Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with M. Jean Pike

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm chatting with author M. Jean Pike - sit back and enjoy!

Thanks so much for being here today! Can you tell us about your latest writing project or published title?

Thank you, Allie. My latest novel, a literary love story called IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGONFLY, will be released in October from Black Lyon Publishing. Here’s the blurb:

From above the shadows ... light.

Orphaned and impoverished, Gray Baldwin is a lost soul in search of a home, a life, and most of all -- love. Kicked from foster home to foster home, at last a restored motorcycle and the onset of adulthood give him the means to leave behind all the old threats, struggles and losses that haunt him. When he accepts a job at Hanwell Construction, life's promising new start is both his hope and his torment.

The spoiled daughter of a well-to-do business owner, pretty Hope Hanwell has a past to reconcile and a few tragic secrets of her own. She wants for nothing -- and everything, pushing love as far away as she can until love pushes back. When Gray and Hope meet, theirs is a story of heartbreak, redemption and fate at its most devastating.

Sounds like a terrific story (and I love the cover!). How do you go about developing your characters?

When a character starts to take shape in my mind, I spend a number of hours thinking about him or her before I even start writing. I get a feel for what they like, how they dress, speak, and react to different scenarios. I think about their backgrounds, where they live, what their families are like. Once I start writing their stories I become obsessed with them. I lie awake at night creating obstacles for them to overcome and I go through my day trying to see my life and circumstances through their eyes. My characters are constantly evolving and they are full of surprises. After spending months, and sometimes years carrying them around in my head, I know them as thoroughly as I know myself. They become a part of me and they never really leave me, even after I’ve moved on to other projects.

Yes, that sounds familiar! OK, what advice would you give to new writers just starting out?

There’s a whole lot of advice out there and most of it can be pretty mind boggling. I guess if a new writer asked for my two cents, I would offer these suggestions. Firstly, don’t be afraid to seek the help of a more experienced writer, be it through a writing course, books on the craft of writing, or critique partners. Secondly, know your market and don’t ever submit blindly. This will waste all kinds of time and the process of getting published is slow enough as it is. If you want to write for a specific publisher, read their titles, get a feel for what they like, and then do your best to give it to them.

What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?

A true book worm, I like all different kinds of books, from romance to suspense to classic literature. I love any author who can take me by surprise, make me cry buckets, or laugh out loud. Favorites? I have hundreds. The list includes Lee Child, Barbara Delinsky, Elizabeth Berg, Patricia Cornwell, Gail Godwyn, Eudora Welty, Maeve Binchy, and most recently, Emilie Richards.

Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

I think every writer runs into trouble at one time or another. I wouldn’t say I get blocked, just sort of lost sometimes. When that happens, I handle it the same way as when I get lost in an unfamiliar city. Panic will do no good, and you can’t very well just sit with your motor racing dithering over what to do. I simply keep going in the direction I think might be right until eventually I find my way back to my story.

When you write, do you use the computer or compose by hand, oral dictation, or some other method?

I do my best writing when I’m in a completely relaxed state of mind. For me, that means grabbing a pencil, a spiral notebook, and a good, strong cup of coffee and heading to the back porch. My back yard is my own private sanctuary; five acres of woods, water and wildflowers. I’ve been known to stay out there scribbling for hours when I’m chasing down a new story.

Oh, that sounds like an ideal place to write. Is there anything else you’d like to mention for our readers today?

I have excerpts of each of my books posted on my website, as well as news, contests, blogs, and upcoming events. All are invited to stop by!

Readers, I just wanted to mention that I read another of M. Jean Pike's books, Winds of Autumn, and loved it. This is one talented author ~ and I highly recommend adding In the Shadow of the Dragonfly to your "To Buy" list. It releases October 1st!


Liza said...

Very good advice for new writers, Jean. I'll be in line to get one of the first copies of In the Shadow of the Dragonfly when it's released. Liza

windycindy said...

They couple's relationship sounds very interesting. The cover of her book is striking. Thanks for the interview. Cindi