#MTW2017 Interview with CJ Peterson

Interview conducted by TBBManiac Sian

Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for us for MTW.

Being an official reviewer for MTW is one of the most exciting things we can do as a blog site and as is our primary goal we love to READ! REVIEW! PROMOTE! That being said; I am also excited to interview authors whether I have read their books or not because it is an excellent opportunity to get to know the person behind the book and to get a lot of information about writing.

As an Official TBBReviewer we know that readers want the answers and they want them NOW so let’s get cracking.

Can you tell me more about your latest book?

Actually my latest work is a short story in a Western anthology called The Posse.  “Bad Day at Round Rock” is a historical fiction story written in overlapping segments with the main character thread being the twenty-dollar gold pieces that the outlaw Sam Bass stole in a train robbery.  The story is chockfull of history, mystery, myth, greed, and love…as is the rest of the anthology. All the stories are human interest pieces but with the usual action you expect in a story taken from the old Wild West.

How did you first learn about MTW and what were your first thoughts about it as a project?

I ran across MTW so long ago, I can’t exactly remember, but I think I saw it on Facebook, or maybe it was in a Guppy email. (In case you’re not familiar with Guppies, it’s the online group of the international Sisters-in-Crime organization.) I thought MTW was going to be a humungous project, and I wasn’t wrong. I have no idea how Vicki Turner Goodwin and the MTW crew keep everything straight. Awesome efforts. Applause, applause.

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment as a writer to date?

I’ve been fortunate to win a few awards, but I think my “greatest accomplishment” was that first story that was picked up by a publisher and published in 2008. THAT was a kick!

Now; from what I have read on the internet you really like to write books with lots of thrills and turns; that keep the reader on the edge of their seat. How do you come up with a story / plot that has the ability to keep the reader engaged and not lose interest?

I have always enjoyed action/adventure stories, and I subscribe to the “get your protagonist up a tree and then throw rocks at her” way of writing. Producer David Mamet had some great advice, I think, in his instructions to the writers of “The Unit” TV show: “START, EVERY TIME, WITH THIS INVIOLABLE RULE: THE SCENE MUST BE DRAMATIC. IT MUST START BECAUSE THE HERO HAS A PROBLEM, AND IT MUST CULMINATE WITH THE HERO FINDING HIM OR HERSELF EITHER THWARTED OR EDUCATED THAT ANOTHER WAY EXISTS.”  And yes, the note was so important to him, he wrote it in all capital letters.  I’m starting my second story in what I hope to be a mystery series, and I need to keep this reminder in front of me. I even wrote about it on my blog today.

Do you like to plan your book and do a lot of research before you start writing?

I am an incorrigible pathfinder, which means I have an idea of what the protagonist really wants and how I want the book to end then ad lib appropriate roadblocks to achieving the goal as I go along. I don’t plot, but am finding that I have to do some plotting if I’m going to be successful at a good mystery. So, I meander my way through the first part of the story then work up a synopsis to see where I should be going, all of which gets changed regularly, forward and back, of course. I do most of my research as I’m writing to verify what I want to say is true. I spend a lot of time down research rabbit holes. Re-reading all of this tells me why I am such a slow writer.

Who would you say has been one of your biggest inspirations as a writer?

Big inspirations for me have been Robert B. Parker and James Lee Burke, but I am most inspired by reading the works of a good writer, one whose words are so precise and meaningful that I feel myself entering the story. With that said, I am not a fan of literary fiction because it usually ends on a sad note. I want to be entertained. I can do sad all by myself.

As far as writing goes; it is a hard market to crack into; especially in a genre as popular as mystery and thriller – what would you say has been the toughest challenge you have faced as a writer trying to publish?

The biggest challenge is determining what the public will be interested in a year or two from now. What’s hot now, will probably not be hot then. There are subgenres that have a good shelf life, and I’ve tried to tap into one of them—romantic suspense. My stories incorporate the action/adventure I like to read with a touch of romance. You know, Jane Bond.  Cozies are another subgenre that seems to live forever.

Who would you say has been your greatest supporter during your writing?

My oldest son is the guy who takes my bookmarks and hands them out to friends and co-workers. The whole family applauds my efforts, but Mark is the rah-rah guy.

What was the most exciting thing to happen after you published your first book?

Signing copies and throwing a launch party complete with a sheet cake that had the book cover with my author name on it reproduced in the frosting. MINE!

We would just like to take a moment to thank CJ Petterson for taking the time to answer the questions to our interviews and we wish her the absolute best in her writing.

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