Jen: This weekend we welcome mystery author, Deborah J. Ledford to Romancing the Book. Deborah, will you please share a short bio with us?
Deborah: I began my writing career as a screenwriter and have completed seven original screenplays. As well as a novelist, I am a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize in the short story category and a number of my award-winning shorts appear in print publications and anthologies.
Jen: Tell us about Staccato and where it’s available.
Deborah: First of all, thank you for this opportunity. I realize this is primarily a romance readers’ forum and I hope I don’t scare any of you followers away. Please know that although Staccato is primarily a suspense thriller, there is a main thread of romance throughout the entire novel. In essence, my hero’s journey is all about finding out who killed his lover—and how far he is willing to go to seek retribution for her death.
Here’s a little taste: Three world-class pianists. Two possible killers. One dead woman. Who is her murderer? Who will be next? Staccato: Retribution played double-time.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Deborah: I started out creatively as girl who loved to sketch and in later years I would write poems and stories based on my drawings. My first publishing credit was in the 2005 Arizona Literary Magazine for the short story “For Katie” which also won first prize in an international writing contest. I received my first Pushcart Prize nomination for this short story.
Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Deborah: Intense, visual, gripping.
Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Deborah: I’ve found that each long-version project has gone a little differently, but before I begin I’m very clear about my first five chapters, the ending, a few climaxes and some choice bits of dialogue to implement. It takes a long time to write a novel and if these beginning points don’t resonate with me I don’t want to wind up abandoning the work mid-stream.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Deborah: Endless hours of research went into choosing the appropriate classical piano pieces to highlight scenes and characters’ emotions, feelings and mood throughout the novel. I reached out to two professional pianists who at the time of Staccato’s inception had just moved from young world-class competitors to professional status. These gentlemen were quite helpful in putting me in their mindset when it came to performances and what it was like to tour internationally. Also, I spent my summers growing up in Swain County, North Carolina, which is the location for Staccato, so I conjured a lot of memories and visuals I remember from my time there.
Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Deborah: Names are crucial for me. I research a lot to find the “perfect” name for all of my characters, even down to those who have very little time on the page. The nemesis in Staccato is from Hungary so I had a great time researching the ideal name for who turned out to be Alexander Ambrus Kalman.
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Deborah: I love to write bad guys better than any other character, but I can’t say that I identify with the truly diabolic Alexander Kalman.
Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?
Deborah: Probably the first writers who really resonated with me: Steinbeck, Hemingway, Edna Ferber, Daphne du Marier.
Jen: If Staccato was made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the hero and heroine?
Deborah: As I am also a screenwriter, this is a great question. I’ve always visualized Alexander Kalman as Rutger Hauer. Henry Simmons would be perfect as the African-American hero Deputy Steven Hawk. Christian Bale or Hayden Christensen as Nicholas. And Helen Mirren would be ideal as Aranka Kalman. My “vision” of Jessica Taft has changed with different versions of the manuscript, from Jennifer Connelly to Natalie Portman.
Jen: Most people only dream of becoming a published writer. Now that you’ve accomplished that goal, is there anything else you dream of doing?
Deborah: Since I began my writing career as a screenwriter, I would love to see Staccato as a motion picture. I also hope to have the opportunity to see the other two books in this series in print.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Deborah: Although I primarily write crime fiction I don’t read a lot in this genre, but I do look forward to every Lisa Gardner, Greg Iles and Kate Atkinson release. I prefer literary fiction, especially when I’m writing. Pat Conroy, Isabel Allende, Michael Cunningham, John Irving, Zadie Smith, Ann-Marie MacDonald are among my favorites. I acknowledge Frank Conroy’s masterpiece Body and Soul in Staccato. I recently devoured Stephen King’s Under the Dome. I’ll be attending the Left Coast Crime convention in March and am currently reading a few authors’ latest releases who will also be there.
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Deborah: I don’t find myself with a lot of free time. My hours are spent writing, editing other writers’ work, moderating a rather large critique group, and reading. But I do enjoy watching movies, which I consider to be research. I suppose photography is my only non-industry interest—although a good photo is great to prompt an idea or location.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Deborah: I’m putting on the finishing touches for the second book of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela series. For the first time ever I’m considering a different title than the one I originally came up with. It has been suggested that I stick with the music theme since the plot also involves the music world (this time a rock star is in peril). I think that’s a great marketing idea, so I’ve been kicking around options.
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Deborah: The first 6 chapters and four of my published short stories are on my website. I can be found on Facebook, and there’s a Fan Page for Staccato on Facebook. Also, Goodreads, Twitter, and MySpace.
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Deborah: Classical music is a major element to Staccato and I’m considering a CD companion. Would a recording tie-in to the book be of interest to you as readers? Also, any one-word music term suggestions for the title of the next book would be greatly appreciated!
Jen: Deborah is giving away a print copy of Staccato to a random commenter. To enter the contest you first must leave a comment or question for Deborah. Then to finish your entry, you need to either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to email@example.com. The winner will be chosen on Saturday, March 6 (due to Jen’s vacation).