Tag Archives: mystery

Authors of ’18 Interviews: Clarissa Goenawan

Hello and welcome to my blog series dedicated to author interviews for 2018 debut authors! This has been started as a way to support some of my fellow ‘debutantes’ of 2018. Some of the genres may be a little outside while I usually write/talk about here, but each of these I share struck my interest in one way or another.

(See past author interviews at the end of this post!)

Full disclosure: I just started Rainbirds the other day and I’m a little enraptured. It’s not something you can really speed through, yet the voice, the descriptions, the intrigue… it’s really hard to put down! It’s difficult to really put a finger on what exactly draws you in, but draw you in it does…

Rainbirds

GENERAL

– Author Name: Clarissa Goenawan

– Book Title: RAINBIRDS

– Book Genre: Literary Mystery

– Release Date: 6 March 2018

– Publisher: Soho Press

THE BOOK

– Please describe what the book is about.
RAINBIRDS is a story of a young man who is trying to come to terms with his older sister’s death by finding out the truth behind her murder, but in doing so, he ends up confronting his own dark secret.

– Share a teaser from your book.
When the car had stopped at the traffic junction, a soft light had fallen onto her pale skin, highlighting her delicate features. My hand was on hers, but she didn’t say a word, nor did she look at me. She didn’t even flinch. Her body was there, but her mind wasn’t.
That night, the two of us were lonely, isolated under Tokyo’s dazzling lights.

– Where did you get the idea?
One afternoon, I was just wondering, “What if someone I cared about suddenly passed away, and then, I realized too late that I never actually got to know them?” At first, I wanted to write a short story about a young man who had just lost his older brother, which later on, morphed to an older sister. And then, I realized there were so many things I wanted to explore in their relationship, and that this story has to be a novel.

– What’s the story behind the title? 
I came up with it! There was actually a really funny story behind it, which you can read at the end of my guest post for Bath Novel Award, “Five Ways to Find The Perfect Title for Your Novel.”
Link: https://bathnovelaward.co.uk/2017/07/26/five-ways-to-find-the-perfect-title-for-your-novel/

– No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.
RAINBIRDS is part of a series of interrelated novels. So do keep a lookout at the side characters, because they might be the main characters for the next book.

– Tell us about your favourite character.
Rio Nakajima, also known as ‘Seven Stars.’ She’s a seventeen-year-old girl who is bright and bold, unafraid to voice her opinion and relentlessly goes after what she wants. She doesn’t care about conforming to public’s expectation, and I really admire her for that.

– If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do? 
There is this young girl who celebrated my main character’s seventeenth birthday in the most bizarre way. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but let’s just say I wish to be part of the party (though that can possibly make me the third wheel… hmmm…)

– Are your characters based on real people, or do they come from your imagination?
Most of them came from my imagination, but a few were very loosely based on people I knew in real life. For example, Honda, Ren’s colleague, was inspired by my ex-colleague and lunch buddy who used to drive—yes, you guessed it—a black Honda sedan. All the characters’ personal stories are, of course, fictional.

WRITING PROCESS

– How long did you take to write this book?
Almost five years, which at a point of time, does feel ‘forever’ to me. But, in term of traditional publishing, it’s still relatively fast.

The breakdown:
First draft – 1,5 months
Editing – 1,5 years
Submission to agents – about half a year
Submission to publishers – about half a year
From signing of contract to publication date – about two years
– What kind of research did you do for this book?
I grew up reading copious amounts of manga (Japanese comic books), and I learnt Japanese language since high school, so that gave me a good starting point. I also consulted a huge number of books, essays, and articles, and asked some friends who’re familiar with Japan to be my beta readers.

– What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
A lot of things that don’t really matter, including a scene of Honda teaching Ren the best way to enjoy xiaolongbao, a type of Chinese steamed bun.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I tried to plot, but that didn’t work. I normally have a sense of beginning, somewhat of an ending (though, most of the time, it changes), but nothing inbetween.
– What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
The first draft! I’m always pleasantly surprised by the unexpected places my characters lead me to.

– What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
The last few edits are the hardest for me. By then, I have grown too familiar with my work. It’s hard to discern the trees from the forest.

– Can you share your writing routine? (e.g. How do you carve out your writing time? Where do you normally write?)
I do my writing after I drop my kids at school, and until it’s time to pick them up. That gives me about a five hour solid time block. Most of my writing is done on random benches around my kids’ school.
– Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
Some people are going to hate me for saying this, but I don’t believe in writer’s block.

– If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Be patient. Be very, very patent, because publishing moves in a different time from the rest of the world. It’s so sloooowwwww. There is a lot of waiting, and I’m not good with waiting—but I’m learning!

– How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
RAINBIRDS, my debut novel, is the first novel I ever wrote. I know this is not a common scenario in traditional publishing, and I’ve been so lucky.

– Do you have any writing quirks?
I like to write on a big table.

THE WRITER

– Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Surabaya, a city in East Java and also the second most populated city in Indonesia. In my mid-teens, I migrated to Singapore, which I now call home. I live with my husband, three beautiful daughters, and a broken-coated Jack Russell named ‘Hunter.’

– How did you get into writing?
It was my childhood dream. I’d loved reading ever since I was a kid and dreamt that one day, I would publish my own book. But I only started to seriously pursuing the profession after I quit my banking job at age twenty-four (probably not the most conventional thing to do, but I never regretted it.)

– What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
My guilty pleasure: I read a lot of manga (Japanese comic books.) I also spend a lot of time reading online articles and on Twitter—probably too much for my own good.

– Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?
Yes, I write short stories, though not as often as I used to do when I’d just started out writing. I realized I prefer to work on novels, though short stories are great for variety.

– Share something about you most people probably don’t know.
I used to be a bookseller. I was in charge of marketing children’s books for a regional book distribution company, which include everything from baby boardbooks to YA novels. I spontaneously talked about countless books—most of them I’d only read the short synopsis because there were so many— to the media every month, but when it comes to pitching my own book, I’m always struggling. Always.

– Which book influenced you the most?
Stephen King’s On Writing, which I highly recommend to all aspiring writers. It’s full of gold—awesome writing advice, great editing tips, and a realistic portrayal of a writer’s life. Worth re-reading every year.

WHAT’S NEXT

– What are you working on right now?
I’m currently editing my second and third novels, both of them literary mysteries. And just like RAINBIRDS, they’re set in Japan.

– What’s your favourite writing advice?
If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. – Stephen King.

PITCH

Intertwining elements of suspense and magical realism, award-winning literary debut RAINBIRDS opens with a murder and shines a spotlight on life in fictional small-town Japan.

BLURB

“Luminous, sinister, and page-turning all at once. I loved it.”
—Kate Hamer, internationally bestselling author of The Girl in the Red Coat and The Doll Funeral

“A beautiful mystery setup with a complex, magical love story.”
—Eka Kurniawan, award-winning author of Beauty Is a Wound and Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash

BUY LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1616958553

Barnes & Nobles: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rainbirds-clarissa-goenawan/1126551443?ean=9781616958558

BookDepository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Rainbirds-Clariss-Goenawan/9781616958558

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781616958558

BIO

ClarissaGoenawan
Clarissa Goenawan is an Indonesian-born Singaporean writer. Her debut novel, RAINBIRDS, is the winner of the 2015 Bath Novel Award. Her short stories have won several awards and been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. She loves rainy days, pretty books, and hot green tea.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Website: http://www.clarissagoenawan.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clarissagoenawan/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClaireClaire05
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/clarissagoenawan/
Pinterest: N.A.
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16100168.Clarissa_Goenawan

Previous author interviews:

Pamela Kopfler – BETTER DEAD

Anna Quinn – THE NIGHT CHILD

Clarissa Harwood — IMPOSSIBLE SAINTS

Negeen Papehn — FORBIDDEN BY FAITH


Debut ’18 Authors Interviews: Pamela Kopfler

I mentioned last week that I was starting a new blog series, and here it begins! To help my fellow 2018 debut-ers, I’m implementing a new blog series dedicated to author interviews which intersect with my genres or interest, or just plain sound interesting. Some of the genres may be a little outside while I usually write/talk about here, but each one I post struck my interest in one way or another… and I decided I must share.

Pamela Kopfler has a cozy mystery that just released, titled BETTER DEAD. Cozy mysteries may not be my usual style of reading, but the premise sounded so funny and interesting I decided I’d better read it anyway. It’s sitting on my kindle right now, and I’m pretty excited to start it!

Better Dead.300dpi png.png

A feisty B & B owner believes her cheatin’ husband deserves to choke on his divorce papers and spend eternity roasting in hell after nearly bankrupting her Louisiana bed and breakfast. At least, she’s half-right when he turns up dead, but she’s dead wrong when she accidentally calls him back from the grave. Unfortunately, he has unfinished business. Unless she wants to be stuck with her ghostly ex forever, she has to wedge him through the pearly gates by cleaning up the mess he left behind—a smuggling ring he started behind her back at her B&B. Now she has thirty days to solve her not-so-dearly-departed’s murder or she’s stuck with him for life. Or worse, she may be doing life.

TEASER

Holly Davis wanted a divorce, not a funeral.

The young widow eased her desk drawer open and removed two files. The first held the divorce papers her husband hadn’t lived to receive. The second was filled with every reason to divorce him in full-color, glossy prints. She strolled to the fireplace of her bed and breakfast and dropped both files onto the cold ashes.

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Where did you get the idea for your book?

The inspiration for BETTER DEAD came during a writers’ retreat at Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana. The organizer challenged the authors to write a ghost story in the spirit of Lord Byron’s challenge to Mary Shelly to write a supernatural story at a retreat in 1816. Shelly gave us the classic Frankenstein. Pamela twisted Frankenstein and added a funny bone when she remembered a lament of many women going through divorce. It would have been easier if he’d just died. But what if he did die and he came back as a ghost? That thought sparked the premise for BETTER DEAD.
What’s the story behind the title? (e.g. who came up with it, did your publisher change it, etc.)

The title came with the inspiration for the Better Dead. Titles always come to me with the premise. I’m not sure I could write a book without a title. I’d feel all wishy-washy about it. A title is like a rudder steering the story and keeping it from drifting in the wrong direction. Thank goodness my publisher liked the title too.
No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

Everyone knows everyone’s business in a small town but not their secrets.
Tell us about your favourite character.

Ha! Just one? Impossible. Burl, the not-so-dearly-departed, was so much fun to write. I had to keep reminding myself he was dead. Miss Alice almost sat on my shoulder and fed me lines. Of course, Holly’s nose for trouble kept the me busy. Nope. I can’t pick just one.
If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

That’s another tough one. I’d take Holly on a road trip to New Orleans and try to keep up with her. If we made it back alive, I’d have another story to tell.

 

Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

All of my characters are conjured up from that child within that still pretends.

 

WRITING PROCESS

How long did you take to write this book? (You can share about the timeline from drafting to publication)

It took seventy-eight days to draft Better Dead. The revision took much longer, but I don’t remember how long. Revision is something that is never really complete.

 

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Oh, it was grueling…I visited many historic homes that had been converted to beautiful bed and breakfasts, sipped lots of cocktails, and ate some of the best southern style food on earth. Don’t pitty me too much though. (Excuse me while I bless my own heart before you do.) Actually, that part of the research was serious fun! Other than that fun B & B research, my family has orders to bleach bit my computer to hide my search history.

 

What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

I cut ten thousand words. I had a subplot that my editor felt needed to go and she was right. I hope to add some snips from the editing room floor to my newsletter. I really did cut my darlings.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Both. I have a general idea of the whole story and an opening when I put my keys on the keyboard. After I get the opening down, I write a short synopsis just for me. As the pages pile up, sometimes the plot changes because I’ve found a better twist, so I go with that.
What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

Revising. It’s like makeup. Everyone looks better with a little lipstick on.
What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

Starting, hands down. Once I am writing the real world fades away, and I’m in a timeless place where the story comes to life.
Can you share your writing routine? (e.g. How do you carve out your writing time? Where do you normally write?)

It’s not pretty, but it works. First, I’m easily distracted, so write alone in a room, any room. I face a wall and listen to Bach or ambient sound on and wear noise-cancelling headphones. All notifications are turned off on my computer, and I don’t answer calls except designated rings. My best writing times are first thing in the morning or late at night.
Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

I think writer’s block is fear and almost every writer has that, even if they don’t admit it. I pull up my Kevlar panties and tell fear to suck it up because no one is going to die if I write a bad page. The power is in my bowed up pinkie finger. Backspace, baby, and that bad page never happened.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Write like you know what you’re doing and one day you will.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have one dusty novel rotting away on my hard drive. I call that one my training wheel novel and it will never make a two-wheel track to publication. I have one women’s fiction complete that I hope to home soon. My work in progress, Downright Dead, is book two of the B & B Mystery series coming later in 2018. Book three, Hog Wild Dead, is a twinkle in my eye.
Do you have any writing quirks?

Yes, but I’m, um, recovering. I have a sticky note compulsion that I’m trying to break. I also often say the dialogue aloud. That’s another reason I write alone in a room. Mumbling about murder in a coffee shop could get me in a world of trouble.

 

THE WRITER

Tell us about yourself.

My husband and I have a blended family of five, which is sometimes a circus and sometimes wonderful, but always a blessing. I count my days on earth by the lives dogs adopted. My current fur baby is a solid black standard poodle who thinks he’s the sixth child. Between you and me, he is.
How did you get into writing?

I took the scenic route, as I often do. I was hosting a home and garden show on a local TV station, telling Southern anecdotal stories on a local NPR affiliate when I met Mr. Deluxe, my current husband. After a year of our long distance relationship, he popped the big question, but someone had to move. That someone was me. The only marketable skill that survived the move was my ability to write, so write I did.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read a good book. Walk my big black poodle. Try a new restaurant or an old favorite.  Paint. Cook. Decorate. Garden. Watch the Tigers or the Saints play. Travel. I don’t get to do these things as much as I’d like, but each interest fills the well that spills out stories.
Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?

I write an occasional blog and have a non-fiction book simmering in the background.
Share something about you most people probably don’t know.

At an air show once, I was invited to fly in an old World War II double-winged, two-seater plane that had been used to carry injured soldiers in its belly. I jumped at the chance, and it was so worth it. There was no pressurization and I felt like Snoopy and the Red Barron as the wind whipped through my hair.

WHAT’S NEXT

What are you working on right now?

Downright Dead, book two in my B & B Spirits Mystery series.
What’s your favourite writing advice or quote?

“We are all apprentices in a craft where on one ever becomes a master.”

Ernest Hemingway

 

Give us a short pitch of your novel

Have you ever heard a woman going through a divorce say, “It would have been easier if he’d died?” Have you said it? Thought it? But what if he did die?

Better Dead is a romp of a mystery about a B & B owner who wants a divorce. She gets a funeral and thirty days to solve her not-so-dearly-departed’s murder or she’s stuck with his ghost for life.
What are your favourite blurbs for BETTER DEAD?

Better Dead is written with an incredible Southern twist, as charming as the author herself! Page turning, fun, and filled with suspense–and very unique characters! As the saying goes, a “keeper,” and just the beginning of the series!”

Heather Graham, New York Times Bestselling Author

 

Better Dead was impossible to put down—a sassy Southern romp of a read.” ~~ Susan M. Boyer, USA TODAY Bestselling author of the Liz Talbot Mystery series.

 

“Better Dead is brisk, witty, full of unexpected happenings and wonderfully real characters. Pamela Kopfler has given us a fresh new heroine in bright and funny Holly Davis, deftly mixing homicide and haunting with Louisiana charm.” Carol J. Perry, Author of The Witch City Mysteries.

 

And without further ado… BETTER DEAD buy links! 

Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/pamelakopfler

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Pamela+Kopfler/_/N-8q8

BAM: http://www.booksamillion.com/search?type=author&query=Pamela+Kopfler&id=7071813415350

Target: https://www.target.com/p/better-dead-paperback-pamela-kopfler/-/A-53068142

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/pamela-kopfler/id1246309242?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?Query=Pamela%20Kopfler&ac=1&acp=pamela%20kopfler&ac.author=Pamela%20Kopfler

 

BIO

CompressedPamelaKopfler Headshot - CloseCropIMG_9900 - Version 14.jpg

Pamela Kopfler is a novelist, Southern-fried and sassy. She writes award-winning humorous mysteries with a kick of Southern sass. Her debut novel, BETTER DEAD, is the first in her B & B Spirits mystery series, to be followed by DOWNRIGHT DEAD, and HOG WILD DEAD. (Kensington Books) She is a four-time Golden Heart® finalist and a Daphne du Maurier award winner.

She can stir up a roux, mix a cocktail, and loves swapping stories. Putting words on the page keeps her alligator mouth from overloading her hummingbird heinie in real life. She marks her time on earth by the lives of the dogs she has loved­­––who often show up in her stories.

Pamela lives in South Louisiana where the spirits are restless, the food is spicy, and the living is divine.

For lagniappe (a little something extra), sign up for her newsletter at https://pamelakopfler.com ~~ Unique cocktail recipes, finger-licking-good Southern recipes, and other goodies.

Website:  https://pamelakopfler.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pamela-Kopfler-Author-1976343685981613/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/pamelakopfler
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pamelakopfler/
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/pamelakopfler/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16661977.Pamela_Kopfler