April 12, 2007

Three Questions with Sara Rossett

Welcome back Sara Rossett,
writer of a series of cozy mysteries about a military wife who can’t seem to stay out of trouble of the dead-bodies-popping-up variety. I spent the first half of my childhood on military bases---Daddy was Army---so I’ve got a special interest in this series and am delighted to welcome Sara back to talk about the second book. I interviewed her about Moving is Murderlast year.

The latest, StayingHome is a Killer follows Ellie Avery as she strives to balance motherhood, marriage, and her professional organizing business, but her ordered world is thrown into disarray when a fellow military spouse’s death looks more like murder than suicide. Toss in her husband’s deployment and her daughter’s separation anxiety, and Ellie has to keep the home fires burning as she sort clues from chaos and proves that home is not for killers.

Publisher’s Weekly says, “The author, also the wife of an air force pilot, includes practical tips for organizing closets, but the novel's most valuable insight is its window into women's lives on a military base.”


JJ: So, you've weathered the release of your debut novel with grace and aplomb---How is the publication of a second novel different?

SR: I was writing the third book and going down to the deadline with it, so I didn’t have nearly the same amount of time to promote the second book before its release. The deadline for book # 3 fell three days before the release date of my second book, so I felt way behind the power curve for Staying Home is a Killer.

Fortunately, I was able to do a lot of promoting with the first book, so a good bit of the promotion stuff was already in place. I only had to update press releases instead of writing them from scratch. I did feel more comfortable because it was my second time through the process. I knew what to expect for copyedits and uncorrected proofs. There wasn’t quite that same level of giddiness that came with the first book, but I’m still very excited to have another book out and I actually think the second book is stronger than the first.

JJ: How do you keep timeline/world you have built straight and characters fresh, growing and yet still themselves from book to book?

SR: I have to write down a timeline to keep all the dates straight. Last summer I had to work up outlines for the next three books in the series and I would have gone crazy without the long timeline that noted when people were born, when they married, and when certain books are set. I also rough out a calendar for each book so that I know what happens on each day. The first book, Moving is Murder, took place over about four weeks. Staying Home is a Killer, the second book, was a bit shorter, but I still needed a calendar for the three week storyline. I’ve just completed the third book, Getting Away is Dangerous, and it clocked in at one week.

Since my characters move every so often (Ellie is a military spouse) that helps to keep the story fresh with new settings. The fact that Ellie’s a mom helps, too, because no matter what stage of life your kids are in there are always new challenges to face and that means Ellie has to keep growing and changing as her family changes. It’s a fine line. I want to welcome a reader back into a world they love, but I can’t let that world get stagnant or boring because then the reader would lose interest. I’m still working on that balance!

JJ: Tell us about your experiences with military deployments.

SR: A large part of Staying Home is a Killer explores what Ellie’s life is like when her husband is unexpectedly deployed. I’ve been in that situation many times. The unknown is tough to deal with. Staying home when your spouse deploys really is a killer. You have to deal with loneliness and worry. Then there’s the added responsibility. Overnight you go from being a couple to handling everything on your own—the kids, the bills, and the house. Everything falls on you. Even though it’s a fictional story, I tried to accurately portray the emotional roller coaster of a deployment in Staying Home is a Killer and show that the loneliness, the frustration, and the worry are all normal.

Posted by joshilyn at April 12, 2007 8:32 AM

I just ordered her first book and can't wait to read it. I'm wishlisting the 2nd now that I know it's out!

I'm still new to military life so I'm really looking forward to reading Sara's fiction.

Thanks for the interview Joss!

Posted by: Pattie at April 12, 2007 9:35 AM

I sure wish you had some sort of way to categorize your posts so I could read all your Interviews or find the Interviews all in one place... in particular, I can't remember the name of the actor who read your book for the "on tape" version.

I love reading your blog, especially when you share a little of the creative process that takes place when you write and form your ideas. I also love the relevant questions you have for the authors you interview. I'm always intrigued and curious to read the books you talk about! Now if I can just make more time for all that reading after all is said and done at the end of each day! (I did stay up very very late turning the pages in 'gods in Alabama,' while listening to Neko Case on the iPod. Her music and your story is eerie complement between a pair of creative works.)

Posted by: Stephanie at April 12, 2007 5:00 PM

There are catagories on the side menu---scroll way down. MOST of the 3 interviews AND the B4B entries are in a cat called "Three Questions"

Most other things are catagorized. Things I particularly like are in Especial Pet Favorites, and so on.

Posted by: joshilyn at April 12, 2007 5:28 PM

As my 8-year old would say, glancing to the right of heaven and with eyebrows high, "Ooooooh."

Thanks, from one who needs to check the prescription on her glasses. :-)

Posted by: Stephanie at April 12, 2007 6:25 PM