Writer’s Digest interview with Patricia Cornwell

Hey, peeps!

If you’re a US writer (heck, a writer anywhere!) and not a subscriber to Writer’s Digest, try it. At least for a year to see how you like it. And if you’re a reader but not necessarily a writer, there are some FAB interviews with authors in WD.

For example! The October 2012 issue of Writer’s Digest has this super-cool interview with international supah-star crime writer Patricia Cornwell, by Jessica Strawser. As those of you who are familiar with Cornwell are aware, her premier character is medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta.

If you’re not a subscriber, find someone who is so you can read it or buy the issue. It’s available in print, but it’s not available to non-subscribers online. If you purchase the digital issue online, I believe it gives you access to online content relevant to that issue not available in the print. Like the extended version of the interview, in which Cornwell briefly discusses gay characters and mainstream fiction in the online outtakes.

I’ve been reading Cornwell off and on since Postmortem (1990) was released, and I’ve followed her career peripherally. One of the things that I really appreciate about her books is the extensive research she does for each one. It shows. And for crime writing, that is, I think, ultra-important.

In the interview, she discusses her writing process, the boundaries she keeps, and how she approaches writing and forensics. One of the things I appreciated about the intro to the interview is the matter-of-fact way her marriage to psychiatrist Staci Ann Gruber is treated. It’s mentioned, and. . .that’s it. No OMG THE GAY CRIME WRITER freakout. A mention of her marriage to her, and on to a couple other pertinent details about her successful defamation suit against a writer who accused her of plagiarism then waged an online war against her character.

So let’s have some more tidbits from the interview!

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Feeling stale? Writing prompts!

Hi, peeps!

There I was, minding my own business on Facebook, when I noticed that author Patricia Cornwell had just posted a photo along with a brief line of text to accompany it (part of her “On the case with Scarpetta”). She does that a lot on her Facebook pages and I like to go see what she’s up to, because the photos and line of text encourages interaction. Today she posted a photo of an outdoor staircase (cement) with a line of text that said “just beyond her hotel were the old steps”.

So I used that as a serendipitous writing prompt and came up with this:

‎”…beyond her hotel were the old steps” where, years before, the brutalized body of Nettie Halstead was found, her head on the last step, as if someone had propped it there, on a concrete pillow. All investigators got were the tales her blood tried to tell, eerie graffiti smears from midway down the steps, and the secrets sliced into her skin, a still unknown weapon and a still unknown assailant. Most people who knew the story hugged the railing when they used the stairs, avoiding the long-gone blood stains. And almost all skipped stepping on that last step.

Stories exist all around us. As a writer, I’m always watching people interact, and I’m always wondering about places I go — what happened here? What might have happened? What could happen? How do these people negotiate this situation?

But I do know that on occasion, your brain goes a little stale and you find yourself stuck in a rut. No worries!

Here’s a nifty site to get those juices flowing:
Creative Writing Prompts
Just put your mouse over any one of the numbers and see what the prompt is.

Writers Digest also offers prompts.

Fun fiction prompts from writing.com.

And here are a couple from yers truly:
1) He’d seen spiderwebs before, but this one completely covered the entryway into his bedroom.
2) “Do you believe in ghosts?” she asked as she reached for the doorknob. “No.” He smiled. “Why do you ask?” She pushed the door open. “You might want to start.”
3) Jeff tripped and the coffee arced from his cup, a beautiful one-way journey to Allison Danvers’ silk suit.

You don’t need to create a story or a novel around a writing prompt. Hell, just tack on a couple of sentences or a paragraph. Who knows? Maybe it’ll turn into a story or a novel. The point of a writing prompt is to get you into a writing groove and allow yourself a little room to breathe.

So happy writing and happy Wednesday!