Monday, October 31, 2011

Jerrie Alexander: Persistence is The Key

What We Are Saying...
Jerrie Alexander's THE GREEN EYED DOLL will  debut  in the spring of 2012 with the Wild Rose Press  as part of its Crimson Rose line. In the meantime,  she took time for an interview with us. It's our pleasure to welcome her to our blog. Jerrie joined us for a discussion about her first book, how she got published and her life, so far, as a writer. So grab your favorite beverage, relax and read about this new writer. Don't forget to leave Jerrie a question or comment.

What Jerrie is Saying...
 Thanks for having me today. I love chatting with fellow authors. I’ve written off and on for years, with romance and suspense my genre of choice. I still have the first paper I wrote in a creative writing class years ago. But life happens, and I struck gold with my very own John Wayne husband and two wonderful children.

For a time, I set writing aside, but my characters were never far from my thoughts. Geesh, sometimes they’d wake me, insisting I share their dark, sexy stories with others. I love to write alpha males and sassy, kick-ass women with a hint of humor. My characters weave their way through death and fear to emerge stronger because of, and on occasion in spite of, their love for each other. I torture the hero and heroine, make them suffer, and if they’re strong enough, they live happily ever after.

A native Texan, I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, North Texas RWA, and Kiss of Death. She lives in Texas, loves sunshine, children’s laughter, sugar (human and granulated), and researching for her heroes and heroines.

Jerrie joined us for a discussion about her first book, how she got published and her life, so far, as a writer. So grab your favorite beverage, relax and read about this new writer.

Jerrie Alexander on Her Journey…
First Congratulations! You’ve written your first book, The Green Eyed Doll and it has been accepted for publication by The Wild Rose Press. What is this journey like for you?
My journey to publication has been wild, exciting, sometimes disappointing, and a pleasure! The Green Eyed Doll has been edited, cut, and rewritten many times, but I knew this was a good story, so I kept submitting. The journey requires perseverance and the willingness to accept rejection. I can’t tell you how exciting and validating it is to open an email and have someone who loved your book offer to publish it.

What galvanizes you to keep writing?
You’ve probably heard this a number of times, but I can’t NOT write. I love to create new stories of danger and survival. When one of my critique partners tell me something I’ve written scared the socks of them or made them cry, it’s incredibly rewarding. Makes me work even harder. It’s really hard to get my brain to shut down and go into vacation mode.

On her book and characters…
Could you share a bit about your latest book and characters?
Love to! The Green Eyed Doll is a story about a woman hiding her past. A Texas sheriff who ignites a flame she thought lost forever, and a killer who paints his victims to look like porcelain dolls. Keeping secrets will cost her dearly when the sheriff learns she killed her husband. She’s broken a bond of trust he thought they’d formed. She’ll fight for her life a second time when she’s kidnapped by the man who plans to make her his next Green Eyed Doll.
The hero and heroine have to learn to trust and forgive each other in order to make their relationship work.

If you had to choose, which scene in the book is your favorite?
That’s a tough one. There’s a point in the book where Catherine, the heroine, takes charge of her situation. She’s a survivor and quite willing to do what it takes to stay alive, but what she goes through to live and love is heroic. Also there’s a John Wayne thread running through to the ending, I think it’s different than most books.

What inspired you to write romantic suspense?
I’d have to say Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb. I have the entire series of In Death books. Her writing inspires me. Her writing draws you in, allowing you to live the story along with her characters. After I read one of her books, I think wow; I need to work a little harder. Dig a little deeper. I don’t want to be Nora, but I want to be the best Jerrie possible.

On her writing process…
How much research was required for your novel?
I research a lot. Asked questions and spent tons of time on Google before I started a book. If you saw the files on my hard drive, you’d think they belonged to a serial killer. I did a lot of research on both the setting and the killer.

I actually wrote the FBI with a list of questions for another work in progress. Can you imagine my surprise when my phone rang and a Special Agent was calling? He was very helpful, answered all my questions, and thanked me for trying to keep it real. And I use his information whenever possible.

You’ve had a career in logistics which involved travel to many cities. How has this background helped or hindered you in planning your books?
It helped a lot, but I can only write about warm climates! I was fortunate to not travel into colder states. Even during a trip to Oregon, it was summer. I set my background in areas where I know the weather and setting in real and believable. The setting in a book is very much one of the characters. The Green Eyed Doll is set in a small Texas county during the longest drought and hottest summer on record. While I wrote this book two years ago, the setting rings true today.

What are the challenges in developing a layered plot-driven story that rivals others in the market place.
One challenge is keeping it fresh. There are just so many ways to kill a person. It’s how you build the world around the deaths and the impact on the survivors that keep a story interesting to me. I try to layer in different struggles for the characters and not make the story strictly about suspense.

How do you give your characters the depth and detail necessary for readers to want to cheer them on without the technical aspects of your research interfering with the story?
All of us have a flaw or something we have to overcome, at least I do! My characters all have a past, something they’d rather forget because they don’t believe themselves worthy of redemption. Forcing them to come to terms with their secret allows them to grow.

What challenge or struggle do you face when you try to build emotional bonds between the characters.
I’m too quick to have them fall in love! I slap my hand, hit delete, and take my time building their relationship. They can be attracted to each other, but to build a lasting emotional bond, each character has to trust that they’ve found a safe place to fall.

How do you, then, go about addressing the part with which you struggle.
Each morning before I begin to write, I read yesterday’s work. I’ve been told you should keep writing and catch the mistakes during the edit, but that process doesn’t work for me. If I’ve moved too quickly, I’ll cut out that section and save it to use later.

Do you have specific techniques you utilize for getting into the head of your villains? Care to share them?
This, according to some, is my forte. I love writing from the villain’s point of view. I did tons of research on serial killers before starting the book. Understanding his motivation, what trigger turned him into a monster, helps make him believable.

What do you find most rewarding about your writing career so far? Most disappointing?
I love the creative part, the putting on of different hats to slip into a new life and create new experiences. Rejection is always the most disappointing. But it comes with the territory, and I had to accept the fact that everyone isn’t going to love my work.

If you could give beginning writers one small piece of advice, what would it be?
Other than don’t give up, I’d say find a support group, a critique group, a chapter of fellow writers. I learn something every time I’m around other writers.

On Her Personal Life…
What is a little known fact about yourself?
Had to think on this one. Now this is just between us...when I was in school I sang lead in a group...we were going to be rich and famous. Fun times!

What book are you reading right now?
Edge Of Sight by Roxanne St. Claire. She is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors.

If you could have a beer, coffee, or tea with a literary luminary living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’d choose a big glass of iced tea with Stephen King. After reading his book On Writing, I recommend it to all my fellow writers. Aside from being scary, he’s down to earth and logical.

What’s next for you?
I recently started submitting The Last Execution.  Hell Or High Water is a new story about human trafficking, and the research is truly heartbreaking.

Finally, where can we find you on the web? – I love getting email!

Question for Readers. What keeps you going back to a favorite author? Emotional engagement with the characters or the plot?


Anonymous said...

What a nice interview. It sounds if you did all the right things, study, support group, critiques-success. It gives all of us newbies hope.
What keeps me going back to a favorite author is my emotional engagement or awareness with the words the author puts together with characters.
Thorne Anderson

Ruby Johnson said...

Thanks so much for visiting our blog and for the helpful advice. Did the FBI answer your questions by mail or show up at your door?!
I personally go back to authors whose characters are so well developed that I think I'd recognize them on the street. But I really love a good plot. I guess I'm a bi-polar type of reader.

Regina Richards said...

Hi Jerrie,

I agree, Stephen King would be near the top of my list of ice tea chat buddies.

Jerrie Alexander said...

Thorne, what a great name! And thanks for stopping by today.

I agree, I have to feel an emotional connection with the characters or the writer loses my attention.

Jerrie Alexander said...

Ruby, thank you for having mt today.

The FBI called me! Can you imagine my heart rate when he identified himself? I just knew he was going to tell me NOT to write about them, but he answered everyone of my questions. And then he thanked me for wanting to be factual. Such a nice guy!

Jerrie Alexander said...

Regina! Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

I can just picture me clamming up, something unusual for me, and not being able to speak a word. There we'd be, me and Stephen drinking tea in silence!

Barb Han said...

Morning Jerrie. What a great post. I agree with Thorne. Emotional involvement with characters is key. Oh, and I'd love to have ice tea with Stephen King, but not go on a walk with him near his lake house. His book, On Writing, is terrific, isn't it! You write those keep-me-up-at-night creepy villains. Where on earth does that come from?

Jerrie Alexander said...

Morning Barb! I should qualify her comments since she's my critique partner, and I pay her to say nice things! Just joking about the money, she's a great writer and tough taskmaster!

The mind of a killer has always facinated me. Not the chain-saw kind of guy but the one who snapped. I like to figure out what tiggered his break with reality. I also enjoy writing two villians in a story. One pure evil and one who brings out a touch of empathy in the reader!

Marsha said...

Hey, Jerrie. Great post. Can't wait to see "Doll" in print. You do write really "bad" bad guys.
I probabaly go back to authors where the plot keeps me enthralled, more than the characters. "Doll" has both a super plot and great characters.

Jerrie Alexander said...

Hello Marsha! Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for the compliment. Not sure what that says about my personality, but I do have fun in the bad guy's head!

I try to have both strong characters and fast paced plot to keep the reader involved.

Betty P. said...

Great read, Jerrie, shared her progress on the Green Eyed Doll with me and believe me it will give you the willies. Great story.
Betty P.

Jerrie Alexander said...

Thanks Betty! If it gave you the willies, I did my job!

I appreciate you stopping by.

Diana Layne said...

Jerrie, fun interview, look forward to reading your work!

Jerrie Alexander said...

Thank you, Dianna!! Thanks for stopping by.

Jackie P said...

Enjoyed the refreshing answers! There is nothing better than a great bad guy...peaking into the mind of a villain keeps me enthralled in a book! Hmmm....not sure what that says about me, either :)

Anonymous said...

Great! thanks for the share!

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