January 3, 2008

3Q with Colleen Thompson

E-Mail Solutiond are still under advisement, THANK YOU so much for the helpful input so far. So, g-mail, huh? HOWEVER we go, I will have it fixed by next week. I hope. Probably.

My furniture is still not here. GAHHHH. TAPTAPTAP go my toes, and I am not dancing. The delivery guy has called twice, two hours apart, to say he is coming to my house next. What he didn’t say was that the house he had to go to FIRST was actually a cave in the Alps --- some Yeti or ‘nother needed a Chaise Lounge. APPARENTLY HE HAS A LITTLE BIT OF A DRIVE TO GET BACK HERE.

While I pace and stare out the window, let Colleen Thompson tell you the impetus behind her latest novel, THE SALT MAIDEN.

Colleen: Some novels begin with a character, others start with a what-if question or a situation, but my sixth romantic thriller 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…

"Poetic use of language, intricate plotting and a wealth of fascinating details make Thompson's latest novel a masterful work of suspense. Readers will come for the action and stay for the three-dimensional characters and well-crafted narrative. This is a fabulous read!" Romantic Times BOOKreviews Top Pick, 2007 Reviewers Choice Nominee, Best Romantic Suspense

JJ: What do you think of your cover and how does it compare to the cover you imagined when you were writing the book?

CT: My editor and I brainstormed a cover art idea for THE SALT MAIDEN. We discussed the harsh, desolate setting, a cave that's important in the story, and the motif of dangerous, desert-dwelling creatures woven throughout. I suggested a desert scene with a rattlesnake, scorpion, or preferably a black widow spider in the corner. The final artwork is a desert viewed from the inside of a cave, through a web containing a big, black spider. It's perfect for the story, even better than I envisioned, and book buyers and readers have responded favorably. Except for an arachnophobe or two!

JJ: As a Southern writer, I think everything is about locationlocationlocation. How did living in Arizona and Texas influence your work?

CT: Living in Southern Arizona taught me to appreciate the desert's stark, sometimes dangerous beauty. I spent some time there backpacking and came to appreciate the lengths to which the desert's plants and animals must go to ensure their survival. It's a hostile place to humans, yet it still draws people. The desert regions of West Texas I've found equally fascinating. The barren landscape serves as a metaphor for the most desolate stretches of a character's life and the lengths to which he/she must go to survive them. Those stories I've set in the desert, such as THE SALT MAIDEN and FATAL ERROR could take place nowhere else. Or if they did, they'd suffer a real loss of resonance.

JJ: What writers influenced your work and how and why?

CT: I've been influenced by a number of writers: Dennis Lehane, who incorporates setting so brilliantly that it seems like a character in his books; Frank Herbert, a world-builder of the first order, and Michael Connelly, whose plotting and characterization leave me in absolute awe. I'm also a big fan of Larry McMurtry, who "gets" Texas, past and present, like no one else. I'd be honored to someday be mentioned in the same breath with any of these talented authors.

Posted by joshilyn at January 3, 2008 3:01 PM

I am a HUGE fan of Dennis Lehane, and this is not the first time I've heard him mentioned in the same breath with Michael Connelly (in face, Lehane himself speaks highly of Connelly). Maybe I've just read the wrong books, but I'm not feeling it with Connelly. Can you, Jos, or your interviewee, recommend specific books of Connelly's? I want to fall in love, I really do! Lehane's not writing fast enough to keep me stoked.

Posted by: RuthWells at January 3, 2008 5:03 PM

(An arachnophobe raises her hand) - the book sounds really good, but I'd have to put something over that cover. (I shuddered when I saw it pop up on the screen...seriously!)

Posted by: DebR at January 3, 2008 9:50 PM

Ruth, read "The Poet" by Connelly. It's really good, and will give you a feel for his writing. It's not a Bosch, and it's excellent.

Good luck on the furniture, Peach! I hope you're going to be sleeping on your brand new bed any minute now!

Posted by: Fran at January 3, 2008 10:43 PM

Maybe I'll have to read it just because my own sister lives in southern AZ, and I have no clue what would make her want to do that - maybe it would give me some insight!

Posted by: Brigitte at January 4, 2008 5:20 AM

Thanks, Fran -- I've actually read "The Poet" and it's the best of the bunch I've read of his. I found "Blood Work" to be okay but not great, and "Chasing the Dime" was just dreadful and formulaic, IMHO. Any other suggestions would be most welcome!

Posted by: RuthWells at January 4, 2008 10:04 AM

Setting and place are wonderful additional characters in a novel - I've requested several of CT's from the library to try them.

Good luck with the furniture! No step in this process is going to be trouble-free, apparently - I'm sure the final result will be very gratifying, though!

Posted by: Diane (TT) at January 4, 2008 2:02 PM

Really? Oh I Adore Connelly -- he's such a talent. Most recently, I REALLY enjoyed THE LINCOLN LAWYER. I have a triumverate of manly gunplay guys and I never miss a book -- Connelly and yes of COURSE LeHane (Go Irish!) and then Lee Child. (Reacher Forever! Viva La Reacher! YOU DO NOT MESS WITH THE SPECIAL INVESTIGATORS!)

I do not READ Harry Bosch novels because I SO love the actor who does the audio version, so I listen to them----try Harry in that format maybe? They are the kind of audiobooks that can keep you awake and interested on a long drive.

Posted by: Joshilyn at January 5, 2008 3:19 PM