Friday, March 7, 2014
SCHMOOZING WITH BRENDA CHAPMAN
1. Who has influenced you the most in your writing career?
I’ve learned a lot about writing from reading authors such as Ernest Hemingway—the art of saying a lot with a little; Harper Lee—how to write compelling characters and weave subplots in with the main storyline; Michael Connelly—lead cop Harry Bosch (say no more); and just about every novel I’ve ever read, beginning with Enid Blyton and the Secret Seven/Famous Five novels. However, I’d have to say that the person who influenced me the most would be Professor Claude Lyman from Lakehead University, who taught me during a year of creative writing classes to avoid using melodrama in my stories wherever possible. His advice is based on that old chestnut ‘show don’t tell’ and keep the writing tight and lean. Skip the overwriting!
2. What are you working on now?
I am currently about half way through the first draft of the third Stonechild and Rouleau mystery for Dundurn. I have a June deadline and am trying to pick up my pace. My editor and I will be starting the first edit of Butterfly Kills, the second in the series, in April. I also have a contract to write a fourth adult literacy novel in the Anna Sweet mystery series for Grass Roots Press due this fall. The third in that series entitled To Keep a Secret will be released this September.
3. In what ways is your main protagonist like you? If at all?
Kala Stonechild is quite different from me. She’s in her late twenties, Aboriginal, tall, grew up in foster homes and is courageous as a lion. She also has a great sense of direction and doesn’t mind driving all over the country alone in her truck. We do both come from small northern communities and love the outdoors so there is that.
4. Are you character driven or plot driven?
I would have to say both. Plot and characters have a symbiotic relationship in all of my favourite books. The plot has to move along and grip me and I have to care about the characters and what happens to them.
5. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I’m a pantser with plotter overtones. I outline in my head but do a lot of ‘flying by the seat of’ as I get into a manuscript.
6. What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
I hope that readers are entertained first and foremost. I am most gratified when someone says that they could not put the book down. I also am satisfied when readers speak about the characters as if they are real people because this means that readers connected with them.
7. Where do you see yourself as a writer in 10 years?
It would be great to have an international readership and to get invited to some overseas conferences! Other than that, I see myself fully engrossed in writing a new manuscript and carrying on as I am now, but perhaps with more Facebook likes and Twitter followers. You can never have too many.
8. What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
Readers might be surprised to know that I skip a ladies’ curling team and that my daughter Lisa Weagle is on the national championship curling team skipped by Rachel Homan—they’ll be playing for Canada for the second year in a row at worlds in March. Readers might also be surprised to know that I dislike mashed potatoes and never touch brussel sprouts, parsnips or lima beans if I can help it.
9. What do you like to read for pleasure?
I read crime fiction for pleasure – Ottawa and Canadian mysteries top my list. I’m also a big fan of British mysteries.
10. Give us a summary of your latest book in a Tweet
A week before Christmas, a dysfunctional police team must find a missing Ottawa businessman with lots of people wanting him dead #lotsofsuspects
Brenda Chapman is an Ottawa mystery writer for both teens and adults. Her latest novel Cold Mourning was released by Dundurn in March 2014. A former teacher, she now works as a senior communications advisor for the federal government.