Much like the Not Ready for Primetime Players, there is a group of amazingly talented authors on the cusp of stardom. They gather here at the Not so Famous Author's Blog to tell you all about writing and smashing your head on a desk. No just the writing part. .


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Q and A with Waking Up Dead Author - Margo Bond Collins!

The Interview!

Tell us the story behind that cover!
The cover was designed by Kelly Abell of Select-O-Grafix. I love the way the shadowy figure on it fades out to nothing at the bottom!

What can we learn from your main character?
When I was working on Waking Up Dead, someone asked me why I would want to limit my protagonist by making her a ghost, unable to easily interact with the world around her.
I didn’t have a good answer then, but I’ve thought about it a lot since.
And here’s the deal: I love writing about Callie and her limitations. Because ultimately, that’s what many books are about, right? The limitations we face when interacting with the world around us. Callie’s limitations are just more immediate and obvious. She has to really work to have an impact on the world, and that’s something we can all sympathize with. Who hasn’t had days when getting anything done felt like swimming through peanut butter? When, try as we might, we can’t seem to communicate with the people surrounding us. When our attempts to move people or things fall flat and we have to start working on new ways to try to be seen and heard.
For Callie, these obstacles are instantly recognizable, but her attempts to make connections echo the attempts in our own lives. So why would I want to limit my protagonist by making her a ghost? Because sometimes, we’re all ghosts. But if we keep at it, we can overcome that little problem.

What has been your greatest compliment as an author, your worst criticism?
The single greatest compliment is always “when is the next book coming out?” The second greatest compliment is writing a review—it doesn’t matter whether the review is positive or negative; the fact that someone took the time to read the book and write the review is always amazing to me!
And I don’t mind criticism, so I don’t think of it as “worst.” I generally first try to see if there’s any merit to the criticism (I’ve gotten some great comments that have already improved my fiction writing!) and then, if I disagree with the criticism, I simply assume that this book (or my writing style) isn’t right for that reader.

What part of the story was the hardest to write, the beginning, the middle, the climax?
I think probably the middle. The beginning was relatively easy, as it set up the character and her dilemma, and once I’d figured out where the novel was going, the end was pretty clear. But getting my characters from point A to point B in a way that makes sense and makes for a good story is always the hardest for me!

Is your main character based on anyone in particular? Did you have a muse for this book?
My main character isn’t; she just showed up full-blown in my head one day (though there’s always a little of me in all my characters). But the character of Maw-Maw (a reader favorite) is actually largely based on a combination of my own grandmother and great-grandmother--the only real difference is that they were white and from Texas rather than black and from Alabama. Otherwise, she talks like them and acts like them. It's my great-grandmother's voice I hear in my head when I write her dialogue, my grandmother's movements I see when I picture her walking around. Physically, I imagine her looking a bit like Ruby Dee in the television movie version of The Stand. But her attitude? That's straight from my own family! I loved writing Maw-Maw. Every time she opened her mouth, she delighted (and sometimes surprised) me.

Fast Round

Names of your pets: Roscoe, Mickey, and Bastet. (Bastet was named after that famous Egyptian cat statue—all black and sleek—because when she was a kitten I thought that’s what she would grow up to be. Instead, she looks like a huge ball of greyed-out black dryer lint. That’s what I get for giving her a pretentious name.)

Favorite ice cream, color, book, and television show
Ice cream: Vanilla.
Color: Pink.
Book: Unfair question! Too many to list. I have a Ph.D. in eighteenth-century British literature and also read fantasy, science fiction, and romance. So a little of everything!
Television Show: Only slightly less unfair. This week, I discovered (late to the party) Big Bang Theory. I’ve been watching it obsessively. I went to graduate school with those people . . . and may have sometimes been one of them. . . . Usually, though, I watch supernatural dramas like Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead.
Fame or Fortune: Fortune.
Grapes or Raisins: Grapes.

Zombies, Vampires, or neither: Both! I write about vampires in my upcoming release Legally Undead, but I’ve been preparing for the inevitable zombie apocalypse for years!

The Book!

When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex. Now she's witnessed another murder, and she's not about to let this one go. She's determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up in Alabama?

As Molly straightened up, the man slipped the wire over her head and twisted it around her neck. She struggled, but he pulled the garrote tighter and tighter.
I was screaming at the top of my ghostly voice, for all the good it did me. I moved up behind the man and beat at his back with closed fists--fists that slipped in and out of his back without ever making real contact. He shuddered a little--clearly he was one of the very slightly sensitive ones--but he didn’t loosen his hands.
I reached up and tried to grab the wire, tried to pull against the pressure he was exerting on the wire and it did loosen for an instant. But only for an instant. The living have more control over solid objects than the dead do. I never resented that fact more than at that moment.
But I kept trying. I kept trying as Molly’s face turned purple, then blue, then black, kept trying even as she drooped in the man’s grip.
Then he loosened the wire and it was too late. I watched that wispy, light-on-fog life force slip out of Molly and move on to wherever it is that other people go when they die. I was glad she didn’t show up next to me as a full-blown ghost. At that moment, I wouldn’t have wished my impotent half-existence on anyone.
I couldn’t help thinking that if I’d been alive, I might have been able to save her.
If I could have cried real tears, I would have. As it was, I was sobbing hoarsely and calling the man every dirty name I could think of.
I was still cursing as I followed him around the kitchen. First he opened the pantry and pulled out a box of Hefty garbage bags. Then he grabbed a knife out of the block on the counter. And finally, he picked up Molly’s body and carried it to the bathroom.

Author’s Bio: Margo Bond Collins lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters. Waking Up Dead is her first published novel. Her second novel, Legally Undead, is an urban fantasy, forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press.


Twitter:  @MargoBondCollin
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