What prompted you to begin writing? And for whom do you write?
Don’t we all want to write books? I always did. It just took me a half-century or so to sit down and get to it.
In the beginning, I thought I was writing for a male audience. Then I toured the first book. And discovered what I should have known all along. Most mystery fans are women. Discovering that had an effect on what I write. I’ve toned down the graphic violence, and I’m introducing an element of romance.
As to why I write, remember what Samuel Johnson said? “Anyone who writes for anything except money is a fool.”
Yeah, that’s what I thought too. I wish it were true. But with the pittances we writers earn, I gotta admit, I do it for glory.
Tell us about your novel, Every Bitter Thing.
But then it’s discovered that similar murders committed with exactly the same (somewhat unusual) M.O. have been committed in other cities in the country. And it turns out that the solution of the mystery isn’t simple.
I might add that all four of the big trades (PW, Kirkus, LJ and Booklist) have chosen to review it and all four responded most favorably. (Yeah. Even Kirkus.)
And Glenn Harper thinks it’s my best one yet. Here’s what he had to say: http://internationalnoir.blogspot.com/2010/08/every-bitter-thing-by-leighton-gage.html
What’s your writing schedule like?
I get up in the morning, check my emails, do an hour on an exercise bike and get down to it. I write until about two, have lunch with my wife and take a nap. After the nap, I write some more and knock off at about seven PM. We dine very late, often as late as ten, and seldom go to bed before one or two in the morning. I don’t write on weekends, except for the blog I do with five other writers who set their stories outside the United States.
Do family members serve as first readers or sounding boards during a work in progress?
Never. I believe that good books aren’t written. They’re re-written, and re-written and re-written. So I don’t like to plague anyone with my scribbling until an editor gets through with me.
How difficult was it to find an agent?
Probably the toughest thing I’ve done in this business. In comparison, writing the first book was easy. I shudder to think how much tougher it must be now that the bottom has dropped out of the market. But, ya know, I truly think there’s an agent out there for everyone. You just have to find her (him). And that may mean you’re going to have to query a couple of hundred people. Seriously. A couple of hundred. If you’re a new writer, and you hit the jackpot within the first dozen or so, consider yourself blessed.
Advice to fledgling crime novelists?