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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An Interview with Miranda Parker, author of A Good Excuse to be Bad


1.  When and why did you begin writing?
Unlike most authors I didn’t think I was going to be a writer when I was a small child. I was an avid reader as a small child. I began reading around four-years-old. I was very curious about the world and read the dictionary, the almanac, my encyclopedias…anything I could get my hands on. I became a writer when I couldn’t find the kind of story I would like to read.

2.   Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I participated in a year- long writing workshop hosted by Chuck Palahniuk, who wrote Fight Club. At the time I was the only woman in the group. After I completed the workshop I received a letter and a gift package from Chucky P. In the letter he told me lighten up and have fun in my writing. (I took my writing way too seriously during critique.) He stated, “Don’t write the story unless it’s fun to you, else what’s the point?” That stuck with me. When I created this story I wanted to write a story I would love to read and feel like fun while doing it. If I find myself writing a scene that seems like a chore I chunk it. Whether it’s a suspenseful or the black moment for Angel if I’m not emotionally invested in that scene I know it will be a waste to a reader. So my challenge has been how to tell the tough part of my stories in a way that entertains me. After all, I am the first reader of my books.

3. What inspired you to write your first book?
I covered a story about eight years ago for a newspaper I once wrote for, but we had to kill it.  It was too sensational for our core readers and some advertisers had relationships with some of the parties that were the focus of the story. Yet, I couldn’t let it go. 
So a few years ago while workshopping another novel about a hot missionary’s return to the states I began thinking about this story. How can I build a readtastic story around it? I needed an antihero that my missionary couldn’t help but fall hard for and keep her on her toes. Angel was created.

4. How much of the book is realistic?
I questioned local bounty hunters in this state and DeKalb County Police about the probability of events in the story and how the bail bonds process works here. I wrote a few articles years ago about the IRS’ investigation of two Atlanta megachurches and the rise of Armor Bearers as security forces in nondenominational megachurches. These stories became the background I needed to flesh out my story. Moreover, I am a twin, so that didn’t require special research.

5.  What books have most influenced your life most?
Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Ubbervilles, Alice Walker’s Color Purple, Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club

6.    If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 
As I mentioned earlier I took a year-long writing workshop with Chuck Palahniuk, so I consider him a writing mentor. However, I’ve been blessed to have some great writers on my speed dial when I needed encouragement, a line edit, and an introduction to an agent or publisher. I speak about them in the acknowledgments of A Good Excuse to Be Bad. In short some of them are:  Reshonda Tate Billingsley, Creston Mapes, and Sharon Ewell Foster.  

7.  What book are you reading now? 
I’m reading Shana Burton’s Catt Chasin and Jane Eyre.

8.   What are your current projects?
I am editing the sequel Someone Bad and Something Blue (releases July 2012) and writing the first draft of the third novel in the series. 

9.  Can you share a little of your current work with us?
A Good Excuse to Be Bad has a groove that is a throwback to my favorite romantic suspense television series like Moonlighting and Remington Steele with a new kind of hero, a kick butt woman lead who is grounded because she’s a young mom.  Most of my favorite television shows (Castle, The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles) have great heroines, but none of them are moms. Therefore, Angel Crawford’s story is unique, because she’s put in a rock and a hard place position. She needs to find her brother-in-laws murderer, make sure her overly dramatic twin sister not take the fall for the murder, keep from falling in love with her pastor who wants to tagalong on her hunt, and prepare her daughter for Kindergarten at the same time. Can she do it all is what makes the book exciting. 

10.   What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part of writing my book is trying to keep the reader guessing until the end and at the same time leaving hints so that when the reader gets to the end they want to read it over again, because although they are surprised they can now see it. I want my readers to ask themselves, “Oh, why didn’t I miss that?” 

11.  Do you have any advice for other writers?
 Begin now on creating a writing discipline. Once you become published you’re expected to produce a novel length work every year, while promoting one book, and editing another. So require some discipline now, so that you won’t become overwhelmed and you can meet your editor’s deadline. I’m speaking from experience. In the past year my home was broken into, my laptop-which housed book2—was stolen, had to rewrite from scratch once I got a new laptop, then mom was diagnosed with cancer, twin brother expecting first baby, father ill, took care of mom, I became sick after taking care of her, niece was born, I got sicker…had to ask for an extension. Trust me my case isn’t extraordinary. Every published author has a good excuse, but having a writing discipline gets you threw it. My writing discipline now is 1000 words a day, which is the equivalent of four pages or in one scene and a sequel.


12.   Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I love reader feedback and would love for you to help me write the third book in the series. Email me at mparkerbooks@gmail.com and if chosen you will get casted in the third novel. 

 
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