Friday, May 13, 2011

Rose Marie DeHart's The Giveaway Girl

Rose Marie DeHart, author of The Giveaway Girl, is my guest today. She lives about an hour west of me.

It's nice to have you here, Rose Marie. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you, Susan. Well, I am retired from the United Methodist Foundation. My husband, Murry, is a retired Methodist minister and we live in Raleigh, NC. Since my retirement I have participated in the Lifestyle Enrichment Program with Norwegian Cruise Line as a lecturer.

How interesting! What topics?

I have presented lectures on Accessorizing With Scarves and Color Analysis.

We have enjoyed travel since our retirements. We have cruised to Alaska, Hawaii, and the Carribean. One of our travel highlights was the summer we joined Professor Stevens and her students of mystery writing from the University of Wisconsin on a tour of the British Isles. We were treated to a visit/lecture with an English mystery writer each morning of the three week tour. We heard, among others, Edward Marston, Andrew Taylor and Keith Miles.

At the conclusion of the time with the delightful students, Murry and I visited Scotland, Ireland and Paris, France. We have also toured Israel.

I have always loved books. Some of my favorite authors are Pat Conroy, Anne Rivers Siddons, John Dunning, and Nelson DeMille. I also read Patricia Cornwell (although she sometimes tells me more than I really want to know),John Grisham, Margaret Maron, and recently discovered you, Susan Whitfield. Oh, add Lee Smith and Clyde Edgerton to that list.

I was a member of Carolina Crime Writers and published the monthly newsletter for the group. Margaret Maron was a founding member of this group. We met monthy for dinner and a talk by a professional related to crime solving - law enforcement, coroners, detectives, attorneys, bail bondsmen etc. To my sorrow, CCW no longer meets. I was also a member of North Carolina Writers.

Me too.
Rose Marie, what books influenced your reading and writing?

I suppose everything I have ever read has influenced me in some manner.I always received books as gifts at Chrismas and birthdays. In my pre-teen years, I discovered a writer, Grace Livingston Hill. She churned out books as fast as I could read them and I probably read all of them. I come from a background of readers and writers. My paternal grandmother wrote poetry and religious tracts and kept a journal. I have one of her journals. My Aunt Massa Lambert kept journals, also. She taught English at Asheboro High School for over forty years. My Dad was a printer/publisher in Asheboro. William Sidney Porter (O Henry) was a distant relative of my grandmother, although I think they reserved bragging rights during his incarceration in Texas.

In my teens, I received,as a gift, a book written by Hiram Hayden, The Time is Noon. It was, probably, the first grown-up book I ever read. My older sister joined a book club and I began reading all of her books, in addition to the ones in the public library. Books have always been a large part of my life.

What are your writing goals?

After years of starting stories and rarely ever completing one, I look forward to the publication of The Giveaway Girl. I am working on a second book that is a mystery. I also have one in process about the colorful life of my Dad's youngest sister. I love books. I love words. I regret that I have waited so late in life to finally join the ranks of published authors.

What is your most rewarding experience during the writing process?

I love writing and have a computer full of ideas, a few chapters here and there. My reward is seeing the characters come alive and begin to speak.

Now, Rose Maire, tell us about The Giveaway Girl.

The Giveaway Girl came to me word by word. I had no idea where it was going. Every class I have ever taken says plot, plot, plot but I seem to just let it happen. The idea of meeting at a fast food restaurant came to my mind and I just went with it. I can't explain why I chose those names, Ashley and Scarlet. The publisher said it was too improbable but I overruled them. Here is the quote from the back cover - "Ashley Wilkes and Scarlet O'Hara meet and find love in the foothills of North Carolina. A chance encounter at a fast food restaurant is the beginning. Identifying a photograph leads Scarlet and Ashley on a journey to find the father that Scarlet never knew. The search uncovers long buried family secrets that involve the world of racing and moonshine liquor. Along the way, Ashley discovers that he is not the person he has thought himself to be. The cast of characters includes two dowager sisters, their British chauffeur, a mother on the edge of dementia, a gardener who loves crossword puzzles and a Gulf war hero. Don't miss the surprise that unfolds for Scarlet."

Do you think your writing has improved since your first attempts?

Oh, my yes! My first attempts were so long ago, I hardly remember them. In high school, a friend and I collaborated on a play that our dramatics class was prepared to present and the principal nixed it because the characters were in pajamas at a slumber party. Imagine that. I have a few short stories tucked away that never had a chance for publication.

How do you determine your voice in writing?

I usually stay with third person because it is easier. The mystery I am working on now is in first person. It is challenging, but the character speaks to me. I have come to know him.

Why did you decide to switch, Rose Marie?

When it was in the early stages, several years ago, a friend read it and asked me why I didn't write it in present tense. I decided to try it. I have 18,000 words on it and when I read through it, I see a tense change or two that I have to correct. To make it even tougher, a man is telling the story.

You can do it!

Susan, I appreciate your taking this time to help me as I enter the world of writers. Thank you so much.

You are certainly welcome, Rose Marie. Perhaps we will meet in person one day soon.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dr. Darden North makes a return visit

A practicing obstetrician/gynecologist in Mississippi, Darden North has written three nationally-awarded hardcover novels, most notably Points of Origin recognized in Southern Fiction by the Independent Publisher (IPPG) Book Awards. North has served as a panelist at “Murder in the Magic City” (Birmingham, AL), “Author! Author! Celebration of the Written Word” (Shreveport LA), “Murder on the Menu” (Wetumpka, AL), “Thriller Author Panel – 2008 Southern Independent Book Association (SIBA) Show” (Mobile, AL), and “The Writers’ Block - 2009 SIBA Show (Greenville, SC) and has exhibited at the Texas, Kentucky Bluegrass, and South Carolina book festivals as well as at the Artists Tent of Mississippi Picnic in New York City. As a speaker and facilitator, he conducted workshops on writing mysteries and promoting authors’ work at the 2010 Southern Expressions Writers Conference. North actively promotes his own writing through television and radio interviews as well as through personal speaking engagements and the Internet. July 2011 marks 25 years of fulltime medical practice, a background that lends unmistakable authenticity to his mystery and medical thriller novels, stories set in the contemporary South with intense character relationships and unexpected plot lines. Darden North’s author website is . He lives in Jackson, Mississippi, with his wife, two young adult children, and three dogs.

Welcome back, Darden.

Thanks for having me back, Susan.

My pleasure. Let's jump right in because I know how busy you are. What books came along at just the right time to influence your reading/writing?

Anything by Greg Iles and James Patterson

We seem to like the same company.

Have you ever used a pen name?

When my first novel House Call was slated for publication originally in hardcover in 2005, we decided to use my actual name (no pen name) along with my professional designation since I was and remain a practicing physician ... so the author of House Call, Points of Origin, and Fresh Frozen is me ... Darden North, MD. Most physicians who write fiction (one very notable example being Robin Cook) have dropped the MD. I believe that including the professional designation has increased local and regional sales of my work. One sort of humorous moment was at a Christmas marketplace in Baton Rouge when I was sharing a signing booth with two cookbook authors. A potential reader browsed through their delicious recipes designed to be healthy, family-friendly, and from scratch and then moved next to my third novel, Fresh Frozen (hardcover 2008, ebook 2010). The reader picked up the novel and noted the Darden North, MD, on the cover. "So this book is for the frozen food?" Frank Vitolo, the film producer of the screenplay adaptation of Fresh Frozen (scheduled to begin production in summer 2011) tells me it’s time to separate the author and the doctor … so my future author’s name most likely will be Darden North.

Ahh. By the way, congrats on the film! That's awesome news.

Please give us a short synopsis of your fourth novel, work-in-progress, Wiggle Room.

My work-in-progress is a true-thriller. I have listened to my readers: There are more murders and more sex in my upcoming fourth novel. However, true to form, my characters remain vivid and southern. In Wiggle Room, Brad Cummins, a young Air Force trauma surgeon, returns to Mississippi from his deployment in Iraq to realize that he is the target of an assassin. In the guise of a university exchange student on US soil, a rogue Iraqi terrorist is not the only one after Dr. Brad Cummins.

How has your writing progressed since your first book, Darden? Has it changed you? If so, how?

Working with a professional editor as I write my fourth novel has forced me to tighten even the earlier drafts, watching point-of-view closely while churning the action constantly. Hopefully, with the help of my seasoned editor, the completed final draft of Wiggle Room will be closer to final than my earlier works!

When do you accomplish your best writing?

Weekend mornings or early AM during the week if I do not have a surgery case scheduled.

After hours of intense writing, how do you unwind?

My wife Sally and I take a daily two- to four-mile neighborhood walk. For me, that exercise along with cutting back at meals has dropped the twenty pounds I gained in front of my laptop writing my first three novels.

Are your books available in print, ebook, and Kindle?

All three novels (House Call, Points of Origin, and Fresh Frozen) are available in hardcover print and as eBooks: including Kindle, iPad, Kobo, Nook, Sony eReader, and Smashwords. House Call is also in paperback and its signed hardcovers, I’m proud to say, have become collectible.

Where can we purchase these books and get more information about you?

My novels are available through any bricks-and-mortar bookstore via the major book distributors as well as online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble,,, and others. Also my website offers a BUY IT link for each book that lists bookstores carrying signed copies, some with online access.

The eBook versions are available as well on electronic devices. Readers can find my blog, upcoming book signings, book trailers, media interviews, and other announcements on my website

Thanks for talking with me, Susan. I enjoyed the visit!

Come back any time, Darden. Let us know when the film version of Fresh Frozen is released.