Welcome to the latest in my FFIs. Today, I’ll be talking with my friend and fellow eNovel Authors at Work member, Lorrie Farrelly.
Sorry it’s been a while, but I’ve been busy prepping my new DCI Jones Casebook. This one’s subtitled Sean Freeman. The book is due out early next month and there’s so much to do it’s been keeping me well and truly occupied, but more about that in a separate blog post closer to the launch date.
By the way, here’s a quick plug before I start. Let me encourage you to click this eNovellers link. Pop along and check out all the great writers and their books. There are loads of top-class, award-winning indie writers on the site covering all the genres you’ll ever need.
Okay, on to the real business of the day:
KJD: Welcome Lorrie, thanks for coming all this way. Relax, make yourself at home, and take a slice of Jan’s lemon drizzle cake … oh. I see you already have.
LF: Hi Kerry, glad to be here. Lovely cake.
KJD: Okay Lorrie, let’s start with the gentle opener to warm you up: what’s the best thing about your hometown?
LF: My family and I love having both the ocean and mountains nearby, as well as all the wonderful attractions of the Los Angeles and Southern California area. We love going to Disneyland, to local museums and aquariums, and going out on fishing boats to see whales. We’ve seen blue whales, California grey whales, Minke whales, and many, many dolphins and sea lions. A few hours’ drive up the coast, there are places to see elephant seals and sea otters. Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks are within a day’s drive. It’s fantastic, and we feel very blessed!
KJD: I can’t believe how lucky my writer friends are. Everyone, myself included, seems to live in a beautiful place. Beauty is in the eye …
To tell you the truth, I’ve never been to that part of the world and apart from Disneyland, (which I’d travel miles to avoid—don’t ask), it sounds idyllic.
Tell me, what you see out of your studio window.
LF: My “office” is actually the dining room table, so I have a view of the back yard and everything going on in the kitchen and living room. I often write to a background of Mickey Mouse cartoons or the Little Mermaid. Fortunately, I’m a good tuner-outer. My husband jokes he’s going to hang a sign around my neck that reads, “Huh? What?”
KJD: Nice, I have a spouse just like that – supportive. On the other hand, I need silence to write and lock myself up here in the attic while Jan has the run of the house. She says she prefers me out from under her feet, and I don’t blame her.
Okay, here’s the first curveball and I make no apologies. What does the symbol “H2SO4” mean to you and why? (BTW – We don’t have ‘Jeopardy’ in the UK or France, so you might have to elaborate. Teehee.)
LF: You horrible man! I’ll never, never again forget the chemical symbol for sulphuric acid! (A question I missed on the television quiz show “Jeopardy.” LOL) I was not much of a student in chemistry class in high school. In fact, I was always burning holes in my clothes from spilling chemicals, and my system for “measuring” was to dump a bunch of acid or alkali into a beaker and shrug, “Eh, good enough.”
KJD: Tee hee. Know what you mean. Chemistry wasn’t my best subject either. I preferred biology and physiology, but that’s a story for another time
Here’s the next easy one: you are shipwrecked on a deserted paradise island, apart from the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare (yeah, right), what other book must you have and why?
LF: “101 Secrets to Pleasure and Profit on a Deserted Paradise Island” by Captain Jack Sparrow. Because, really, who would know better?
KJD: Is there such a book? You’re pulling my leg, right?
LF: Who me?
KJD: Put that third slice of cake down, right now! 🙂
Okay, moving on. Under the same conditions as above, what’s the one luxury item you take with you and why?
LF: A non-wrecked, replacement cruise ship conveniently anchored just offshore, thoughtfully tendering a steady supply of margaritas, chips, and guacamole to the beach.
KJD: Brilliant answer, but hold on, that constitutes more than a single item. You fail the question and lose the luxury item in toto. That’ll serve you right for making up books. 🙂
Next question. I see from your bio that amongst other things, you are a maths teacher. I happen to love maths, but hated it at school. How do you generate an interest in maths in youngsters?
LF: It’s harder these days, with so much government emphasis on testing. However, helping kids see that puzzles, designs, and investigations are all connected to mathematical thinking makes a big difference in engaging their interest. Unfortunately, success is sometimes elusive. Two of my epic fails involved kids who thought radical (square root) symbols were “little houses for the numbers to live in, just in case it rains,” or who converted the height measurement of a 72-inch fence to 150 feet, which certainly would keep the dog from getting out!
KJD: Little darlings! There’s no way I couldn’t teach anyone anything. No patience. Don’t have a dog either, nor a cat. Not a pet lover, me.
Here’s a thing, is your knowledge of maths useful in your writing?
LF: Actually, it is! I had fun writing the scene in “Terms of Surrender” where young Robbie struggles with his geometry lesson. He turns his math book this way and that, growing ever more frustrated with triangle diagrams that, as far as he can see, have nary a “high pot and noose” anywhere.
KJD: Nice line. Love your sense of humour (and yes, that is the correct way to spell it, spellchecker!). I use anatomy and physiology all the time in my crime books—especially at the scenes where my villains disembowel their victims. Mwahahaha.
What genres do you read and do they differ from the ones you write? If so, why?
LF: I read just about anything (including cereal boxes if I’m really desperate!) I especially love Western and historical romance, history, time travel, biography, thrillers, and paranormal suspense, so those often show up in my writing. I almost always read several books at once – so many books, so little time! I recently finished Joanne Drayton’s “The Search for Anne Perry”, John Cleese’s “So, Anyway …”, Pete Barber’s “Nanostrike”, Stephen King’s “Revival”, Kerry J. Donovan’s “The Transition of Johnny Swift” (a terrific writer, that Mr. Donovan!), Peggy L. Henderson’s “Diamond in the Dust”, and Kathleen Rice Adams’ “Prodigal Gun.” And that was just last week ….
KJD: Kerry who? 🙂 Darn, you’re so kind, thanks. Compliments like that will earn you another slice of lemon drizzle … oh, I see you’ve helped yourself already.
As for me, I’m completely different and a little anal. I only read one book at a time. Have to finish one before moving on, unless the book is so bad I won’t finish it at all. BTW, I read “Nanostrike” and loved it.
Let’s move on to the actual writing part. What’s the first thing you do when starting a new novel? Do you research and write a detailed plot outline, or are you a pantser?
LF: I’m a terrible plot planner. I start with a hook that intrigues me, then go from there. I love it when the story reveals itself, but I admit I also have a hefty file of dangling, no-go hooks (including one with a character who can see thirty seconds into the future, and another with a spoiled young film actress who finds herself shackled to an Old West lawman). I suppose someday I’ll figure out what happens to those folks.
KJD: I know the feeling. Some of my plots dive down a ruddy great hole never to be seen again.
What excites you about writing and the writing process?
LF: I love a good story, and I’m always excited and anxious to find out what happens next. Sounds crazy, but I always get surprised by stories even as I write them. Characters take on lives of their own and do exactly what they want to do. I think it must be a happy form of mental illness.
KJD: Yep – mine too. Sometimes I can’t work out what happens next until the characters tell me. Writers are nutters aren’t we? When did you start writing creative fiction?
LF: I’ve always loved to write. When I was a child, I used to write little books for my dolls. (I didn’t care about playing with the dolls – I just liked the books.) However, it’s only been in the last five years or so that I’ve been able to devote the time to writing that it really needs and deserves.
KJD: It’s the same with me. I started writing properly around 2012, after abortive efforts in the 1980s.
Tell me a little about your latest work. Where did you find the inspiration? What’s it about? When can we expect to see it on the bookshelves? How about a sneak preview?
LF: Because we have a two-year-old toddler at home, in the last few months it’s been more practical for me to write novellas and short stories. The two latest, “The Sheriff of Hel’n Gone” and “Christmas Treasure,” appear in “Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico” and “Present for a Cowboy”, Halloween- and Christmas-themed collections from Prairie Rose Publishing. “Present for a Cowboy” was released a couple of months ago.
Here’s a brief look at “The Sheriff of Hel’n Gone”:
“Work?” Tom asked. She surely didn’t look like any schoolmarm or shopgirl he’d ever seen. And those muddy boots in her – what had she called it? “Jeep”? – well, he couldn’t imagine any saloon girl he knew clomping around in them.
Hallie thought it odd that the sheriff looked as puzzled as he did interested, but she said, “Yes. I’m an archaeologist. I specialize in Native California tribes. You got a Chumash or a Miwok site, I’m your girl.”
Now Tom got it. Sort of. “You’re speaking of Injuns,” he said tentatively, as though he weren’t quite sure.
Hallie frowned. “Native Americans, yes. I excavate and study tribal sites and artifacts. You know, bones, shells, potsherds, tools.”
She looked at him expectantly. Tom cocked his head, asked, “There a market for such like that?”
“Unfortunately, there is. But what I find goes back to the appropriate tribal authorities, and then, if they approve, to a museum like the Bowers or the Autry.”
At a loss for anything to say to that, Tom simply urged her hand back down to the pharmacy box. “Well, in any case, you got anything in there I can actually patch you up with?”
“Sure. And thanks, I appreciate it. Kind of hard to do it myself without a mirror.” She rifled through the supplies, then handed him a small, brown bottle and a flat little paper package.
Tom took both, and he could feel liquid slosh in the little bottle. Setting the paper envelope on the ground, he studied the bottle’s label: Hydrogen Peroxide. Turning the bottle around, he studied the neck of it. There was no cork. He thumbed the top, but what seemed to be a little cap would not come off.
“How, um, how do you get the top off this thing?” he asked.
He didn’t need to meet Hallie’s eyes to know her expression was incredulous. “Seriously, Sheriff? Here, give it back.” He returned the bottle and she gave the little cap a twist. Off it came. Without a word, she handed it back to Tom.
He took both the bottle and the cap, and mimicking her motions, twisted the little top on and off again. Huh, he thought. Whattaya know. Now that’s somethin’, ain’t it?
Watching him play with the twist top, Hallie was flummoxed. He looked like he’d never seen one before. Not even realizing she was speaking her thoughts aloud, she muttered, “Jeez, what is this? The freaking nineteenth century?”
Surprised, Tom stopped fiddling with the cap and looked at her, one eyebrow raised quizzically. “Well, yes’m, that it is. When else, exactly, did you think it might be?”
© 2014 by Lorrie Farrelly
KJD: Love that – time-travel comedy/thriller. Clever. I’ll be picking the book up for a good read very soon. Thanks for giving us a glimpse ‘under the hood’ so to speak.
Now for something completely different, if there were a single thing you’d like to change about yourself, what would it be?
LF: I could do with less of a sweet tooth! The unfortunate fact is that I never met a chocolate (or lemon drizzle) cake I didn’t like.
KJD: I can see that. Where’s the cake gone? And you such a tiny woman too. Where do you pack it all away?
So, what’s next in your life?
LF: I love to travel, and it’s a lot of fun just thinking about where to go next. One of my husband’s and my greatest pleasures has been travelling with our kids and grandkids (ages 13, 10, and 2), and I wouldn’t trade those experiences and memories for anything!
KJD: I’m not a good traveller—love the visits, but hate the journey. Grandchildren are great aren’t they? I also have three wonderful and exhausting darlings. Love to see them–love to hand them back to the parents in the evenings.
So to wrap up, tell me something about yourself you wouldn’t want you partner/parents to know. Don’t worry; it’ll be our little secret. 😉
LF: Well, as my husband and I have been together since we were 19, I doubt there’s anything about me that he doesn’t know by now. But my parents …. well, I don’t think they totally realised what a university student, flowers in her hair, living near San Francisco in the 1960s, might be getting up to.
KJD: You know what? I bet they do, and I bet they got up to pretty much the same things in their youth. There’s nothing new under the sun—not as far as human activity is concerned.
And finally, finally—is there anything I’ve forgotten to ask that you’re desperately, desperately keen my readers should know?
LF: I would love your readers to know what a happy privilege it has been for me to visit your Friday-Fortnight Interviews! Many thanks for hosting me, Kerry, and for giving me the opportunity to share my work.
KJD: You really are a darling for saying so and talking to you has been my absolute delight. Thanks so much for stopping by.