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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Going to the Dogs: Author Interview with Spencer Quinn

Growing up, Spencer Quinn (aka Peter Abrahams) was an avid reader. Over time that led to writing his own books. He's written suspense novels, a middle-grade mysteries series called  Echo Falls and of course his series about Chet and Bernie. I love his tongue-in- cheek titles. And he has still more ideas for new books. So let's start at the beginning. 

What made you decide to write your first novel?
My first novel, THE FURY OF RACHEL MONETTE, came out in 1980. I had the idea and a bit of time, and I thought: Why not? So casually are some journeys in life begun! No particular writer influenced me, although I was a fan of Ross Macdonald. The writing took about 3 months, with not much in the way of rewrites since I revise as I go along. My wife has always been my first reader, 
and a huge help.

How to keep your writing fresh after so many books?

The answer: Love what you do! Also, I have some genetic disposition to never do things the same way twice.

What made you chose Chet as the narrator in your tales?
My wife said: "You should do something with dogs." Chet came to me thirty seconds later.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? Starting? Creating a scene? Dialog? Tension, etc?
I've written more than 30 novels and it never gets easier. That doesn't seem fair. Is it true of other professions? Dentistry?
Installing aluminum siding? 

Who has encouraged you along the way?
I'd probably say the reviews, especially from people like Laura Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Nolan. And let's not forget reader reactions - they mean a lot. But you've got to be able to encourage yourself in this business.

What has surprised or frustrated you the most in writing/publishing?
The most surprising - and frustrating - thing about publishing is how much it's changed and hardened over the past 30 years. I wish I'd known that was going to happen!

What's the best way to handle rejection?
You have to believe in yourself and keep going.

How do you handle writer's block?
I've been very lucky when it comes to writer's block. If I'm not sure where to go, I step back and think of the engine that's driving the story. Some narrative route always suggests itself.

What is some of the best writing advice that you’ve received or could give?
Try to find what's unique about you and get in on every page, in every line.

What is the next book that will be coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
My next book is THE RIGHT SIDE, coming out today.  Here's a quick blurb... 
a deeply damaged female soldier home from the war in Afghanistan becomes obsessed with finding a missing girl, gains an unlikely ally in a stray dog, and encounters new perils beyond the combat zone. 

Anything else in the works?
I will be doing a new middle-grade series for Scholastic - dog and also - yes! - cat narrated!

That's all for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Spencer's or order his new book, here are some links for you.

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