14 July 2010

Author Answers with Julie Wachowski

Give a hello to Julie Wachowski today as she tells us about her new book and the world of e-publishing as one of Carina Press's new authors!

WN: What's "In Plain View" about and where did you get the idea for this story?
WACHOWSKI: ‘What’s it about?’ is a tricky question!

I had friends and family over for a party recently and someone asked me, “So what’s your book about?”

My Dad was bartending that day, which means I was feeling a little relaxed and philosophical. “It’s about how we are fundamentally altered by what we see. It’s about being a witness to pain.”

My friend pursed his lips. “Uh-huh. If you don’t want to tell me, that’s cool.”

I laughed! I was trying to answer his question. “It’s about a news videographer who returns the Midwest to care for her niece. Her first story is investigating the death of a man dressed in Amish clothes hanging from a tree--with porn at his feet.”

“Wow. Sounds good.”

As a writer, a mystery lets you play with writing about process. Working in television gave me a lot of specific knowledge about a process that I thought people would be interested in—how television gets made. Of course, I was (mostly) a good-girl, cream-puff on the job. So I invented Maddy. She got to say all the things I was thinking.

The death at the beginning of In Plain View came from a true event. A friend of mine used to run a small town newspaper in Michigan. She sent a reporter to follow up on a police scanner call. A man in Amish clothes hanging from a tree with men’s magazines on the ground around him. I found the whole image so disturbing—I knew I had to write about it.

WN:What kind of reader will this book be appealing to?
WACHOWSKI: Well, the auto-erotic suicide kind of eliminates the Amish niche, I’m afraid. Readers who appreciate a little humor and a taste of social commentary in their mystery will appreciate In Plain View.
WN: In a blog post, you lay out your life in the mystery books you've read, from Trixie Belden on. What is it about mysteries that you like so much?
WACHOWSKI: I believe all genre fiction is about satisfying basic needs of the human brain--whether it’s curiosity, a sense of mastery, pure endorphin rush or the soothing patterns of genre. Story is how the brain organizes itself. Stories give the brain the food it needs to survive and thrive.

Mysteries provide sustenance for the need for stimulation, curiosity, problems to solve. They also satisfy our emotional need for justice. One of the first sentences a kid learns to say is: “That’s not fair!” When the universe is particularly unknowable and unfair, I believe a good mystery recharges your mind. It helps you pick up and carry on creating the just world we all want to live in.

WN: You're one of Carina Press' new totally e-book authors. Did this take getting used to, that your name wasn't going to be on a tangible book?
WACHOWSKI: I’ve had the great good fortune to make a lot of professional writing friends, many of whom started their careers a few years before me. They were able to take advantage of the 1980-90’s boom years when Barnes & Noble and Borders were everywhere and books were great business.

That model has changed, like it or not. I recently heard Sara Paretsky, author of the V.I. Warshawski mysteries, speak about this. When she started out, she said there were over forty mainstream publishers she could send a book to—now there are seven. I’ve heard industry experts predicting there will be four major publishers when the current market contraction finally stabilizes. It’s a whole new world.

I love to hold a book in my hand. But it’s pretty clear that how we read—whether it’s our newspapers or our fiction—is being altered by technology. 100 years ago, the post office stopped delivering twice a day because of the telephone. 2000 years ago, Plato grumped about how no one would bother to remember long saga poems if people wrote everything down on scrolls. The world turns. Things change. E-books are the future of the industry.

I was excited by the announcement of Carina Press. Carina is the first major publisher to go after the e-market. As an off-shoot of Harlequin, the biggest guerilla out there in the genre marketplace, they have some real advantages. Harlequin is ahead of the curve on e-books. They already have significant online marketing presence. These people are social media artists! And I’d met Malle Vallik, the woman in charge of Carina, at a writing conference. She struck me as really smart and right on target with her taste in story.

As a business person, submitting my book to Carina was my opportunity to join the next boom wave. Now, all I have to do is teach my parents how to download.

WN: What's the best book that's captured your attention so far this year?
WACHOWSKI: You do know that’s like trying to pick your favorite flower in the garden? I’m kind of a PIA about this kind of question. Hmmm…here goes:

Essays: A Very Bad Wizard, Tamlar Sommers
Personal: Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity, David Whyte
YA: The Underneath, Kathi Appelt
Mystery: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
Romance: The Forbidden Rose, Joanna Bourne

WN: What's next for you as a writer?
WACHOWSKI: I’m working on a re-write of a novel and a new screenplay right now. I wish there were 30 hours in a day!

1 comment:

Blythe Gifford said...

Julie: I got a Kindle because of you and Carrie and Carina Press, so your book is now downloaded and ready for me to savour.

p.s. The Forbidden Rose was my first Kindle read!