A Colorado native, Peg Brantley is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime. She and her husband make their home southeast of Denver, sharing it with the occasional pair of mallard ducks and their babies, snapping turtles, peacocks, assorted other birds, foxes and deer named Cedric. Her first two books, Red Tide and The Missings, were both released in 2012. Look for The Sacrfice in 2013.
You can learn more about Peg at http://www.pegbrantley.com or meet up with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pegbrantleyauthorpage
What inspires you to write?
“Inspires” is a tricky word. My readers give me encouragement, and through their encouragement, I’m inspired. I love to flesh out a story and its characters, and that process inspires me. I have a couple of muses, a particular postcard (a painting by Marie-Guillemine Benoist), a photo of my mom and a lit candle that influence me to do well, and thus I’m inspired.
Tell us about your writing process.
I can go down too many rabbit holes if I just sit down and let ‘er rip. By the same token, plotting infinitely would bore me to tears and the story would be over before it ever began. I tend to have a bit of a plan, the beginning and a general idea of the ending. It’s like going on a road trip with a couple of planned stops, and the rest is unexplored territory… but still going toward one destination. I will create a stream of conscious plot concept where I ask questions and explore rabbit holes. If I can get things to hang together, and know the idea is bigger than a short story, I’m ready to go.
What I know really, really, really well before I begin writing are my characters. I know more about them then ever shows up blatently in a story, but because of how complete they are, my readers know them too.
I do create a scene list—a suggested route for the road trip. I write it somewhat stream of consciously as well, and as I actually write the manuscript this list gets amended and changed endlessly. (By now the SOC plot concept is long gone and rarely referred to.)
Recommended: WRITE AWAY by Elizabeth George was my big aha! moment.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
This is a great question. At one time I would have simply said sure. The truth is, I read their private diaries to know what has made them the way they are. When I’m writing them, I get inside their skin and do my best to feel the way they would feel and react in whatever situation they’re in. Because I know their secrets.
What advice would you give other writers?
In the beginning, create. Don’t edit. Get out your roadmap, turn on your car and go. Just go. Zone out if you can. Let everything Just Be. You can let your editor loose later. Right now? Lock him or her in your trunk.
Join critique groups. Get beta readers. Invest in your career by hiring an editor, but only when you’re ready to hire one. Unless you’re a fabulous graphic designer, hire someone to create your covers. Plan your release date the same way the publishers do…. send out some advance copies to get the buzz going on the very day your book is released, if not before.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
L.J. Sellers is a good friend of mine. She’d been traditionally published and then circumstances convinced her she had no choice but to get her rights back to her titles and publish her books on her own. And she was successful. And happy. The stigma about self-publishing was slowly dissolving and I decided not to wait.
New authors should make sure their book is ready. They should decide how much control they want, remembering that with control comes responsibility. Did I mention that new authors should make sure their book is ready? Don’t skip that professional edit.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
For the first time, the success or failure of a writer is in the right hands. Readers. Not a gate-keeper or an acquisitions editor with their own set of biases. A reader can become his or her own acquisitions editor and that’s cool!
Having said that, the newest phenomena is the hybrid writer: someone who both publishes independently and with a traditional publisher. I think that could be the best of both worlds.
Are paper books finished? Not on your life. Are ebooks a passing fad? Not according to my sales (or my own reading habits).
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Crime fiction, suspense, thriller, police procedural
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print