Saturday, April 6, 2013

My interview with Dorothy St. James

Good Morning Everyone, This morning Dorothy St. James is joining us, her new book Oak and Dagger is out now!

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a bookworm who has always dreamed of writing books for a living. In pre-school, I’d write and illustrate adventure stories in the hopes that one day they’d become “real” books. But the older I got and the more I learned about the publishing business, I realized that perhaps I needed to go to school to get a real skill. So I earned a degree in Wildlife Biology from Clemson University. After working for local, regional, state, and the federal government (and a short stint in college for a non-profit watchdog organization, the International Primate Protection League), the call to write novels returned and refused to be ignored.

For several years I wrote during my lunch breaks, nights (when I didn’t have to attend community meetings), and every weekend. I had NO LIFE...besides the fictional life living inside my head. I learned tons about the writing craft during those years. Things like: novels SHOULD NOT read like a government report. Slowly and by putting thousands and thousands of words on the page, my writing voice emerged.

But I still hadn’t nailed down a genre. I started out writing mysteries and branched out into fantasy and romance.

In 2001, I took a leap of faith, quit my job, and started to write full-time. Three years later my hard work paid off and I sold my first novel, a romance, to Signet Regency! My lifelong dream was finally, slowly, coming true.

When I’m not writing, I’m either working in my vegetable garden or pretending to be a beach bum. I love to read whatever I can get my hands on. And nothing is more relaxing than spending the day at the beach while lost in the pages of a novel. (What bliss!)

What inspired you to write this book?

OAK AND DAGGER is the third book in the White House Gardener Mystery series. Stolen documents, death threats, mysterious holes in the South Lawn, and now a dead body in the garden! The evidence for the murder points to Gordon Sims, beloved White House chief gardener.

White House organic gardener Casey Calhoun, with the help of Special Agent Jack Turner, works to clear Gordon's name. Soon Casey finds herself in a deadly race against time to discover the link between the missing stolen papers, the holes in the lawn, and a rumored 200-year-old treasure--before the killer strikes again...

Although, I love the idea of a White House gardener solving mysteries, I can’t take credit for the series. An editor who I’d worked with on a previous book approached me with the idea and asked if I’d be interested in developing it into a series. Of course I said HECK YEAH right away!

Growing up, I never missed an episode of Scarecrow and Mrs. King, which was set in Washington, D.C. So I knew right away that one of the books in the series would have to involve a cloak and dagger-type plot. Since I love research and the historical aspects of areas, I also wanted one of the mysteries to delve into the history of the White House. Luckily for me, the plot of OAK AND DAGGER naturally allowed me to do both! There’s both a treasure hunt for Thomas Jefferson’s missing treasure and spies.

Needless to say, I had a blast writing this book!

What are you working on next?

I’m taking a short break from my mystery novels and am currently working on a paranormal romance. Years ago I had started writing THE PROTECTORS, a series featuring a group of warriors with magical powers. These warriors protect the humans from otherworldly dangers, dangers most humans don’t even know exist. I’ve written a short story and two books in the series. I’d always planned to write three more books, but unfortunately the publisher closed its doors and my career took a turn in another direction when I started working with another publisher. Since these older books are available again on Kindle, I decided that I was going to try and squeeze in an extra book a year and finish up the series.

Here’s a short blurb for my work in progress (yet to be named):

Darby Banks is on the run for her life after a coven of witches attack. She has no idea why the witches would target her. She’s simply a waitress, struggling to make ends meet. Ricker, a stranger with street smarts and a chip on his shoulder, offers to help. Ricker is anxious to prove himself to a group of magical warriors he’s recently joined who call themselves the Protectors. To do this, he has taken on the task of protecting Darby from the witches and guiding her in discovering the untapped powers within her. Protecting her is just a means to an end for him. But the more time he spends with the quirky, but charming, waitress the more he cares for her. And the more he realizes that he’s gotten himself in over his head...

When you are writing what is the hardest thing for you and what is the easiest ?

 The hardest part of writing is getting that first draft down on the page., it’s revising that first draft., it’s knowing when to stop revising that first draft.

Honestly, my writing style is often a disaster. I write, revise, write a bit more, and revise again. It’s terribly non-linear and time-consuming. The more I write, the harder it seems to get. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. But nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment when at the end of a hard day of writing, I can look back and see how much I’d actually managed to accomplished.

The best and easiest part of writing for me?  Dreaming up new horrors/troubles for my characters to face. I love the plotting stage of writing. I love playing “what if” games and figuring out the best ways to push my characters’ buttons. What would hurt them the most? What has to happen to them that would force them to grow and change? And of course as part of the plotting process, I get to research. And I love doing that!

If you could take a vacation anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

I’ve been itching to go to Athens, Greece. Why? I’ve never been! Years ago, I took a trip to Rome and fell in love with the city with its ancient history, its culture, and its yummy cuisine. I would walk down the streets, look at the ruins, and imagine what it must have been like living in another time and another place. My imagination took off, and the past seemed to come alive for me right before my eyes. Ever since then, I’ve longed continue my journey back in time to ancient Greece, and dream what life must have been like centuries ago and to see for myself the famous ancient monuments and imagine what they must have looked like when newly built.

Thanks for stopping by Dorothy!

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