Friday, August 13, 2010

Interview with Erin Klinger, author of "Between the Lines"

Erin Klingler grew up in northern California where the warm, sunny climate fit her love of athletics perfectly. In addition to her love of sports, though, Erin has always loved to write. In elementary school, she was one of the winners in a district-wide short story contest, and got to meet the actor who played the Star Wars villain Darth Vader as a prize. She's been completely hooked on writing ever since. In addition to writing, Erin loves reading, playing tennis, and puttering around in her classic 1979 Volkswagen Beetle yellow convertible, affectionately named "Tweety."

This is a fast-paced, exciting, heart-pounding book that suspense lovers will devour. Erin's book is well-written and her characters are unforgettable. You may want to start this one early in the morning because you won't be putting it down until the last page!

From the back of Erin's book:

Sydney Hallam, hard-line journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle, is poised for action after receiving a tip from a mysterious source that criminally implicates several influential power brokers-but her source is gunned down before he can disclose any details. Days later, Salt Lake Tribune reporter Justin Mickelsen receives a letter from a childhood friend-the murder victim-written just prior to his death, leading the two reporters to team up in San Francisco to expose the scandal. In the intensity of the investigation, the pair's attraction quickly grows, along with proof of money laundering, drug trafficking, and grand theft. But as the evidence builds, so do the tempers of certain billionaires and heavy-hitting politicians-soon it seems the dangerous career path chosen by the two ace reporters can only lead to a very dead end.

Here is my interview with Erin:

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Erin: When I was about eight years old, actually. I wrote a silly little story (though I probably thought it was groundbreaking when I wrote it) about a dog who wanted a dog house for Christmas. I still have it saved in a scrapbook somewhere. My love of reading prior to that and ever since only strengthened my desire to become a writer.

M.B.: What is your writing and educational background?

Erin: I took writing classes in high school, but most of my writing education has come from reading and online information. My college degree is in Preschool Education, which really has nothing to do with writing other than learning a great deal about patience. :)

M.B.: What makes you passionate about writing?

Erin: It has become something very special to me over the years. I have always felt a special connection to the characters I've brought to life. By the time a story is well under way, they feel like more than just characters on a page; they become real people with real problems and challenges. I suppose I can say I learn much from them, and understand problem solving in a different way since I have to get my characters out of the scrapes I put them in. Being able to bring a story and characters to life makes writing a passion for me, one that helps me fulfill a creative part of myself. If I don't write, my life feels a little bland.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Erin: It certainly wasn't easy. I have enough rejection notices to wall paper my house! But I kept persisting, and the things I have learned and the experiences I have had along the way have been invaluable. Without that struggle, I wouldn't know what I know today about the pros and cons of the publishing world, and I wouldn't have made so many friends who share my passion for writing!

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Erin: Oh, I was continually discouraged. Every time I would get a rejection notice, I felt like I wanted to give up and never write again. It felt like somebody was telling me I was worthless and couldn't write worth a darn. But I persisted, and the more I learned and honed my craft, the better I got. I could see myself growing as a writer, and the feedback I got from the people who read my stuff got more and more positive. I think that was the key--the be proactive and keep learning something new that made my writing better, which made ME feel more confident. That confidence is what helped me ultimately get my books published.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

Erin: With five kids, it's certainly never easy. I used to write late at night and into the early hours of the morning when my kids were all asleep, but as I've gotten older, I just don't have the kind of "umph" left in me. :) Now I try to write for a few hours a day while the kids are at school (and when I'm not juggling my part-time jog), and I try to eek out whatever half hour or so I can here and there during summer vacation. Writing a book takes me much longer than it used to, but at least I feel like I'm doing *something* by taking a few minutes here and a half hour then. (And it helps to take my laptop in the car with me while I'm waiting to pick kids up from school, etc.)

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?

Erin: Ideas often come to me while I'm reading or watching TV or movies. I often find myself fascinated with some obscure secondary character in a TV show, and I think, "What if that person was working in such-and-such a field and was faced with such-and-such a problem?" And then a book slowly starts to form around that idea in my mind. I find the "what if?" questions that come into my head when I'm doing things like reading or watching something on TV jump start my muse and get me writing.

M.B.: When did the idea for this book first come to you?

Erin: I have always loved investigative type shows on TV, and writing about two reporters stumbling across something huge just seemed to grab me. Then the idea of two reporters for papers in different states coming together with a common goal seemed to present interesting challenges, so I ran with it.

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?

Erin: I'd like to think people will be able to escape into an interesting story and feel a connection to these characters. Maybe they will even see a little bit of themselves in them--a desire to connect and be a part of a family; the hope of meeting somebody who loves you for all of you, not just for the pieces they choose to love; or that growth and learning can come from both the little and big experiences you have.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?

Erin: I used to think outlining was a waste of time. Now I can't write a story without a good outline! It's a road map to me, telling me where I've been and where I'm going. And the more I look over that outline, the more ideas pop into my head to help fill in the blanks. Before long, I have an entire story there just waiting to be detailed!

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Erin: All the time! Writer's block will kill me dead with a story every time. But I have often found that some exercise (a brisk walk around the block or pounding some balls on the tennis court) will "unstick" my mind. I've also found that watching TV or a good movie and letting my mind drift into somebody else's "world" will take my mind off my own story long enough that when I go back, whatever I was stuck on becomes much clearer and easier to write.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?

Erin: Sometimes I listen to music that fits the mood of the section I'm writing--when I'm writing a romantic scene, I might put on my slow songs playlist. An action sequence might make me play my fast songs. If I'm stressing over a scene, though, I turn off everything and just force myself to concentrate with no distractions.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

Erin: Music, TV, and movies inspire me to want to write. The "what ifs" that I talked about earlier really start flooding my mind.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

Erin: I was part of an online writing group back when I first started writing seriously, and they made such an impact in my life. We would share our stories with each other and critique what we read. Writing techniques were shared and discussed, and the feedback we got from others on our stories really helped us to tighten up our work and make us better writers. I doubt I would be where I am today with two published novels without that jump start!

M.B.: What’s your secret to making the characters in your books come to life?

Erin: I always do a character spread sheet on them before I start on new book. I list things like appearance, habits, quirks, clothing preferences, personality traits, etc. By the time that list is compiled, it's easy for me to see them in my mind walking, talking, and interacting with people. They become real to me, which makes it easier to have them seem real on a page for a reader.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

Erin: I have a few dear friends read what I write, and their thoughts and opinions are invaluable! What I might think works may come across as a hideous mistake. Unless they point it out, I don't know! So I rely on them completely. There's no way I would attempt to write a book without a handful of readers whose honest (and sometimes blunt!) opinions I value.

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?

Erin: It seems like whichever book I'm currently writing is my favorite. :) I just get hooked on the characters and storyline, and it becomes fun and exciting.

M.B.: What is something about yourself people don’t know?

Erin: Oh, let's see. I'm practically addicted to M&M McFlurries. Should I be ashamed of that? :)

M.B.: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Erin: Peanut M&Ms! (And for those of you who have already read Between the Lines, you'll notice my favorite writing snack makes an ongoing appearance in the story. ;))

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?

Erin: The most important things I always suggest to upcoming writers are to learn and network! Read everything you can (online and in print) about the writing process--pacing, characterization, grammar and punctuation, etc. Then network! Become part of a writing and/or critique group. Go to writing conferences. Make writing and learning about writing part of your daily process. It's usually a very long road to getting published, and is frequently painful and discouraging. But if you have a good network of writing friends and a great support system, you'll get there!

M.B.: What are you working on now?

Erin: I am currently working on two books. One is a possible sequel to Between the Lines, and the other is a completely different romantic suspense novel tentatively titled Deceit. I'm very excited about both of them!

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share

Erin: I just have to laugh at the misunderstanding so many people have about writers. People seem to think that if you're a writer, you must be rich! I always laugh about that. Unless you're Stephen King or Stephenie Meyer, you're not likely to be making a ton of money off your books. Most of us writers make very little. We simply write because we love it, and it fulfills part of ourselves. So if you're only in it to make money, find another profession! But if you want to be a writer because you love it, and you want to touch somebody's life in that way, you're on the right track!

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Erin: Seagull Book and Deseret Book have Between the Lines, and it can also be found online in various locations.

1 comment:

Braden said...

Great interview! It was fun to get to know more about Erin.