I first met Peg Cochran through membership in Sisters in Crime. We “met” online and quickly discovered we had a few things in common. We were mystery writers, Italian-American women, and we both LOVE to cook. In fact, the first night I met Owen Laukkanen, I made Peg’s yummy bean salad as one of the side dishes. I can’t wait to meet Peg in person and would love to sit and talk food with her and, of course, eat! She’s been a very encouraging and supporting person in this writing business and I’m so glad we are friends. Here is Peg in her own words:
1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?
I wish I had a schedule! Right now I basically have two books due a year, but they’re back-to-back dates a month apart. I eat at my desk and write on my lunch hour at work almost every day. Then I try to do a little writing before dinner and sometimes while cooking dinner (that doesn’t always produce the best culinary results!). Then maybe another hour or two after dinner. I try to grab a big chunk of time on Saturdays and/or Sundays as well. It all depends on how close my deadline is looming!
2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?
I don’t get writer’s block per se—as in can’t come up with an idea. At least that’s how I interpret writer’s block. If the words aren’t flowing, it’s usually because I don’t know where I’m going. Sometimes that means I need to think through a scene and just scribble it out on paper really roughly–like what needs to be said by whom, where they are, what the room looks like, what they might be doing.
Sometimes I’m just not sure where to go next with the story or I’m at a fork in the road. Then I tend to brainstorm on paper—just write down all the possibilities and see where they lead.
And have faith! The words somehow always end up coming!
3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?
I’d recommend reading the types of books you want to write first off. If you want to write cozies, then read some of the best cozies. If you want to write hard-boiled, reading a cozy, no matter how well-written, isn’t going to do you all that much good. I also like reading “traditional” mysteries because I think they are helpful no matter which direction you’re going in—P.D. James, Peter Robinson, Deborah Crombie, Val McDermid (hmmm, seems I’m drawn to English authors or authors who write about England!), Julia Spencer-Fleming. All great story tellers with the ability to make it come alive on the page.
Oh, and A Christmas Carol for some of the most beautiful language in a book. I reread it every year.
4. Who do you read for fun?
All the above plus Janet Evanovich (for humor, you can’t beat her!), Harlan Coben (wonderful at suspense!). Quite frankly, I don’t do as much reading anymore as I’d like.
5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.
I was around seven years old, and I’d read my first Nancy Drew. I decided I wanted to write stories like that someday. I remember when I was around eight or so, my parents acquired a typewriter (the old, manual kind!), and I came up with some excuse to stay home from school so I could write a story on it! I also used to write plays and force my cousins to perform them at Christmas dinner. Now that they are all at least in their forties, they’ve basically forgiven me.
6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Don’t quit! If you quit, no matter how good/talented/clever you are, you will not be published. If you don’t quit…it’s always a possibility!
7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?
Perseverance! (See above). And a great interest in people, how they work, think, act. An eye for detail and a feeling for language—words are like music, if the rhythm is off, your sentences will fall flat.
8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?
Wine? I love food of all kinds—Italian, Indian, Chinese, Thai. I don’t think I could narrow it down to any one thing.
9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?
It’s way too hard to pick just one! For movies, the ones that I’ve watched more than once, include Gone With the Wind, All About Eve, the Thomas Crowne Affair (remake), Bridget Jones. I guess for books it would have to be A Christmas Carol since I’ve read it dozens of times and I’m still not tired of it.
10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share?
Thanks for including me! I’m still pinching myself that I’m now a *real* writer!
I have two books coming out in 2012 – Allergic to Death (August) is the first in my Gourmet De-Lite series. Murder Unmentionable is the first in the Sweet Nothings Vintage Lingerie series written under my pen name of Meg London. It debuts in September.
I also have an e-book out right now from Amazon, Confession Is Murder, first in the Patron Saint Mysteries.
Peg Cochran bio:
I grew up in a New Jersey suburb about 25 miles outside of New York City, and we moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan about ten years ago when my husband took a job here. (I’m on exile from NJ!). Currently I am the manager of marketing communications for a company that provides services to seniors.
I have a schizophrenic cat (really) named Frazzle and a Westhighland White Terrier, Reggie, who appears in my Gourmet De-Lite series. He likes to think he helped me write the books which is fine as long as he doesn’t start demanding a portion of the royalties!