Romantic suspense novelists Janice Cantore, Lethal Target author, and DiAnn Mills, Burden of Proof author, had some questions for each other. Discover what they were in this special Q&A. Without further ado, read what Janice Cantore asked fellow novelist DiAnn Mills:
What is your favorite part of the writing process: beginning a new novel, writing the novel, or finally typing ‘the end’?
DiAnn: I don’t have a favorite part. Each step is exciting, enjoyable, and satisfying.
The beginning process is all about discovery of a premise and the character(s) who have the potential to grow and change into better people—and it has the highest stakes.
The middle is filled with challenges, and I love it! How do I keep the momentum going? Because I’m an organic writer, discovery is my personal adventure. If the reader finds something unexpected, it was first unexpected for me.
The ending allows me to catch my breath and tie up loose ends. Have I offered an entertaining story that inspires and encourages readers?
Editing. Actually this is one of my favorite elements of novel writing. It allows me to take what I feel is my best and make it better. Feedback from editors is vital because I often don’t see my own errors.
When you started writing, did you have a mentor, someone who provided you with the guidance you needed to be successful?
DiAnn: I had and still have writing heroes whom I followed and whose guidance I listened to, but not a mentor. Longtime friend and writing hero Jerry Jenkins helped me develop writing techniques, and I’ve continued to learn from his expertise. Other great writing teachers: Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, Nancy Kress, Steven James, Donald Corbett, and the list goes on.
I’m single, so my schedule is my own. How do you juggle husband, kids, grandkids, and writing?
DiAnn: I have to laugh at this question. Deep breath here since I’m a perfectionist.
- Make every minute count. I write while I walk on the treadmill. I listen to workshops and podcasts while lifting weights, cooking, or doing household chores. My laptop, iPad, and phone go with me everywhere.
- Establish priorities: God, my husband, family, friends, and writing. In that order.
This last one helps me to always be ahead of deadline on books, blog posts, interviews, whatever is needed. I pull up my trusted calendar on my laptop. Note when the manuscript is due. Back up two whole months. Now count all the weekdays (not weekends, holidays, birthdays, or travel). Take that number and divide it into the word count needed for a completed manuscript two months before it’s due.
Looking back on all of your novels, is there one that stands out as the one that should be made into a movie?
DiAnn: Not sure I can give just one novel!
Whenever I think about the characters and scenes in Burden of Proof, I’m ready to view it on the big screen too!
You live in Texas. When I think of Texas, I think Texas Rangers (law enforcement, not sports), an independent spirit, and wide open spaces. Does where you live and the events in your hometown influence your novels in any way?
DiAnn: Absolutely! Houston is the most diverse city in the nation. It’s also the fourth largest and about to pass Chicago in population. While the blessings of Houston and my state are amazing, it does mean there are those who prey on the innocent here. My personal goal of writing realistic suspense means I go right to the source of law enforcement: Houston’s FBI, Houston’s police department, Texas Marshals. Whenever I need to ensure a story is authentic and protocol is needed, I believe in going to the source.
DiAnn Mills asked Janice Cantore some questions of her own. Continue reading to discover Janice’s responses to DiAnn’s questions:
When reading another author’s suspense/crime book, what intrigues you the most?
Janice: Sometimes, if the book is a page-turner, I will actually look at the mechanics—for example, “How did they write that paragraph so tight, make that voice so strong?” If I’m stumped by the “whodunit” aspect (which I rarely am), I’ll applaud and review how they deceived me.
When reading another author’s suspense/crime book, what irritates you the most?
Janice: I have a hard time with police tactics that are not believable. I recognize that the truth has to be stretched sometimes for the sake of the story—I just want it to be done in a plausible fashion. Someone asked me to look at a passage they had written in which they had the sheriff overlook a bag of drugs (a felony) because he felt sorry for the woman holding on to them. There wasn’t enough red ink for that. But I have read highly touted novels that really miss the mark when it comes to being realistic, and that is always disappointing.
Is weaving a romantic element into your story an easy element? Why or why not?
Janice: It’s not easy because sometimes the romance sounds so cliché. There is so much good romance out there, so what is difficult is making what I write all fresh and new.
Do you consider yourself a detailed plotter, punster, hybrid, organic, or what?
Janice: I am a pantser. I can’t outline to save my life. I usually have to have a draft practically written before I even write out a plausible summary or proposal.
Do you have a story hidden in your heart that you really want to write, but something is holding you back? Why?
Janice: It’s funny that you ask. I have a friend who is the great-niece of Florence Chadwick, a prolific distance swimmer of the 1950s. She swam the English Channel, broke Gertrude Ederle’s record, and for a period of about 10 years swam just about every distance swim she could, setting records almost every time. My character Carly Edwards in Accused was loosely based on Florence. My friend asked me to write a biography of her great-aunt. I am very much inspired by Chadwick. Her life is an inspiring study in perseverance, and I truly would like to pen her biography. But can I do it? I write fiction. . . .