Author Shelly Knox answers all of your burning questions about writing, the genre of suspense and life as a published author.
How did you get started writing fiction?
I didn’t begin like a lot of authors; I didn’t begin writing as a child, or in high school or in college. I had fallen at work, due to an uneven sidewalk covered in ice and snow, and was laid up for quite a while. Bored, I noticed that a magazine I was reading offered a short story course through the mail. I signed up to take it. I had a very nice instructor. We corresponded through snail mail – no email yet.
After the class, I found Romance Writers of America. There wasn’t a chapter in my area, so I agreed to help a new friend start one. I met a lot of wonderful men and women. I am still friends with several of the original members of that chapter, Chesapeake Romance Writers.
Why are you drawn to suspense fiction specifically?
I like a good romantic comedy — and I like romance books, but they didn’t have enough action for me. My favorite movies and books were thrillers, mystery and even horror. I like the action of having to solve the crime to save others. I like that it puts the hero and heroine in danger, and they have to use their wits to escape. Most of all, I love to see good win over evil.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
For my suspense and thrillers, I would have to go with Harlan Coben, Karin Slaughter, Lisa Gardner and an author new to me, Donna Bell. All of these authors tell a good edge-of-your-seat story with characters you care about.
For romance and women’s fiction, I would choose Felicia Mason and Laurie LeClair. They both tell a warm story with characters you fall in love with.
What do you find to be the most rewarding, as an author?
I love sitting at my desk and writing a new scene or chapter in the book with my dogs sleeping at my feet. Being able to create something new every day keeps me moving forward.
Recently, I experienced interacting with people who read my book. I sent Twin Deceptions to 10 advance readers. Every single one has reached out to me to tell me about their experience reading Twin Deceptions. Knowing that someone enjoyed my story, that they couldn’t put my book down, was a very new experience for me. When Twin Deceptions was first released, I had good reviews—but now with social media, you can connect easier with readers. Two of the readers wanted to make sure I was going to tell Taylor’s story. I assured them that I had already begun the sequel to Twin Deceptions and hope it will be released in 2019.
What is your writing process like?
Now that I’m retired, I’ve learned to sleep in a bit instead of getting up by 5 a.m. After feeding the dogs, sitting out side with a cup of coffee and watching them play, I get on the computer. First, I check email, unless I’m on a deadline,I check-in with followers on my Facebook page @Shelly Knox, Author, and then I’m not allowed to touch email or social media until I meet the goal I set for the day. I can linger over email and social media for a couple of hours. I can write 7-10 pages in that same amount of time.
If I get stuck in my process, what some writers call writer’s block, I write a chapter I’ve been looking forward to writing. It could be five chapters ahead of where I am, or the last chapter of the book. I don’t always write in order. Although, sometimes that then requires putting together a puzzle once I finish. LOL!
Usually, I’m a very heavy plotter. I know almost everything that is going to happen in the book before I begin. I wrote Betrayed, different. For the first time, I wrote a book that I only very loosely plotted before I began, so the characters led me through the story. It was a wonderful experience. And led to twist and turns even I didn’t expect. I hope the readers are surprised.
The characters told me things I’m not sure I would have plotted and turned the story totally on its head. Not having an outline to follow made it hard, but listening to the characters was awesome. I hope to merge the two processes in the future. Betrayed will be released in October 15, 2019.
What do you love most about writing suspense fiction and why?
Learning forensics along the way. I enjoy meeting with police, FBI and other law enforcement officers. I’ve been lucky, so far they have all had a willingness to answer my questions, so my books are as accurate as possible.
And, of course, I always warn my friends and acquaintances: Don’t make me mad or you may end in my book. After all, Murder is Entertaining!