W.S. Gager Searches for Volatile DeedsW.S. Gager has lived in Michigan for most of her life except when she was interviewing race car drivers or professional woman's golfers. She enjoyed the fast-paced life of a newspaper reporter until deciding to settle down and realized babies didn't adapt well to running down story details on deadline. Since then she honed her skills on other forms of writing before deciding to do what she always wanted with her life and that was to write mystery novels.
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I’ve always been a writer and have been able to do many things with it from writing speeches, promoting nonprofit organizations, and writing crime for newspapers as well as lots of other interesting things. Most recently my love of writing has been used in a college-classroom setting helping students build their writing skills to be successful in college. This has been the most satisfying as they realize they do have something to say and can learn the skills to make it happen.
Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
My characters are very independent and many times I feel like I am losing control all-together. I have characters that only are supposed to have a small part in the book. In A CASE OF ACCIDENTAL INTERSECTION, octogenarian Elsie Dobson’s role was to be a witness in the first chapter only, but she wasn’t happy with that. She took cookies to Mitch Malone to get him to investigate when the police weren’t interested. She made so much fuss, she became a target. One of my favorite scenes ever is Elsie outwitting a killer. I laugh every time I think about it. I wish that was my creativity but it was pure Elsie not letting me rest with my own ideas.
How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
I love research. I usually find the coolest and weirdest things that people would think I made up. Some of my books require more research than others. I try to do as much of the research before I start to write but more often than not, the book takes a different turn and I need to do more. In A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS I did quite a bit of research about explosions. I needed something that would scare a city silly but really wasn’t more than flash powder in a high-rise building. Through a professional organization I belong to called the Public Safety Writers Association, I found an explosives expert who gave me all kinds of information about different types of explosions. I had no idea there were so many ways to blow things up. I might be on a watch list for that research. LOL.
How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?
My family is pretty evenly split on the writing. My husband has dutifully read the first two books and became stalled on the third. My son has never read any of them and my daughter is a big fan and hounds me to finish each one.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My mom said I always made up stories but I don’t remember that. My first memory is when I was named editor of the eighth grade newspaper. I was selected because my teacher liked my journal entries. Every week we had to write two whole pages on anything we wanted. Most kids hated that assignment and I loved it.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
I love to hear from readers. Check out my website at http://wsgager.com or my blog at http://wsgager.blogspot.com or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also am on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wsgager or Twitter @wsgager
What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
The best advice I ever received was before my critic group. I’d written a romance because that was what I had read a million of. I thought it was pretty good. It was the first manuscript I’d ever finished. I was a member of Romance Writers of America and one of the ladies in my local chapter read it for me. She told me that I wasn’t a romance writer, which made my stomach drop. She grabbed my hand so I couldn’t run away. She told me I was a mystery writer and to forget about the romance. After I got used to the idea, I realized she was right. The worst advice I ever received was that writing was a solitary enterprise and writers didn’t need others. I would never have been published had it not been for my critic group.
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
I have the most fantastic critique group in the world. We meet once a week and we each bring a chapter. We have been meeting for at least six years. Some members have changed but we each have different strengths and weaknesses. We also write in different genres from romance to paranormal. Their influence has made my writing stronger, more vivid and filled with action.
When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.
I decided to submit A CASE OF INFATUATION to a contest. I’d written it, edited it with the help of my critic group and didn’t know what else to do with it. I wanted feedback from professionals to improve it. My book won the contest and the prize was a publishing contract. I would never have done that without my critic group telling me it is good enough.
Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
I worked at newspapers for a dozen years and I am so much better with a deadline. If I don’t have deadlines or set goals, I will take forever to finish something. I also do much better if I have a ton of things to do instead of only a couple.
Mitch finally scores dinner with a cute receptionist, but an explosion makes him stand up his date as he runs for an exclusive. His date is the only casualty in a botched robbery. When femme fatale Patrenka Petersen returns, Mitch learns that much of what he knows about his date isn’t what it seems. Mitch must keep his head down or a cute dog with a knack for finding dead bodies will be sniffing out his corpse.