Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Interview with mystery author Douglas Wickard


Next up I have an interview with Douglas Wickard, author of A PERFECT HUSBAND.  Check out what Douglas has to say about writing and bad guys and plots and... Well, we'll just get right to it:

1.       The quick pitch for A Perfect Husband is: “An abandoned cabin... a diabolical killer... a hidden cemetery. A deadly secret is about to be uncovered.  How did the idea for this book come to you?

I was living in that precise cabin for over four years. Its location is exactly 72 miles from NYC in the township of Montague, New Jersey and was owned by my best friend Patricia. The cottage had literally been abandoned after her father died and was left to the elements for many years. Patricia offered the cabin to me as a retreat from the City to finish my first novel NOTHING SACRED. While living there, during those summer months, Patricia and I would often throw around plot points, story lines, etc. I remember coming up with THE KILLING FIELD on one of our excursions, which was an idea for Patricia to write. She was a major editor and publisher in NYC and had switched hats to write novels. Her first book, COCO: The Novel was published in 1990. She passed on THE KILLING FIELD idea, so in 2005, I snatched it up and began working on it, establishing Sami as my lead.

2.       One thing you and I have in common is that each of us spent many years working in the Hospitality Industry.  In bar and restaurant (or similar) jobs, you get to meet all kinds of people, to see all sorts of situations, and often times the people you interact with are (ahem) a wee bit tipsy (and I don’t just mean the customers!)  How much cross-pollination is there between Douglas the Hospitality Guy and Douglas the Author?  (ASIDE: I once got tipped a condom covered cucumber that was autographed by the director of a fetish film...) 

I kind of fell into the hospitality ‘thing’ when I first moved to NYC. I was a licensed Medical Technologist after being discharged from the Navy, but hated being trapped in basement laboratories with no windows and shaking test tubes all day. Arriving in New York, I needed to pay rent so I started waiting tables, like everybody else. It was fun, nonintrusive and allowed me time to focus on my writing, at that time musicals. I started taking my hospitality profession seriously when I got married and worked my way up the corporate ladder. Unfortunately, my writing took a back seat for many years during that time. I tinkered and tried and tailored my writing to fit my schedule, but ultimately, I lost that initial fire I possessed when I first arrived to the City.  I’m glad I’ve rekindled it!  

3.       I truly got a chill when I read the description of A Perfect Husband on your website.  Basement in a secluded cabin?  Carpenter table? Serial killer?   YIKES!!!  Get me out of here!!!  How do you feel about writing bad guys?  You can’t have a whodunit without a perpetrator, but how does it feel to try to imagine the bad guy’s perspective, to get inside the bad guy’s head?  

I love it! I allow myself to be a channel for whatever character I’m working on. I don’t have any investment in him/her except to make them believable and come to Life on the page. I have also been taught (by Patricia) to make villains loveable. There is a reason he/she is a killer. We aren’t born that way. I try to create a very real back story on all my characters.  To me, writing about the dark cracks of humanity is the reason I do it. I love exploring human behavior and taking it to its limit. Just wait and see what I put Sami through in the sequel!

4.       Sami Saxton is your starring character, your heroine... What were the challenges and/or what was the fun side of writing a female lead?

Once A PERFECT HUSBAND was published and I started getting some good reviews, particularly women reviewers began asking HOW? How could I write a female so well? I had to take a look at that. I was raised with women. I’m a huge fan of women. I also, have a very sensitive, feminine side to myself that I now embrace. Not always. It wasn’t always easy. I was raised without the benefit of a father figure so my core witnessed the world through female eyes. I don’t see a masculine world. I see it entirely from a female perspective. I’m okay with that now. It took quite a bit of adjustment. It’s much harder for me to write a masculine protagonist. My character Dan Hammer, in my next series, is my male alter ego.

5.       Tell me about your current work in progress (or next release).

A PERFECT SETUP is the sequel to A PERFECT HUSBAND. I finished the second book of my Dan Hammer series back in January, but with the success of A PERFECT HUSBAND, I figured I would create the PERFECT series and let Sami have her day. I’m loving the second book because I know Sami so well. All I can say is: TRUST NO ONE!

6.       You have done lots of writing: TV scripts, musicals, screenplays and more.  How easy is it for you to flip between types of writing?

I’m self taught. I’ve never taken a writing course. I always figured the best way to learn...is to do, so I would buy books on writing the screenplay, the TV script, etc., and just go for it! I got lucky. I landed a huge agent in NYC early on and kept with him for nearly thirteen years. Beginners luck. Writing novels was something intrinsic, I knew it was in me festering from an early age. My sensitivity gave me the nuance necessary to invite characters into my world and explore, reveal and bring to Life. I’ve tried stopping writing...I can’t. It’s a part of me.
7.       Writing can be a lonely occupation, a frustrating one, and every writer must develop a thick skin when it comes to rejections and reviews.  Yet, writers continue to plug away at the keyboard, to scribble on the scraps of paper.  What makes people do it?  Why do you write?

I have no choice. If I’m not uncovering a character’s dark spaces, I’m journaling, discovering mine. I use everything in my art. I’m not afraid to be candid, brutally honest. An unconscious thread usually runs parallel to the storyline with what’s happening in my Life. I sometimes don’t realize it until the book is finished, but that emotional link puts that hum of verisimilitude in my words, my characters.

8.       The publishing industry has undergone a sea change in recent years.  Nowadays, it’s not enough to be able to write a good story, but authors must also become PR experts and marketing mavens.  I know some authors who just can’t or won’t do the promotional side of things.  How comfortable are you with this aspect of the writing life?

I don’t know. The publishing industry is what it is: AN INDUSTRY, a business exploiting work/art for gain, hopefully mine. It’s in every business. With the changes in publishing a writer MUST promote himself and his brand. It’s essential to get seen. There are so many advantages to being published by the big six. But, until that day happens, I will hunker in for the long haul, keep putting fingers to the keyboard, tweet my heart out and Facebook my harlot ways to the goal line.

9.       You’re on holiday and aren’t allowed to write for a week or two.  Instead, you’ll catch up on reading.  What books will you bring with you for vacation?

Yours, for one.  I have a slew of new authors on my Kindle. And, I am dying to read GONE GIRL. I still read the New York Times Book Review every Sunday and keep an eye out for new books, new authors, exciting reads. I’m a voracious reader.

10.   The last question is kind of a freebie:  What is the one question you wish I had asked you but didn’t?  Now go ahead and ask and answer that question.

No question. Just gratitude. Thank you, Jill for allowing me this opportunity. I appreciate your support.

Check out Douglas Wickard's website http://www.douglaswickardbooks.com/
Follow him on Twitter @DouglasWickard
Get A PERFECT HUSBAND on Amazon click here