Crime & Mystery Lovers rejoice, it’s author interview time!!! My Crooked Lane Books sister, Leanne Kale Sparks’ novel, The Wrong Woman, released earlier this month. And today she’s sitting down—in the blog post sense—to share some behind the scenes details on her creative process.
But first, let’s start things off with a book description:
In The Wrong Woman the only survivor of Denver’s notorious “Reaper” serial murders, FBI Special Agent Kendall Beck grapples with the ghosts of her past by seeking justice for victims of abuse. She’s neck deep in a particularly ugly case involving the disappearance of five-year-old Emily Williams—but her investigation is derailed when her best friend and roommate, Gwen Tavich, turns up dead floating in a nearby lake.
Devastated by the news of Gwen’s death, Kendall teams up with Denver detective Adam Taylor to find the killer. Gwen’s fiancé, Ty Butler, is being evasive about the last time he saw Gwen, and as the evidence mounts against him, he’s arrested for the murder. With every new clue, Kendall questions how well she really knew her friend. And when Gwen’s dark secrets begin spilling out one by one, she begins to understand the devastating magnitude of her murder. The Reaper has returned to Denver—and he’s not stopping at just one victim.
As the trauma of Kendall’s past comes roaring back, she and Adam have no time to spare before more bodies start piling up. And then Kendall makes a shocking discovery that reveals the horrifying truth behind Emily Williams’s disappearance. Now, Kendall must confront her darkest fears as she and the Reaper face off one more time.
Intrigued? Leanne’s book is available everywhere . . . you know what to do (buy it)!
Leanne, congratulations on the release of the book! So tell us, does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. It sounds like a cop-out answer, but it is true. When the story hits me and my fingers can’t keep up with the flow of words coming from my head, it is fuel for the soul, and I feel like I’m queen of the world. Exhaustion comes in two different forms for me: enjoyable—typically following the above word flow scenario. But the exhaustion borne of inability to get anywhere with my story is bone-weary fatigue, and that one is harder to overcome. Eventually, inspiration strikes, and I get my writing mojo back and all is right with the world again.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Research really depends on the book. If there is a new subject I am unfamiliar with (in The Wrong Woman it was electrophilia) then I will research that upfront. Usually, however, I end up returning to notes I have on certain subjects—typically pertaining to law enforcement procedures, etc.—or doing research “on the fly” as I am writing.
How different is the final product—the published version of The Wrong Woman—from the first draft?
Very different. The basic plot is the same, but there are so many machinations along the way, the story doesn’t mirror the first draft closely at all. For example, in The Wrong Woman, there were many characters and subplots added after the first draft. In fact, the serial killer changed during one of the final drafts. The story was always going to center around an FBI agent who was trying to find out who murdered her best friend. And Adam Taylor was always going to be her “in” with the police investigation, as well as, looping back around to Kendall’s own experiences with a serial killer in her youth. But there were many additions and changes to this story before it was polished and ready for publication.
What did you edit out of this The Wrong Woman?
I had more chapters/scenes from the serial killer’s point of view sprinkled throughout the book. My editor and I decided to take those out. One day, I may add them to a newsletter or something because I think they do delve into the mind of a madman a bit and are a fun read.
How important is setting to a novel
If done correctly, the setting can almost feel as if it is another character in the book. The Wrong Woman is set in Denver, Colorado—a state very near and dear to my heart. I was born and raised just south of Denver, in Colorado Springs, but haven’t been back in many years. So, this was a way for me to have a connection again. I love being able to use the change of seasons, and the majestic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in the book. And being familiar with the area, made it easy to find places to dump the serial killer’s victims. I also have a friend who is more than willing to scout places where nefarious deeds might take place—and send me pictures!
Thanks Leanne! Here’s hoping The Wrong Woman is a huge hit!