AUTHOR INTERVIEW – C. Hope Clark
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ABOUT THE BOOKS
Murder on Edisto – When her husband is murdered by the Russian mob, Boston detective Callie Jean Morgan suffers a mental break and relinquishes her badge to return home to South Carolina. She has no idea how to proceed with her life, but her son deserves to move on with his, so she relocates them to the family vacation home. But the day they arrive on Edisto Beach, Callie finds her childhood mentor and elderly neighbor murdered. Her fragile sanity is threatened when the murderer taunts her, and the home that was to be her sanctuary is repeatedly violated. Callie loses her fight to walk away from law enforcement as she becomes the only person able to pursue the culprit who’s turned the coastal paradise into a paranoid patch of sand where nobody’s safe. But what will it cost her?
Edisto Jinx – Is it a flesh and blood killer-or restless spirits? According to an island psychic, beautiful Edisto Beach becomes a hotbed of troublemaking spirits every August. But when a visitor dies mysteriously during a beach house party, former big-city detective Callie Morgan and Edisto Beach Chief Mike Seabrook hunt for motives and suspects among the living. WIth tourists filling the beaches and local business owners anxious to squelch rumors of a murderer on the loose, Callie will need all the help she can get–especially once the killer’s attention turns toward her.
INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
What initially got you interested in writing?
I’ve always recognized that as a shy child my writing could speak for me. A high school teacher, however, pushed me into being editor of the yearbook which opened my eyes to the excitement of publishing. However, as a highly logical individual, I focused my career in the sciences, delving into agriculture, mainly, working for the federal government. While writing underpinned every promotion I received until I became administrative director for a small agency, it was after an investigation when I was offered a bribe that I became interested in creative fiction. I wrote my story, embellished with bodies and pursuits, and the bug bit. And it bit hard enough to where I retired at age 46 in order to write full-time, and I have never looked back.
What genres do you write in?
Mystery and how-to as it relates to writing. I’m an advocate of giving back, so my FundsforWriters website and newsletter (35,000 readers) enables me to support writers since I’m vary familiar with the loneliness that comes with learning this profession. However, I’m attempting to pursue a Young Adult series also on Edisto Beach, the setting for my second series, using characters that cropped up in the process of the adult series.
What drew you to writing these specific genres?
Well, without a doubt, being involved in investigations with the Federal government pushed my buttons of mystery and suspense. And marrying a federal agent only feeds that hunger. It’s the life I live, the conversations around our dinner table . . . at the gym on the track, we talk body disposal and how to lead to another crime. There is nothing I love more than a super slick twist in a story, television show or movie. Biggest high ever!
As for the how-to for writers, I learned early in my profession that I had a knack to speak and teach. Who would’ve known from someone who did not enjoy speaking and appearances. That led me to write The Shy Writer Reborn which is a how-to on how the introverted individual can make this profession work for them. I filled it with tricks and tools that carry someone through the promotion, marketing, and public requirements of being a professional writer – tricks I learned in my journey. This book is special to me, and when readers study it, they find it special to them as well.
I love writing both genres, and I’m always torn between the FundsforWriters side of my day and the mystery. Both are my loves.
How did you break into the field?
It was not a crisp, sudden breakthrough. I feel I have crawled every inch of the way. It took me years to learn voice and complete the first book in the Carolina Slade series, Lowcountry Bribe. But I could not sell it (I wanted traditional in lieu of indie), so I threw it on the shelf and threw myself into FundsforWriters. As my platform grew, as I developed a reputation with Writer’s Digest, as I started speaking at conferences, my writing grew as well. So when a seasoned mystery author suggested I pull the mystery in me back out and finish it, I was amazed at how badly it was written. So I joined a critique group, took classes, and rewrote the book three times. I entered contests to test how well it was written, and when I placed and won a few, I submitted to agents. After 72 queries, I landed an agent, and 18 months later, I landed a contract for Lowcountry Bribe. That was 2011. I have published at least a mystery a year since 2012, still with Bell Bridge Books. Daily I sit at the computer and work FundsforWriters, freelancing articles, marketing, and the next novel. My days are long but awesome, and I count myself extremely lucky. I’ll continue 1-2 books a year until I just cannot sit at the keyboard any longer. But I hunger for a little bit more. By happenstance, I attended the appearance of a YA author, and afterwards we spoke at length. The idea for a YA mystery flashed to mind, and I’m excited about pursuing it later this year. We have to always grow. Growth is exhilarating.
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
As for mystery, I want the reader to have enjoyed a remarkable trip with twists, giving them AHA moments, evading their abilities to solve the mystery before I hand the secret to them. That challenge is what it’s all about for me. As for how-to, I want someone to crave to dog ear and highlight the book, and carry away tangibles that make their life easier or more successful. I want their blood to pump with eagerness to go out and put into practice what they’ve just read. I want any reader to be grateful they found my books.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Mastering the uphill battle of finding a story and overcoming myself with the results being something that another person “gets.” Gosh, when someone says they loved how I (fill in the blank) something in the story, a genuine chill rips through me. That connect with readers, and the fact they close the book and don’t instantly forget it….in this day and time with so much competition, to have readers say they want to read more of my books, is the ultimate acme for me.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Without a doubt, the first draft. Evolving the story is slow going, mainly because I want the aha moment to be good. I want the reader not to see the ending, so the challenge is huge for me to formulate that plot. The edits, however, are so much fun.
What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?
You have to be all in. That means daily attention to craft and promotion. This is not a game for a hobbyist . . . not if someone wishes to develop a platform, a name, or an income. And participating one week and skipping the next only sets you back. The best writers write daily. They all do.
What type of books do you enjoy reading?
What I write. There is so much good material out there, and I want to learn from it. So, unless I’m writing the genre, I just don’t read it. So . . . mystery, thriller, suspense, and some how-to for my craft. I used to make the exception for every Pat Conroy book (I’m from South Carolina), but it appears I’ll have to reread his material now. The profession misses him terribly.
Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?
I married the federal agent assigned to me when I was offered a bribe (such a story!). My degree is in agriculture, and I have a big garden and raise chickens. I love the outdoors and share my time between Edisto Beach and my home on Lake Murray in the middle of SC, so without a doubt, I have to dip my toes in water. And I’m a member of MENSA. That works in some circles and doesn’t in others, but it’s nice to belong to a group of people who “get” me.
What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?
Depending on which side of my house you wish to visit, you can find me at www.chopeclark.com or www.fundsforwriters.com . I’m rabid on Facebook at www.facebook.com/chopeclark , on Twitter at @hopeclark, on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/hopeclark , and my Amazon Central page is http://www.amazon.com/C.-Hope-Clark/e/B007OVLE76/ . And I’m a fan of BookBub, so my page there is https://www.bookbub.com/authors/c-hope-clark
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C. Hope Clark holds a fascination with the mystery genre and is author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series as well as the Edisto Island Mystery Series, both set in her home state of South Carolina. In her previous federal life, she performed administrative investigations and married the agent she met on a bribery investigation. She enjoys nothing more than editing her books on the back porch with him, overlooking the lake with bourbons in hand, maybe sharing a cigar. She can be found either on the banks of Lake Murray or Edisto Beach with one or two dachshunds in her lap. Hope is also editor of the award-winning FundsforWriters.com highly recommended by Writer’s Digest Magazine in their 101 Best Websites for Writers. Find out more about her at www.chopeclark.com Book three in the Edisto Island Series, Echoes of Edisto, releases in August 2016.