You Asked, I’ve Answered

Lis WiehlYesterday, I asked if there were any questions that you’ve always wanted to ask me. I really loved finding out what you were interested in knowing and I was overwhelmed by all of the great questions (and compliments!) that came in. Every question was wonderful, and worth answering, but I’ve only selected ten to answer for today. If your question is not one of them, don’t worry! There will be another chance to ask soon.

Besides your wonderful writing and your work with Fox News, are there other ventures you’re involved in? – Ellen B. 

As corny as it may sound, my two children are my number 1 “venture”. My son is all grown up and my daughter is well on her way. Being “Mom” is the unpaid job I never want to be fired from.

What is your next book about? Any hints? – John R Jr.

Indeed! I’m writing “A Lethal Beauty”, the third in the Mia Quinn series right now. Working on deadline!!

What’s your favorite all-time movie? – Ric S. 

That’s tough. I do love “Wag the Dog”, and that may be a hint for another book idea I’m working on.

I would like to hear more about your writing process. Once you decide on a topic for a book, do you write an outline to follow, or just let the book develop as you go? How do you come up with the idea for a novel? – Bill B. 

I write a very detailed outline, usually 30 or more pages. But even with this outline, I let the characters and plot develop as I go. I just need that outline as a security blanket. Most of my ideas come from cases I’ve covered in the news or cases I’ve prosecuted. For example, in “A Deadly Business”, there is an incident involving some kids who drop a shopping cart and severely injure a woman who’s walking below. That idea was inspired by an actual news story from years earlier.

How do you find the time to write a book? I mean how many hours do you work per day at Fox and then have the time to write? – Dwayne F. 

It’s hard to say on a day-to-day basis. I’m typically involved at Fox five days a week. So when it comes to my writing methods, I have to be pretty disciplined. My college writing professor told me to “write a page a day”, and I did. And I’ve kept that up, sometimes many more than a page a day. If I’m away from my writing desk, I leave myself lots and lots of post-it notes and phone messages relaying to myself an idea for a chapter, or character.

Oftentimes, it’s hard to predict when I’ll find the time to write out the ideas. Sometimes I don’t have the chance until late in evening, after my kids are taken care of, dinner has been handled, logistics for the next day are worked out, and my appearances at Fox are finished. And then there are times when I get up very early in the morning to write. I just look for the quiet times, and make sure to be efficient when I find them.

When will “A Deadly Business” be out? – Terry S. 

“A Deadly Business” comes out on June 10th. But you can pre-order the eBook version now for just $7.99!

Amazon Kindle:

Is there anyone, other than myself, that you would like to meet? – Vance J. 

Other than you, Vance, I’d like to meet my maternal great grandmother. She’s long gone now, but she was a WWI widow in Denmark, and I would have loved to hear her story.

Do you draw from your own life experiences when writing your book? – Robert H. 

I guess the best place to begin this answer is to tell you what inspires me to write. My greatest inspirations for writing are my mom (an immigrant from Denmark, who got her PhD in English and taught at a college level) and my dad, a former FBI agent, who always had great stories to tell. Growing up around them filled me with excitement when it comes to telling a story. I am also extremely inspired by readers who write to me or send me pictures of their book club meetings. Getting messages from readers who are touched by my books means so much to me.

As for whether or not I use my own life experiences, the answer is absolutely! I use cases I’ve prosecuted and cases I’ve covered in the news. And I also use events that happen in my life on a more personal level. For example, in “A Matter of Trust”, the opening scene starts with Mia Quinn on the phone with a colleague and friend of hers at the prosecutor’s office and she hears a shot ring out on the other side of the line. One of my friends, a prosecutor, was assassinated in real life.

Something I truly love about fiction is that I can combine the real with the made-up to tell a compelling story

How did you get into writing fiction? Do have certain hours you write? – Jane B. 

I was still living in Seattle when a New York agent who had seen me on TV called and said, “I think you have a book in you.”  I said I’d like to write a book about what trial lawyers know and show people how those skills can be applied to everyday life.  From there came my first book, “Winning Every Time: How to Use the Skills of a Lawyer in the Trials of Your Life”, which is non-fiction. After that book, I started to really listen to the voice in my head that was telling me to write fiction. It was something I was really passionate about and felt compelled to do. I wanted to write about strong women, who are real people, with kids and families and who face huge challenges.

As for the hours that I write, as I touched on above, it can be difficult to find a consistent writing time. I am really just looking for those quiet moments in the day during which I can focus solely on the story I am trying to tell.

Can you please name a few of the essential elements within your surroundings that allow you to freely embark on your writing? – Cory C. 

I have a writing nook in my house, right by an old fashioned window. Right now as I write this, I can look out the window and reflect. I can also look at pictures of my kids and their handwritten notes to me over the years. That’s peaceful and inspiring.

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