It's my very great pleasure to introduce Pamela Callow, a fellow writer from Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada. Her debut novel releases next week, and Pam is a perpetual motion machine these days!
1 - You're currently in the midst of a whirlwind promo tour - how is that going?
It's pretty exciting to be attending Book Expo America in NYC. I'm doing three signings of Damaged, as well as a podcast interview.
Then I head to Toronto, where I am on a thriller panel at the Bloody Words conference with Linwood Barclay and Rick Mofina (amongst others), and will be one of their ten Mystery Cafe authors. My publisher has invited me to tour their offices in Toronto, where I will be signing Damaged for their staff. I'm looking forward to meeting the production team behind Damaged. They have worked incredibly hard on the book.
Then home to Halifax to do an interview with Starr Dobson on Live at Five on June 1. Can't wait for Damaged's Halifax launch on June 3rd at The Carleton. I will also be a guest speaker at the Halifax Club's literary luncheon on June 11th. I have a signing in the works with Halifax Chapters, date to be finalized.
A few weeks later I return to NYC as one of the International Thriller Writers' Debut Authors, and will sign my book after the Debut Authors Breakfast at Thrillerfest 2010.
2 - Wow, Pam - I'm getting jet lagged, just hearing about it! As a debut author, did you imagine how much of your attention would have to go towards promotion?
Well, I'd heard rumours that it would consume a lot of time
Because I have four books coming out in the next two years, I've just finished the line edits on Indefensible (January 2011), and am working on the first draft of Tattooed (Summer, 2011), while launching Damaged. I've been very lucky that my publisher has a publicist overseeing my book, and I have a wonderful local publicist who is helping me with all the media activity in the Maritimes.
3 – Your publisher, MIRA Books, has really gotten behind you as far as promoting Damaged. But how much of your own strategy, time and effort has gone into this first stab at a book launch?
It's definitely a two way street.
Just after I sold Damaged to MIRA, I read an article on thriller author Barry Eisler's blog that really resonated with me. He spoke about how a debut author has to prove to their publisher that they are worth the investment of those in-demand publisher promotional dollars. He also spoke about how the publisher is really the debut author's client. Having come from a client-service career, I understood his message.
So I worked very hard to prove to my publisher that their investment in me would yield results. One of those areas was attending various conferences. It was there I met several authors who ultimately gave Damaged some wonderful endorsements.
4 – What role would you say writer’s conferences have had in Damaged’s journey to store shelves?
Writer's conferences have had a huge impact on my career. I met my editor, Valerie Gray, at the Surrey International Writers' Conference, where I successfully pitched Damaged! As I mentioned, I also met a number of authors at conferences who generously provided quotes.
5 – Damaged is a bit of a hybrid book – part bio-medical thriller, part legal thriller, with a healthy dose of romantic elements thrown in. You’re also part of several different writers’ associations. How do you think this has impacted Damaged?
I think the hybrid nature of the book is a reflection of the diversity of things that interest me. I read broadly. I think that a good book has universal elements that cross all genres. Thus, when I wrote Damaged, I wrote a story that satisfied me on an intellectual and emotional level.
Writing organizations helped me learn the craft of novel-writing - obviously having a huge impact in writing Damaged! They've also given me a wonderful network of friends. Writing can be lonely.
6 – As someone who has been admitted to the bar, your ease with creating a legal atmosphere can be regarded as ‘writing what you know’. What inspiration did you use for the bio-medical aspects of your story?
The biomedical aspect of Damaged was inspired by an actual US criminal case. But I didn't want to write a fictionalized account of it. I used it as a springboard for a thriller novel, putting an ordinary woman in the lead, adding some twists, and creating a second, intertwining plot.
7 – Damaged is only the first of a series featuring your main character, Kate Lange. What can we look forward to, and when do they come out?
Indefensible, the second book of the series, comes out in January 2011. The book takes place only four months after the events of Damaged. Kate is dealing with post-traumatic stress, her law firm is re-building itself after the hits it took in Damaged - and her managing partner is under suspicion of murdering his ex-wife. Indefensible explores the impact of a wrongful accusation on an accused, on the victims, on the family.
The third book of the series, Tattooed, comes out in Summer 2011. It takes place ten months after Indefensible, and combines both a cold case and serial murder. I'm introducing a tattoo artist named Kenzie Sloane to the series, and am excited about her! She's very much Kate's alter-ego. The research has been fascinating.
The fourth book is still in the works, so stay tuned. It is slated for publication in June 2012.
8 – Is Kate someone you would enjoy spending time with? How about Randall Barrett?
I call Kate my everywoman superwoman - she struggles with her career, her house is messy, she was just adopted by an abandoned husky and she can't afford to hire a plumber.
She has a dry sense of humour, is quite courageous, but due to an event when she was a teenager, she struggles with close connections. When Damaged opens, we learn that Kate is still dealing with a bitter break-up, partly due to her inability to trust. This is her journey, and as the series develops we see Kate learn how to open up to the people who come into her life. Yeah, I like her
Randall Barrett, on the other hand, is a man who has risen to the top of his profession through his intellect, his charisma and his drive. He is ruthless and ambitious.
He's the kind of guy that you can't help but want - although you know how dangerous and possibly self-destructive that would be. I'd like to hang out with Randall Barrett on his sailboat, or when he's working in his garden, because that's when he is able to let the forces that drive him take a break.
9 – How difficult was it to write a dark character?
It's difficult. I found it especially draining to write the antagonist's character in Indefensible. You have to go to a very dark place. And then snap out of it to make supper for your kids.
10 – Were you surprised by the critical response you’ve been getting so far? And about the enthusiasm of the quotes you’ve had from authors like James Rollins, Rick Mofina and Linwood Barclay?
Of course, I'm surprised - and delighted - when reviews are positive. I never assume that every reviewer will love - or even like - my book. Creative efforts are by their nature subjective. Thus, so is their measure.
Regarding the quotes from James Rollins, Rick Mofina and Linwood Barclay, I was thrilled by them. I have such great admiration for each of them. They are all authors at the top of their craft. For them to be willing to put their name on a quote about my book is a huge compliment.
11 – What is your typical writer’s day like? Or is there such a thing?
I do have a schedule. I've had one for years, in fact.
Once my kids get to school and the dog is walked, I sit down at my computer. I catch up on emails while the coffee is brewing. Then, depending which stage of a book I'm working on, I either unplug the internet so I can write, or I conduct research and plot out my book, or I edit. I work until the school day ends.
Then I do my mom thing.
Then I start working again around 8 p.m. Since I sold Damaged, I work every weekend.
12 – Have you altered your approach to writing over the years, or do you stand by a tried-and-true method that works for you?
I do more upfront plotting, for two reasons: one, I need to know how the story will develop so I don't write myself into a box; and two, my deadlines are so short that I can't afford the time involved in fixing a massive mistake.
That means I do a number of interviews with various police, forensic and subject matter experts while I am working on a proposal.
Then I send it to my editor. I get her feedback, then I write a more extensive proposal so we both are comfortable with the development of the book, then I write the book.
13 – Now that ‘get published’ has been ticked off your list, what are three things you’ve dreamed of doing and would like to try?
1. Being the creative consultant on a TV series or movie
2. Living in another country and/or travelling around the world
3. Exchanging vows with my husband on a private Caribbean beach, with my family and my dog present.
Thank you so much, Pam, for dropping by A Piece of My Mind. Here's a look at the book trailer for Damaged:
Heidi Hamburg says Counting down one week to launch! Pam, with all the promo going on, at least you don't have time to get nervous!
Lilly Cain says What a fantastic interview! Pam, you are driven by the creative force within. Congratulations on your growing success!
Jill Conyers says Enjoyed the interview. As an avid reader I enjoy hearing about the behind the scenes of books.