September SinC-up

September is Blog SinC-up month at Sisters in Crime — SinC-up, get it? — and it’s been a really wacko month for me, so I’m just managing to sneak in at the end. The way this works, I answer one of these questions:

Which authors have inspired you?

Which male authors write great women characters? Which female authors write great male characters?

If someone said “Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men,” how would you respond?

What’s the best part of the writing process for you? What’s the most challenging?

Do you listen to music while writing? What’s on your playlist?

What books are on your nightstand right now?

If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?

…and pass the baton to another writer. I’m tagging Tom Savage, not a Sister but a brother-in-crime. He’s got a new book out, PENNY FOR THE HANGMAN, and though his SinC-up blog will appear in October you’ll want to read it.

I’m going to answer the best/worst question, thusly: I love, LOVE, when something happens that I didn’t expect and it fits perfectly into the book in two or three different ways — that is, it answers a number of questions I maybe hadn’t even articulated to myself yet. This can only happen when you allow your work to get a little out of your control, trusting your subconscious and the process. When it does happen, it’s both an unanticipated thrill and a validation of the choice to let the book take its own path.

The worst is plot. Plot comes from the math and logic side of the brain, the Mr. Spock side, and if writers were strong on that side we’d be scientists. Everything else we do comes from the emotion and aesthetics side. I let my plots come as naturally as possible, flowing from character, but there are still those moments when I find myself having to Figure Something Out. Oh, how I hate those moments.

I also want to say this about the “Nothing against women writers…” question, and it’s all I have to say.

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