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No, each book is written to be enjoyed as a stand-alone, so you won’t be lost if you start in the middle or at the end. But there are some continuing characters and minor storylines that are probably enhanced if you start at the beginning.
2000 A Perfect Evil
2001 Split Second
2002 The Soul Catcher
2003 At The Stroke of Madness
2006 A Necessary Evil
2009 Black Friday
2017 Before Evil (The Prequel)
Very little, although my closest friends are quick to point out annoying similarites, such as our suspicious natures and our abuse of fine leather shoes. (Maggie’s the only woman I know who cares as little about shoes as I do.)
I’ve never stuck to a regular schedule. Nor do I write every day. That doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about the book or doing research or jotting down notes or dialogue. I tend to write best when I am doing what I call writing marathons. I set aside weeks at a time, during which I try to eliminate as many distractions and obligations as possible, so I can do nothing else but write from morning until late into the night. Over the years, the amount of time I’m able to set aside seems to grow shorter and shorter.
It probably takes six to eight months from the time I start thinking about the book to the time I key in the final sentence. I say “key in” because much of what I write, I still do in longhand. The first three to four months are spent researching, working through plot and determining what secondary characters will help tell the story. I usually fill two notebooks with bits and pieces before I start writing the first chapter. I’ve never been a draft-writer. I fuss over sentence structure and word choice as I write, along with unraveling much of the plot and character nuances. It’s an agonizing, stressful process but when I hand it off to my editor it’s very tight.
The only person who reads it as I write is my best friend and business manager, Deb Carlin. She can be brutally honest, but more times than not, her suggestions and comments (and complaints) are point-on. Everyone else has to wait until I’m finished.
Sometimes it starts with only a headline in the newspaper. Then I do a round of “what if” questions. After a little research, scenarios start running through my mind. Strangely – I believe that truth is stranger than fiction. If it’s in one of my books – it happened somewhere at one time. I can’t make some of the strange things up.
Part of the fun of writing is coming up with the ideas. The grueling part is writing it down. If you have a great idea/story, you really should consider writing it — only you can do your idea justice. (*Business Manager Deb adds: “We’ve been legally advised not to accept any such correspondence.”)
I read constantly — books, magazines, newspapers, the internet, even other thrillers. The best sources, however, are real people, people who do for a living what I can only write about. I’ve been very fortunate to have a list of professionals offer their expertise, so that I can call and/or email them with questions or run scenarios by them. Some have become good friends and I never get tired of listening to their stories. Just a tidbit from them can spark an entire storyline.
One of the things I love about reading is that each reader brings his or her imagination to the process. I could ask a dozen people what Maggie O’Dell looks like and I’m sure I’d get a dozen different answers. But as soon as you put a specific actress in that spot then everyone sees her as Maggie. Little is left to the imagination. So I’m apprehensive about surrendering Maggie to Hollywood.
In my webshop, I have FIRST EDITION hardcovers (very limited amounts) available as well as reprints of my earlier novels.
My previous publishers have chosen to allow my early novels to go out-of-print, meaning they will only be available digitally. I wanted to keep those stories in circulation for readers who are just finding Maggie O’Dell or prefer a print copy in their hands. So I started my own publishing company with my business manager to assure they would be available to libraries, book clubs and collectors.
I love speaking to different groups and try to include several each year during my book tour. Unfortunately, I can’t fit in every request or I’d never have enough time to write. You can email Deb Carlin to check about availability and fees.
In all honesty, I take a while to reply to e-mails, and I receive so many that it is hard to answer all of them and keep on a writing schedule. I receive quite a few bounced e-mails to my replies, where the mailbox is full or the address is bad. Spam filters can also be at fault sometimes for people not seeing my email answers.
If you just wrote to tell me that you love my books, thank you!! I might not have written back to you but please know that I read and appreciate very much hearing that from all of my readers. If you wrote to tell me that you don’t like something I did in one of my books, I may not have written you back depending on how upset you sounded in your e-mail. I respect your right to feel what you feel, and I’m not going to try to talk you out of your feelings.
If you didn’t get a reply to your e-mail, you may also have asked something that I covered in one of these Frequently Asked Questions. I really wish more people would read these questions and answers before sending e-mail. I love to hear from my readers, but the more time I spend on e-mail, the less time I have to write books!