Randee has actually been a client of mine for almost three years now, but I’m delighted to be making this belated introduction. Earlier this year we sold her debut mystery, CRIMINAL MISDEEDS, to Camel Press, and you’ll be able to read that in Fall 2018. If Shameless met Duck Dynasty and had a murder thrown in, you might get something like Randee’s book and the hilarious family of criminals it centers around. It’s a ton of quirky fun so do look for it next year. In the meantime, here’s what Randee has to say about herself. –Jessica Alvarez
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
I try to put in a few hours of writing – or something writing related (plotting, research, catching up on character biographies and story notes, etc.) – every day. I do try to take a day off at least once a week just to let my brain recharge and to give my eyes a break from staring at the computer screen for hours on end. My current writing spot is my couch, and that’s mainly because my cat has taken over my desk chair and won’t give it back.
Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g. burning a candle if you’re having trouble getting started at the computer or writing longhand first if you’re feeling uninspired.)
I’ve learned not to force it if I’m uninspired or having the occasional bout of writer’s block. I’ll either move on to another section of the novel, go back and edit earlier parts of the novel, or work on something for my blog. If I am inspired but my brain has stalled out, I’ll do something to distract myself – listen to music, do some arts and crafts, play with my cat – and that normally kick starts my brain into working again.
What do you love about writing mysteries?
I love mysteries – both reading them and writing them. I don’t want to sound crazy, but I think it’s fun coming up with a character and then killing him or her off. I love coming up with the who (is the killer), what (is the murder weapon), when (did the murder take place), where (did the murder take place), and why (did the killer murder the victim). Putting it all together into a novel, with twists and turns and red herrings, is a lot of fun for me.
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
I don’t know if I really chose mysteries as my genre, I think I just gravitated to it. I started reading mysteries when I was in high school, and I used to watch a lot of the crime shows on TV. It just seemed natural for me to write a mystery series.
What is the hardest part about writing mysteries?
For me, the hardest part about writing mysteries is coming up with scenarios that haven’t already been used. There are so many mystery novels and crime shows that coming up with a murder, motive, and crime scene that hasn’t already been used can be difficult. It’s just a matter of keeping it interesting and making the story unique.
What book do you wish you had written, and why?
I wish I could have written The Great Gatsby. It’s my favorite book, and, no matter how many times I read it, I am still blown away by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s prose. I can only hope to one day be able to craft prose as well as he did.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading, indulging in my passion for Texas country music, traveling, or hanging out with my favorite feline friend. This fall I volunteered at Field of Screams (one of the best haunted attractions in the country, and it just happens to practically be in my backyard). I was one of the actors on the hayride. My role was Mama Redneck down at the Rednecks skit. It was a fun experience, but it also helped me get over being shy and introverted.
Do you belong to any writing organizations?
I belong to Authors 18. It’s basically a support group for writers whose first novels are coming out in 2018.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
What’s the last book you read?
The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters. The Amelia Peabody Series is one of my favorite mystery series.
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
In the shadows of the Great Pyramids of Giza. Or in Captain Kirk’s chair on the bridge of the Enterprise. Or anywhere in Texas.
What’s your favorite quote about reading or writing?
My favorite quote about reading is by Mason Cooley – “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.”
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice you’ve received?
The best piece of writing advice I’ve ever received came from the mentors at the creative writing graduate school program that I attended. Their mantra was “Just shut up and write the damn thing.”
Plotter or pantster?
I’m definitely a plotter. A meticulous, overly detailed plotter who literally plots out her characters’ storyline down to the minute. Okay, I break the story down hour by hour or day by day. Since I write mysteries, I feel that I need to have a roadmap going into writing a novel. I need to know my starting point (murdering the victim) and my final destination (revealing the killer). I also like to have my pit stops planned out along the way (other suspects, finding new evidence, etc.). I also like to have a secondary storyline or two woven in with the main one, so I like to have that plotted out in advance. That’s not to say that I don’t leave room for being spontaneous. You know that they say about a road diverging in the forest and taking the path less traveled…
Synopses, love them or hate ‘em?
Synopses are a necessary evil. It can be frustrating to summarize the 300+ page novel I just wrote in a couple pages.
Do you have a writing playlist or a vision board? If so, what’s on them?
I only listen to about five musicians, and 9 times out of 10 I’m listening to Pat Green. But Pat Green inspires me in ways that no other musician has ever been able to. (No, my last name is not really Green. Want to guess why I picked that name?) Normally, when I’m writing and I need a little musical inspiration or pick-me-up, I already have the song, or at least the artist, in mind who’s going to do the trick.
As for a vision board…I have a corkboard where I keep track of my story notes. I guess you could call it a vision board since it’s my vision for my novel.
Do you get inspiration from any TV shows or movies? If so, which ones?
I’m inspired by a lot of the crime shows. I enjoy watching the storylines play out, and keeping track of the evidence and suspects. Right now I’m really into the “Lethal Weapon” show. It’s got a great storyline going, it’s humorous, and the two main characters are intriguing. I’m also inspired by professional wrestling. Writers can learn a lot about character development and storylines from watching pro wrestling.
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
Don’t give up. You’re going to get rejected – possibly by a lot of agencies – but you have to believe in yourself and in your novel.
If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would you want to meet and why?
The answer to this is always going to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. When I was in second grade my teacher read Little House in the Big Woods to my class. It was while she was reading the book that I realized I was destined to be a writer. I’d like to meet Laura just so I can thank her for inspiring me. I’d also like to meet Carl Hiaasen because he’s my current favorite writer. I’d love to pick Carl’s brain.
(Author photo credit: Paris Bretherick)