Monday, August 15, 2016

Guest Blogger: Jack Strandburg

The Monogram Killer by [Strandburg, Jack]

Please tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is a novella titled The Monogram Killer. I’ve always been fascinated with serial killers and the paranormal, and this has a mix of both.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I am currently working on a short story with a working title of “A Matter of Honor,” and working on (hopefully) the absolute final revision to my first mystery novel, A Head in the Game, originally started in the mid 1990’s. I also have at least four other short stories in various stages, and have written 60% first draft of a second mystery novel, War Zone.

Why did you decide to write mystery novels?
I’ve always been a fan of mystery novels, movies, and shows, and intrigued with the challenge of writing a mystery. I like asking “what if?” questions.

When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
I first starting writing in the mid 1980’s, just for fun, until I realized on early in the 1990’s I wanted to be published. It was then I realized the magnitude of difficulty involved to write an effective story and get published.

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
I do my best writing as early in the morning as possible, but occasionally will write in the evenings.

What is your writing routine once you start a book?
Over the years, I have spent a lot of time developing and fine-tuning my story writing process, often at the expense of my projects. Through trial and error, I learned knowing as much as I can about the characters and the flow of the plot minimizes the chances of too many rewrites and false starts.

What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
Play golf and hit the gym, although due to a hip injury, golf is not currently part of my routine.

What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?
Coming up with more ideas than I’ll ever be able to write about.

Where do your ideas come from?
TV, movies, other books, people standing on the street corner, newspaper articles. My latest work, The Monogram Killer, was inspired by “Hollywood Nights,” a song by Bob Seger.

Do you feel humor is important in mystery, and why?
I’m not sure it is important, but I like a character with a dry sense of humor and some sarcasm – a trait of my own.

What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?
Love scenes are probably the hardest to write for me, and generally try to avoid them.

What kind of research do you do?
A few years ago, I did extensive research on the Mafia for a novel project, then realized a very small percentage would be used. Since then, I research only much as required.

Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.)
I am married with two adult children, three grandchildren, and enjoy golf. I have a four-year degree in Accounting and Information Technology, and a good deal of developing my writing process comes from my years in IT.

Fill in the blank favorites - Dessert. City. Season. Type of hero. Type of heroine.
Dessert – white cake with white frosting.
City – Cleveland, Ohio.
Fall, but not in Southeastern Texas – it’s only about 15 minutes long down here. J
Type of hero – Think Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry.
Type of heroine – Think Jodie Foster in The Brave One.

Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?
Harlan Coben is my favorite author, although my favorite book is probably The Servants of Twilight by Dean Koontz, the only book I’ve read twice.
Who are some of your other favorite authors to read?
Joseph Finder
Tess Gerritsen
Dean Koontz

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Probably doing the same thing I’m doing now

Where would I like to see myself? In a bigger house with a golf membership at a country club, a result of book royalties.

How long have you been writing - have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been writing since my teenage years, but didn’t realize until the last 25 I actually wanted to be a “writer/author.”

How many books have you written, how many have been published?
I have written three books – all published.

After you've written your book and it's been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?
No. I’ve rewritten and revised it so many times, I’m frankly sick of seeing it.

Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting? What are the elements of a great romance for you?
I used to spend far too much time with character biography until I realized (relatively recently), the most interesting characters in the world are nothing unless something interesting happens, so now I focus more on plot and events, then the traits of each character come out depending on action and reaction of other characters based on those interesting events. Setting is usually done in concert with plot and events.

What is the hardest part of writing/the easiest for you?
Getting started on the first draft.
The easiest (and most fun I might add) is the revision process.

Have you experienced writer's block---> If so, how did you work through it?
I am fortunate. I never had writer’s block – there is always something to write about, even if it’s not related to a current project.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
Being able to create something from nothing, and hopefully get some recognition for the effort.

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?
I have no idea. :)

Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Keep working at it, read other books, try new approaches. If you truly believe writing is your passion, don’t stop until you get published. If I can get published, you can too!

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