01: What is the first story you’ve published. Tell us a little bit about it.
VERMONT ESCAPE is my first published book. (Picture author jumping up and down! J )
02: What inspired the story?
The idea is based on a time in my life when the kids were young. The whole family had gone on a lovely vacation to
. Up in the
mountains. Gorgeous views. Moderate temperatures. Great shopping. Fishing for
my husband. Can you say paradise? I’m from Red
River, New Mexico Texas
where in August it can easily be 109 cooling only to the 80s or 90 at night.
Stressful stuff awaited us back home, and I didn’t want to leave the lovely
mountain top retreat. We half joked that we could buy one of the little stores
for sale, and my husband could practice law. We’d just not return.
Well, only in fiction, do you really get to escape, and we returned to
life settled back into the level of stress we can all handle. But that feeling
of really wanting to leave everything (not the family) behind stuck with me and
was the basis for VERMONT ESCAPE.
03: Do you have a writing process? If so what is it?
I’m a plotter, so before I try to write the story, there are a number of things I have to have in place first.
1) I need a location. I know most people start with the characters, but I start with the location. Where do the people live and work?
2) Then I ask myself who lives in that house? Why are they there? What do they do in town? At that point I drag out all my charts and start developing the characters. Not just what they look like, though I’ve frequently got pictures of people who represent the characters as I see them in my mind. What were their growing up years like? Who are their friends, mentors, supporters? I do charts for all but the very smallest of roles.
3) Then I ask what do they want and why can’t they have it? That leads right into the Goal, Motivation, and Conflict chart. (Judges of the first book I entered in contests, said I should really study GMC. LOL I didn’t know what they were talking about. That book remains under my bed serving as a holder for dust bunnies. LOL)
4) Next chart is one for internal and external conflict and it’s from this that the action pieces happen.
5) Then I put together a tag line and a short paragraph about what’s going to happen.
6) Then it’s time to write. I let myself write some of the backstory. I know it will go away and only pieces of it will get layered into the story, but I have to write 2-3 chapters of this. It’s kind of how I get into my characters’ minds.
05: Who are some of your favorite authors?
This is fun to answer because some of these folks are friends or at least folks I have a relationship with on-line.
Jerrie Alexander, Donnell Bell, Kate Wyland, Jane Richardson, Diana Layne, Kathy Bennett, C.A. Szarek, Jeanne Guzman, Clover Autrey, Carla Neggars, Allison Brennan, Elizabeth Lowell, and Linda Howard. Well, I could go on, but that gives you a good place to start. J
06: Do you have one author in particular who inspired your writing career? Who and why?
I’d have to say, Linda Howard. I inhaled her books. My husband bought me a Romance Writers for Dummies because she’d written the introduction. (He liked her books, too.)
07: Are your stories based on real events or people?
Almost all of them have some basis in fact. I don’t write fantasy or create whole, new worlds as some authors do, but even with the basis in the real world, the stories and characters are made up.
08: How much research goes into your work?
That varies depending on the book. With VERMONT ESCAPE, I had to dig into what their legislative body was called and how it worked. I was already familiar with the
09: Have you ever killed off a character based on someone real? If so why? No
10: If you could visit any period in history, what time would you go to? Why?
I’d go about 40 years into the future so I could see how my grandkids turn out.
11: If you could gather any three people in the world, living or dead together, whom would you want to meet and talk with?
My mother. I find myself often thinking, “I should’ve asked Mom that.” Eleanor Roosevelt and Diane Sawyer.
12: What do you do for fun when you aren’t busy writing?
Watch TV. Love dramas and crime stories. Travel. Love
England. Always looking for the perfect location for the next
13: What is the one thing people believe about writers that upsets you?
I think people are clueless about just how hard this business is. (I was.) When I first started writing (about six years ago), everyone wanted to know when they could read my book. As if—poof—you write a book and—poof—you are published. LOL There’s no “poof” about any of this business.
14: Is there any genre you haven’t written that you’d like to try your hand at?
I’ve been content to write romantic suspense. I guess if I branched out it would be to women’s fiction. (But it would probably still have a romance, a bit of a mystery, and a Happily Ever After.) LOL Guess that would still be romantic suspense. Maybe children’s books, so my grands could read them.
15: If you were independently wealthy what is the one place on Earth you’d most like to visit? Why?
No question. I’d buy a house on the coast of
and live there for 4-5 months of the year. It’s a gorgeous state and I feel
like I belong there. J
16: What is your favorite color? Turquoise
17: What is your favorite food? Anything Mexican
18: What is your favorite movie?
19: What is your favorite TV show? Covert Affairs, Rizzoli & Isles, Longmire, Person of Interest
20: What is your favorite holiday? Thanksgiving! Great food, family, and fall colors.
Two years after the murder of her husband, someone guns down Jill Barlow’s father, a Texas State Representative. The authorities suspect a connection between the murders, but can’t find proof. Jill longs for the peace she found when she visited Vermont after her husband’s death. With the perpetrators still at large, she flees to the small town of Woodstock.
The gambling syndicate, believing she has damning evidence against them, pursues her, shattering her dreams of peace. In an effort to protect her grown children, she doesn't tell them violence continues to stalk the family.
Despite having lost so much already, with the lives of her family and friends at stake, will Jill be required to make more sacrifices, even the hope of a second chance at love?
Jill Barlow reached for her make-up kit and brushed against the one thing she’d been doing her damnedest to avoid. Her heart rate tripped into overtime.
The package she received days after her dad was murdered. One month ago, but she couldn’t face opening a reminder of the nightmare.
Pictures of her vigorous father mixed with recent images of his closed casket. Nausea hit. Again. Damn. Why would someone blow off her father’s head? She didn’t stay to find out. She ran.
She’d pushed herself on a four-day trip from
to Texas . Emotionally and physically exhausted, all she wanted to do was unpack
her pajamas and climb into bed. Habit required she clean and moisturize her
face. Habit provided comfort when life was chaotic. Habit could get her through
the worst. Or not. Vermont
In the Woodstock Inn suite, her hand trembled when she removed the package and dropped it onto the bed where it lay on the white coverlet like a scorpion.
Hands propped on her knees, she leaned over, drew in needed oxygen. A minute passed, and then she straightened.
“Okay, open this. Every time you’ve come across the thing, you implode, morphing into a quivering mass of mush.”
Marsha R. West, a retired elementary school principal, is also a former school board member and threatre arts teacher. She writes romantic suspense where experience is required. Her heroes and heroines, struggling with life and loss, are surprised to discover second chances at love.
Marsha, who loves to travel, lives in
with her supportive lawyer
husband. They’ve raised two daughters who’ve presented them with three
delightful grandchildren. She admits to being at the beck and call of two dogs,
who run her home. Texas
She’s currently editing her latest work in progress.
Her first published book, released on July 19, is available at MuseItUp Publishing http://goo.gl/nJtaa at B & N http://goo.gl/llR6D and at Amazon http://goo.gl/qhzBm
Places to reach her:
http://www.marsharwest.com/category/blog for Thoughts on Thursday and Tuesday Author Chats
She’d love to hear from you.