Monday, April 15, 2013

FAST FORWARD with Author J.A. Schneider


Last week, I announced the beginning of a new FAST FORWARD author interview with participating authors who had published their second novel in a mystery/suspense series. Today I want to welcome my good friend and fellow author, Joyce Schneider as my first guest. Joyce began her writing career in the mystery/suspense genre with EMBRYO, a medical thriller that went virile in a matter of months. She followed up with EMBRYO 2: CROSSHAIRS, which is a sequel that begins where the first EMBRYO left her readers breathless.

FAST FORWARD: Joyce, welcome and thank you for participating in this interview today. A story’s protagonist often reflects an author’s personality, or displays characteristics the author has chosen to explore. Without committing (or confessing) to either idea, can you please share with us some of the back story that defines your protagonist but isn’t included in the published novels?

JOYCE SCHNEIDER: Jill Raney, obstetrical intern, started out in the first Embryo as vulnerable-but-gutsy, caring, curious but above all insistent on doing the right thing no matter the cost to her or her career. These attributes almost got her killed. She and the man she loves, obstetrical resident David Levine, barely escaped death at the hands of a madman on the steep roof of an old part of the hospital. The awful scene, captured by overhead news choppers, became a media obsession, run horrifyingly over and over. Jill and David are now reluctant "celebrities" - and the targets of every wacko who wants to share in the attention. 

Including a killer. Some psycho who wants in on the attention, and sends death threats to Jill and David in the form of cryptic, horrifying “clues” on the bodies of women he assaults.

Jill feels fury about these assaults which they must treat, but has a harder time than David getting a grip because of her additional fear of falling: recurrent visions of the awful scene on the roof. Both must still return to their exhausting hospital duties, knowing that any psycho can just walk into a hospital.

How does Jill regain her old emotional strength? With stoic determination. Those two words define her character: stoic determination. Her story in EMBRYO 2: CROSSHAIRS details a gutsy person going through and getting through the darkest, most terrifying time of her life. 

FAST FORWARD: After writing the first novel in a series, it seems that subsequent novels would flow out fully formed. The author has the basics down: format for the storyline; a feel for the proper number of plot lines and chapters; techniques for creating a charismatic protagonist and supporting characters; secrets to making the antagonist likeable; and guidelines for adding conflict right up to and through the denouement. Joyce, how has writing become easier for you; and what remains as difficult now as when you wrote the first novel? (Avoiding chocolate doesn’t count!) 

JOYCE SCHNEIDER: Chocolate binges help. I recommend M&Ms with the almonds inside. And...what’s in your heart impels you and helps the writing flow – especially the first draft, which I spew. Difficulty comes in subsequent drafts that want to run in too many directions. Here’s where I struggle to boil it all down to its intense core. Since I aim for fast pace, two words are never better than one, and I chip away & chip away. Typos are my worst headache: since I write fast when the juices are flowing, I wind up with a thousand typos. I have help catching those, but some still escape notice. Argh!

FAST FORWARD: To hold a reader’s attention, a series protagonist must continue to grow or change in each novel. In Sue Grafton’s ABC series, Kinsey Millhone does not age (much), or get married, or acquire children, but she expands her knowledge of the job, begins to carry a gun, and discovers family relatives who are woven into the storyline. Without revealing any spoilers, how has your protagonist developed or changed from Book #1? 

JOYCE SCHNEIDER: She has fallen more deeply in love. David Levine is her rock, her sanctuary. She has also come to love the sweet-faced baby who has yet to be born, and frets about him. He is an innocent, started in a petri dish and transferred to a silicone cylinder filled with amniotic-like fluid. Dark, creepy photos of him floating in his cylinder blanketed and obsessed the media, Twitter, YouTube. Will he be a normal kid? Taunted by others as he grows up? Would he be safer adopted quietly by “non-famous” people? But Jill and David love him! There’s this and more... 

FAST FORWARD: A series requires the presence of a continuing main character. Often, however, there is another recurring character. The almost infinite pairings of main characters with guy/girl Fridays or wingmen could claim its own category on Jeopardy. Who could ever forget Tom Hanks’ sidekick, Wilson? Two Mystery/Suspense series authors and their interesting (equal or supporting) characters that come to mind are Tess Gerritson’s Rizzoli and Isles; Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt and Al Giordino. Is there a recurring secondary character in your series? What is the purpose/role of that character within the plot?

JOYCE SCHNEIDER: Jill and David join forces to become detectives on their own, helping the police in ways that even forensics experts never imagined. You’ll see how in “CROSSHAIRS.” In this post CSI-era, bad guys know how to leave no physical evidence behind. No prints, no fibers, no eyewitnesses. But Jill and David find new ways to detect criminals. They become like a new age Holmes and Watson! 

FAST FORWARD: Researching a new novel takes the author on a journey to many new places, whether through books, movies, newspapers, or physical travel. What did you most enjoy about the research process of your second novel, and where did your research take you?

JOYCE SCHNEIDER: I most enjoyed talking out the fascinating medical parts with my husband. He’s an endlessly patient physician who loves explaining medical stuff which I interweave as I write. Hard to believe I started out as a Liberal Arts major (French & Spanish literature), because in recent years I’ve become fascinated by medicine and forensic science.

FAST FORWARD: Thank you for the wonderful look behinds the scenes of your second novel. Where can fans of your novels find you and your books on the Internet? 


Many thanks, Gail!


Readers can find Gail Baugniet's review of EMBRYO 2; CROSSHAIRS here:


1 comment:

  1. Thanks again for participating in this author interview, Joyce. I wish you the best of success in sales and your writing career.

    Much Aloha to you.


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