Friday, September 27, 2013

Author Interview – Lynn Osterkamp

at 3:30 AM

What was your journey as a writer? I was an academic for many years, so I wrote journal articles, grant proposals, training manuals, etc. at work. Outside work I wrote a couple of popular nonfiction self-help books, one on stress-management and the other on communication between adults and their parents. All that time I wanted to try writing fiction, but I worried that I’d never sell it. At one point I had an agent who told me that selling fiction is next to impossible. But over the years I learned a lot about the publishing industry, and I had my own business, so when digital printing and internet bookstores came along, I realized I could publish and sell a novel through my own business. So I wrote and published Too Near the Edge and its sequel Too Far Under, and now the third in the series, Too Many Secrets.

What is your writing process? Even when I’m writing fiction, I’m obsessed with facts. I do a lot of plotting, outlining and research before I start. And I write each character’s backstory. I spend even more time on research as I write the story, because I like to have every detail as accurate as possible. For example, if I’m going to write about someone picking a lock, I find a site on the internet that gives me details of how to do it. Sometimes I end up spending hours researching details that end up being only a few sentences in the story.

Have you developed a specific writing style? Probably, but I’m too close to my writing to see that. I expect my readers would be better able to describe my writing style than I am. For fiction, I like writing in the first person, but I’m thinking of trying to write a novel in the third person with several different point-of-view characters.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? I spent years writing professional newsletters where each article couldn’t be more than about 500 words. So I got very good at cutting extraneous words and sentences.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? Everyone has writer’s block occasionally. When I draw a blank, I remind myself that the book isn’t going to write itself without help from me. Then I go ahead and write what comes up, knowing that I can revise it later.

Can you tell us about your main character? My main character, Cleo Sims, tells the story. She’s a grief therapist who has discovered a process that lets grieving people contact the spirits of departed loved ones in an apparition chamber. Cleo’s vision for her Contact Project is to help grievers heal by giving them an opportunity to complete unfinished business with friends, family members and lovers who have died.

But Cleo’s ability to help people contact the dead gets her involved in possible murder investigations. These are cases the police are not investigating, either because the death has been declared an accident, or because the person has been declared missing rather than dead. Nevertheless, family and/or friends want to know more, so they turn to Cleo.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? Too Many Secrets is the third mystery novel in my Cleo Sims series, all of which are mystery novels with a touch of the paranormal. In Too Many Secrets, a Boulder, Colorado nurse mysteriously disappears while celebrating her fortieth birthday with friends in a mountain wilderness area. The brother of one of the friends is Cleo’s benefactor who funds her Contact Project. When he prevails on Cleo to help find out what happened to the missing woman, she can’t refuse.

What are the first two books in your Cleo Sims series about? In the first book, Too Near the Edge, a young widow wants to use Cleo’s apparition chamber to contact her husband’s spirit to find out more about his death. The husband’s fatal fall from the rim of the Grand Canyon was ruled an accident, but his wife believes he was murdered.

In the second book, Too Far Under a wealthy heiress drowns in her backyard. Again, the death is ruled an accident. But the woman’s daughters refuse to accept that and beg Cleo to help them contact their mother’s spirit to find out what really happened.

Should the books be read in order? Each of the three books is a stand-alone book, so they can be read in any order.  Of course Cleo’s life changes from book to book, so if you want to follow her life that way, you may want to read the earlier books first.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters? I start with the mystery. Someone dies or disappears. No one knows what happened to the person, but friends and family suspect the worst. Then I create a group of characters who become suspects. I don’t want to tell too much about them, but I’ll reveal that I’m fascinated by abnormal and deviant behavior. I’m a social worker and I’ve studied psychology, so I use a lot of sources to develop characters who live on the edge in a variety of ways.

Cleo’s a lot like me in her experience and the curious way she sees the world. She’s a capable professional, but has her own personal issues with her boyfriend and her grandmother with Alzheimer’s. She’s funny, down-to-earth, caring, and strong willed; and she won’t give up on a problem until she solves it.

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Genre - Mystery

Rating – PG

More details about the author & the book

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