Today I bring you a special treat. Connie Corcoran Wilson is touring the blogosphere with her newest novel Red is for Rage and she has stopped by to answer some questions for us. For those of you unacquainted with Connie, let’s take a moment and delve into her world…
Connie Corcoran Wilson is a University of Iowa grad and college professor with 55 years of writing experience. She has written for 5 newspapers and 7 blogs; founded 2 businesses; plays 4 musical instruments; and has 2 children born 20 years apart. Connie followed the ’04 and ‘08 presidential campaigns “live,” wrote for Yahoo, and is sometimes referred to as T.Q. (Trivia Queen). She also has 2-year-old twin granddaughters who are great fun.
Welcome Connie! Tell us about your writing process?
I find it helpful to create believable, three-dimensional characters and have them start interacting with and talking to one another. The plot—which I have loosely planned out while discussing possible developments with fellow writers and friends—is well-served by the dialogue my characters produce. I also follow John Irving’s advice of knowing your first line and knowing where it may end, but more the former than the latter.
Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?
As far as I’m concerned, I am already writing suspenseful thrillers, but, as a member of ITW (International Thriller Writers), I see myself heading in that direction more. I also would like to do a “true crime” novel. I still write humor and children’s books (for my granddaughters) so those are areas I’ve already explored, and I’ve written nonfiction since the age of ten so I will continue to do that when the spirit moves me, usually as a Christmas gift for the girls (my twin granddaughters Ava and Elise). I wrote “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” for them, and I’ve written “The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats,” which I hope to have out at Christmas this year for them.
What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?
As a Literature major with no minor, I read extensively. I would find it impossible to point out just 5 books from the many I’ve read both as a student, a teacher, and an avid reader.
If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?
Interestingly enough, I pointed out Tom Holland’s photo to my blog girl (Allison Levine) to represent Tad McGreevy, the hero of “The Color of Evil” and “Red Is for Rage.” [Tom Holland is the young star of “The Impossible” movie and he also starred in Britain in “Billy Eliot.”] The nice thing about the rest of the major characters (Stevie Scranton, Janice Kramer, Jenny SanGiovanni) is that the parts could and should be played by unknowns who are, in reality, teen-agers. Therefore, I’d expect unknowns to play the parts, with the possible exception of young Tom Holland.
What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?
Well, first of all, it depends on what you mean by “one morning.” I try not to do anything before 10 a.m., which is a direct response to the years I spent teaching 7th and 8th graders. I would be very grateful and happy, of course, and, were my parents still alive, I’d want to share the news with them. Since both are deceased, I’d probably call up some close family members and friends and then go back to work writing. I might treat my husband to a special dinner or buy something I had always wanted but never gone out and obtained.
Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?
I write late at night. I might write all night and watch the sun come up over the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. I am not the disciplined “write 300 words a day and you’ll have a novel in a year” person that writer Neil Gaimon recently cited as being Stephen King’s advice to him. I’m often compared to King—which is flattering but most likely undeserved—but, while I’m disciplined when I get down to writing, and I do set deadlines for myself, I don’t have the kind of discipline that those two wonderful writers obviously have. I’m more of a streak writer and I’m a perfectionist who is probably driving my staff people (Donnie the web guy; Reno the trailer guy, Alli and Phil the website people) crazy, as I keep tinkering long after they’d like me to be “done.” My E-book conversion guy—(who is wonderful, and a writer, himself)—finally said, “You know, at some point, you have to say, ‘This is the final draft.’ Donnie (Light) is absolutely right. That is a vice I wish I didn’t have: constantly wanting to make what I have written better. I once shut myself up in my Chicago Writer’s Lair for a week during a blizzard to write. I’ve written a book in one week (a short book—only 18,000 words plus pictures) in a week on 3 separate occasions, but that was “work for hire” and I’m very persnickety about my own lengthy novels and short stories.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m writing you these answers from Sydney, Australia. Last week I was on a cruise ship floating around New Zealand. I was in New Orleans in December for Writers for New Orleans and I’ll be in Cancun (Mexico) for 2 weeks in April and potentially back in New Orleans (the Stokers and WorldCon) in June and in New York City (ITW) in July, so it would appear that I like to travel. I like warm weather, beaches, conversation and meeting up with good friends, film, music, reading and writing—not necessarily in that order. When we return from this one-month trip, we will head for our friends’ in Des Moines, Iowa, for our annual Oscar party, complete with predicting the awards and a traveling trophy, and lots of good food and good times. I used to throw fantastic parties, but the guests never reciprocated, so I quit in 2005 after throwing 3 really good ones.
Please share us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.with us.
I’m sharing the first 9 lines of KHAKI = KILLER, the third book in THE COLOR OF EVIL series.
***SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read these first 9 lines if you don’t want to ruin the suspenseful ending of RED IS FOR RAGE.***
Having said that, there are many other suspenseful surprises within Book #3.
Chapter One, December 26, 2004
No Christmas This Year
It was the day after Christmas, a Sunday, when they disconnected the heart-lung machine that was keeping Melody Harris Carpenter alive. A fierce internal struggle broke out both between and among the Harris and Carpenter families.
Some, like Sean, her new husband, and Melody’s parents were in denial. Sean and the Harrises kept insisting, “Everything’s going to be fine.”
Others, like Sean Carpenter’s mom and dad, said little, but looked grim. A week was spent this way, before a final decision was made.
The ambulance ride to Cedar Falls Memorial Hospital had been full of barked commands and frantic actions by the paramedics, actions designed to save the life of the gravely injured Melody.
Where do you find your inspiration?
At the back of my short story collection Hellfire & Damnation II, I explain how, where and why I wrote each story. I’ll probably continue to do that in future books.
If you’ve read the book (and if you haven’t, check it out at www.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com), you’ll know that the inspirations are as far-ranging as an article about the sale of human organs on the black market in the Philippines to a real-life celebration dubbed the “Frozen Dead Guy” festival in Nederland, Colorado. I also was inspired to write a story set in Cancun by being a regular visitor there every Easter for the past 18 years and having just read Jaycee Dugard’s story of kidnapping and captivity. Check out the “From the Author” sections at the end of that book or at the end of future books.
As for my novel series THE COLOR OF EVIL, I taught 7th and 8th graders for nearly 20 years, had 5 students on Death Row in Illinois (when Illinois still had a Death Row) and was told that our district had “the worst cases of child abuse in Rock Island County, Illinois” by the Sheriff one year during teacher orientation, so that has had something to do with my writing.
Thank you Connie for taking the time to answer my questions! Now it’s time for a sneak peek inside Red is for Rage…
Oh and there’s a Rafflecopter giveaway!!!
RED IS FOR RAGE is the second book in the award-winning THE COLOR OF EVIL series by Connie Wilson. THE COLOR OF EVIL won the E-Lit Gold Medal for Horror (Jenkins Group) and the Silver Feather (IWPA). Three evil-doers rise up to wreak havoc on a small, mid-western town in this hot follow up.
When Stevie Scranton goes missing, best friend Tad vows to do everything he can to find him. Even if Stevie is dead, his family craves closure. Tad enlists the help of retired policeman Charlie Chandler and a team of volunteers, including Charlie’s old partner, Evelyn Hoeflinger. This rag-tag team of detectives continues searching for Stevie Scranton, the runty misfit of Cedar Falls’ Sky High. In their search, they discover a monster every bit as dangerous as Pogo the Killer Clown.
Michael Clay (the serial killer Pogo) escapes custody. On the loose again, Pogo’s actions restart a vicious cycle of violent nightmares for Tad McGreevy. Pogo has one main goal: kill Tad McGreevy so that Tad cannot disclose Clay’s location. Pogo doesn’t realize that, up until now, Tad has been unable to harness the paranormal ability he possesses. Now, Tad McGreevy must try to learn to use his unique gift. Stevie Scranton’s fate hangs in the balance. Tad’s power, if precognitive, could save everyone he loves.
Jenny SanGiovanni returns from her father’s home in Boulder, Colorado, to finish her senior year with her old classmates. She brings home a new set of problems. Jeremy Gustaffsson, the fifth-year senior boyfriend in Jenny’s junior year, graduated. But Jeremy is still in town, still obsessed with Jenny, still dangerous. When Jenny broke up with Jeremy, it made Jeremy mad. Bad things happen to good people when Jeremy Gustaffsson gets angry and descends into a red rage.
All Jenny’s cheerleader friends from her junior year are back and have problems of their own. Jenny deals with adolescent issues such as self-esteem and self-worth, problems that tax her soul. But Jenny is not alone. Another Sky High student is driven to the brink. Will that individual plunge into the abyss of despair?
Interested in buying a copy of Red is for Rage? Just click on the cover to be whisked away to Amazon!