We’re talking today with Deborah Garner, author of Above the Bridge: A Paige McKenzie Mystery. Of course, I am particularly fond of mysteries, so I am pleased to have a fellow mystery writer drop by. I have so many questions. Let’s get started.
JOYCE: First, tell us why you decided to become an author?
DEBORAH: I don't think it was a conscious decision. I've had the urge to put pen to paper since I was very young, as evidenced in my author photo, taken a few years...ahem...make that a few decades ago. I have several dusty manuscripts I've accumulated over the years. But Above the Bridge was one that I thought needed to get kicked out into the world.
JOYCE: So, about Above the Bridge. How did you choose to write about a reporter, the northwestern Wyoming area, buried treasure and a handsome cowboy? I'm particularly interested in the handsome cowboy!
DEBORAH: For many years I've done freelance travel writing and photography. I've made numerous trips across the country and back, always alone and always stopping impulsively in small towns and areas with intriguing back roads.
When I arrived in Jackson Hole a few years ago, the area just called to me. The scenery is outstanding and the history very rich. And work is plentiful during summer months, thanks to the millions (literally) of tourists who come through the area to see both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. I picked up seasonal work and settled in to research the area and pull a story together that would combine both the modern setting and the history of the area.
The buried treasure concept came to me as I read about local prospecting during the late 1800's.
The handsome cowboy came in because, well, what good would a western adventure be without at least one handsome cowboy? ;)
JOYCE: Who are your target readers? Who are the readers who would be most likely to enjoy your book?
DEBORAH: With the high volume of visitors Jackson Hole sees, Above the Bridge offers tourists a vacation read that ties in with their immediate surroundings. Internet access is limited in the area and - believe it or not - guests find themselves resorting to activities like playing cards, conversing (in person!) with each other and...what was that old-fashioned thing called...oh, reading!
Aside from those visiting the area, the story serves as a light, fun read for anyone who likes a bit of intermingled mystery, romance and adventure, with a touch of magic, as well.
JOYCE: Where is your favorite place to write? When do you like to write?
DEBORAH: I wish I could say my favorite writing spot was beside a misty, tumbling waterfall or under a shady, weeping willow, because it would sound so romantic and poetic. But the truth is, I do my best writing when curled up awkwardly in an armchair or scrunched down against the pillows of my bed, laptop precariously balanced above my waist. I am a chiropractor's dream come true.
JOYCE: Do you have a muse? (I have a roadrunner who scurries back and forth outside my window who inspires me.)
DEBORAH: If weather can be a muse, that's it for me. Without a doubt, wind and/or rain. Either will send me running for the nearest paper, pen and armchair. Or laptop and fluffed pillows.
JOYCE: Where do you get your characters' descriptions and dialogue?
DEBORAH: I can usually visualize my characters, though I have to pin down details like hair color, eyes and facial features to clarify them in my mind. The dialogue just develops on its own. I have no idea why. I find dialogue the easiest part of writing. I know not all authors feel this way. Maybe it's just the chatterbox in me.
JOYCE: Do you let your characters take control of your writing? Or do you sketch out your book and follow an outline? Or how do you plan your book?
DEBORAH: Outlines don't work for me. Even when I try to create them, my characters just laugh and head in a different direction. I do use outlines when faced with family trees, historical chronology or geographics, to keep the details straight. It seems my memory went out the window long ago, when it comes to specifics of that nature.
JOYCE: Do you have any hobbies? What kind of music to you like? Do you prefer wine or beer or coke? What about coffee? Are you a foodie?
DEBORAH: I love photography, especially capturing images of old buildings, dilapidated walls, rusty, abandoned farm equipment, that sort of thing. I love close-up textures and soft lighting. I also adore wildlife photography, though I can't always get those critters to pose for me.
I'm fond of most types of music - classical, country and soft rock, in particular. My playlists are likely to be bizarre assortments of songs. That is, unless most people have Bruce Springsteen, JoDee Messina, Quicksilver Messenger Service and The Fray all back-to-back.
Beverage? Diet coke all the way, morning, noon and night - a habit I know I need to break. Coffee - only the absolute first thing in the morning.
A foodie? Carbs are my downfall.
JOYCE: Join the club with carbs. Pasta is at the top of my favorite food list.
What was the most difficult part of your book to write? How did you overcome the difficulty?
DEBORAH: I don't think there was any one particular part of Above the Bridge that was the most difficult to write. What I always find most difficult in writing is knowing when to stop revising. I'm never satisfied. I'm constantly changing phrasing, scenery and dialogue. Unfortunately, the easiest way for me to overcome this is to have someone else pull a manuscript out of my hands.
JOYCE: What’s next?
DEBORAH: I'm quite certain that our NY reporter, Paige MacKenzie, is destined to head out on another adventure. And I have a hunch we'll see our handsome cowboy, Jake Norris, again, as well. What, where and when? My lips are sealed :)