Thursday, January 03, 2008

I'm Back and GCC Presents: Colleen Thompson and The Salt Maiden

I know that the blog has been a little slow over the holidays, but I was wrapping up the revision of Time Of My Life (Yahoo!! Just finished yesterday!) and wanted to spend my other time away from the computer. I'm devoting all of next week's posts to answering submitted questions to make up for it. :)

Today, I'm thrilled to present veteran novelist, Colleen Thompson, and her book, The Salt Maiden. Colleen was "discovered" in a local fiction contest, which I love, because it shows, once again, that there are a slew of ways to pave inroads to success in this industry. I also liked reading about her inspiration, which is so different than mine have ever been, and again shows that there's no "right" way to tackle things.

Here's a preview of the book: "Some novels begin with a character, others start with a what-if question or a situation, but my sixth romantic thriller, The Salt Maiden (Leisure, Dec. 2007) was inspired by a place I visited a few years back, a sunburned, sand-scoured desert community in the dead center of the least populated county in the U.S. With water too briny for human consumption and land too to support any but the hardiest of desert plants, it’s an eerily daunting landscape, one that made me wonder, What on earth would bring a person out here?

Apparently my subconscious took it as a challenge, and came up with a Houston veterinarian, Dana Vanover, in search of her troubled missing sister, the birth mother of a child in desperate need of a bone-marrow transplant. In spite of her ambivalence about her sister, Dana braves heat, rattlesnakes, and hostile locals — as well as her attraction to the handsome sheriff who wants her gone."

And here, she answers my usual questions:

1) What’s the backstory behind your book? The Salt Maiden was inspired by a trip through a tiny, desolate West Texas desert town so isolated and foreboding I found myself struggling to imagine (it was a very long drive) what could possibly entice anyone to go there. There's not a drop of potable water, only brine that keeps even self-respected cactus at bay. And then I had this strange vision of a mummified, nude female interred in one of the area's salt caverns. That became the opening for this long, strange journey of a romantic thriller.

2) It seems that a lot of readers confuse fiction with real life, assuming that a novel must be an autobiography of the author as well. How many elements of your real life are reflected in your book?
At 22, I moved from the East Coast, where I grew up, to a small desert community in Southwest Arizona. The stark beauty and harshness of the land made a real impression on me, and I came to have a grudging admiration for the living things that have adapted to this challenging environment.
3) A lot of my blog readers are aspiring or new authors. How did you land your first book deal?
My first book deal came as the indirect result of entering a local writing contest here in the Houston area. An editor judged the finals and recommended me to an agent who was attending the writers' conference. She read my work and took me on, then over time sold my first ten novels. (The Salt Maiden is my 13th release and my 6th romantic thriller.)

4) I have a serious procrastination problem when it comes to tackling my fiction. What’s your routine? How do you dive it? Do you have any rituals or necessary to-dos before or while you write?
I am a dawdler of epic proportions. If I didn't have deadlines and a burning need to keep books coming, I'd never accomplish anything. As it is, I have to set myself a weekly page quota and break it down into daily goals. Sometimes it takes me all day to force myself to do the five allotted pages. Other times (o, blessed days!) the writing simply and effortlessly flows. But most times, it's the little page number I've written on my calendar that forces me to work. I wish there were an easier way!

5) Clearly, your book will be optioned for a multi-million dollar film deal! Who would you cast as the leads, if you were given creative control?
Charlize Theron or Hillary Swank as the heroine, Angie Vanover. And Josh Brolin as Sheriff Jay Eversole. They'd be great.


Kristi Holl said...

Thanks for a terrific author interview! I identified with a lot of what she said (I live in Texas too), and I also have a harder time writing unless a deadline is staring me in the face. Daily word count/page quotas--there's real writing magic in making that a habit. Sounds like a terrific book!

Kristi Holl

Colleen Thompson said...

Hi, Allison,
Thanks for featuring me here and congratulations on wrapping up your deadline book. I finished one this week, too, and I'm seriously relieved!

Waving hello to Kristi, too.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this interview! As an aspiring author, I found it inspirational and informative.

Annie said...

Happy to have found your site. I'll be back.