1. Do you hear from your readers much? What kind of things do they say?
Liz: We love feedback from our readers and often receive thanks for another great story with references to specific characters, or events in the story. The best comment, in my opinion, recently received was from a loyal, and voracious reader. She’d suffered a personal tragedy earlier in the year and wrote to tell us that our latest book had enabled her to get back to reading again.
2. Do you prefer e-books, printed books, or audiobooks most of the time?
Pam: For people who have limited time, I can see the advantage of an e-book, and an audiobook when travelling is a bonus. But personally, I like a printed copy and give it my full attention.
3. Have you ever killed off a character your readers loved?
Pam: We had a character in our first book who was well liked. We killed him off in the second book. A decision not taken lightly but was important to the story. We still hear from readers about it, and while they were initially shocked, they’ve now forgiven us!
4. How do you come up with the title for your books?
Pam: As we collaborate and must agree on all aspects of the book, titles can be daunting. The title is usually related to some part of the book, and we often use a play on words. Much soul searching until we find the right one. We’ve now learned to always check to see if the title has already been taken!
5. How do you develop your plot and characters?
Pam: For us, as collaborators, we enjoy this part of the writing process. We need good brainstorming sessions to fully bring the characters to life. And the plots are fluid. They often change, and at times we find ourselves writing what the characters tell us! Liz and I generally have many of the same ideas but often present them in different ways. Our style is evolving!
6. How long does it take you to write a book?
Liz: The more we write, the more efficient we become. In the beginning it was a lengthy – very lengthy! – process. But as we’ve grown more in sync and understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, the stories flow more easily and in less time. This year we have written two books as Jamie Tremain and are also putting the finishing touches on a collaborative, full-length novel, with another author!
7. How much research did you need to do for your book?
Liz: Ah, research, the rabbit-hole conundrum! Without it, you risk coming across as amateur to eagle-eyed readers, but it can be so distracting! Thank goodness for the internet – especially during Covid when travel was out of the question. For location research, local newspapers found online provide up-to-date snapshots of life in our chosen locale. And depending on the subjects covered, we’ve researched museums, wineries, police departments, restaurants, etc. Fact checking is something I appreciate when I read a book, and so we do our best to offer the same to our readers.
8. What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
Liz: Currently, we have two series. So, for the first book in each series, I think it was the characters which came first. We had central characters – who they were going to be. We have built biographical profiles for all our characters, primary and expendable. They’ve become an invaluable resource as we return to favourite characters over and over. But currently, as we have our ‘regulars’, it’s the plot we look for first. In other words, now that we know our characters, what kind of crime or adventure can we have them become involved in?
9. What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?
We both met award-winning author Louise Penny many years ago when we first started our foray into the writing world. She told us to visualize a scene as we would watch on a TV show. Be a fly on the wall; take in all the details and then write them down.
10. What’s your writing software of choice?
Liz: Almost from the start, Pam and I have used Google docs for our writing. We live about an hour apart, so a tool which lets us write in real time, provide a chat function and the ability to share a multitude of files is priceless. But once the editing begins, the manuscript is moved to a Word.doc format.
Our web page http://www.jamietremain.ca/
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