Please welcome NYT Bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub. If you haven;t read her books yet, run to your virtual bookstore and start shopping. Be sure to visit Wendy's Author page at http://www.romancebooks4us.com for more information!
Q: I know everyone asks this but we never tire of hearing the answer. What started you writing in the first place? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
A: I’ve known since I was in third grade that I wanted to become an author. I’d just completed my first writing assignment, an essay on Abraham Lincoln, and my teacher, Mrs. Pizzolanti, told me I had talent. I went home from school that day and told my parents I was going to write books when I grew up. From that moment on—literally—it was my goal, and I never allowed myself to lose sight of it until it became a reality.
Q: How did you decide which genre you wanted to write it? Were there other authors who inspired you?
A: I’ve written in just about every genre there is, reinventing myself constantly as the market changed over the years. Romance, chick lit, young adult, paranormal, horror, historical, pop culture nonfiction, even screenplays. I’ve done it all. But suspense fiction has always been my first love, ever since I read Mary Higgins Clark’s WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN in sixth grade. Two highlights of my career: a cover quote from fellow suspense author Lisa Jackson—“If you like Mary Higgins Clark, you’ll love Wendy Corsi Staub!”—and being a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award at the 2011 MWA Edgar Awards. I’d had the pleasure of meeting Mary a few times at industry events, but on that night we had a lengthy chat about juggling motherhood with deadlines—and Mary told me how much she’d loved my latest book. It was a pinch-me moment I’ll never forget. Both Lisa Jackson and Mary Higgins Clark are not only mega-talented, but gracious class acts!
Q: Do you have a favorite character that you’ve created? And if you could be any character in all of your books, which one would you choose?
A: My favorite character at the moment is Allison Taylor, the heroine of my new trilogy. She’s in her early twenties, single, and working at a glamorous Manhattan fashion magazine when we meet her on September 10, 2001, in the opening chapter of NIGHTWATCHER, the first book. But the events that will unfold the next day not only change Allison’s world forever, but they place her squarely in the path of an opportunistic, cold-blooded serial killer. By the time book three, SHADOWKILLER, wraps up, Allison is a married mother of three, living in the suburbs and ready to face the troubled past she’s never managed to leave behind. Not only do we see Allison evolve from troubled girl to resourceful and mature woman, but we see her priorities change as she resolves issues that have haunted her for a lifetime. To answer the second part of your question—I wouldn’t trade places with any of my characters, particularly in my suspense novels. I put them through hell—something I’m not necessarily eager to embrace in my personal life!
Q: Where do your ideas for plots come from?
A: I’ve never met a writer who wouldn’t answer this question the way I will: I get my ideas everywhere, all day, every day. I just never know when I’m going to stumble across some interesting tidbit in an article or overhear a snippet of conversation between strangers that will trip the “What If” mechanism in my brain into high gear. The premise of NIGHTWATCHER (Harper, on sale 8/28), SLEEPWALKER (Harper, 9/25), and SHADOWKILLER (Harper, 1/27) stemmed from provocative information in two different news reports I saw in the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks. The plot for the trilogy came to me right away. But I’m a New Yorker, and it was much too raw to work on at the time. I back-burnered the idea and waited a decade, until the time felt right to revisit it.
Q: Are any of your characters based on real people?
A: Maybe a few, here and there, over the years. But I’d never reveal which ones, other than to say they’re almost NEVER the people who think they recognize themselves—or others—in my work!
Q: Who do you think has been the greatest influence on your writing? Your career?
A: If you were to ask me who has been the greatest inspiration, as opposed to influence, I’d have a nice long list for you. But influence? To be perfectly honest: I have been the greatest influence on my own writing. I’ve always been, for better and worse, driven by ambition and self-discipline; always been an independent thinker not easily influenced by others’ opinions. I’m quite comfortable operating by gut instinct when making professional decisions. The only people I consult for career advice are my husband, my agent, and my editor—though God knows plenty of people, including strangers, are willing to offer it, unsolicited.
Q: What’s your daily writing routine?
A: I trained myself—back when my children were newborns as I was building a writing career with tight deadlines--to go straight to the computer instead of back to bed after the last wee-hour feeding. It was the only way I could find uninterrupted writing time. To this day, I get up very early, usually well before dawn, and I tend to stay at the keyboard for a solid twelve to fourteen hours a day, which allows me to really inhabit my work in progress—I live and breathe the characters, plot and setting all day, every day. I eat breakfast and lunch at my desk, but I take quick breaks to see my kids before and after school, and I exercise outdoors for about 45 minutes every afternoon. This basically is my routine seven days a week, unless I’m traveling. According to my frequent-hotel-stay statements, I spend almost a third of my life on the road these days, which makes meeting my deadlines more challenging. But I’m proud to say that of nearly 80 published manuscripts, I’ve only delivered a book late twice that I can recall, both when I hit an emotional rough spot and lost my momentum for a few months after my mom passed away.
Q: What’s next up on your schedule?
A: I’m about to hit the road to promote the launch of the new suspense trilogy, NIGHTWATCHER, SLEEPWALKER, AND SHADOWKILLER, and e-book debuts of my first six thrillers, all from Harpercollins: DEARLY BELOVED, ALL THE WAY HOME, FADE TO BLACK, IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE, THE LAST TO KNOW, and SHE LOVES ME NOT. I also have an upcoming paperback reissue of LULLABYE AND GOONIGHT, a backlist title from Kensington, and just found out that LOVE, SUBURBAN STYLE, a contemporary romance I wrote as Wendy Markham, will soon be issued in ebook format by Grand Central Publishing. I’ll be basically traveling weekly from August through November, so check my schedule on my website at www.wendycorsistaub.com for updates. Between appearances, I’m working on a trio of tight deadlines for another suspense trilogy, having just signed another three-book contract with Harper.
Favorite movie: I love those Nora Ephron romantic comedies from the ‘90s, and anything suspenseful with a twist: THE SIXTH SENSE, THE OTHERS, THE ORPHAN…
Favorite song: Anything by U2—I’m pretty much a groupie; I saw their 360 concert tour three times last summer in three different stadiums!
Favorite flavor of ice cream: I always feel like I should lie when I get questions like this, lest my readers conclude I’m a freak of nature, but the truth is—I don’t like ice cream! I don’t have a sweet tooth at all. But give me a bowl of anything salty-crunchy, preferably with salsa, sour cream or cream cheese dip, or guacamole, and I’m in hog heaven!
Favorite hero in movies or on television: No cowboys or rugged action heroes for me. I’ll take a funny, slightly neurotic New Yorker any day: Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld, Matthew Perry’s Chandler Bing on Friends, Jason Siegel’s Marshall on How I Met Your Mother—and on film, Billy Crystal in Harry Met Sally.
Favorite thing to do when not writing: travel or plan my next trip! I’ve been to 48 of 50 states and nearly every island in the Caribbean—plus as far north as the Yukon territory and exotic corners of Mexico and Central America. With my husband and sons along, I’m closing in on the home stretch of an ongoing 50-state book tour. It’ll conclude in 2013 with signings in Wyoming and Hawaii.