Current Release: Shunning Sarah
Describe your current release in two sentences?
Shunning Sarah centers on a clash of cultures: flashy TV news versus a reclusive Amish community. A young Amish woman - Sarah Yoder - is murdered, but her family objects to the police sketch of her face being broadcast by the media because of the biblical ban on graven images. When TV reporter Riley Spartz finds a clue the cops iss, she uncovers a dark web of fraud and deception driven by motives as old as the Bible: sex and money.
Please describe your writing environment.
I write at home in a balcony loft. It's a mess. Papers and books stacked everywhere. When I produced TV newscasts my desk was always clean at the end of the day because anything that didn't make air, went into the trash. A novel is such a long term project - and always changing - that it's hard to know what to throw away.
What are you working on?
I'm writing book six -still untitled - in my suspense series set in the desperate world of TV news. It continues the adventures of my protagonist Riley Spartz.
What do you feel blessed with?
I feel blessed that I've raised a family of readers and successfully transitioned from journalist to novelist, especially when publishing appears to be in a confusing meltdown.
What was your childhood ambition?
I've always wanted to visit the monarch butterflies winter migration grounds in the jungles of Mexico. I'm still confident I'll make it happen.
What is your favorite TV show?
I can't wait for the third season of SHERLOCK on BBC. I've watched the finale of season two again and again and still can't figure out how they will explain the twist. (I'm purposely being vague so I don't spoil things for those who haven't been watching.) I'm also a fan of Castle, Smash and Glee.
What career fields have you worked in?
I've spent my career in journalism. For 20 years I worked at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, most recently there as an investigative journalist. The last several years I worked as a freelance network news producer for NBC and CBS. The phone rings and New York is on the line asking if you can go to the airport now. People think it sounds glamorous, but keep in mind you're heading to places the folks in New York don't want to go. It often means buying socks and underwear at gas stations in rural Missouri. Now I write novels full time. But I never forget that truth is stranger than fiction.
What are your plans for the summer? Any books you are looking forward to?
I'll be on the road for much of August with Shunning Sarah. Much of my research for the story was done in Minnesota's Amish country, I'm excited about seeing other Amish sects while touring and signing in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
How was your road to publication?
I sometimes feel guilty when other authors talk about their stacks of rejections before being published. Compared to them, I seemed to have had it easy. The first agent I queried took me as a client after reading my debut, Stalking Susan. She landed a two-book deal for me. But I've had some rough patches along the way. I was orphaned at my first publisher. My agent died. And I discovered that writing and promoting a book a year is hard work. But I spent a career writing news stories and I think that was excellent preparation for fiction. On the job, I've interviewed hundreds of people - many on the best or worst day of their lives and I think that's helped me develop an ear for dialogue.
If you could time travel, where would you travel to and why?
Depends on whether I get to time travel and then return to the present...that's key. If so, I'd travel to tomorrow. I'd read the day's news, and return to warn people of danger ahead. Don't get on that airplane. Keep your child home from school today. Of course I might also buy a winning lotto ticket.
If you could live in a world created by an author, which book / world would you jump into?
Just give me a story with a happy ending. That would eliminate many of my favorite books: Gone with the Wind, Anna Karenina, Rebecca. The Bridges of Madison County. If I want a happy ending, I might have to settle for a fairy tale.
My books are actually media thrillers. So If you'd like to know more about what happens behind the scenes in newsrooms, tune in. You'll learn things like which missing people get publicity and which don't. And you'll never watch news the same way again. Now back to the keyboard for me.
My new book, SHUNNING SARAH, will be released August 7.