Dyanne: Hello. Pam. Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, what is your background?
Pam: My name is Pamela Turner (Pam) and I’m originally from Wisconsin. After graduating with a B.A. in English, I moved to Louisville, KY and eventually landed a job as a freelance writer for a couple of local magazines. I also write screenplays and won second place in The Writers Place short/teleplay contest with my short screenplay “Cemetery” in 2004. Both freelance writing and screenplay writing helped me learn to “write tight” but there were some habits I had to unlearn when I returned to writing fiction.
Dyanne: LOL. Isn’t it an eye opener when you find you have to unlearn something from one form of writing to the next? When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer, and what was it that inspired you to start writing?
Pam: I decided I wanted to be a writer while in middle school. We were reading this book and I decided I could write a better story. Yeah, I know, there’s a fine line between self-confidence and arrogance, isn’t there? But maybe a little chutzpah’s necessary.
But I also enjoyed reading, particularly mysteries and fantasies, and I had a great aunt who apparently had written a few poems. Funny thing, though, my family tried to downplay that she was a writer, as if they were ashamed of it.
Anyway, I bought a blue spiral notebook and set about writing my first manuscript, which leads us to the next question...
Dyanne: Perhaps it’s the chutzpah that prepares a writer for the hard journey. When did you write your first book?
Pam: I wrote my first short novel, a YA mystery, while in middle school. I hadn’t yet found my voice so it was heavily influenced by my favorite authors. I continued writing throughout high school. Most of these were gangster stories, set in the 1920s. After graduating from college, it was a 10+ year hiatus before I returned to writing fiction, determined to finish a novel. The problem was I tended to edit as I wrote. As a result, I rarely finished anything, unless it was for assignment. So when I wrote my YA horror in 2003, I set out with the goal of not revising until the book was complete. I succeeded but the book is nowhere near ready for submission. When I told a friend about what I’d done, she suggested I join NaNoWriMo. I signed up in 2004 and that’s when I wrote my vampire novel.
Dyanne: Ahh, Vampires. My favorite anti-heroes. How many books have you written, Pam? Do you have a favorite?
Pam: Since 2003, I’ve written five so far, four short novels and one novella/short story. I also have three manuscripts which I hope to finish early 2011.
I don’t know as I have a favorite. I tend to like my later work more than the earlier attempts. But I think it’s because my writing’s improved and sometimes it’s difficult to face those earlier cringe worthy drafts. And, for some reason, those shiny new ideas always seem better than the projects I’m working on.
Dyanne: You’re sounding like a very close friend of mine. She loves working on new projects. Her goal for last year was to finish her first full length novel. And yea!!!...she did it. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Pam: My mom was a nurse’s aide, so she had medical books. I used to read Tabor’s Medical Encyclopedia for fun. Seriously. I wanted to become a doctor then later a pharmacist. I also wanted to be a detective because I liked reading mysteries. I tried to enlist in the Army and later Air National Guard but was refused both times for medical reasons. I did work as a substitute teacher for a bit when I was debating whether or not I wanted to teach.
Dyanne: Tabor for fun. As a nurse I still use that book though it’s so outdated I should definitely get something new. So, Pam, how long does it typically take you to write a book?
Pam: Since I write short novels, I can write a 50k book in about a month. Revising, of course, takes longer.
Dyanne: On the revisions, having a finished product, to me, is much easier to go back and perfect. It’s the blank pages that make most authors cringe. Since I’m always having someone ask me this question, I’m going to ask it of you. Where do the ideas for your books come from?
Pam: Many of them come from songs, others from a photo or painting. Still others from “what if” questions that pop into my mind. For example, I was sitting in traffic one day and thought, What would happen if a girl fell from the sky, hit the hood of my car, bounced off and vanished? (No, I haven’t written that story yet. If you want to, feel free. Even if I do write the story, it’ll be different from yours.)
Dyanne: LOL Where is your favorite place to write, where do you feel most creative?
Pam: Actually, I prefer writing at home. I like the solitude and quiet. I can’t write with music or background conversation. (I’m too easily distracted.) LOL There is a CD I listen to called Writer’s Mind. It actually helps me concentrate and focus on writing by using various brainwave states.
That said, though, I am getting better at writing in coffee shops and libraries.
Dyanne: I have a friend who enjoys writing in a tearoom. I once tried writing while on jury duty. I was writing a love scene and noticed people kept trying to peep. I couldn’t finish. I also enjoy writing at home. Pam, did you have another career before you began writing?
Pam: I worked several different jobs, including secretary, videographer, artist model and exotic dancer.
Dyanne: Most aspiring authors have this picture in their minds that they’re going to sell their first mss, it’s going to be made into a block buster movie and they’re going to live off of the royalties. LOL. How would you address this?
Pam: I have a friend who’s a screenplay writer. He’s optioned a dozen or so scripts, even sold a few, and he’s still waiting for one of them to be filmed. So I have a realistic view of the movie industry thanks to him.
Now if someone wanted to make my book into a graphic novel, that would be awesome. J
Dyanne: Hey, why not? If you’re going to dream you may as well dream big. How big of a role do you think the weak economy is having on the buying of books?
Pam: Good question. I think readers are going to be more discerning about their purchases and may be reluctant to try a new author. That’s why I think it’s important to offer potential customers excerpts, free reads, a blog and website they can peruse, etc.
Dyanne: You have a blog where you feature other authors. How is this working for you?
Pam: It’s working quite well. I like being able to promote other writers and give them a platform. Cross-promotion is a win-win situation for both parties.
Dyanne: What are your feelings about some of the social networking sites like Twitter and FB?
Pam: I like them. I like being able to interact with other writers, readers, people who share similar interests. Yes, Twitter and Facebook can be time sucks, but it’s a matter of prioritizing one’s time.
Dyanne: Do you think ebooks are hurting or helping the industry?
Pam: It’s a complicated question. I think ebooks are helping the industry in that they give publishers another format to offer readers. Even if the traditional publishers initially balked at the idea of digital books, they probably had to learn to diversify if they wanted to compete with the small presses and digital publishers. I don’t know. Wasn’t the same concern raised when audio books came on the market? I guess it depends on what the publishers’ financial goals are whether ebooks are helpful or harmful. Definitely not an easy question to answer.
Dyanne: I know my own opinions on ebooks have changed over the years. Not about the quality but about reading them on the computer. I never thought I would want to buy a reader. I thought it was too expensive. Now I want one. I already have a ton of ebooks I’ve purchased on my Kindle for pc. So, Pam, do you still have old mss gathering dust under your bed?
Pam: Oh, yeah. Well, they’re gathering dust in a box under a table in my office. One is that aforementioned YA horror and the other is my vampire story. I keep thinking I might revise the latter, see if I can salvage it.
Dyanne: But, I’m remembering what you said about liking new projects. The first book you had published, was it your first?
Pam: Death Sword will be my first published book but it’s not the first book I wrote.
Dyanne: You know what, Pam; it’s the same for most authors. It’s very few authors that I know who have managed to sell that first manuscript. Are there days despite what your characters want that you want to just say chuck it all and stop writing?
Pam: I’d be lying if I said no. I suffer from bouts of depression and can go weeks or months without writing. So I have to be careful to avoid triggers. Of course, deadlines are always a priority. Having worked for magazine editors, I’m very conscientious of turning in work on time.
As for what my characters want, well, I never planned to make Death Sword part of a series. But Samael insisted on having his story and the characters have become like family, albeit a very dysfunctional one. J
Dyanne: Writing is a lot harder than most people know. Or should I say the process of trying to have work published. I think it’s that process that leads to bouts of depression for writers. On that note, does the writing process seem more like a job now than it did when you first started and was unpublished?
Pam: It’s certainly more time consuming. Not only is there the writing, there’s also editing, revising, paperwork, promotion and marketing, etc. Deadlines have to be met as do expectations. I look at this as being a part-time job that most certainly can lead into full-time.
Dyanne: Get ready if you’re not already for the hair pulling days. There was a time I was writing for two publishers and had back to back deadlines. I wondered what the heck I’d gotten myself into. Can you take us through a typical day for you?
Pam: If it’s a school day, I get up at 4:30 AM to put my daughter on the bus at 6 AM. Down a couple cups of coffee, check email, then go back to bed. LOL Wake up before noon, grab lunch, run errands, get daughter’s meal ready and get her off bus between 3 PM & 4 PM. Then it’s time to write. I try to average 1k to 3k words a day. Once I’ve written my goal, I either work on edits or revisions or catch up on my reading. I go to bed around 12:30 AM which explains why I catnap in the morning. But I find I’m better able to write in the evenings or at night.
Dyanne: What advice would you give to aspiring authors that they need to hear even if they don’t want to?
Pam: Your first draft sucks. I don’t know who said it first but it’s true. And please, please don’t think your writing doesn’t need to be revised. Trust me. It does.
Dyanne: What are your future plans? What books are coming out next?
Pam: I’m working on the Angels of Death series, of which Death Sword is the first. I’m currently revising the second book, Serpent Fire. So far, I don’t have any more books coming out, but I hope to turn Serpent Fire over to my editor by March. I’m also revising a horror novel that I plan to submit to a publisher and hopefully earn my membership in the Horror Writers Association. 2010 was devoted to writing. 2011 is the year of submitting. (Crosses fingers.)
Dyanne: LOL. I’ll cross my fingers for you as well. Tell me the one question you’ve never been asked in an interview that you’re dying to answer.
Pam: “Have you ever taken flying lessons?” And the answer is yes, in a Cessna 152. Take offs were never a problem but I never soloed because I couldn’t master landings. Bad depth perception. But I love aviation and hope to someday write a book about an NTSB agent.
Dyanne: Flying? That is so cool. If you’d learned how to master landing I’d want to fly with you. Pam, I want to thank you so much for allowing me to interview you. It’s been a pleasure picking your brains. Where can readers reach you?
Pam: Thank you for having me. Hope my answers made sense. LOL Readers can reach me at the following sites:
http://pamelaturner.net (my main website)
http://pamela-turner.com (my blog, Haunted Dreams, Dark Destinies)
www.twitter.com/PamelaTurner (my Twitter site)
Death Sword releases January 3, 2011 from Lyrical Press, Inc.