9 May 2016

Author Interview / JA Schneider

Liddy Barron, an artist, was injured in a hit-and-run accident that left her with recurring nightmares, gaps in her memory, and an increasing obsession in the disappearance of a coed named Sasha Perry. Insecure and nervous, Liddy's turmoil grows as she begins seeing ghostly images.

Her husband Paul tries to help but suspects it's just her imagination...while intuitive Detective Kerri Blasco, also obsessed with young Sasha's disappearance, senses that Liddy may have a key to solving the case, and tries to unravel the shocking truth of what really haunts her.

J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek. Words and story ideas are always teeming in her head – “a colorful place!” she says. She loves medical and psychological thrillers. Once a Liberal Arts major (French Literature), she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and human psychology. 

She invites you to follow her on Twitte https://twitter.com/#!/JoyceSchneider1
or Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/7fm44mk
or Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5832782.J_A_Schneider
On Facebook especially, she loves to hear from her readers. Stop & say hi! :) 

1.  If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why? 
Maybe Ira Levin, if he were alive. I mean, I’d love to learn from him. I’ve always been fascinated by his ingenious brevity, his ability to say it all and go deep in one or few words. Picture a story scene where news comes that’s sad or terrible or devastating, and a character just says a bland, “Oh?” There you have it; in one word that character has revealed indifference, shallowness. Agatha Christie at her best also excelled at that. Scenes that have influenced me hugely are, for example, the scene in Levin’s “The Boys From Brazil,” where the female former warden in a concentration camp is about to be brought from her prison cell for Lieberman, the Nazi hunter, to question. Lieberman is just dying of nerves, banging heart, feelings boiling with emotion wondering how he’ll react when he sees her. Finally, her lawyer brings her. The door opens. Lieberman’s heart is bursting…and in simply steps a drab old woman with “a disappointed mouth.”

“A disappointed mouth!” This person’s entire life and character summed up in four words! And we see her - much better than if Levin had gone on and on about her pallor, sunken features, depressing German prison uniform. He could have done that, but he didn’t. With those four words we see that woman much more clearly. 

To work with or for an author like that, how incredible that would be...

2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write? 
Typical working day would be about five hours, after that the brain feels fried. I love best to work in or on my bed or the sofa, on my back with my lightweight Mac Air perched on my knees. Freud was right, I think, about this position being good to let thoughts flow, also to block out the white noise of…life, lawn mowers outside etc. Have you ever watched the TV show “The Mentalist?” The lead character Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) does that, it’s his favorite position to mull and ponder, try to force the gray cells.

3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you? 
The hardest part is what Hugh Howey calls “powering through,” just getting it down fast and returning later to edit. I can’t do that! I’m kinda o.c. and edit as I go along - or first thing next morning. That doesn’t qualify me for the 3,000 words a day club, but editing helps me get started each day, remember what I wrote yesterday. I just can’t spew a mess figuring I’ll come back to edit later. Wish I could, actually. It must be a great feeling, being able to say, “Hey, I wrote 5,000 words today.” 

4.  When and why did you first start writing? 

In third or fourth grade. People used to kid me about what a wild imagination I had, so I started putting my childish little stories on paper. 

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?
It started small. I’d been mulling a married couple where each is very different: the husband Paul is a scientist, a Facts and Logic guy, brilliant academically but not hugely imaginative - whereas Liddy is an artist who sees everything visually and has an intense imagination. They seem happy and complement each other: she’s colorful, he’d be borderline nerdy if he weren’t good-looking. So what could upset this perfect balance? Throw in a near tragic accident, and Liddy’s brain injury - and then, during her convalescence, her growing obsession with a young coed the media keep reporting as missing. Paul becomes troubled because of this. He’s a neuroscientist - at one point has to stifle himself from saying “Snap out of it!” Are Liddy’s feelings confusing her own near tragedy with this young girl’s disappearance where foul play is suspected?  Or is there something else that’s spiking her obsession - and with it, the growing marital tension? The story snowballed from there. 

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
I’m a passionate reader. Even after a busy day of headachy writing, I can't fall asleep without reading. Right now I’m re-reading MARATHON MAN, by William Goldman. After Agatha’s best (DEATH ON THE NILE, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS) and the Ira Levin books, this is another classical great, and I totally love Goldman’s character Babe. I’m also reading two of Rachel Abbott’s books. She does something I love: combine psychological thrillers with police work. 

7.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Accept that it’s hard, really the hardest thing in the world, I think. Mental heavy lifting, forcing the sluggish brain. I wish I could follow that myself but I get impatient with the process, want it done faster, sooner, better already!…and that doesn’t happen, of course. So, accept up front that there’s nothing glamorous about writing, it’s just the daily slog. In the words of Stephen King, “I just keep flailing away at the g-d thing.” 

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