S. K. Waters is a mystery author whose debut novel, THE DEAD WON'T TELL, was released today. She has worked as a technical writer, a database administrator, and is a championship quilter. And she has been kind enough to take a few minutes to answer a few questions.
MB: Let's start with the most obvious question. What does it take to be a championship quilter?
SKW: A steady hand, a razor-sharp eye, and Band-Aids for all the nicks…. Seriously, I only won one championship, and that was because I translated The Lord’s Prayer into hieroglyphics and quilted them onto an otherwise boring piece – got kudos for originality.
MB: In THE DEAD WON'T TELL, historian-turned-journalist Abbie Adams is investigating a cold case murder from 1969 in Hunts Landing, Tennessee. Give us a brief introduction to Abbie and tell us about what inspired the character.
SKW: Too many people think Abbie is me in disguise. Nope. Well, maybe a little. I wrote the earliest drafts of THE DEAD WON'T TELL as a single mom, while struggling to get my kids to volleyball training and computer camp. But Abbie is spunkier than I am, and nosier, and willing to go to places I would never dare. She’s a widow, raising kids while trying to maintain a career, and stumbling on bits of her hometown’s history most people would rather she didn’t stumble upon…
MB: Just as movies have deleted scenes, books have bits that get deleted during the editing process. In THE DEAD WON'T TELL, was there anything that didn't make it into the book that you hoped would?
SKW: I did graduate-level work in history, focusing on the events of Pontiac’s Rebellion in 1763. So, naturally, in early drafts, Joss’s plotline was all about forcing Abbie to relive that research. It took a while, and quite a few beta-readers, to convince me that few people besides myself would be interested in a frontier skirmish that took place in the eighteenth-century, certainly not as many as Joss’s suggested Twitter followers would account for. So, I dropped it. But the title of Abbie’s thesis survived all the rounds of edits.
MB: Let's talk about your writing style for a moment. Every writer has specific nuisances when it comes to writing. Some outline, some don't. Some have a special place where they write. Tell me a bit about your writing process.
SKW: I’m better when I outline, I know that. So, I start an outline. About 30% of my current WIP been outlined. Then, I start drafting. Because, sometimes, the characters have their own story to tell. And I let them tell it, which may move the outline a little farther. Sometimes, the characters’ voices take over, and I’m scrambling to capture their words on the page. And then the plan changes. So I’m between a plotter and a pantser.
MB: If you could give your younger writing self one piece of advice, what would it be?
SKW: Write every day. No matter how junky it is. Just write.
MB: Tell me about how one of your all-time favorite books has influenced your writing?
SKW: There are several books that I’ve read over and over and over again. Some were cheesy romance novels I read in my teens and hid from my mom under the mattress (and what I thought was steamy then is NOTHING compared to what is steamy now…). Some were classics (I had a Jules Verne period one summer). But, if I had to name specific writers or books, two top writers/books come to mind: Stephen King’s THE STAND, and Daphne DuMaurier’s REBECCA. During my recent down-sizing move, I donated a lot of books to the local library, and when I went looking for these two books, I could not find them. I was distraught. These are the books I want on my nightstand.
MB: What can we expect from you in the future? Are you working on any new projects?
SKW: Oooh oooh ooh! Hard at work on the sequel to THE DEAD WON'T TELL, and I have a fantasy-detective crossover novel I’m drafting. Oh, and there might be owls….
MB: Let’s finish this up with something a bit offbeat. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
SKW: She would be offended if I answered in any other way… This is Abbie, my 4.5 lb Killer Maltese and spirit animal…
Thank you for taking time to talk with me. Good luck with THE DEAD WON'T TELL.
To learn more about S. K. Waters and her book, you can visit her website at kianahwaters.com. You can also follow her Twitter at twitter.com/KianahWaters, on Facebook at facebook.com/KianahWatersAuthor, and on Instagram at instagram.com/kianahwaters.
You can purchase THE DEAD WON'T TELL at these retailers.