Author Interview: GG Collins 

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? 

Number nine will be published later this year (2022). I write two series, both mysteries, and I’ve written two YA or Teen books. My favorite book always seems to be the most recent. Currently, that would be Anasazi Medium from the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery series. While the vehicle is paranormal mystery it’s really an environmental book combined with the Native American story concerning the end of the Fourth World of the Hopi and what that would mean for the rest of us. There are many lessons to be learned from Native Americans if we would only lean in and listen. 

What is the most difficult part of your writing process? 

That would have to be the everyday things that my characters need to do. Like us, every day isn’t packed with harrowing events. There needs to be some time to allow the reader to rest from the more exciting aspects of storyline. I’ve try to give those interest by adding something funny. On one occasion Rachel Blackstone just wants to take a shower. Her best friend Chloe has installed a new shower with all the technical bells and whistles. Rachel is so flustered by the sound, scents and colors that she is amusingly frustrated. When finally wet all over she steps out to find her cat, Chile Pod, looking at her with great interest and a raised eyebrow. Do cats have eyebrows?

What is the best money you’ve ever spent with regard to your writing? 

That would have to be ads. Yes, even if you have a dedicated agent, a bricks and mortar publisher, a fabulous cover designer and a dream editor, you’ll likely find yourself doing a great deal of marketing and promotion. That would include ads. This takes some experimentation to find the right match—and sadly, that match can change over time. I haven’t found Amazon or Goodreads ads to be of much help, but places like eReaderIQ, eReaderCafe and Book Gorilla have worked for me. I’m still trying out new ones for my books. Even if you lose money or break even, it can push you up into those alluring algorithms.

What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you? 

Absolutely nothing. Do doctors get doctor’s block? Do accountants get accountant’s block? No. They go to work and do their job. A great job for emerging authors is to work at a newspaper or magazine—local or otherwise. Working on deadline constantly trains writers to stretch and grow—quickly. You learn that you can perform (research, interview & write) even when you don’t feel like or want to. That deadline is a motivator. Set your own deadlines when you’re working on a book or story. If you get stuck, change your approach. Work on research, rewrite that scene and ask yourself what this character would do next. But please don’t plead writer’s block and visit the nearest bar.

What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why? 

Usually plot comes first. I read a lot of nonfiction related to the Hopi and Navajo, and older peoples such as the Mayan and Aztec. There are many stories in their history that make great plots. My reporter (based on my job) Rachel Blackstone, botches a Hopi ritual to return the dead. In doing so she is somehow endowed with mystical abilities and reluctantly has to use them for solving paranormal mysteries. This creates conflict with her fact-based journalism approach.

For my other series, the Taylor Browning Cozy Mysteries, I also used employment as fodder. I once worked at a book publisher. I made Taylor a mystery editor who can’t seem to stay in the office. Sometimes even the office isn’t safe. She has a cantankerous cat named Oscar who always seeks revenge for late dining and other perceived slights. It gives me the chance to write with a lighter tone although readers will find humor in my paranormal outings as well.

Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite? 

I do play music while writing. Usually it is something relaxing without lyrics or a dance beat. I’m fond of David Arkenstone, Steven Halpern and Liquid Mind, but Spa on Sirius works too. If I go with rock or ballads, I’ll be singing along and dancing about my office. Classical music leads to all out conducting. That doesn’t expedite book writing. With a relaxing musical background, I can enjoy writing without performance issues.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? 

An equestrian. I was horses all the time when I wasn’t reading. Sometimes I read in the stable while listening to my horses chomping hay or shooing flies. I had A Horse of Your Own perpetually checked out of the library. The self-appointed-guardian-of-public-taste librarian finally told me I couldn’t check it out again so someone else could read it. I asked if another patron wanted it. Of course, there wasn’t anyone. Well, ahem, I digress.

I now am the proud owner of A Horse of Your Own. 

Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing? 

Yes, yes, YES! Lying on and around my computer or in my lap while I’m writing is an everyday occurrence. My current torti likes to yowl periodically. That can interrupt the creative juices but she’s so sweet, I don’t care. One baby was incensed when I switched to a flat screen from the old tabletop computer. No warm place to nap; so she moved to the printer. They have also inspired my storytelling and given a soft side to my characters. My cats in spirit often turn up in my books and then I don’t miss them so much.

Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer? 

Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle was a game changer for me. I transitioned to adult reading with this book. The ending blew me away. What a writer Jackson was! From that time on, mysteries and mysteries with a twist were my go-to reading. I began writing seriously in my twenties and have been influenced by Shirley Jackson, Anne Perry, Lia Matera, JA Jance, Nevada Barr, Stephen King (who hasn’t?) and Edgar Allan Poe. Lately, I’ve been reading Tony Hillerman and J Michael Orenduff.

What books helped you the most when you were writing your (first) book? 

Phyllis A Whitney’s Guide to Fiction Writing and her Writing Juvenile Stories and Novels. I’ve also read most of her novels. It has been reported; she divorced her first husband because he wouldn’t take her writing seriously. She was that dedicated to her craft. Whitney spoke of “The Force” what she earlier referred to as “inspiration.” She picked it up from Star Wars, but said, “In my case, however, it is an inner resource that I tap to stimulate my creativeness, and not a power to direct at others.”

And may “The Force” be with you too.

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