When Cerri Baker moves with her family to the Black Hills of South Dakota, she begins seeing things—things like murder. Cerri has spent her life trying to avoid the spirituality and “hocus-pocus” her mother embraces, but once in the Black Hills, Cerri doesn’t seem to have much choice as her spirit guide insists she find justice for a murdered man
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
I think there’s probably a little of me. People who have read Ghost Mountain say they can almost hear me when they read it. I’m still not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
Before I start, I know my main characters. I know who the victim is and the antagonist. I even know why the crime was committed. It’s all that stuff in the middle I have to work out as I go along.
Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
Years ago, I heard about the “fish bone” method of plotting and that seems to work for me. If you’re not familiar with it, draw a horizontal line on the paper (that’s the spine of the “fish”). In the middle of the line, draw a vertical line. Then, on each side of that vertical line, draw another about half way between the line’s end and the middle. You want to make sure there’s a “turning point” at each vertical line, with the middle one being the biggest surprise. You want to include a smaller “zinger” between those bones. I have the current story’s fish bone on a dry erase board in my home office.
How has your background influenced your writing?
I grew up in a home where reading was important. My dad is a retired police officer, as was his mother. (Yes, you read that right. My grandmother was a cop!) My mom is a huge mystery fan. How could I write anything except mysteries?
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
I live in Western South Dakota, and write about the area where I live.
Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?
Coffee and chocolate!
What are you working on right now?
I just finished the second of the “Cerri Baker” books and have started another mystery novel with a whole new set of characters!
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes. I originally wanted to be a newspaper reporter.
At what age did you discover writing?
I don’t remember ever NOT writing. I was first published in Daisy Magazine when I was 7. I had created a word search puzzle using the colors in my crayon box.
What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Read a lot. Write even more. Find a critique group. LISTEN to what they say, whether you agree or not. Even if you think they’re wrong, they will have pointed out places where your work can be made stronger.
What genre are your books?
I write paranormal cozies. What that means is I write mysteries where much of the violence takes place off the page and the crime is solved by a “regular person” (not someone in law enforcement). That’s the cozy mystery part. The paranormal part involves ghosts and spirits!
What do you wear when you write?
Where can we learn more about you and your books?
From my author page at Second Wind Publishing: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=19