Brr! Single digit temps and my most recent interview is in Minnesota. Not just Minnesota, but northern Minnesota. At least Ms. Solheim offered me a large mug of hot chocolate before settling in for the round of questions. But I'm graeful she took time to sit with me for awhile. (And I even shoveled her walk afterwards...just kidding. I actually accepted another hot chocolate, then shoveled her walk.)
1. Who is Beth Solheim and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
I’m not the most fascinating person; however, I’m the author of the Sadie Witt Mystery Series. I’m published and because I live in a smaller northern Minnesota town, that makes me unique. Not many published authors up here where the seasons rapidly change. I’m also a sassy, spunky, senior citizen with story ideas galore and a great zest for life.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
That I had the patience to train a wild fox to eat out of my hand. Foxy Lu has frequented my patio for four years and each summer introduces me to her new batch of kits. This year she had four. Grey foxes mate for life, so she also brings Mister with her, too. It took a whole summer the first year to lure her close to me. Now she waits for me to come home from work to throw out bits of food. She often runs up to the patio door and nudges it with her nose to let me know she’s hungry.
3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming an astronaut?
I’m an avid reader, so the transition into writing was easy and natural. Often, after closing the cover on a mystery, I thought I can do this! So I began to experiment with an outline and characters and it slowly developed into a viable story.
If I could go back many years, though, I would choose forensic medicine as a career. What better way to solve a mystery?
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
Harlan Coben. He’s my favorite author. His style is unique. Anyone can pick up a Harlan Coben novel with a blank cover and no author’s name and know instantly it was written by Mr. Coben. He has a flair at drawing readers into an emotional journey with the characters.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?
Humor and a flamboyant main character, the kind of free spirit we’d all like to be.
Also, the juxtaposition of a mortuary situated next to a resort. This location leads to lots of ghostly shenanigans and sets the stage for Sadie Witt to assist the recently departed with their death decisions before they cross over to the other side.
6. Share the Solheim process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.
When an inkling of an idea comes to me, I let it build momentum before I start formatting the concept. I key in the different scenarios and character possibilities and go from there. Once I have enough for a story, I prepare the outline. This is the hardest part for me, because I want to be thorough and use this as my roadmap for sequence structure. Once that is accomplished, it’s a matter of sitting down and following that map chapter by chapter.
I research both on line and in person. The most interesting research was with a funeral director at a mortuary. What a learning experience. I have a newfound admiration for all they do to help family members through the grieving process.
I write evenings and weekends. I edit and rewrite many, many times until I think it’s ready to go to an agent or publisher. Then, I gladly accept additional rewrite suggestions from the professionals in the industry.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
I’m an outliner. I wish I could write by the seat of my pants, but I can’t. My process is detailed in questions 6. I also give each character a history before I start writing to make sure each individual player is capable of doing what I will have them do in the story.
Locations and settings also function as an important character, so I map out the locations to make them feasible for the story as well.
8. I saw a great t-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
“Lead me not into temptation…I’ll find it all by myself!”
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
I signed a two-book contract with Echelon press and the second book in the series, Outwitted, will be released in January 2011. The first in the series, At Witt’s End, was released in January 2010.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
On my blogs and website: