Today we have husband and wife authors Janet Elizabeth Lynn and Will Zellinger sitting down for a dual interview. Along with solo works, the two have teamed up to co-author the mystery Slivers of Glass. Learn more about Janet and her books at her website and Will and his books at his website.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
Janet: I always wanted to write a Noir murder mystery. After seven murder and cozy mysteries, I discovered I couldn't get into a guy's head as well as another man. So I approached my husband, also a published author and he agreed. We started January 3, 2014 and finished it November 2014.
Will: Writing wasn’t always on my radar. I was trained as a graphic designer/art director. In my field, I’d written a lot of ad copy but never anything like a novel or even a short story. Imagine my surprise when I found out I liked to write and had stories to tell. Working with Janet is a joy as she brings an entirely different skill set to our writing.
How long did it take to realize your dream of publication?
Janet: I wanted to write all my life. I became a Clinical Speech Pathologist and enjoyed the field for 30 years. But I always wondered about writing a novel. Finally, 15 years ago I decided if I didn't try, I'd never know. I took classes, seminars, and sat in writer groups. In 2011 I published my first murder mystery, South of the Pier. Since that publication, I have published 4 murder, 3 cozy mysteries and 4 cookbooks. Slivers of Glass is my 8th mystery.
Will: After writing and pitching my first book, a romantic comedy from a male POV, for 6 years and only getting a couple of nibbles, I switched to mystery/crime. I independently published those first three novels as ebooks and have enjoyed seeing them sell. For Slivers of Glass, I joined with Janet to research and write this period Noir mystery.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
Janet: Indie for sure, but who knows what the future will bring.
Will: I am an indie published author with four novels, a cartoon book and a short story included in an anthology
Where do you write?
Janet: Someone once wrote the following equation, "Butt + chair = book". I write usually at my computer in my office. However, I am not above writing or editing in doctor's offices, dental offices, grocery lines, or stuck in traffic. Anywhere! As long as I have light, pen, script and place to put my butt, I'm focused.
Will: I like to write at my desk in my home office. Because I am easily distracted, taking my laptop or a notepad somewhere does not usually result in very many words.
Is silence golden or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Janet: Depends on the scene. If I'm writing a fight scene and need tension, I listen to heavy metal like, Aerosmith or Led Zepplin. If I'm writing romantic scenes, I like Strauss waltzes. Otherwise, I like quiet.
Will: Like Janet, it depends on the mood of the scene I am writing. Mostly I prefer quiet, but ambient noise (airplanes, sirens, leafblowers, etc.) doesn’t bother me too much.
How much of your plots and character are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
Janet: I combine several friends’ personality and quirks into one character. As far as plots, they say life imitates fiction!
Will: Very little of what I write can be attributed to actual life experience or people I know. From my life? Ha, ha – I do use some characteristics from some people I’ve encountered in my life, but they are usually composites and not individuals.
Describe your process for naming your character.
Janet: Character names that easily roll off the tongue. I like the way the name Skylar Drake makes my mouth feel when I say his name!
Will: My first step is to research whether the name I’ve chosen has been taken by any other author. Second I try to use names that are believable, memorable, easily spelled and pronounced. Third, they should be appropriate for period and character traits.
Real settings or fictional towns?
Janet: Real towns with fictional characters and events are great to write about. By using real towns, research is easy and about real life.
Will: Again. I normally use places that are composites of actual places unless the story requires an actual location – sometimes I mix real and fictional places.
What's the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Janet: Skylar Drake refused to date women whose name ends in "y". Even when they put the moves on him, he bites his tongue and slowly walks away, biting harder as he closes the door behind him.
Will: In my book Something’s Cooking at Dove Acres, there is a gypsy/brunette Marge Simpson/hippy chick with a sing-songy “Yoo Hoo.”
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
Janet: I would love to write a sequel to the book, Cold Mountain. Why? I love the characters, they just pop off the page.
Will: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler Why? It's one of those books that defines noir. Setting, characters, dialog, plot all lead the reader to follow the author down the dark path. A classic.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What's yours?
Janet: My bathroom, I hate the tile.
Will: Can I get my hair back?
What's your biggest pet peeve?
Janet: People who expect the world then demand the world from others. One of my characters in Slivers of Glass is such a person.
Will: Cashiers and wait staff who chit-chat with their coworkers right in front of you instead of doing their jobs. In my college days I waited tables and worked in retail. I don’t remember it being as prevalent – or maybe I’m just old and cranky.
What was the worst job you've ever had?
Janet: Assembly line work while a starving student. This particular job was stuffing old style thermometers with mercury, BORING!!
Will: Working graveyard shift printing the window price stickers for Lexus, Infiniti and other luxury cars while making close to minimum wage (30 years ago)
You're stranded on a desert island. What are you three must-haves?
Janet: My pillow, food/water and a sheet. I hate creepy crawly bugs.
Will: A woman, food/water, a boat.
What's the best book you ever read?
Janet: Mysteries of any kind. I love the puzzle, the challenge of figuring out who and why!
Will: Too many to name – no favorites as each one is different.
Ocean or mountains?
Janet: Ocean, the most amazing place to visit underwater, and enjoy the environment on top of the water.
Will: Ocean - warm ocean.
City girl/guy or Country girl/guy?
Janet: City girl by all means. I'm from New York, love the hustle and bustle of the city.
Will: A little of both. As a kid, I used to spend summer on the farm, grass open spaces friendly folks, but I like the nice things city life provides.
What's on the horizon for your?
Janet: More noir and short stories, all mysteries.
Will: Ditto. Well, maybe some tongue in cheek stuff, too.
Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
Janet: Partnering was a most amazing experience. People warned us it would break up our marriage, but it did the opposite. We were organized, scheduled and committed. It worked...and it worked well.
Will: I’m still looking for the proper niche. Mystery/Crime is a lot of fun, but I like a little (non-explicit) sex tossed in for the guys. Al Capp was once asked why he drew Daisy Mae and her cousins in such a voluptuous manner, he replied: As long as I have a choice…”
Slivers of Glass, a Skylar Drake Mystery
Southern California 1955: the summer Disneyland opened, but even "The Happiest Place on Earth" couldn't hide the smell of dirty cops, corruption and murder.
The body of a women thought to be killed three years earlier is found behind a theater in Hollywood. Movie Stuntman Skylar Drake, former LAPD detective, is dragged into the investigation. He can make no sense of the crime until he discovers a dirty underworld and unearths deep-seated...greed.
Watch the video.
Watch the video.