1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?
Website & Blog: KarmaDeception.com
Facebook: Elaine Taylor, author
2. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?
Love hosting dinner parties! Since we moved to North Carolina three years ago, we have met the most fascinating people. A woman who leads custom safaris in Africa, a man who lectures about Supreme Court rulings. One of the first American women to do business in Hong Kong, a doctor who went to Liberia as a volunteer during the Ebola crisis. A pro bono lawyer who advocates for children, a man who counsels third-world countries on how to set up their economies. I always end the evening knowing things I didn’t know before. (Not to mention getting character and plotline ideas!)
3. How long have you been writing? How many books have you written? They don’t have to be published.
Four books! In the mid-90’s, two characters took up residence in my days waking/sleeping conscious. Stephen, a “sexual connoisseur.” Catherine, owner of ETC, Emerging Technology Consultants, who had a sex-only relationship with Stephen. (Was he ever liberating! And instructive …) Stephen ended up dead; Catherine was framed for his murder. I started writing a few vignettes—because I never imagined I could write a whole novel. I mean, I had a life, right? Had to make a living. But you know how insistent these characters can be. A few years later FINAL BETRAYAL became a reality—my first suspense novel. Second came FINAL CONSEQUENCE. After that I worked on a project that is still a work in progress (or maybe it’s a work not worth progressing—TBD.) I’ve just published KARMA, DECEPTION And a Pair of Red FERRARIS: A Memoir.
4. What genres do you like writing the most? And why? Is this genre the same as the one you prefer to read?
I love reading and writing suspense novels. Love the challenge of untangling the mystery—both as a reader and writer. The memoir was a fluke—something I never intended to write. But, as a real-life “character” I have traveled an unusual path through universal stories that many people struggle with. Childhood betrayals and loss led me to grow a heart as tough as armadillo hide—an unintentional consequence of which was that I shut out love as well as pain. As a woman clawing her way in a man’s world I defined “emotional strength” as all sharp-edges and impenetrable boundaries. I had to relearn that tenderness and vulnerability are the DNA of true emotional strength. Only after that did I find the long-lasting love for which I so yearned. I wrote KARMA DECEPTION to inspire, and perhaps offer a roadmap for, others who are walking a similar path. (Feedback I have received from readers has been very gratifying.)
5. Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…
Am in the early stages of plotting the third suspense novel, FINAL (SOMETHING). It will include the serial characters; and involve the kidnapping of a child—with a twist.
6. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?
Definitely one at a time. I eat, drink and sleep (cliché alert) the book I am writing!
I write with no formal outline; but I know essentially how the story begins and ends. I have a strong idea of who the protagonist/antagonist and the other major players are. Then I sit quietly and envision the major plot points (beginning, end of the beginning, midway recommitment, dark night of the soul, climax, resolution) for the journey the main characters will take. (I learned this invaluable plotting technique from Martha Alderson.) Next, I build in-depth backstories for all major characters. Then I’m ready to begin writing scene drafts and filling in the plot points. (By then I will have an expandable folder full of character/story notes that will advise the writing.) Plot is invariably modified as I write; but at least I know where I’m going. Kind of like planning a vacation: once I decide I’m going to Cannes, I have a gazillion options on how to get there.
7. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?
Story structure is my strength. When we analyze the stories that have endured through the ages, virtually all of them have consistent craft elements that make them resonate with readers. (Except, of course, French movies—which only the French seem to understand!) So I spent two decades studying story craft elements such as how to create conflict, wounded (=interesting/multi-dimensional) characters, plotting the story arc, character growth/arc, dialogue that moves the story forward (not “just talk”), scene setting, etc.
Major weakness? Literary writing (whatever that means); and punctuation! I, too, like ellipses … ;-}
8. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?
Well, the big buzz is social media. Which I am neither good at, nor like. (Although I do like writing blogposts.) So I am going about marketing KARMA DECEPTION the old-fashioned way: I hired a phenomenal publicist to kick-start the process!
9. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?
· study the craft of storytelling—not just “writing”; expect to practice the craft elements for a long time before they come naturally
· take as many classes/workshops from reputable well-established professionals as possible. (I’ve been writing for over twenty years, and am always on the lookout for good classes.)
· don’t ask friends and Mom to be your critics; find a critique group that knows something about telling stories; and gives feedback based on solid story craft. (I have found myself in critique groups that wanted to tell where I should have put a comma or conjugated a verb differently … and I’m outta there! For me, that kind of editing is best done by a professional, as the last step before publication. A great critique group helps me figure out how to create page-turning conflict and characters a reader will want to spend hours with and be sorry to let go of at the end. If I don’t do that, no one will ever discover my poor punctuation.)
· writing a book is really hard; and all writers (myself included) believe they can knock out a bestseller in one draft. Not likely. KARMA DECEPTION underwent five (5!) full rewrites before I even got to the heart of the story I was telling; and before I knew how to tell it.
· Send your ego on a years’ long walk-about in a land faraway. Writing good books ain’t for the crying, fainting easily-offended types. Because no matter how good a book you write—or how many rave reviews you get—more than one somebody is going to hate it.