Tuesday, February 5, 2013 | By: The Write Way Cafe

An Interview with Winter Austin

Today, The Write Way Café would like to welcome Crimson Romance author Winter Austin.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
In regards to research, I belong to a lot of crime writing groups and follow tons of blogs that talk about this aspect. And I’m a huge believer in never watching the crime scene dramas on TV. All my research on serial killers and police procedure came from what I learned online or in books from the experts or by actually talking with them. My favorite 2 conversations were with a former undercover FBI agent and a still working police sniper—this one comes out in book 2.

As for rodeo, I had cousins and my sister-in-law who competed. I’ve attended so many I lost count and am a long time follower of all things Professional Rodeo. My sister-in-law trains and competes on barrel horses. And rodeo isn’t the only thing I cover in the book. Cutting horses take stage now and again, and that’s what my cousins did while we were growing up. Believe me, you’ve never seen anything so pretty as to watch a cutting horse “dance” with a calf. Google NCHA cutters and watch the videos. Those horses are amazing.

Where did the idea for your story come from?
I had been working on what became the book Relentless for many years, going through many different plots and story lines. After hearing some editors say they wanted something more than another woman in jeopardy story I thought: “well, what if it was the guy who was actually in trouble and the woman got sucked in unwillingly?” Thus was born the concept of Relentless. It just grew out of that, I’m a pantser, so the story took on a life of its own and I just followed the path. But from the start, there had always been this need not to get my characters to that final happily ever after. No, their backstories wouldn’t allow it, not right away. I need more time to develop their romance. So by the end of Relentless I knew where they were going and I knew the danger for them was going to escalate. Hench the reason for the series name of Degrees of Darkness.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
I have always been fascinated with Texas, maybe it’s because I was raised on westerns. I’m not sure why it ended up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I do love the countryside of Fort Worth and knew it was a huge ranching area. Mostly, because that’s where my heroine, Cody took me. She’s always been a Texan and her fiery spirit fits with the Texan mindset. Oddly enough, I chose to throw my hero, Remy out of the bayous and land him a dry area he’s not used to. It’s been fun learning about both the Texas culture and the Cajun culture through both of these characters. Eventually, I get to take my readers into New Orleans and Houma, LA. I went there last summer, and I loved it.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
Boy Howdy, you bet they have some real life basis. In fact my husband is pretty proud that some of the sayings and mannerisms of my heroine’s best friend, JC Manning, are molded after him. My husband knows and doesn’t want the hero, Remy LeBeau to reflect him, hubby’s not into speaking French, Ha! As for my heroine, Cody Lewis, I think she carries some of my traits, but she is such a mix of so many people—some of them who probably don’t want me to mention them.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world, homicide detectives and barrel racing?
Wow, this one makes me think. What I learned about myself, that I was capable of writing a book that carried both a strong mystery thread with a heavy dose of suspense. That I could piece each thread together to keep the reader guessing and toss in a few red herrings I wasn’t expecting.

My process and the writing world, that after many years of hitting brick walls I managed to break through on aspects like Deepening the POV, and showing more than telling and how to create a good balance between the two. This book opened up all faucets that had been turned off to me for some reason. It was great.

As for homicide detectives and barrel racing, that was easy, I met the right people at the right time who helped me learn and create real cops. And I grew up around barrel racing.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
Lately, my writing area has been locked away in my bedroom, propped against pillows with a steaming cup of coffee with my latest creamer fetish, a bevy of research and current WIP info scattered around me, and a blanket to cover up my feet, since it’s winter here. Depending on the mood of the book, I might have music playing, or not. I write there because I’m away from any link to the internet, and I can block out my kid’s voices when they’re home from school. Sometimes I can focus at our desktop computer, but with it being connected to the internet it gets real tempting to surf.

I can write in a coffee shop, but it’s a drive for me some days and our library has a nice reading area I can write in, but the downfall with public writing is people stopping to talk to you—huge time waster for me cause I love to talk.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
The middle! The horrid worry of a sagging middle has been my Achilles heel. I find myself stalling with every book at this point. But I’m not a true suspense/thriller author if I didn’t just kill off someone. Sometimes that gets me going. A lot of the time, I found I’ve just written fluff and need to go back and delete. I tend to let my characters take me where they need to go, and when I stop listening to them, that’s when the writing blocks come in. I’ve been writing toward publication for a long time, but I’m still a willing and open learner.

What are some of your favorite books and why?
I enjoy Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series, I’m a sucker for a wounded, confused man who slowly learns how to find himself and he’s always ten steps ahead of the criminals, with the balls to face them down, even on their own turf.

Probably a series most of you have never heard of, but I love, love, love, Ronie Kendig’s Discarded Heroes series. These books were written in the Inspirational genre, but they’re loaded with action, military men, daring women who don’t back down, and tons of explosions! These books and her follow-up series A Breed Apart, are on my must buy and keeper lists.

Recently, due to A&E, I became acquainted with the Longmire series by Craig Johnson. I haven’t been able to read much of this series as my library doesn’t carry the books, and well, my own writing has kept me busy. But I love everything about these, the setting in rural Wyoming, the crusty Sheriff Longmire, and the take no-crap female deputy, and ever-wise Native American friend. I plan to snag all of these books soon, since a new one is slated to release soon.

What are you working on now?
I’ve just completed the first draft of book 3, Revenge, to this series and getting ready to edit/revise it, it’s due to the editor soon. This book I just completed is the catalyst for the whole Degrees of Darkness series and I dreaded finishing it, because I loved the plot so much. And it’s loaded with action. ;)

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
Professional Volleyball player. Totally out of left field, huh? I love the sport, and even coached JR High girls for a few years—though I don’t think I’d mind coaching again. But I’m pretty happy with my other job, being a military wife and the mother of 4 great—loud—kids.

Coming February 11, 2013


Patricia Marie said...

Great interview! I love how you guide Winter through her writing process with your questions - very valuable to other writers. I will be recommending your blog to the members of my writers group this weekend. Can't wait for the launch party, Winter!!

Winter said...

Thanks, Patricia! Can't wait to see you in person in Sep!

HiDee said...

Thank you, Patricia. We appreciate your support. Winter, I love your responses to our questions. This was a fun interview!
-- HiDee

Angela Adams said...

From one Crimson author to another, best wishes with your book, Winter!

Winter said...

Thanks much, Angela.

Cafe said...

Winter, thanks for visiting our blog today, and best of luck with your release next week!

Jaxson Corey said...

Nice post. Your writing style is very beautiful and your article is very attractive. You share a very useful information that is very useful for a lot of people and it will also help for many people. Keep writing. Thanks for sharing.
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