You write mysteries (more than one series and standalones) and all kinds of other stuff. Give us the skinny on this.
As far as mysteries are concerned, I'm the creator of the Harry Bronson mysteries, the Amiee Brant series, and what may be a standalone, Secrets of the Tunnels. I have the first chapters of my published novels--ten so far--on my website. Please feel free to check them out at http://lchayden.com/.
Do you recommend that beginning writers stick to one genre/format or do you think they should acquire experience writing in more than one genre/format? Why?
What is the silliest “writer” question you’ve ever been asked?
I feel there's no such thing. Authors, from beginners to advanced, need to know things and the only way is to ask--no matter how silly you think the question is, it should be asked.
Very important. If your story takes place in New York but can as easily be changed to Chicago or Los Angeles or Dallas or Tiny Town USA, then you haven't taken advantage of your setting. The setting, if properly used, can be--and should be--a protagonist. That's just one more way to add suspense to your writing. Let the setting be as important as a character. Make it an integral part of the story.
Are you a proponent of outlining or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I write by the seat of my pants, but lately, I've been debating how wise that is. I'm going to try very hard on the next book I write to outline--even if it's a brief outline. Reason? There's so many times I get my characters--mainly Bronson--in such a deep hole that they can't seem to get out. I have no idea where to go next and often the Dreaded Writers Block follows. Also, I have to go back and foreshadow and create several incidents that will make what I wrote toward the end of the book possible. Sometimes I fail to notice to plant these incidents then I often have major rewrites. So, now that I'm ready to write my next Harry Bronson mystery, I plan to begin by outlining. So far, it's been working but it's all in my mind. I have to put it down to make it official. Let's see how it works.
How much of your personal experiences, and own personality, appear in your books? What advice can you offer new writers about this?
We can't write from a void. What we write is based on experiences and most of those are based on personal experiences. True, none of us has committed murder (I hope!), yet we write about murder. So, how does this relate to personal experiences? We base our murder scenes on what we have seen in movies, TV, or read about. We've talk to FBI agents, police officers, and other officials. They have provided material for us to use--but it's still based on the experiences we've had. We've added, deleted, and changed our work, our ideas, all based on what we know or what we have experienced.
Do you have any writing quirks?
You mean not everybody does? Mine definitely involves my writing method. Although I love my computer, I still write all my manuscripts long hand. After revisions, I type the manuscript, but as I do, I’m typing in additional revisions. Next, I print out the manuscript, and once again, using long hand, I make any additional changes. Then I go back to the computer. As before, while typing, I’m revising. Then I repeat the entire process again--several times if I have to. Weird, huh? You’d think I’d do the whole thing in the computer since that’s where it's going to end up. But oh no, not me. I've got to hand write it—and it must be in blue ink. Red is for corrections while black is to work on the budget. Give me my blue and red pens.
L.C. Hayden can be found on her websites at http://lchayden.com/ or http://www.booksbyhayden.com/