1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
I’ve been a nonfiction writer my entire adult life – first as a health care strategic planner/hospital administrator – then as a portrait painting instructor (4 books, 4DVDs). Writing fiction is entirely new.
2) What inspired you to write your book?
A. Why write fiction? I’ve read about 50 novels a year for decades, 95% of which are fiction. I have always marveled at how authors can come up with such complicated plots, characters, and weave them together so that a terrific story results. With non-fiction, the goal is to remove all ambiguity – but ambiguity is at the very heart of good fiction. So, I loved the idea of trying it out and it is more fun than I’ve had in quite a while.
B. Why write this story? I write about the things that I care about, what makes me angry – injustice, corruption and governments that fail to function for their citizens. I also write about things that frighten me. So I guess you could say it helps me grapple with things I can’t control.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I set Collateral Carnage in the near future, and my themes are a warning, really. We all need to be paying much more attention to big issues, rather than the small-issue chum we are constantly fed. Citizens United/dark money is and will continue to be the one of the greatest threats to democracy. The greed that sets armies of lobbyists in play to control public policy serves its shareholders long before its patients, and drug companies are among the worst. Specifically, Collateral Carnage grew out of the many scandals and tragedies surrounding the VA and its treatment of vets, especially those with PTSD. And that’s how it all started.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
Thrillers? Refer back to my 95% comment – it’s what I love to read.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
I’d first chat with Dr Vivian Jaffe: “How did you remain so complacent for so long? Why?” She’s a minor character in the book, but quite complex in her behavior and arc. Her motivations are conflicted and I would like her to explain her decisions. (She will in the sequel 😊 )
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Since my book has only been out a short while, I am using the platforms I’ve built through my art career to introduce and hopefully migrate my interested people to engage on my author-related sites. I am active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. I have added an author business page to FB, developed a separate website, http://www.chrissaperauthor.com and newsletter. I think though, that if new authors aren’t active on social media, just choose one or two to explore. I only am comfortable with all of these social platforms because I’ve using them for so long – but you don’t need to do them all or you risk spending way too much time being distracted.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Get as much education about the process as possible! Getting a book into a reader’s hands is an enormous undertaking – and writing the thing is just the start. Take a course (or a lot of them). Have your manuscript professionally edited – developmental/content editors first, then you need copy editors and likely a proofreader. You need an excellent cover and engaging blurb. You need to budget for your book – from what I’ve read, plan on about $5K to self-publish. If you plan to traditionally publish, plan on months or years of query/editing/printing/distribution, and then another unknown number of months or even years to repay your advance before you actually earn a penny (my bias showing here). Most of all, though, be willing to listen to your editors and your readers, so it’s important to check ego at the door.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
New books? Yes, two in process. First is a sequel to Collateral Carnage and I’m about 4K words into it right now. The other is a much larger undertaking so that one is now in research mode. I plan to finish the sequel before writing the next manuscript.