Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Creative Edge Author Interview – Diane Bator

April 21, 2022
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When and why did you start to write?

I have always loved to read which inevitably led me to tell my own stories. I still have poems and stories I wrote when I was 10 or 12! As for the why, I simply love to tell a good story. Living in a small town, I learned to entertain myself by writing and creating my own worlds.

  • What drew you to the mystery genre in particular?

I love puzzles – both word puzzles and picture puzzles. I guess it’s only natural that I was drawn to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew as a kid. Funny how I never thought about writing them until I entered a Murder in Ink contest sponsored by a small Ontario publisher for the fun of it. That was how my first book, a novella, was published.

  • Do you feel a book series suits this genre best and if so why?

With cozy mysteries in particular, book series are a great way to go. Readers become immersed in the main character’s town, business, lives and love to watch them grow as the series goes on. Sometimes while writing in a temporary character, I’ve ended up with a whole new sidekick that sticks around for several more books.

  • Over time, with each new novel, have you found it is easier to write about your main protagonists?

By book two or three, my main protagonists become old friends and I like to get them in lots of trouble! It’s fun to put obstacles in their paths and see how they handle new situations. In Gilda’s case in my Gilda Wright Mysteries, she’s grown from someone who started working in a karate school to gain some confidence to a woman getting ready to grade for her black belt. She’s the main character who has had the most growth arc so far.

  • Can you give us some details of your latest book, The Conned Lady?

My two main characters in The Conned Lady are Katie Mullins and Danny Walker.

Readers met them back in The Bookstore Lady when Katie escaped from her bosses who wanted her dead because she knew too much.

Danny, who was investigating the organization, was supposed to keep her safe and lost her. Only to find her again in his hometown.

Together, they faced the bad guys and made sure they were behind bars and developed a romantic relationship through the series.

When the bad guys are suddenly free, Katie needs to confront her past and deal with it – with the help of Danny and their friends.

During it all, they both face insecurities and have doubts until… You’ll have to read The Conned Lady to find out!

  • What is your writing process?

I don’t have a daily schedule for my writing since I have a full-time job as well. Thankfully, during lock down I ended up working with a couple different writing groups and have blocks of time to write Sunday morning and Monday evening. Aside from that, I take time before work, during lunch, and some evenings when things are quiet. After learning to write around the chaos of work and three kids, I’ve learned to grab the free time when I can get it!

  • Do you list ideas for each series/protagonist specifically?

I really don’t list ideas for my protagonists. They grow as the story grows.

As for my series, I tend to come up with a main idea for the series then break it down in to 3-5 books that I write blurbs for. Sometimes I stick with them, other times the overall series story line takes a twist and I either juggle around the book blurbs or create new ones.

  • What do you see for the future of your many series?

My Wild Blue Mystery series has now come to an end – with an ending that will allow me to return to it in the future if I choose to do so.

Right now I’m waffling with ending my Gilda Wright Mysteries with the next novel or write two more.

I originally wrote three book blurbs for my Glitter Bay series, then I created a new character named Quinn who seems very eager to stir up some excitement around Glitter Bay!

As for my Sugarwood Mysteries, Book 2 is in the process with at least one more to follow.

  • Do you have a specific writing area?

I have a beautiful office space I painted Caribbean blue, but usually end up on the couch with my elderly cat, at the kitchen table in the sunshine, or outside if the weather is good. I don’t like to limit myself as to where and when I write, but find I can pick up a pen and paper any time anywhere.

  1. How can readers find you?

The best ways are via:

My website:  https://dianebator.ca/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/dianebatorauthor

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7179945.Diane_Bator

Bio:

Diane Bator is a mom of three, a book coach, and the author of over a dozen mystery novels and many works-in-progress. She has also hosted the Escape With a Writer blog to promote fellow authors and is a member of Sisters in Crime Toronto, the Writers Union of Canada, and a board member of Crime Writers of Canada. When she’s not writing and coaching authors, she works for a professional theatre. No surprise she’s written her first play, which may lead to more. 

Her website is https://dianebator.ca/ 

Her books are available through her publisher Books We Love at: https://bookswelove.net/bator-diane/ 

Creative Edge Author Interview – Robert P. French

December 9, 2021
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1.       How did you start as a writer?

When I was about 23, I wrote a book of horror stories which I typed on an old Underwood typewriter. At the time I didn’t have the faintest idea about publishing, so I put them in a file folder which, by the way, I still have.

Many years later, I was Chief Technology Officer at a company into which I had poured my heart and soul. The company didn’t make it through the high-tech meltdown of 2003, so I did what all techies do in such a situation: I started looking for consulting projects. After a long day of phone calls, I opened a WORD document and started writing a post-apocalyptic novel that had been sitting in the back of my mind for a while. I wrote non-stop until something like three in the morning. For me it was my heroin; I was hooked.

I kept writing most days but at about 40,000 words, I ran out of steam. I put the book to one side and tried writing another novel about a man, so totally bored with his life, that he seeks excitement by becoming an assassin. This too petered out. Finally, I completed a 115,000-word business thriller about a high-tech entrepreneur who gets scammed by a venture capitalist and then gets his revenge by scamming the scammers. I gave it the awful title, Vengeance Dot Com. This was before the days when agents and publishers would accept emailed submissions, so I mailed out over a hundred copies of the book… and watched as the seventy-plus rejection letters trickled in.

At the time, I had heard about the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, which is in a suburb of Vancouver and is, I believe, one of the largest writers’ conferences in North America. I went there with the idea that I would just learn all about how to write a winning synopsis of the book and about how to submit it to agents. Then they would see what a wonderful book it was… right?

The first session I attended was on the craft of writing and I was horrified to learn that there were  some things I was doing wrong, disastrously wrong, in fact. Who’d have thought it? I immediately changed my focus from sessions on marketing to sessions on the craft of writing. In one of these sessions, I met Lisa Rector-Maass, an editor from New York. I engaged her to do a review of the book. I got back a superb thirty-seven-page critique and realized that it was a non-starter. No amount of editing was ever going to save that book.

At the time, I had a project where I was managing software development for a company whose offices were in the downtown east side of Vancouver, which is a poorer part of the city where lots of drug deals happen. Every day, on my way to my client’s office, I would carefully avoid stepping on discarded needles. I used to pass the entrance to an alley that was filled with addicts who were sleeping, shouting out, shooting up, drinking coffee, eating fast food, and buying and selling drugs. To be honest, it kind of freaked me out. I remember thinking how awful it be to wake up and find yourself in that alley. I started to obsess over the idea and mentioned it to Lisa. She asked me some questions that just got everything flowing in my mind and the first Cal Rogan book was born. Lisa mentored me through Junkie and the second book Oboe and she was my editor for both books. I credit her for most of what I have learned about the craft of writing.

2.       Did you have a clear idea of the genre you wanted to write or did the story dictate that?

No. I love science fiction and thought that maybe I could write a sci-fi novel. But once Cal Rogan came into my life, I had found my genre.

3.       Why did you choose thriller crime fiction?

It was where Cal took me.

4.       Where did the character of Cal Rogan come from?

I was answering Lisa’s question of who it might be waking up in that terrifying alley. I thought about a lawyer, a doctor or a cop. I liked the irony of a cop, who had probably arrested his fair share of addicts, waking up there. Her follow-up question of ‘why was he there?’ was immediately answered, ‘Because he’s now an addict himself.’ Thus was Cal born.

5.       Do you feel your character has grown in each book?

Oh yes. He still fights with his demons but he works so hard to stay drug-free. Book by book, he rebuilds his life, often in the face of people or events that could send him back into the downward spiral of addiction.

6.       Is writing a series easier or harder than a standalone?

Much easier, I think. I have a cast of characters who have grown over the writing of the books and I love them all. Their words and actions just leap onto the page. I work on the plot and the characters write the rest. 🙂

7.       You cover tough social issues within your narratives. Was this a conscious decision?

I didn’t set out to make social commentary. As I was researching drug addiction, I was faced with the question of whether legalizing drugs (all drugs, not just marijuana) would be a good or bad idea. I don’t want to write preachy books so I allow my characters a few moments to argue the issue here and there. They are coming around to my way of thinking. I am a firm believer that legalization with control, just like with alcohol and tobacco, is a far better way to go for everyone in society and I feel that I can defend that position pretty well. I also like my characters to explore moral or philosophical questions like when is it morally correct to kill someone? Do we have free will? Is incest ever OK?

8.       Is there a subject you will not cover?

No. The only thing I don’t do is write explicit sex scenes. My readers’ imaginations are much better at filling in the blanks than I could ever be. In the same vein, I don’t give long descriptions of a character’s physical appearance. For example, I don’t think I have ever mentioned the colour of Cal’s eyes. I think it’s way more fun for readers to see the characters the way they want.

9.       How do you structure your writing schedule?

Prior to covid, every day I would drop my son at school and go to the Vancouver Public Library to write. For the last year and a half, I have been homeschooling him and writing on the weekends and, for an hour or two, here and there, during the week. Covid has not helped my productivity.

10.   Can you tell us about the latest book in the series?

The seventh, and latest book in the series is called Jailed. After some harrowing experiences in the previous book, Captive, Cal quit the PI business and went to teach Shakespeare at Simon Fraser University. A student approaches him and begs him to help exonerate her brother who has been falsely convicted of murder. After reluctantly visiting the brother in the Kent Institution, one of Canada’s grimmest jails, Cal is convinced of his innocence and sets out to find the real killer with unexpected results and some disastrous consequences.

11.   Do you have a current manuscript you are working on?

Always. I haven’t finalized a title and I’m not sure where it’s going yet, but the starting point is that a woman is found wandering in the downtown east side of Vancouver. She is obviously wealthy and she claims to have lost her memory. As Cal investigates, he discovers that she bears a remarkable resemblance to someone who has been accused of orchestrating a multi-billion dollar fraud. As an aside, the fraud is based on a real case.

12.   Would you consider writing another genre? Why or why not?

I have often thought of writing science fiction but I just don’t think I’d be that good at it. However, Cal Rogan has a daughter, Ellie, who is now twelve. I have started working on a series set in 2040, where she is a detective. It definitely won’t be science fiction but will describe a world that I see as a logical extension of where we are today.

13.   Which genre do you enjoy reading?

I love crime fiction, psychological thrillers, espionage, and science fiction. For non-fiction, I tend towards science and philosophy.

14.   How can readers find you and your books?

The best place is at my website

Robert French is a software developer, turned actor, turned author. He is the writer of the seven (so far)
Cal Rogan Mysteries crime-thrillers about a drug-addicted ex-cop who fights his way from living rough
on the streets to being a much-sought-after PI. The series, set in Vancouver, Canada, reflects the best
and worst of the city. He is passionate about having the right words on the page and with every new
book, his goal is to make it better than the previous one.
His loves are his family, science, language, certain elements of philosophy and craft beer.

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – A Special TV Interview with BLive Media

November 30, 2021
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I was delighted to be interviewed on Writers Corner Live TV Show on Sunday. It was an early start 7 am so if you missed it (you were probably sleeping!) here it is. https://www.facebook.com/WritersCornerLive/videos/445917263722961

I talked about Life in Slake Patch and it’s long history from initial draft through multiple revisions to it’s final publishing date and the redesign of the front cover. We discussed my writing journey and how I create my stories.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comment section here. I’m always happy to connect and chat.

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