I'm part of a 25 novel collection trying to hit a list on the week after Christmas. You can preorder the collection for $0.99. For the next month I'm spotlighting all the great authors in this collection with me. Today's author is Colleen Cross.
ART: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
First of all, thank you for having me…it’s very nice to be here.
I live in Vancouver, on Canada’s southwest coast. I’m a writer and a runner, a cat and dog fanatic (though my dog likes cats a little too much, lol), a traveller turned homebody (my life revolves around my dog), and a lover of all things nature and the great outdoors. We go to the beach and hike a lot, and then I come home to write. And naturally, I’m a bookworm. I read mostly mysteries, thrillers, and lots of nonfiction.
I am a graphic artist turned accountant turned writer. I have always been writing though, so I suppose I have finally come full circle to my true calling.
ART: Was there a certain time in your life you knew you wanted to write?
I’ve always written stories in my head and began writing (and illustrating) them soon after I learned how to write. In fact, the treehouse I imagined as a child lives on as Cendrine’s home in my Westwick Witches Cozy Mysteries series. I never dreamed I could write for my day job though. It’s a dream come true! When I was a kid I read everything I could get my hands on, so it was only natural that would go the DIY route and write my own stories! Back then, they tended towards fantasy.
ART: What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on the third book in my Westwick Witches Cozy Mysteries series, Witch and Famous. It’s 100% cozy mystery with sprinkles of humour and fantasy. It’s so much fun to write that it often feels like my characters are coming up with their own lines, and sometimes they are rather cheeky! Since witches are magic, I get to make even more stuff up than usual!
I tend to do ten million things at once, so don’t be surprised if I come up with a completely new series or two while I’m working with the Westwick Witches. In fact, as I’m writing this I just thought up a brand new series! It’s a secret for now…
ART: Of the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?
My favourite changes constantly because it’s always the book I’m currently writing. My very first book, Exit Strategy, will always be special to me of course. I’ve got books 4 and 5 in that series outlined and ready to write. I just need to find time to write them!
ART: What books have most influenced you as a writer?
There are so many books that I don’t know where to start. As a kid, I loved Nancy Drew. I also loved Russian classics but also Edgar Allen Poe. Most of all, though, I loved Black Beauty. That got me started reading all things horses, which was how I discovered My Friend Flicka and Mary O’Hara’s other books. I wrote to her (back then it was snail mail) and was so thrilled to get a reply from her! Then I was in love with all things horses, even though I had never ridden one, and read every horse book I could find. Then it was every book about dogs…and I guess you can see why I usually have 2-3 books on the go at any given time. Cozy mysteries are always at the very top of my list along with psychological thrillers (as long as they aren’t too scary).
As an adult, my influences are more from writers like Lisa Scottoline, Kathy Reichs, and Tess Gerritsen, all great mystery / thriller writers. But it was those early reads that really got me hooked on reading, which in turn got me started writing in the first place. Great books in any genre transport us to a different world and give us different perspectives, and there are so many more I want to discover. I learn something from every book I read. I hope that never changes.
ART: What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing? And the most rewarding?
The most challenging part for me is staying with my original story outline. I find that as the story develops some of the characters take over, so to speak, and take the plot in directions I never expected. As much as I try, I’ll never be a straight plotter. But that has its own rewards, since it often keeps the story fresh and provides me with surprise twist endings!
The most rewarding part is feedback from readers. I’m alone in my head with my characters until the book is published, so it’s always nice to know that readers enjoy my stories. Knowing that I kept someone guessing, made them laugh out loud, or otherwise entertained them and forget their worries is the greatest reward of all.
ART: What book is on your nightstand?
I have a couple at the moment: The Secret Place, by Tana French, and The Casual Vacancy, by J. K. Rowling.
ART: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
Witch and Famous, the third book in the Westwick Witches Cozy Mysteries series, will be published in early 2017. I’ve got more books planned in all of my series, which run the gamut from cozy mysteries to crime thrillers. My absolute favourite to both read and write is cozy mysteries, though. I gravitate towards cozies whenever there is lots of bad news in the world. I like to inject a little humour into my stories, even into my thrillers, which are suspenseful but not dark.
ART: Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers?
Just that I’m happy to know you’re out there, that there are readers out there who “get” me and my quirky family of characters! I’m so grateful to be doing what I do for a living, and thank you for your reviews, feedback and support. I always love to hear from readers. You can find me here:
Colleen Cross writes page-turning thrillers and fun, cozy mysteries. She lives with her family on the West Coast. When she's not writing, she loves to run, hike, and explore with her rescue dog Jaeger, who reminds her daily that life's too short to not follow your dreams–or a squirrel or two.
Her books have been translated into multiple languages with more to come.
Visit her website at www.colleencross.com and sign up for her twice-yearly private newsletter to hear about new releases and exclusive subscriber-only offers.