything Skye wasn’t. Dev embraces all modern electronic gadgets, while Skye can barely work her cell phone. Dev never wanted to leave her hometown, while Skye fled Scumble River at eighteen and only came back when she was broke. Dev was an investment consultant before buying the dime store and she wouldn’t dream of working in a “helping” profession, while Skye is a school psychologist who always wants to do the right thing. Yes, Dev and Skye both live in a small-town, are curvy women, and tend to find dead bodies but that’s where the resemblance ends.
Now after writing the second Dime Store book, Nickeled-and-Dimed to Death, I have to admit that there is one more similarity between my two sleuths—they both have two hunky guys in their lives and can’t decide which one they really love. I guess that’s not too bad a problem to have. How many of you wouldn’t like two hot men vying for your affections? Or maybe I should ask how many of you have been in that situation?
New York Times Bestselling author Denise Swanson writes the Scumble River and Devereaux’s Dime Store mystery series. Her newest book, Nickeled-and-Dimed to Death, debuted March 5.
LUCY: Thanks for coming over to visit Denise--and using 500 words up on Jungle Red writers. Reds, she'll be stopping in all day to chat with us, so bring on your questions!