Saturday, May 14, 2011

Author Interview-Poplar and Mint by Kay

I'd like to welcome Kay over for an author interview.
Poplar and Mint
The bodies of two pretty young women are found dead and buried in a nursery. An investigation reveals ties to the city's underworld and stories with strangely similar connections to Greek mythology.

Miguel Maserati is a middle-aged Homicide detective struggling to cope with the fresh loss of his last partner of over a year, as well as trying to preserve what is left of her good name after her actions before her death. To make matters worse, he and his newest partner, Spencer Snow, have gotten off to a very rocky start. Both of them will need to swallow their pride and put their differences behind them in order to solve this thorny case.

Why/how did you start writing?
            I don’t remember any one moment that sparked my interest in writing.  There were times when I was little, cutting up and stapling all of the blank paper in my grandmother’s house to make my own books.  Back then, it was just for fun.  It wasn’t until high school that I started entertaining the idea of seriously writing books.  I started roleplaying with a friend of mine to help with character development, hoping that would get me started, and it did
What’s the most common mistake do you think that beginning authors make?
            The biggest thing I’ve noticed, and mistake I’ve made before,  is a severe lack of character development.  It’s easy to forget that your character, in the universe that you’ve established, is a person, and that comes with a lot of complexity and history.  A name and general description just doesn’t work for your protagonist.  It might work for that one person who walks across the room without a word on page 37, but how will you know how important that person can be if you don’t know anything else about him?
What worries would you tell your past self to get over in the beginning?
            I would tell her/me to stop worrying if something will be good until it’s done.  Tackle the writing process like anything else, one step at a time.  There’s no way to edit something if it isn’t on the page in the first place.
What would you tell your past self to worry about?
            Considering my first characters turned out to be very similar to each other, I would tell her to watch out for that.  Put more effort into their histories, motives, and emotional states.
Are you a plotter, or a pantser-do you do outlines, or do you write what comes to mind?
            I’m definitely a planner.  For my first NaNo attempt I tried pantsing, and it didn’t work out as well.  I had my characters and a beginning and tried to go from there.  One week later, I was left with two chapters and no idea how to keep going.  Next year, I wrote up a nice outline and managed get all the way to the end. 
If you’re a plotter, what tricks do you use to plot out your novel?
            The first thing I do is get all of my ideas down on the paper or screen.  Usually I use Freemind or some other software for this step.  I’ll get my characters named and some major details about them, then move on to the setting and sequence of events.  After that, I go into Word and type out a rough outline.
What inspired your first book?
            Poplar and Mint was inspired by Greek myth and set in modern times.  I read about Persephone and focused more on her actions after being married.  Specifically, getting back at two nymphs who slept with Hades and turning them into mint and a Poplar tree.  The crime drama aspect of this book was inspired by a number of cop shows and books, notably The Black Dahlia and Law & Order.
Do you listen to music while writing?
            Sometimes yes, but usually I turn on the TV for background noise.  Usually it’s a rerun, otherwise I’ll have a hard time paying attention to what I’m writing.  Though lately I’ve been playing around with making playlists for each story I’m working on.
What’s your writing space like?
            I tend to alternate between my desk and my bed.  The desk wakes me up and helps me focus, while the bed keeps me comfy.  I also hate sitting still and working on one thing for long enough, so the moving around helps.
Do you have any quirks when it comes to writing?
            Other than the constantly shifting workspace mentioned before, I can’t think of any.
How did you come up with (main character’s name) and who they are (description, maybe an introduction from the character)?
            For Miguel, I wanted to create a character who was of Italian descent and had an alliterative name.  I threw names together until I found one I liked, and Mr. Maserati had a name. Much of his personality comes from working a few decades in law enforcement draws upon a number of characters from Law & Order, though he isn’t the type to want to bend the laws for anyone.  He’s growing old and tired, or so he believes, and is on his way out of the business.
What are you currently working on?
            Right now I’m fixing up Poplar, trying to clean and polish it for publication, and then I’ll be moving on to finish some short stories.
What wrimo sites are you on?
            I can be found on the National Novel Writing Month and Script Frenzy websites.
What future plans do you have for your book?
            Poplar and Mint is going to be part of a series in which these two detectives investigate crimes based on stories in various mythologies.  Because Poplar is first, I want to put extra effort into making it a solid base for the characters and setting.
If you could write any book that you’ve ever read, what would it be? Why?
            Isaac Asimov’s robot detective novels are probably at the top of my list, being a combination of my two favorite genres (scifi and detective stories).
What authors may you have learned from, from sites and reading their books?
            My learning experiences from reading are more inspiration than anything else, and right now I get the most inspiration from reading stories by Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. 
Which of your characters do you relate to the most?
            Possibly Vanessa, who plays a small part in this book.  She’s young, slowly come out of her shell, has odd taste in almost everything (her unusual fashion sense is mentioned), and has very bitter feelings toward alcoholism.  She probably shouldn’t have dated a recovering alcoholic if she didn’t want the stress, but she’s only human.
Do you prefer books to movies in the film adaptation from books?
            I always tend to favor the books.  I try to look at movie adaptations as separate works with their own limitations, but still feel that even the best ones are secondary to the literary originals.  At their worst I wonder whether they can still be called adaptations.  (I’m looking at you, Fahrenheit 451.)
Do you get writer’s block? If so, what do you do to pass the time, or get rid of it?
            There’s not a writer out there who doesn’t get writer’s block at some point.  Usually I like to go take a walk and clear my head.  I live a mile away from the beach so it’s nice to go down there and people watch for a while.
One book you wish you hadn’t written, if any?
            There is the beginning of a novel that I wrote a few years back about an orphaned brother and sister who get involved in a Philadelphia street gang.  I knew very little about gangs or Philadelphia (I still don’t), and comments from critiquers compared some parts to a Lifetime movie.  Ouch.  It’s definitely due for a rewriting.
Authors you look forward to new books from the most?
            I usually don’t follow any one author unless I’m reading a series, but at the moment I’m reading through a couple of graphic novels:  Preacher and Y:  the Last Man.
Do you have a writing schedule?
            I have no schedule set in stone, but I do try to put in a little bit of writing and reading every day..
On the top of your head, how many plots and characters do you think you have or have created?
            I want to say about fifteen plots and about five times as many characters, but that may be a .  There’s no telling right now how many will make it to paper.
A short line from your book that you love?
The opening line has grown on me since I wrote it: 

Hollywood got credit from Miguel Maserati for one thing: they had the right idea for what funeral weather was supposed to be.”

The funeral mentioned is for Maserati’s former partner, so naturally he’s not the most cheerful person around.
Your favourite quote?
            In general?  It’s not exactly writing-related, but here goes.  “Everything will be okay in the end.  If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”  It’s helped me out when I was feeling down more than once.

Kay can be reached by email or by blog, Kay Proctor

I'm a young pastry chef to be in Fort Lauderdale, FL with an enthusiasm for writing. Right now I'm working on moving up, either in the fiction world or the bakery business, while learning the rules of the real world.


  1. This is a fantastic interview. One of the best I've read actually. I'm glad I dropped by.


  2. I'm sorry I didn't notice this was posted sooner! Thank you so much!


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