Thursday, 31 July 2008

The First Chapter

I've had a few questions lately along the lines of - 'how important is the first chapter?', 'how do you know where to start the book?' and 'should I give the background information for the story up front?'.

The first chapter is where the author has the opportunity to grip the reader's attention. Get them involved so they know that this is a story that won't be putting down real soon. The first chapter should introduce your main character/s in a situation of conflict. And that situation should announce the theme of the book.

The first chapter should start just before a major scene or the build up to one. For example, in my first book the main character finds himself on the wrong side of his favoured skill, interrogation. I introduced the main character in a situation of conflict and in a seemingly impossible circumstances that he needs to escape from.

A lot of first-time writers want to start their book with background information that they think the reader would need to know. I tend to think this is because authors spend so much time developing their character/s that we want to impart all of that information to our reader straight away. Not necessary. A paragraph here or there throughout the book in the narrative or through dialogue can fill in the gaps on background information that value-adds to the story.

The first paragraph needs to captivate or hook the reader. Give them something that spikes their interest to keep on reading. Last thing we want to do is bore the reader - that applies to the whole story, but to do it in the first paragraph can lose a lot more potential readers. I also think it is important to introduce the main character into the first paragraph. It lets the reader know who they are dealing with for the rest of the book. It gives them an initial visual that will shape their perceptions along the journey.

First chapters take time to get right. Don't be afraid of spending the extra time on this part of the book. We need to get it right for our readers. So, no backstory or flashbacks (and please no dream scene straight away), introduce your main character in a sitaution of conflict and make sure we hook the reader right from the start.


Sunday, 13 July 2008


I love writing dialogue. I think I could write a whole novel of dialogue. Sadly, I don't think readers want a complete story of dialogue alone. Anyway, thought I'd share some interchanges between characters in my WIP. Enjoy.

“I'm Detective Peterson and this is Detective Green.” The female looked up and nodded. “For legal purposes, this interview is being recorded by the two cameras you see in the room. They are being controlled by a Police Officer behind the mirror. Do you understand?

Jay nodded, knowing he needed to agree aloud for recording purposes.

“You will have to give a verbal response to all questions asked.”

“What if I don’t want to respond?”

“Well you’ll have to give a verbal response that you don’t want to respond.”

“That doesn’t make sense, Detective Peterson. By giving the verbal response, I am responding. So it defeats the purpose of not responding.”

The two Detectives looked at one another and Peterson looked at the mirror before staring back at Jay. “Just answer the questions you want to answer verbally, not just by nodding or shrugging. Okay?”

Jay felt like nodding, but didn’t want to push it - yet. “Yes.”

“Good. Now, for the record, could you state your full name and address?”

Jay did and added, “Would I be able to see your official identification, please?”

The Detectives looked at one another again before Peterson spoke. “We're in a Police Station and I have told you who we are.”

Jay shrugged. “You never know.”

They took out their badges and held them up quickly for Jay to see. He only wanted to know their first names – Stephen and Joanna.

“Satisfied?” Peterson asked. The red rising in his cheeks.

Detective Green looked at Jay. “Okay…Mr Ryan. Mind if I call you Jay?” Her voice was soft and inviting.

“Mind if I call you Jo?”


“What the hell are you playing at, Ryan?” Peterson almost burst out of his seat. “This is bullshit. You want to jerk us around? Stop with the smartass comments and just answer the questions.”


Saturday, 5 July 2008

Five Quick Questions with Ed Lynskey

Ed Lynskey's first two books are mysteries featuring his P.I. Frank Johnson: THE DIRT-BROWN DERBY and THE BLUE CHEER. His latest release, a thriller titled PELHAM FELL HERE has recived great reviews form the likes of James Crumley, James Rollins, Kevin O'brien and Anne Frasier.

Ed has kindly agreed to join us and answer five quick questions.

What's one thing we may not know about Ed Lynskey?

Years ago I took a complete spin around the Indianapolis International Speedway. The guide told us where everybody had wiped out and gave us a card of proof at the end.

What television show would you like to make a guest appearance on?

Career-wise as an author, OPRAH, without a doubt would punch your ticket.

If using a time machine, the DICK CAVETT SHOW with Janis Joplin as a co-guest or the STEVE ALLEN SHOW with Lenny Bruce as a co-guest.

What's your greatest sporting moment?

I scored the only run in a Pony League game for our baseball team. I even made the box score even if they misspelled my name.

What's your ideal holiday destination?

Bermuda in August. Great food and greater views.

How many comments to this blog post would I need to have you read and comment on my first thriller, The Interrogator?

No blog comments are needed for me. I was already intrigued enough to read it. Best of luck with it and for having me aboard, sir!

Thanks, Ed. Please check this website for all of the details of Pelham Fell Here.


If you enjoyed this interview, why not have a look at my other interviews with Will Lavender, Kelly Curtis, Lisa Unger, JA Konrath and Laura Benedict.

Friday, 4 July 2008

The Value of Writing Related Websites

I don't keep it a secret that the time I have spent in the last year or so at the AbsoluteWrite website, has helped me get a fantastic publishing deal.

I have now discovered another wonderful writing site called The Writers Block. Another fantastic site for writers to gather in a forum and exchange ideas and encourage each other toward their writing goals. This forum caters for all genre and for those just starting out to published authors.

Sometimes writers can feel isolated in chasing their dreams. I never felt that way whilst writing Interrogated, because I had the support and encouragement from an online writing community.

Whatever your writing goal may be, do yourself a favour by joining an online writing community. You won't regret it.


Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Favourite Lines - The Interrogator

Fellow author, Raymond Wong, tagged me and asked that I Blog my favourite line. I have to admit that it is very difficult because I have so many that are favourites. Because I'll know we'll do this more often, I start with a favourite near the beginning of The Interrogator.

“You’re going to be one of us, Jay, whether you like it or not,” Primrose said. “Now I need you to stay still. This may tickle just a little. You might want to bite down on something. Start with your pride.”

Boom. A thousand razors raced from his hand to his brain; a competition to register first. The pain hit before the hammer struck the nail a second terrific blow. Boom. A shrill from deep in his throat liberated his voice. Boom.

Now you'll have to buy my book to see what happens next.

Who will I tag? Laura, Lisa and Jamie.


Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Five Quick Questions with Laura Benedict

ISABELLA MOON is the gripping debut novel by author Laura Benedict. The supernatural thriller was released in hardcover by Ballantine Books in September, 2007 (US). It has also been released in Australia and the UK. It will be followed by another thriller, CALLING MR. LONELY HEARTS, in December 2008 (US).

Note: US cover pictured.

Laura has kindly agreed to join us and answer five quick questions.

What's one thing we may not know about Laura Benedict?

I like guns.

What television show would you like to make a guest appearance on?

Oh, this is so hard! I think I'd most like to be the celebrity guest judge on Project Runway, just like Sarah Jessica Parker was last season. I want to be incredibly nice to the contestants to make up for how snarky Nina is. But I think she's off the show now that she lost her gig at Elle Magazine. I kind of liked her though--she's the kind of bitchy I wish I could be. Michael Kors seems interesting, too. And I want to meet Seal. Maybe he hangs around and watches Heidi do the show. Unfortunately this all hinges on the celebrity part....

What's your greatest sporting moment?

I wrote about this years ago, but I suppose it's time to 'fess up again to a whole new listening audience. Way back in the 80's, my second-husband-to-be took me out to this place called Elephant Rocks not far from St. Louis in order to propose to me. (We had picked out the ring together, but I didn't know when I would get it. He was all about drama.) The rocks in the park are actually kind of egg-shaped, giving the place an other-wordly look. There's also a creek cutting through the middle of the park, a remnant, I assume of the water that cut those rocks a million years ago. When it came time to cross the creek, SHTB decided we should jump across instead of heading down to the bridge a couple hundred feet away. Now, I'm not a particularly athletic sort, but I'm no lump, either--So when SHTB leapt across like a freaking mountain goat, I knew I would have to follow nimbly behind. But the gap was pretty wide. And there were many teenagers hanging around that particular area. I was feeling awfully self-conscious. But there he was, holding his hand out, waiting for me. Surrounded by all those teenagers. (I was only 25 or so, but I felt very old) So I jumped. He caught my hand, but my foot didn't make it to the smooth-rock bank, and the front of my body slammed against the rock in a most undignified way and he had to haul me out of the water. There was much sniggering 'mongst the teenagers and I could tell he was very embarrassed as well. It was a long, cold drive home. It was an omen, of course. It was probably on that exact day that he also became my second-ex-husband-to-be.

What's your ideal holiday destination?

Anywhere I can get excellent Room Service.

How many comments to this blog post would I need to have you read and comment on my first thriller, The Interrogator?

Now here's a question designed to make me look like a Nina-league bitch (and I mean that in the nicest way possible!) if I don't say, like, two. Do you work for the government? Note: Not anymore, Laura. Well...maybe. JJ.

Thanks, Laura. Please check Laura's website and Blog for information on her latest release and her writing.