Maris Soule has published 30, yes, you read that right, 30 novels.
I'm honored to have her as a guest on the blog.
Today we get a glimpse into why and how she creates her stories.
Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Maris. Tell us, what inspired you to write Echoes of Terror?
Two events led to the creation of Echoes of Terror. The first was while I had lunch with a writer friend who had just spent the summer in Skagway, Alaska, volunteering for the National Park System. I thought Skagway would be the perfect setting for a story. The second event was when I saw an interview with Elizabeth Smart, who recently had been rescued. In that case, I kept wondering what the rest of her life would be like after such an ordeal.
When you’re brainstorming for a new story, what usually comes first for you, the plot or the characters?
Hmm, that’s a good question, especially with this story in mind. As I said, the ordeal Elizabeth Smart went through (and since then I’ve read of many other women, and boys, who have endured the same terror) initiated the character of Katherine Ward. But once I knew I wanted a woman who had been kidnapped as a teenager, I had to think of a plot. What was Katherine doing now? How was she coping? That led to why would she be in Skagway? And from that point, how would she react if another teenager was kidnapped and she, as the only female police officer available, was assigned the case? Bit by bit the plot came together, but it was always tied to the character.
What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?
With Echoes of Terror the most difficult part for me was writing the emotions. I’ve never been kidnapped, never found a friend’s dead body, never had to face a man who terrorized me for nine months. I struggled over those scenes, and I hope I captured how it would feel and how a person would react. Also, Katherine’s grandfather has dementia. It was difficult for me to write those scenes since my father ended up with Alzheimer’s. In that case, I knew how Katherine would feel. It’s terrible seeing someone you love, someone who used to have a wonderful mind, become a shell of himself.
What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?
When I begin a new book I spend a lot of time playing with the idea(s) in my head. I may look like I’m walking the dog, but I’m really (mentally) talking to characters, picturing settings, or trying to come up with something (a plot) that will involve these characters and involve a reader. I may jot down some ideas. Usually I come up with an opening (introduce the main characters, setting, problem), and I usually have a rough idea how I want the story to end. With some books I’ve been a plotter and I’ll write an outline that will take me from point A to Z. On the other hand, there are times when I think I have a plot only to discover I’m a pantser. (That’s what’s happening to me with the book I’m working on now. The characters seem to have taken over, and I’m just along for the ride.)
If you were a TV, film or book character, apart from one you've created, who would you be? And why?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be Zorro. I wanted to be thought of as incompetent, but at night I would ride in and right all injustices…and no one would know who I really was. I still like that idea, that sort of character. Usually they’re Marvel Comic characters. Fantasies. As for why, I guess it’s because I’m way too open. People who know me, really do know me. I’d like to have a secret side, but I don’t. I’d like to have talents that I could secretly use to help others. I’d like to be able to right a wrong and know I did so, but no one else would know. (Well, may one or two people would know, but that’s all.)
Give us a brief summary of Echoes of Terror :
A teenager is missing, and Officer Katherine Ward is assigned the case, never expecting it to parallel her own kidnapping experience seventeen years before. In Skagway, Alaska, the usual crimes faced by the police department’s small force are DUIs and missing bikes. With the chief in the hospital and officer missing, they’re not prepared for the kidnapping of a billionaire’s daughter.
Maris Soule is a two time RITA finalist who has won numerous awards for her novels. Born and raised in California, she majored in art at U.C. Davis and taught art for 8 years before retiring to raise a family. An avid reader all of her life, once she quit teaching, she decided to try writing, and she’s been at it ever since. Soule and her husband divide their time between Michigan and Florida. Echoes of Terror is her 30th published book.