I’ve had the pleasure of running into Julie Kramer a few times at local events for authors. Of course I’ve read every one of her books. They are set in my new hometown and they feature a news reporter protagonist! The last time I ran into Julie I found out about her new release and was thrilled when she agreed to an author interview on my website. Her words of wisdom on the writing life are below:
P.S. Minnesota peeps: Don’t miss Julie’s launch party for her latest book:
Shunning Sarah Launch Party
Tuesday, August 7, 7 pm
Once Upon A Crime
604 W. 26th St.
Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?
It takes a year for me to write a book because that’s how long my publisher gives me. I do what it takes to make that deadline. Sometimes it means writing fast and furious the final weeks. These days, authors can’t think of themselves as mere artists, they have to be small businesses, and thus I try to balance writing with other necessities like promotion.
What do you do if you get writer’s block?
I try to jump ahead to the next thing that has to happen in the story. Sometimes I find the part that I was struggling with wasn’t necessary to the plot after all, other times the answer comes to me later. I don’t always write chronologically, so cut and paste is my friend.
How important is research to writing fiction?
My stories take place in real places, so I have to be careful not to mess up or that lapse will distract writers from the plot. I’m lucky when it comes to writing about a television newsroom, I’ve lived that research. My new book, SHUNNING SARAH, takes readers inside the mysterious world of the Amish. I grew up on a farm near an Amish family and have always been interested in their culture. Visiting among the Amish was intriguing research. Minnesota has one of the fastest growing Old Order Amish communities and I thought that would make an interesting backdrop to murder.
What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Realize that not everyone is going to like your book. You need to have a thick skin. Working in the news business helped me develop that attitude.
What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?
Never forget that truth is stranger than fiction. Don’t talk yourself out of a good premise because you think readers won’t believe it. It’s your job as a writer to make them believe. “Is it believable?” is a better question to ask 100 pages into your manuscript, not on page one. Nothing in my books is as crazy as what viewers will see on the news each night. Understanding that gives me courage to take chances with my characters. Part of writing suspense comes from taking risks. As a writer of crime fiction, I want to periodically remind readers through storytelling that no character is safe.
What’s the biggest challenge to writing a series?
You need to decide whether your characters will grow and change or stay consistent book to book. You also need to make sure the stories are self-contained so readers don’t have to start at the beginning. At signings, when people ask which book they should buy, unless they tell me they’re the kind of reader who has to start at the beginning of a series, I suggest they pick the book that sounds the most interesting to them. I’m confident they’ll come back for more.
Investigative television journalist Julie Kramer writes a series of thrillers: STALKING SUSAN, MISSING MARK, SILENCING SAM, KILLING KATE and SHUNNING SARAH—set in the desperate world of TV news. Julie won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Mainstream Mystery/Suspense, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best First Mystery as well as the Minnesota Book Award. Her work has also been nominated for the Anthony, Barry, Shamus, Mary Higgins Clark, and RT Best Best Amateur Sleuth Awards. She formerly ran the I TEAM for WCCO-TV before becoming a freelance network news producer for NBC and CBS.