I am happy to introduce Angela Kay, author and blogger. She is one of twenty-three across the United States to win a 2009 playwright contest for her one-act play "Digging Deeper." She has a professional writing degree from Augusta State University and she states she is a "southern lady who spends her days and nights dreaming up new ways to solve dark murders of normal people."
What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was little. I wanted to write even before teachers told me that I was a natural. I’m not that good at a lot of things, but, although I tend to be critical of my writing, I know that it’s a God-given talent. I wrote short stories and poems as a child, and when I was in my last semester of college, I took a Creative Writing course. In that class The Murder of Manny Grimes was born. The first two required chapters ended up being my exit portfolio out of undergraduate studies. I wanted that novel to be the first thing I ever published.
How did you come up with the title?
I’m not even sure. The title was the first thing I came up with. I knew that the victim’s name was going to be Manny Grimes. And as I began writing, my main character, Lieutenant Jim DeLong, was going through a lot in both his professional and personal life, the title just fit. Although the novel is about solving a murder, it is also about DeLong rising above his own troubles.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
What books have most influenced your life most?
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Rewriting. It’s evil. I wrote the first draft of my debut in less than a year. Although the class raved over the first two chapters, and my mom raved over my other two completed drafts, I was never satisfied. Despite my mom urging me to send it off, I never believed it was publishable…until now.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
It’s all a process. Writing takes time. Sometimes it takes seven years, as was the case with Manny Grimes and sometimes it takes less than thirty days as was the case with another novel I completed. I also learned to let a book “season” while I work on another project. I have my mom reading the context of my second book while I finish the sequel to Manny Grimes. After the sequel is finished, that’s going to sit while I rework my other book. After a novel sets for a little bit, I found that I may miss something important. That happened often with Manny Grimes. I also learned to stop focusing on 2,000 word counts a day. If I make that goal, great. If not, then I don’t need to beat myself up as I tend to do. As long as I write something every day, then I’m good.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Everyone knows that above anything else, writers should write for themselves. However, if a book is to be sold, I think writers also need to focus on their readers. When I’m in the rewriting stage, I think to myself “If this was in a Nora Roberts’ (or any authors’) book, how would I like it?” I’d end up doing one of the following: rework that scene, take it out completely or decide that I absolutely love it. I like to pretend that I’m reading someone else’s work. Also, do plenty of research. For the first draft of my FBI novel, I researched serial killings and the FBI so much, I started having nightmares. My mom recently told me that she could tell through my writing that I did my homework. Finally, if a scene is removed…SAVE IT. I can’t count how many times in the original script of Manny Grimes that I wished I had kept a scene to use in another story. I now have a folder entitled Scenes from previous drafts. I save it under a brief description of the scene and include the name of the novel it was drafted from.
Please give us an excerpt from one of your books:
“We don’t have the time to go searching for a missing person that hasn’t yet been reported missing.”
Captain Stewart had listened intently to DeLong’s story before shaking his head in annoyance.
“But, sir,” DeLong protested, “the kids reported him at the school and—”
Though he already knew the answer, Stewart asked, “When you investigated, did you see Grimes at the school? Or any evidence that corroborated these children’s claims?”
“No,” DeLong admitted.
“I’m sorry, Lieutenant, but I’m not going to allow you to run around town, searching for a man that more than likely got out of Dodge. I don’t appreciate the fact that a member of my team," Stewart jabbed a thumb toward his chest, "entered another person’s home without permission. And convinced a civilian to do the same.” The captain glared from DeLong to Calhoun and back again.
“Captain Stewart,” Calhoun put in. He had been seated quietly, listening as the lieutenant recounted once again what had happened the day before. Now he rose to put in his two cents. “I believe that something happened to Grimes. I went to his house on my own accord. Everything Jim just told you, I stand by. Something happened to this man. We have a duty to find out what. Captain, if we come up with nothing, or we find out we've been chasing our tails, then I'll eat my jacket."
Stewart narrowed his eyes in Calhoun's direction and crossed his arms. “You think this is funny, Calhoun? I would have thought better of you than to be involved in a wild goose chase. Entering a man’s premises without a warrant? I should throw the book at you.” He glared at DeLong again. “Actually, I should throw the book at both of you.”
He sighed and leaned back in his chair, uncrossing his arms and linking his hands behind his head. He continued to glare between the two men.
“All right," he said after minutes passed. "DeLong, I’ve known you long enough to know that ninety times out of a hundred, your instincts are sound. You want to search for the man, then fine." He held both palms in the air, then slowly lowered them flat on the desk and leaned forward. "But do not, I repeat do not, do anything that would require a warrant until you have probable cause to actually get a warrant. Keep me posted. I’ll give you two days to either find Grimes or hard evidence that he is actually missing. Two days. That is all.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, Captain,” DeLong said with a satisfied nod.
“Yes, thank you,” Calhoun echoed.
“I have to run out for a little while,” the captain said with a sigh. He rose, straightening his shirt uniform. "Try not to waste too much of my time. Or yours."
"Yes, sir," DeLong acknowledged as he left the office.
“Where do you want to start?” Calhoun wondered, trailing after him.
“I suppose we should go back to the schoolyard,” DeLong said, halfway out the door. “Maybe between the two of us, we'll find something I overlooked when I first looked around." Outside, DeLong blew into his hands to warm them. "Honestly, I just wanted to get out of the station a little bit. But I didn't want to go home. Sam has me sleeping on the couch these days. Anyway, I wasn't really sure what I was looking for. The body wasn't there. The snow we had would have destroyed most, if not all the evidence."
At the truck they slid inside. DeLong adjusted the heat as Calhoun set the gear in motion. "I just want to be sure we've covered all our bases. Then let’s go back to the Walkers'. I want to know more about Jonathan Walker’s friendship with Manny Grimes.”
Website: http://angelakaysbooks.comFacebook: Angela Kay's Books
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0ULLY8Tuaw
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