Thursday, December 15, 2011

How About a Candy Cadillac for Christmas?

My special guest today is Claire Applewhite, whom I've met in person. Claire is a petite beauty with plenty of charm and talent. We have the same publisher, L&L Dreamspell, in common. It's my pleasure to have you on the blog, Claire.

Thank you, Susan. 

Tell us something about yourself that readers might be surprised to learn. 

People may not know that I study piano and music composition. Recently, I’ve written the music and lyrics for my video trailers.  It is an exciting challenge to match the mood of the music to the theme of the story.

Wow! How exciting! I can hardly wait to see the video trailers.

How many books have you written, Claire?

The Wrong Side of Memphis, Crazy For You, St. Louis Hustle, Candy Cadillac.

What books or authors have influenced you?

Books: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, A Dark Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine, and authors Walter Mosley, Ed McBain, Mary Higgins Clark.

What has been your most rewarding experience durng the writing process?

When someone emails me or stops me to say that they really enjoyed my book, or especially when they say they meant to read a chapter a night and ended up staying half the night to read more of the book. Or when someone says, “I don’t usually like to read, but I liked your book.”

That IS rewarding.

Tell us about your latest release, Candy Cadillac.

Candy Cadillac is the third in the ‘nam noir series, featuring Elvin Suggs and Di Redding. There was a time in St. Louis history when car bombings were quite active among organized crime figures. Years ago, one of the victims had a girlfriend that lived in our neighborhood, and a detective banged on our door one Sunday afternoon, wanting to know what we knew about her boyfriend, who had, by the way, been blown up when he started his car. By the way, what did we know about her, hmm? This scenario inspired the makings of Candy Cadillac. 

Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?

It is available in print, ebook and Kindle formats.

Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others?

Candy Cadillac was more challenging to write because it had a ticking clock in it from page one until the end. It was critical that I keep an eye on my timeline. The entire story occurs between a Wednesday and a Sunday evening, and it was the first book that I have written where time lapsed between scenes really mattered.

What are some of the challenges you faced while plotting a series with ongoing characters?

Before I begin writing, I try to decide how much time/space each character will occupy during the story. For example, will it center on the growth of a particular character this time? What role will the others play? Will they all appear or only some of them? How much of a subplot will they offer?

How do you develop characters?

First, I line up 3-5 of the most interesting people I know and select a strong characteristic from each one. Then I blend them into one person. I ask what does this person want more than anything in the world? Who or what is in their way? What are they most afraid of? And then, I make sure that thing happens. The character is definitely different in the end than they were in the beginning of the story.

How do you choose your setting?

For me, the story chooses the setting. I look for the theme or mood of the storyline and it tells me where to set the plot.

Any current or future projects?

Currently, I am working on the fourth in the series, Tennessee Plates, in which Elvin goes returns to Memphis and finds romance—with the wrong woman.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

 My website is

Claire, thanks for taking the time for an interview about your new release. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Thanks for having me, Susan. Wishing you a memorable holiday season as well.


Betty Gordon said...

Good interview, Susan and Claire. I didn't realize you wrote your own music for videos, etc. Music composition is a great asset in writing -- rhythm, etc.

I wish you both a wonderful Christmas.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Claire and Susan,

This sounds like a really exciting novel and I love both the cover art and the title.

All the best,

Jacqueline Seewald

Pauline B Jones said...

Fun interview, Claire! Congrats on the releases! they sound fascinating!

Linda Lovely said...

Claire and Susan, interesting interview. I think you're spot on about a ticking clock representing a challenge for a thriller/ suspense writer. The time usually has to be very short to maintain suspense, which makes developing relationships between characters a bigger challenge.