Polly Iyer, Author of “Hooked”

What is your book about?

Hooked is about Tawny Dell, a high-priced call girl with a PhD in art history who decides to give up the life. Unfortunately, while the FBI was looking into overseas accounts of a mob boss, one of Tawny’s ex-clients, her hidden account came up. Enter the NYPD sex crimes investigator, Lincoln Walsh, who received a call from a now-dead prostitute who mentioned Benny Cooper. Benny is an ex-Wall Street tycoon who runs a high-class bordello. Linc offers Tawny a deal: Go undercover at Benny’s brothel to find out if he’s the murderer and Tawny will avoid going to jail for cheating Uncle Sam. But the best laid plans don’t always work out.

What inspired the story?

The Eliot Spitzer scandal. When a man who busted up prostitution rings gets caught in a sting with a prostitute, it’s news. You wonder how such a smart guy could fall into his own trap. Then I thought about the young woman who serviced him. How did she get into the life? Why?

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Though the book is full of interesting characters, I’d have to say Tawny is my favorite. She’s smart, bold, and knows who she is. She makes no excuses for her choices in life. It’s a challenge to write such a character and make her likeable. After all, she’s in an illegal profession. How does she justify what she does, and can I make her sympathetic?

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

Benny is a jerk, trapped by his own sexual desires, but I couldn’t help liking him. I don’t know if others will like him. He’s rather a buffoon, but, like Spitzer, he’s smart if misguided. I love Linc. I have to fall in love with the love interest. If I don’t love him, how can my heroine? Linc is tough and soft at the same time. He has a history that should make him stay as far away as possible from his chosen profession, but it’s also what makes him good at what he does.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

You’d be surprised how many upscale women write about their adventures as a call girl. Like Tawny, these are smart women who think why not get paid for something they’re giving away free. The top women go places with exciting, rich men and make big bucks to do it. Just click on Google, and there they are, telling all.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

My characters come fully formed. I try to make each one distinctive with their own characteristics and tic, if you will. Once I have them in my mind, I see them and hear them.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

My goal is a good read. I always have issues in my books; otherwise, they wouldn’t interest me. I like to dig deep in my characters’ pasts in order to explain why they’re the way they are. Sometimes, in doing that, I get into some heavy subjects, but that’s okay.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

As I mentioned, making a call girl likeable was a challenge. I hope I pulled it off. Also, Benny and the mob boss aren’t basically likeable, but I believe the antagonists should have redeeming characteristics in order for them to work.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

I write all the time. I try for a certain amount of words when I’m writing a new story, but much of writing is rewriting. That’s when I go hoarse reading aloud to see if the dialogue works or if sentences sound strained.

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

First I read all my emails and lists and writer’s loops while I have my coffee. I might do a Sudoku puzzle to clear my morning brain, then it’s on to the writing.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

I’m hooked on potato chips, though since four pairs of winter slacks didn’t fit, I’m giving them up.

What are you working on right now?

I’m putting my third book on Kindle, then I’m going back to some of my other books and get them ready to do the same thing. I do have a backlist, but some need updating.

What was the first story you remember writing?

A book called Threads. I never thought I could write a book, but there was a time when life needed a diversion, and I sat down at the computer and started typing. Threads is one of the stories that needs updating, but it was my first one and will always hold a place in my heart.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

Getting the story to gel. I’m not an outliner or plotter. I write by the seat of my pants and never really know where the story is going. I know where I want to wind up, but getting there is an experience. I love it.

What is the easiest part of the writing process?

I don’t know if it’s the easiest, but it’s the part I like the best, so I guess that makes it easIER. The characters. It all starts with the characters. Sometimes at night, I talk in bed. I also talk in the car. The best thing about mobile phones with separate mics is now I don’t look like a total whackjob talking to myself in the car.

Does writing come easy for you?

I don’t think the writing comes easily, but the ideas do. Almost everything gives me an idea for a story. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough hours in the day to make them all come to fruition.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

I have killed off someone, and every time I read the scene, I cry. It’s ridiculous because I know what happens, but I still cry. It’s because I love the character, but I knew his end right from the beginning.

What do you like to read?

I like to read anything that keeps me turning the pages.

What writer influenced you the most?

That’s tough. I have to be careful about that one because writers have a tendency to let the influence seep into their work, and it’s unlikely they can do what the writers they most admire do. You can only come off second best.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

Mystic River

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

You’ve heard it before. Keep at it. Period.

How have you marketed and promoted your work?

That’s the hardest part for me. My mother always said if you’re good at something, you shouldn’t have to toot your own horn. She obviously didn’t know about publishing. I dislike promoting my books, but I do on Facebook and Twitter and some of the loops I’m on. It’s a necessary evil. For me anyway.

Have you written any other books?

Yes, about eight and a few more half finished. I plan to get them ready to indie publish.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself or your books?

Writing is my fourth profession. I started out as an illustrator, which I still use in designing my own covers. Then I was an importer of art goods and a home-furnishings store owner. Writing is my favorite. Why? Because it’s always a challenge. You can never be perfect, but you are always striving with that in mind.

Where can we learn more about your books?

At my website http://pollyiyer.com/, and you can find my books at:  Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/7secr4s and Barnes&Noble http://tinyurl.com/6qa3jg8

Click here for an: Excerpt From “Hooked” by Polly Iyer