Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Two Berkley Babes Talk

by Jennie Bentley

Welcome to the Thrill Begins blog on this very special day, the 4th of August, 2009.

Why is it special?

Well, it’s release day for Berkley Prime Crime, and I’m here with Diana Orgain, 2010/2011 debut author and my fellow Berkley Babe, to talk about her first book, Bundle of Trouble, which is being released today. PW likes it, which is more than they did for my first book!

Congratulations on your debut, Diana! Give us the Bundle of Trouble elevator pitch.

Diana: Bundle of Trouble is about a new-mom turned PI. She doesn’t want to return to the corporate world after having her baby and simultaneously gets caught up in a mystery. She figures she can launch a new career as a PI and work from home, only it’s not as easy as she thinks.

Jennie: Sounds fun! My second book, which also comes out today, is about a designer-turned-renovator and her boyfriend and business partner, who take on the renovation of a local haunted house in a small town on the coast of Maine, and who end up dealing with ghostly footsteps, a skeleton in the crawlspace, and a freshly dead neighbor. It’s called Spackled and Spooked, and is the second in the Do-It-Yourself home renovation mystery series.

So tell us a little about how you came to write Bundle of Trouble. Was it your first book? Have you always been writing, or is this a more recent dream?

Diana: Bundle of Trouble is my first book. I have a M.F.A. in Creative Writing, specifically playwriting.

Before writing Bundle of Trouble I wrote various humorous stage plays that were produced in San Francisco. I always wanted to write a mystery novel because I enjoyed reading them so much. But I didn’t know how to put the plot together in such a way as to keep the reading guessing “who done it”.

What I figured out fast was that it’s a lot easier to piece the puzzle together when you are the one making it up rather than reading it.

Jennie: Ain’t that the truth? I ended up writing the DIY series because of my background. As a brand new realtor myself, a few years ago, I wrote a book about a brand new realtor who falls over a dead body in an empty house. It’s called A Cutthroat Business, and will be released next summer. But before we got that far, it crossed the desk of an editor at Berkley Prime Crime, who liked me and my writing, and who asked me if I’d be interested in writing a series about a renovator for them, since I’ve renovated the odd house or nine. And the rest, as they say, is history.

So what about you? I know you have kids of your own, as does Kate Connolly, your protagonist. Tell us about Kate. Share three things that you and Kate have in common, and three ways in which you're absolutely different.

Diana: Three things in common:
a. Obsession over baby’s well being.
b. Stubborn, stubborn, stubborn.
c. I, too, am a list-maker.

Three ways we differ:
a. Kate is much more patient than I am.
b. Kate is braver than I am.
c. Kate is more willing to stir things up than I am.

Jennie: My protagonist in Spackled and Spooked (as well as in Fatal Fixer-Upper, the first DIY-mystery) is Avery Baker. She’s a New Yorker born and bred, and a textile designer, who ends up inheriting her aunt’s house in Maine, and falling into renovating for a living. Obviously she and I have the renovating in common. I wasn’t born in New York, but I lived there for years, through my late teens and most of my twenties, and I can also relate to Avery’s feelings of being like a fish out of water when she comes to the little town of Waterfield, where everything is much slower-paced and laid-back. We have a few personality traits in common, as well, like Avery’s rather too-vivid imagination and her insecurities. On the other hand, she’s single and unlucky in love, while I met my Prince Charming at 19. He looks a little like Derek, too...

Does Kate get up to any trouble in the book that you've been in yourself? Does she do something you wouldn't do in a million years, no matter the benefits?

Diana: Kate speaks her mind a bit more than I’m ready to. I follow the general rule – if you can’t say something nice… Kate doesn’t suffer from rule abiding.

Jennie: Ah. Avery doesn’t speak her mind as much as she blurts things out. I tend not to do that, but I’m not afraid of speaking my mind, either. I just think about what I say before I say it, and then I usually go ahead and say it anyway. If there’s such a thing as being too direct, that’s me.

What was the hardest part of writing Bundle of Trouble for you? Is that always the hardest part, or does it change from book to book? What about the easiest or most fun part?

Diana: When I am re-writing I think writing a first draft is easier and likewise when I am writing the first draft I think re-writing is easier.

Jennie: Lucky you. I never think re-writing is easier. I love writing the first draft; anything after that is agony. It’s the same reason I don’t outline. If I already know the story, there doesn’t seem to be much sense in working on it. So the first draft is always fun; revisions less so. They’re a necessary part of the process, so I do them, and do my best, but I won’t claim to enjoy that aspect.

So what has most surprised you about being a writer? I remember thinking that the community between writers is really awesome.

Diana: I have always been a storyteller. I love telling a good story and seeing and sharing in the audience reaction. Writing is fun because you can tell a good story slowly and really savor it, the hard part is the delayed response from the audience. You have to wait a while to find out how they liked it.

Jennie: But when they like it, and they send you an email to say they do, that’s really, really nice!

If you could give one piece of advice to the prepublished writers reading this, what would it be, and why?

Diana: My very bright university professor told me, “You have to make a habit of finishing.” I wanted to change my thesis about 2 months before graduation. He told me all his students come to him with the same request, because we’re all convinced the new thing we want to work on is better than the old. But the truth is the work is in the crafting and the crafting comes after the shiny new experience of the “idea” has come and gone.

Hmmm. Kind of like parenting…

Jennie: Amen to that. That’s essential advice, right there, and something I struggle with every single day. No, it doesn’t just apply to the prepublished. Those new ideas are just as bright and shiny when you’re on your sixth or seventh or tenth book. Maybe even more so, if all those six or seven or ten are about the same characters, and you’re ready for a change. Not that I’m there, or anything!

Thanks for visiting with me today, Diana! Good luck on your launch and on this and the other books in the Maternal Instincts series. And be sure to take the time to enjoy what's happening, in the midst of all the hoopla. It's your first published book, and you'll never be in this situation again.
You're on your way, Berkley Babe!


Unknown said...

Terrific interview! Both your books sound wonderful. Congrats, Jennie, on seeing book number two hit the shelves, and Diana - Jennie's right: remember this day - it only happens once! Enjoy!

Jenna said...

Thanks, Karen! We had fun putting it together.

Jeremy Duns said...

Congratulations to both you Berkley babes! :)

Carla Buckley said...

I loved this glimpse into both of your worlds--best of luck on this very auspicious day!

Diana Orgain said...

Thank you so much!

Allyson Roy said...

Sorry to get here so late -- this interview is really great! Love the way you compare and contrast not only two authors, but their protagonists. Best of luck to both of you!

Alice & Roy

John Walker said...

Re-writing and First draft. Hmmm... Just so long as you don't do both at the same time. That way leads to 'never finished' and 'sock-drawer' here it comes. I know, I have been there. Not this time though...

Best Wishes

Anonymous said...

I must have missed something. Do you have any other books? I just read Bundle of Trouble and LOVED IT. So naturally I jump on th ecomputer and start looking for other books you may have written and I am a blonde that cant quite follow this website. I see this Jennie Bentley, is that you as well? So confused....namine27@aol.com Natasha