Welcome! Today I’m hosting a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for A Room with a Brew by Joyce Tremel. Ms. Tremel agreed to answer my interview questions (thank you!), so I’m hosting an author interview today! I hope you enjoy!
Q1: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day? Do you enjoy your day job?
Ms. Tremel’s Answer: I don’t have a day job other than writing. I was a stay-at-home mom for years and worked part-time as a police secretary for ten years. When I lost that job, I decided to devote my time to writing.
Q2: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?
Ms. Tremel’s Answer: I try to write every day for at least four hours. I don’t write quickly so if I don’t put the time in, I’ll never finish! My word and page counts vary. Some days the words flow and on others I fight to get any on the page. I think the most I ever wrote in a day was 10,000 words. It would be nice if that happened all the time!
Most of the time I don’t think to turn the radio on, but music doesn’t bother me. When I wrote a proposal for a mystery set in 1942, I listened to Big Band music, which helped keep my head in that era. I can tune out most other noise if I have to.
Q3: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reigns” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?
I always start out thinking I’m in control until the characters have something else in mind. Usually they know best. I start out with a loose outline. I know the beginning of the story and some plot points along the way, and have a general idea of how it should end. I fill in the rest as I go along.
Q4: How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?
Ms. Tremel’s Answer: It’s been a long road. The first book in the series, To Brew or Not to Brew, was the fourth or fifth book I wrote. I’ve had four agents along the way and more rejections than I can count. I never thought about quitting. I’m very stubborn and I was determined to be a published author. I just kept writing. The best way to deal with rejection is to write something else. If one book doesn’t get you an agent or publisher, the next one could. I think it was J.A. Konrath who said something like, “What do you call a writer who doesn’t give up? Published!”
Q5: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?
Ms. Tremel’s Answer: I revise constantly. Some writers don’t revise until the draft is done, but I have to do it as I go along. If something is wrong or not working, I have to fix it before I can move on—that’s probably one reason why I don’t finish a book quickly. I was told that my first drafts are more like third drafts.
When I get that draft finished, I’ll go through it again—usually twice, then send it to my agent and my editor. My editor will then go through it and send back any edits. I’ll edit again and send it back to her. If she doesn’t have any other suggestions, it goes to copy editing. When the copy editor is done, I’ll go through it again and send it back. I’ll get it one more time after it’s typeset, but this time I can only proofread and fix punctuation and spelling errors, missing words, things like that. So that’s what? About seven or eight edits? Yikes!
Before I was published I belonged to a critique group and had a couple of beta readers, but with the time crunch of having to turn in a book every eight or nine months, I rely on my editors. And with that time crunch, I don’t have the luxury of being able to set the book aside. There is a several month gap from when my editor gets it to when she sends it back to me though, so I do have that little bit of distance to look at it with fresh eyes.
Q6: A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?
Ms. Tremel’s Answer: No real like inspiration. Villains are just fun to write!
Q7: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?
Ms. Tremel’s Answer: My characters are truly fictional. I do use characteristics of people I’ve seen or heard, though. One of my characters, Candy Sczypinski, is a compilation of a lot of different Pittsburghers I’ve seen over the years. And Elmer Fairbanks, my crotchety WWII vet says things that most people only think.
Q8: If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?
Ms. Tremel’s Answer: That’s a tough question. I really admire those of the “greatest generation”—the people who lived through WWII. They sacrificed so much. Everyone—even those on the homefront—pitched in and did what they could for the war effort to keep the world free. The book proposal I mentioned in an earlier answer focuses on the homefront in 1942.
Q9: What are some great books you’ve read recently?
Ms. Tremel’s Answer: Another tough question. It’s hard to narrow it down. I really enjoyed Radha Vatsal’s “A Front Page Affair,” about a young journalist pre-WWI. And I love the Zoe Chambers series by my good friend, Annette Dashofy.
Q10: What books have influenced your life the most?
Ms. Tremel’s Answer: TO KILL A MOCKININGBIRD has to be at the top of the list. If any aspiring writer asks me what “voice” is, I refer them to that book. When you read that book, you can actually hear Scout telling her story. And the first time I read one of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Russ and Clare books, I wanted to write like that.
Q11: If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Ms. Tremel’s Answer: I know most women would want to spend the day with Max’s boyfriend, Jake Lambert, but I’d pick Elmer. He’s my favorite character. We’d talk all about his service with the 101st Airborne.
Q12: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?
Ms. Tremel’s Answer: I do check them out once in a while. I don’t think it’s a good practice to respond, other than maybe saying thank you for a good review. I’ve been extremely fortunate that most of my reviews have been good. After TO BREW OR NOT TO BREW was released, some of the comments mentioned that Max went around accusing people of murder. I made sure not to do that in TANGLED UP IN BREW when I worked on edits. I even had Max mention that she learned her lesson to not come right out and accuse people.
Thanks for all the great questions! This has been fun!
Thank you for being willing to answer the questions! Thank you also to those of you who have joined us today! Below are purchase links, author links, and a Goodreads link. If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, click on the banner at the very bottom. It will take you to the main tour page where you can view the list of participants.
Webpage – http://www.joycetremel.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JoyceTremel/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/JoyceTremel