Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guest Sandra Parshall

Today, my guest is Sandra Parshall, a member of Sisters in Crime, who has a psychological suspense series out. I had a chance to catch up with Sandra and ask her a few quetions. Here is what Sandra had to say:

Sandra, thank you for stopping by my blog and visiting with us today.

EE: I see you were born and raised in a town about an hour from where I am presently living (see, I was born overseas and have chosen to live in the south since my father's retirement, leading us to Laurens, Anderson and Honea Path). I also see you live in the D.C./Virginia area now. Have you lived other places? If so, which is your favorite place to live and why?

SP: I lived in West Virginia for several years, then Baltimore, and my husband and I lived briefly in London before we came to the Washington area. I’m happy right where I am, in lovely McLean, VA, just across the Potomac from D.C. I love the country and mountains, but I don’t want to live in an isolated place. Washington is a beautiful area that offers the best of everything. Except traffic. The traffic is probably the worst in the world, but no place is perfect.

EE: Your "pecan pie" story was written after a vivid dream. Do you attribute that to too much pie, too much molasses, or too many pecans (you know too much of a good thing isn't good for you)?

SP: In this case, too much of a good thing turned out to be very good for me. During a restless night after my overindulgence, I dreamed of two little girls clinging to one another, outdoors in a thunderstorm, the younger one crying for their mother. The image wouldn’t let go of me, and over the next few months it became The Heat of the Moon, my first published novel. Regardless of what else I write, I think that will always be my favorite book.

EE: What is your writing area like - messy or organized? Do you write in total silence or do you listen to music while writing?

SP: My desk is messy. Very messy. Now and then I clean it off, just to prove to myself that there a desk does lurk under all that paper, but it quickly reverts to its natural state of disorder. I’m always vowing to reform and become a neatnik, but of course I never do. I prefer to write in total silence. I wish I could get that message across to the cats and the UPS delivery guy.

EE: Which writer inspired you the most to write the type of suspense/thrillers you do? What were your favorite books to read when growing up?

SP: I read all kinds of stuff when I was growing up. I was insatiably curious about the world and was reading terribly serious adult novels like Crime and Punishment at a young age. (Yeah, I was a weird kid.) I never read the Nancy Drew mysteries, though, and still haven’t to this day. My interest in reading mystery and suspense didn’t develop until my late twenties, and it took me a long time to summon the courage to write in the genre. My first book was heavily influenced by Thomas H. Cook’s writing, and Ruth Rendell’s masterful plotting of her psychological suspense novels is the ideal to which I aspire.

EE: You have a new book coming out in the next couple of weeks. Tell us a little bit about it - is it another in your Rachel Goddard series or is it a new series you are working on?

SP: Bleeding Through is the fifth Rachel book. A lot of readers have asked me to revisit the events of The Heat of the Moon and resolve the conflicting emotions Rachel and her sister Michelle feel toward Judith, their mother. This book is for those readers, but at the same time it’s a tangled mystery of the kind I love to write. While Deputy Tom Bridger, Rachel’s fiance, launches an investigation of the murder of a young law student, Rachel has to cope with an unexpected visit from Michelle. Her own husband doubts Michelle’s claim that someone is stalking her, and she turns to Rachel for help. The stalker is real, and when he follows Michelle to Mason County he also widens his attention to include Rachel. Several storylines come together in this book, and Rachel’s life is changed forever.

EE: What is one piece of writing advice you would pass on to future generations of writers?

SP: Write from your heart, and remember that most people read for character and emotion, not plot. They might pick up a book because the plot sounds intriguing, but if they don’t connect with your characters quickly, they won’t stick with it. I realize that some stories, such as techno thrillers, are plot-driven, but even there I believe you have to give a reader characters who feel like living, breathing people – characters who will make the readers feel something.

EE: Where is your dream vacation spot and why?

SP: I would love to go to China and spend a week volunteering at the Bifengxia panda center, where my beloved Tai Shan lives now. The chance to be among the pandas in the gorgeous mountains of central China sounds like an ideal vacation to me.

Again, thank you for being on my blog today and I wish you much success in all your writing endeavors.

AUTHOR'S BIO: Sandra Parshall is the author of the Rachel Goddard mysteries, which Library Journal has praised for “edge-of-the-seat suspense” and Kirkus has described as “fast-paced, chilling, and compulsively readable.” Her first novel, The Heat of the Moon, won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her latest is Bleeding Through, due out September 5. A former member of the Sisters in Crime national board, she remains active as administrator of the SinC members’ listserv. She lives in Northern Virginia with her journalist husband and two cats.


Sandra Parshall said...

Thanks for having me as a guest, Elysabeth. I'm open to readers' questions about my books, my publisher, and writing and publishing in general.

elysabeth said...

thanks, Sandra. I know a good many readers show up the next day after a posting to leave comments, but you never can tell. Hopefully you will have lots of uestions - E :)

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi, Sandra! So nice to meet you and learn about your books. I enjoyed the interview.

Hi, Elysabeth!

Karen Elizabeth Brown said...

Sandra: How very true that stories need character and emotion. If a reader can't relate to your protagonist then they won't continue to turn the pages.

Thanks Elysabeth, for hosting such an interesting author.

elysabeth said...

Karen, I read Sandra's first book and didn't want to put it down. It was very intense and character driven. I recommend The Heat of the Moon to everyone. E:-)