21 Oct 2016

Author Interview / JA Schneider

A chilling psychological thriller about a woman caught between two men... 

Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can't remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them - or even her friends? Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent...but is she?

Ira Levin (Rosemary’s Baby, The Boys From Brazil, Stepford Wives) Oh, how I re-read this amazing author – for his brevity, his astonishing ability to say so much – action & emotion - in few words. Plus, of course, his amazingly original concepts!

One of my most favorite, still-shocking, great scenes is in The Boys From Brazil, where Lieberman, the aging, sickly Nazi hunter, finally gets the chance to interview a female former wardress at Auschwitz, now in a German prison. His sister died at Auschwitz! He’s waiting, emotionally coming apart, for the woman’s lawyer to bring her from her cell…and finally, the door opens, and the lawyer leads out a small woman with “a disappointed mouth.” That’s it! The “disappointed mouth” gives the whole character – no need to describe her gray and bent, her drab uniform, surroundings etc. Imagine facing the end of your days with “a disappointed mouth.” Harrowing. The rest of that scene is beyond brilliant; ditto the rest of the book. Levin also works in humor in places where you won’t believe you’re laughing, like…that prison scene? Lieberman asks the wardress the birth date of her dead dog. Major plot point, also funny…

Other brilliant depictions are of Rosemary Woodhouse’s husband and oh so well-meaning “friends.” Years after I’ve read and re-read Rosemary’s Baby, every scene and gesture is so subtle, yet so shocking.

I aim for noon to six. Mornings are for clearing the fogged brain, going through & answering email, reading news, etc. I write sprawled with my laptop & use Word on my MacBook Air. Love the keyboard, how it just zooms.

The first draft. Starting each day with the damned proverbial blank page. I collect quotes by writers who give courage: David Baldacci’s “A writer is always terrified.” Tess Gerritsen’s “Do you have the guts to stay with it?” Stephen King’s “Flail away at the goddamn thing!!” Like that. It helps, most days.

Wrote poems & short stories as a kid. Majored in French Literature, started writing stories imitating Stendahl’s The Red and The Black. Then worked for Newsweek, wrote news by day and fiction at night. Have always been scribbling away at something…
The idea for FEAR DREAMS came when I spent time with a close friend crying, desperate that she was losing her mind. She wasn’t (she’s okay), but I got to imagining a very bright, creative woman, whose life and whole psychology is threatened after trauma. Can she hold on? The story tells how even the most rational of us can end up doubting our sanity.
I’m a compulsive reader. Reading and re-reading old favorites, including Marathon Man, another all-time great thriller, by William Goldman (who wrote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.) I do try to read “best sellers” of today, mostly psychological thrillers - but honestly, I feel that many are slow, bland; am still searching for any that have Levin’s intensity.

It it really, really hard. Accept that. Hugh Howey says it best: “Look at it as a marathon, not a sprint. My bestselling book was my eighth or ninth. As soon as it took off, the rest of my books took off with it. The idea that we can pub one title and it will catch on … your odds are better that you'll rope a unicorn.”

Also, see #3 above. Love and Luck to all…good luck roping your unicorn!!