Saturday, March 15, 2008

Interview with Jordan Dane

Thanks for stopping by and joining me in welcoming Jordan Dane on this stop of her virtual book tour.

Jordan Dane's first novel is being released by Avon HarperCollins on March 25th. Sit back, relax, and feel free to ask questions. Jordan will be stopping by to respond to your questions and comments today. Since Jordan has thrown a contest into the fray, your comments automatically enter you into a drawing for one of FIVE $20 gift cards to—what else?—a great bookstore. Winners will be announced at the live “Launch P-A-R-T-Y!” on March 30th at The Writer's Chatroom.

Jordan, welcome! I'm quite new to this virtual book tour concept, but am glad to be one of your stops. I appreciate the opportunity. :)
Hey there, Lisa. Thanks for including me on your blog today.

Jordan, you wrote "No One Heard Her Scream" in six weeks while on medical leave. That's quite an impressive way to stay off pain meds! But it apparently worked quite well for you.
And my doctor! I think he added a pool.

You have been writing fiction since 2003, is that correct? Or is that just when you started pursuing it for publication? Do you still have a full-time job, or is writing now the focus?
Yes, prior to 2003, I’d never even thought about writing a novel. But I have to say that the bug first hit me when I was at a Zig Ziglar presentation—the motivational speaker guy. I don’t remember anything he said that day except for one thing. (Not a good thing for Zig but great for me.) He said that he wrote his non-fiction book doing it a page a day. I thought, hell I can do that. I sold my first series in June 2006 and retired from my energy job in May 2007 before I sold the second series. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with these writing contracts if I didn’t quit my day job. But my energy job was a very lucrative one. It was not an easy decision, especially since I thought of my co-workers as family and still do. But my husband and I have been working with a financial advisor since the mid 90s and had been looking for a way to retire early. The writing gig put us ahead of schedule. Even selling in a great auction would not be enough for me to recommend anyone quit their day job unless they had a solid financial plan, two years of income saved, and coverage for medical.

From what I gather, No One Heard Her Scream wasn't the first novel you completed, but it sounds like the one you are most satisfied with to date. Can you share the evolution of your three to-be-released novels? Which one did you actually write first? Did you have a 3-book series in mind when you started?
Actually, I love all my books for different reasons and I always say that my best work is my next one since I’m learning as I go. I try new things all the time, pushing the boundaries of my cross genre type stories. The last book I completed Evil without a Face was submitted to Avon at the beginning of Jan and it was the first book in my new thriller series, Sweet Justice. That story was an amazing revelation to me and I loved it. I’m writing the next book The Wrong Side of Dead and the characters are so much fun to write. On the evolution of my first series, I had written No One Left to Tell (#2 red book) as my first ever suspense novel. It was my big contest winner. And when I ended that book, I didn’t want to let go of the characters since there was more to tell. (When you read the ending of that book, you’ll know what I mean.) I started a follow up story that picks up a half year later--my Brazil story No One Lives Forever. But I realized that if I didn’t sell the first one, I might be wasting my time to do a sequel. I set aside 6 chapters of Forever, but did a thorough synopsis as a guide when I came back to finish it, figuring a publisher might come back for my inventory. And by this time, the characters of No One Heard Her Scream were clamoring in my head so I wrote that book while I was home on the mend from surgery. I have more details at my website on the page marked
FOR WRITERS (see my FIRST SALE link). After I sold in auction, I had to finish FOREVER, but I had the other two done.
And no, I didn’t have a series in mind from the start. So the order was TELL first, then a partial start of FOREVER, then I completed SCREAM and went back to FOREVER. Convoluted, huh? And with my books not being released for almost two years after I sold, I would have been twiddling my thumbs for a long time if I didn’t sell another 3-book series and lucky me, my publisher Avon was open to the idea of buying more.

Do you write anything in addition to novel-length fiction?
No, I don’t, unless you count my INSANE Christmas letters to family. (Remember, I write fiction.) Novel-length fiction takes up all my time. I never tried to write short stories, although I think that would be a challenge worth trying sometime. In my opinion, they are harder to do (the right way) than attempting a full novel. But I heard Sue Grafton speak once and she said most people think a short story is the way to start, but she said that learning to write by doing short stories will only teach you how to write short stories. And I have to agree with her. I always had my eye on where I wanted to be, so my goal was always single-title books.

Every writer is different in her approach to the writing life - would you share a bit of yours with the readers? Do you have a particular time each day to write? So many hours/pages/words per week that you strive for? A particular location with a view?
A view? If I had a view, I’d be enjoying it way too much. A talented author friend of mine, NY Times Bestseller Cindy Gerard, has her desk near a window that looks out onto her horse farm. I could never do that. I’d be looking for any excuse to daydream. I’ve got a great big backyard with a Koi pond. (Yes, I’m a fish wrangler.) We feed the wild birds too, but I could never sit and look out my window.

I do have an office in my home that has a door to keep my curious cats out (and husband) while I work. (The cats are better trained.) But the door is most handy to cover my mess. I am organized on the computer and attentive to details in promo and my writing, but when it comes to clutter, I am a real pack rat. My forensics and other resource books are handy, but if mounds of trash had value, I’d be friggin’ Oprah.

And I don’t believe in placing undue strain on my process by giving myself a timetable. The clock is ticking in my head and I instinctively know when I should ramp up my game to meet a deadline. I’m usually early. I generally work from 9am-3pm every day, including weekends, when I’m on a project. My husband makes me breakfast (because I might have been up since the wee hours if something has gripped me) and we talk about crazy plots and the latest in news and politics before he goes to work. Then I’ve added an exercise bike to my day in the afternoon before I wind down to do edits for that day. I am a stickler for editing my work as I go. When I am done with a novel, I am completely done. No going back, no first or second drafts. It’s ready to go.

Was a lot of research involved in No One Heard Her Scream? The details surrounding how detectives conduct an investigation and the political dealings of working with a government agency feels real. Did you simply write what felt right, or did you conduct interviews with professionals, or find answers online? I'm thinking it might have been intuited from novels by your fave authors Robert Crais and Dean Koontz. :)
I generally start with online research because it’s easy, but I verify everything in different ways (expert help, books, interviews) to make sure my thoughts are solid. I love Robert Crais and Dean Koontz but they’d be little help for me to figure out how to write a ‘romantic suspense on steroids’ story. I read other authors for pleasure, not to de-construct what they do to emulate them. For me, that would ruin the read for me and have the potential for diluting my voice. I’ve never tried to figure out what my style is. (I talk about my method on my FOR WRITERS page at the link for START WITH A BANG and Free Association. I filter my life’s experiences and worldview through my characters—good and bad guys—which is a scary thought.) I think that’s why my publisher and advance readers have found my book a little different. My books are very cross genre and have elements of many types of stories I love—mystery, suspense, romance, humor, police procedural, forensics, and thriller elements. When it comes to research, I am a freak about it. I went through over 45 hours of presentations with my local cop shop, including a day spent at the firing range and blowing up stuff with the bomb squad and a ride-along with an on-duty police officer. My lieutenant for the class became my technical advisor for TELL. He knew I wanted to use a flashbang grenade in my story and set one off near me (at a safe distance…I think) so I could feel what it was like. If you read these passages in my novels, you will have the inside scoop. I’ve also taken online classes in forensics and I always have a handful of technical advisors on my books for any specialty stuff—like my Brazilian friend who helped me with Brazilian Portuguese for FOREVER. And for SCREAM, I had to study interrogations and was on my own for that aspect of the novel. That was a big part of my story and there is real subtlety to the process. A cop has to have amazing instincts. But for other things, I had a former Houston homicide detective help with details of Texas law enforcement. Each state is different. So as you can see, research is a big part of what I do. I choose to add the level of detail so a law enforcement person can read my books and like what they see. I’ve gotten compliments on this before, including getting a book blurb endorsement from former homicide detective turned author, the award winning crime fiction author Robin Burcell. After she read my crime scene excerpt from SCREAM on my website, she offered to blurb my book.

I enjoyed reading No One Heard Her Scream and look forward to reading the other novels as they are published. Your website and myspace page contain a lot of information and I love your down-to-earth humor and conversationalist style. I appreciate your time with these questions and look forward to talking with you in the future.
The honor has been all mine, Lisa. Thanks for taking time to read my work. And I wish you much success in 2008!


LISA: Since this is “SHOW—NOT TELL” month with Jordan Dane at
The Writer’s Chatroom, I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t direct our visitors today to the next stop on the tour. Please join Cricket on March 19th!March 19 Cricket Sawyer http://www.Cricketshearth.blogspot.com

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