Friday, June 26, 2009

Interview with Tristi Pinkston

I know I posted this on my book blog, but I am posting it here as well. Tristi gave some very good advice for aspiring authors!:)

Shannon Tanner s perfect life is turned on end when she discovers her boyfriend, Mark, is not what he seems. Fearing for her safety, she enlists the FBI, who puts its best man on the job Rick Holden, who dons a dress and goes undercover as Shannon s roommate. For a while it seems that life is safe again, until Mark kidnaps Shannon s best friend. Shannon realizes the only way to save her friend and herself is to send Rick, her only protection, away. Agent in Old Lace is a thrilling combination of action, suspense, and romance that will keep you turning the pages until the end.

-Agent in Old Lace, is a new mystery, suspense novel written by Tristi Pinkston. I am so excited to have Tristi answer a few questions for us today! Thank you so much for doing this!

Q. First off, how in the world do you have time to write when you are a stay at home mom to four kids and home-school them as well?
A. My house isn’t always very clean and I don’t watch TV (although I do love movies) and there are other things in my life that I’ve either let go or really cut back on. All of us have just twenty-four hours in a day and we each have to decide how to spend ours—writing is important to me, so it gets a pretty high priority, often a higher priority than sleep, and definitely a higher priority than ironing.
Q. What three words would describe you best?
A. Quirky, creative, and obsessive.
Q. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
A. You know, I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to be a writer. It’s just something I’ve always done and enjoyed. My first story was about a dog named Sue who wanted to be a ballerina. I wrote and illustrated it when I was five. I might still have it around here somewhere … but remember, my house isn’t very clean, so finding it might be a challenge.
Q. What do you like doing when you aren't writing? Any interesting hobbies?
A. I really enjoy movies, and I keep Netflix hopping (both online and in the mail). I particularly love the classics—Cary Grant, Gene Kelly, Doris Day, Howard Keel, Jane Powell … ah, the good old days. I also really love period dramas (can I just say, there is only one true Pride and Prejudice, and that would be the Colin Firth version). I scrapbook, both digitally and the old-fashioned way, and I read scandalous amounts of books. I don’t know if any of that qualified as “interesting,” but hey, it’s the truth.
Q. Favorite writing/editing food? I've heard most authors prefer chocolate when they get a load of revisions to work on!:)
A. Oh, definitely chocolate. I was chocolate-free for a time in my life, and I really should go back to my more righteous ways, but I fell off the wagon and have been a frightful sinner ever since. I also enjoy gummy peach rings. More and more often, I find myself eating my meals at the computer, too. I like to think of it as multi-tasking.
Q. I know you have three historical fiction novels published, so what made you decide to write Agent in Old Lace, which is totally different?
A. I spent a lot of time researching my first two books, and that research took me to some pretty dark places, as I read about the Japanese internment camps, the atomic bombs, and then the Nazi concentration camps. It’s true that only a small portion of your research ends up in the final book, so there are things I read and pictures I saw that are burned into my brain that I didn’t use in the story. I needed to write something lighter to clear out the cobwebs and reset all my mental switches. “Agent in Old Lace” was the perfect answer.
Q. What was the road to publishing like for you?
A. A little bumpy—I’ve got my fair share of rejection letters, but I
believe that we end up where we’re supposed to be, so I just kept
plugging away until it happened.
Q. Were you ever discouraged? Do you still get discouraged at times?
A. Oh, yes! Very discouraged. Writing is such a personal thing, and it’s hard to get rejected because it feels like you, yourself, have been rejected. After one rejection in particular, I went to bed and cried for an hour. Then I got mad, got out of bed, went to an all-night Kinko’s and made six copies of the manuscript and sent them out. Not a month later, I had my first contract. I let myself go to bed and feel sorry for myself, but the trick was, I got back out of bed and took action. I’m all for letting yourself wallow when you feel the need, but then you’ve
got to get back out there.
Q. I love the humor and romance you have throughout Agent in Old Lace. Would you consider yourself a romantic? Â After reading your blog, you obviously have a sense of humor!
A. I am a romantic. I love romantic movies (and I do mean romantic, not smutty) and books. But my idea of romance isn’t always typical. One of the sweetest things my husband ever did for me? He was out one morning and was thinking about me, so he drove through a McDonald’s and brought me breakfast. He knows I often don’t have time to eat in the morning and he wanted to do something to make my day better. That melted my heart, I’ll tell you.
Q. If you could choose one song, that summed up Agent in Old Lace, what would it be?
A. Um …I don’t know any songs about an FBI agent who dresses up like a woman and are a crack shot with a rifle and strangle the bad guy with his tie, so I really don’t know how to answer that question. But maybe “She’s Always a Woman to Me” by Billy Joel? Or maybe “Lady in Red” by Chris de Burgh?
Q. Did you have to do a lot of research about the FBI to write Agent in Old Lace?
A. This is where having good friends comes in really handy. I wrote the book how I imagined it should be, having read other mystery/suspense novels in the past, and then I asked my good friend Willard Boyd Gardner, who is an author but is also former SWAT, to read it for me. He corrected me on procedure and law, and really helped me with some of those rough areas where I was totally clueless. We did fudge here and there for fiction’s sake, but the book is a whole lot more accurate than it would have been without his help.
Q. Where do you pick up your amazing ideas for your novels? Traveling? Other stories or movies? Or, do they just pop into your head as you run your kids from place to place?
A. My first novel is based on a dream I had, and my second came to me as a fully formed thought in the middle of church one Sunday. My third is the result of researching family history, and Agent in Old Lace was inspired by a news story, although the final result is very different from the story that inspired it. I just listen to those random thoughts that go scampering through my head and sometimes I hang onto them. I really should set up some mouse traps in there, come to think of it.
Q. Do you outline your novels, or write down whatever comes to you at the time?
A. If I’m writing a historical piece, I outline a timeline of all the major events of that period of history and I keep it in front of me all the time. I then need to determine where my character will be when it happens, and what their reaction to it will be. The rest is on the fly. If I’m writing a contemporary piece, much of it is flying by the seat of my pants. Ideally, your characters are so real to you that you’re listening to them while you write, and if you let them dictate what happens, you’ll end up with a much better story.
Q. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
A. Stop whining and get to work. Sound a little harsh, but everything stems from your attitude and your ability to get back up and keep fighting. Also, go to conferences. Get into a good critique group. Learn all you can and never feel that you have nothing left to learn.
Q. Are you currently working on any other projects? Will you stick with Historical or contemporary?
A. I’m always working on something. If I don’t have some kind of project going, I wither up like a plant that was left near a heater with no water in bright sunlight in August in Arizona. I’m currently working on a fun contemporary mystery series and I do have other historical fiction novels simmering on the back burner. I love both genres and I don’t want to give either of them up.

Well, there you have it! A glimpse into Tristi Pinkston's writing life! Thank you SO MUCH for letting me interview you Tristi!:)

As for my review, I can't tell you what a fun book this was! Cute, witty, suspenseful, not to mention the romance sprinkled here and there. It will definitely be a quick read, and leave you in a good mood at the end. For a very entertaining, summer read, pick this one up! You won't be disappointed!:)

To order Agent in Old Lace, click here.
For more information on Tristi, visit her website or blog.


Jordan McCollum said...

That's a great interview! Those are some of the same questions I'd ask her (and probably should have at her book launch, LOL).

Nicely done. :D