Fellow mystery author and former cop Lisa Preston stopped by to talk about her new series and share a great protip.
1. Carmen Amato: Lisa, thanks so much for stopping by. We met at the Killer Nashville mystery writer’s conference and discovered that we have a few things in common, like our love of smart dogs!
You are a retired police officer, as well as an equine expert. Why did you add mystery author to the resume?
Lisa Preston: The mystery form is so engaging, a great combination of both character-driven and plot-driven story; I’ve enjoyed reading it and I wanted to write it. When I did my book clubby, psychological thriller and suspense novels, readers wrote emailed asking what was next for those characters, and my agent said it was time for a series. I had this interesting idea of having a horseshoer as an amateur sleuth, and he sold it on a multi-book deal.
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2. CA: Your upcoming release (November) is DEAD BLOW. Your main character is a female with a very unique occupation. What can you tell us about her and the book?
LP: Seeds for the mystery in DEAD BLOW were planted in the series debut, THE CLINCHER, which came out a year ago. The main character is Rainy Dale, a young woman with a lot of room for growth. She traces her childhood horse to the fictional small town of Cowdry, Oregon, then stays to try earning a living as a newly minted horseshoer.
She made a breakthrough in THE CLINCHER. In DEAD BLOW, she needs to keep learning to love herself and others, while she solves one of the town’s old mysteries.
3. CA: How do you use setting to create and build suspense? Tell us about a favorite location that you used in a book.
LP: I live at the edge of a million-plus acre backcountry wilderness that offers endless trails, unreliable cell service, plus encounters with bears, cougars, and the occasional deranged person. The majority of the country lives in much higher population density, but is interested in visiting these vast western locales, and enjoys imagining the unique difficulties the setting presents.
Rainy Dale is similarly situated down in Oregon. Both THE CLINCHER and DEAD BLOW offer a setting as distinct and challenging as my own stomping grounds of steep scrawny trails and magnificent panoramas.
4. CA: You can invite any author, living or dead, to dinner at your home. What are you serving and what will the conversation be about?
LP: This week, I’ll say let’s spend the evening with Samuel Clemens. I’ve just gotten Twain’s unabridged works and was surprised to see he’d done a takedown of Fennimore Cooper. Then reading the details, I had to agree that a firearms scene is which the writer has the hero shooting a nail head located one hundred yards away is cringe-inducing. As a retired cop, poor law enforcement action or emergency medical procedure (I was a paramedic before I was a cop) makes me stop reading. Join us, Carmen, and we’ll eat a meaty stew and drink beer, while talking about everything.
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5. CA: What is your best protip? Tell us about a writing habit, technique, or philosophy that keeps your writing sharp.
LP: I think many new writers do not revise enough. They think they have a finished, but it’s what you or I would call a draft.
When I teach revision, two things I have students do are deconstruct the written manuscript to make sure each scene is doing its job. I also tell folks to have their computers read the entire manuscript out loud. It’s amazing what you hear in the computer’s flat reading that you do not see.
Thank you, Lisa. That is great advice! Technology is (occasionally) our friend.
More about Lisa:
Lisa Preston started her fiction career with the bestselling psychological thriller ORCHIDS AND STONE, followed by the acclaimed psychological suspense THE MEASURE OF THE MOON. She now writes the Rainy Dale horseshoer series. Find all her books on Amazon.
Connect with her at www.lisapreston.com.
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