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Hello, my name is Valorie. I have a Master's Degree in History and a license to teach-- I have been both university professor and public school teacher. Currently, I am a middle school social studies teacher. I love horror movies and spooky things. Every day is Halloween. I am also a passionate book blogger.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Blog Tour & Author Interview: One Scream Away (Sheridan, #1) by Kate Brady

I would like to welcome author Kate Brady to Epeolatry. Kate Brady is here as part of her blog tour for her book One Scream Away. I was fortunate enough to get to ask her a few questions, so I hope that you enjoy her visit here.

About Kate Brady

"My writing career began in the closet, where--thankfully--my first several novels remain. As a full-time choral conductor and assistant professor of music education, I didn't consider going public with my fiction. It was strictly clandestine and only a hobby. Then the needs of small children convinced me to switch to part-time teaching. For the first couple of years as a mostly stay-at-home-mom, it was all I could do to complete the metamorphosis from domestically-challenged career woman to culinary-queen and housework goddess. (Okay...Some transitions are never fully realized.) But later, when the kids got old enough to be in school for six hours a day, the characters in my head found time to come out again. Murderers, cops, victims, lovers. I started writing down everything they did and said, then finally decided to see if anyone but me wanted to read about them. Now, I lead a double life. Some days are spent in the university classroom or at the rehearsal podium; others spent chasing villains on my laptop. So what do I do when I'm not creating music teachers or psycho murderers? (Two unrelated populations, I assure you.) With a husband, two children, and way too many furry, feathery, and scaly things, there isn't a lot of time left. It's enough to keep up with the house, the yard, and the family schedule, and hope no one on my laptop gets murdered when I'm not looking."

About One Scream Away

Killer Chevy Bankes is a master of disguise, and just paroled, he's coming after the woman who sent him to jail, the beautiful antiques expert Beth Denison. A set of antique dolls brings Beth into his sight, and inspire Chevy's disturbing crimes as he draws closer to Beth and her young daughter. Chevy sends the dolls to Beth one-by-one and she soon realizes that these antiques carry the same marks as his victims, signaling that the final piece in his collection will be for her. Neil Sheridan gave up his FBI shield five years ago, but his best friend Rick, a cop, pulls him in as a consultant on a case involving a serial killer who is eerily similar to a murderer Neil encountered in the past. The investigation leads Neil to Beth's doorstep, and he is certain she isn't telling him the truth. Neil is the only one who can get through Beth's defenses and, as they grow closer, discover the secrets that Beth is hiding about her fateful night with Chevy.

Interview With Kate Brady

Q: What do you do to prepare to write? What is the process that gets you ready to sit down a lay out a story?
A: To prepare to write, I get a hot mug of coffee and my laptop! I'd love to say that I have a nice office with a desk and neat files and an ergonomic chair. The truth is, I settle in a recliner, or shove the dog to one side of the sofa and plop down there.

As for the process of laying out a story-- My very patient editor can tell you: I'm not a planner. It's the act of writing that reveals the story and characters to me. So, while I may have a concept for the story (as in a killer who uses dolls to represent his victims), I don't plot in advance. I start with the concept and three things: a villain with a goal (vengeance, atonement, money), and a hero and heroine each with some profound need (which is usually quite different from what they want.) These kinds of things stir and percolate for weeks, usually while I'm gardening, cooking, showering, and often while I'm still in edits of a previous story. When I'm ready to actually write, I'll sit down and jot a list of traits for each character and get a general plan for the villain.

Then I start writing. Put someone on screen doing something, and let it unravel. It doesn't progress without hitches, but most of the time, a conversation generates something about a character I didn't know, or an action spurs another action, and the whole spirals into some semblance of a story.

"Some semblance" wasn't a coy choice of words; I mean it: Once the story is written, that's when the work begins. Because I didn't plot, plan, or outline, there are major changes necessary once I get to the end and find out what the story is really about. This is the point at which I figure out the theme, define the characters, and go back and make the story fit what it turned out to be. I also wind up throwing out a good number of characters and plot threads' things I might have thought were part of the story at one point, but that wound up not really being pertinent. (Some of those can show up later in other stories!) In a nutshell, my first draft is a revelation, then I go back and write the book.

Q: How much of yourself do you put in your characters? Are they extensions of you, or are they independent creations that take on a life of their own after coming from your imagination?
A: In some ways, they are extensions of myself, but those attributes are usually small and insignificant: a turn of phrase, a specific reaction to an event, the floor plan of an apartment I once lived in. Beyond that, I am very fortunate to say that I am not possessed of the dark and tragic backstories that make my characters tick, so they must take on a background and life of their own. This happens quite readily! In fact, I have very little control over what they become as they evolve and sometimes have to remind myself that I can change what they do or say. Characters are not always cooperative.

Q: What sort of research went into making this book?
A: For One Scream Away, there wasn't extensive research. There was basic research about police procedure and FBI (including talking to real-live cops); basic research about Victorian dolls (I worked at an antiques firm for many years, so I already knew a little), and basic research about the minds of serial killers (and there is nothing I could write as twisted as reality). Beyond that, the research was in the details: How long does it take to get from Quantico to southeastern PA by chopper? What was the price of gasoline in 1976? How many miles could Chevy drive cross-country in twenty-four hours? That sort of thing. It was just the kind of research I imagine all writers do, but not super in-depth. I mean, I didn't spend weeks observing a real-live FBI task force or interview a real serial killer or anything.

Q: What is the most valuable piece of knowledge that you've picked up after becoming a published author that you wish you knew from the start?
A: The first book is the easy one! Doing it again on the publisher's timeline, which is no doubt a lot shorter than what you used on the first book and doing it while trying to keep up with the publicity efforts on the first one, is the hard part.

Q: What is one thing you've never done but would love to do?
A: Hit the New York Times bestseller list!

Q: Finally, could you share with all of us a quote that you love?
A: "If you can stop writing, do."

Unfortunately, I don"t know the source.

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