Hello. Typically, every Friday I ask someone in Tacoma five questions. It’s a holiday week. So just to be different, we’re turning the tables. Instead of me asking someone five questions, I had Pam Phree, co-author of Betrayal, Murder, and Greed, ask ME five questions for 5 Question Friday.
1. You report on homicides/crime in Tacoma, do you remember any crime or crime scenes you witnessed when you were growing up?
I grew up on South 40th and Fawcett in Tacoma. It wasn’t the worst neighborhood, but it was far from the best. I was used to the sounds of sirens and distant gunfire. (So much so that I had trouble sleeping when I wasn’t home.) I had a collection of shell casings I’d pick up walking around the neighborhood. There were a handful of street drug dealers in the area. And drive-by shootings were not uncommon. That said, I can’t say I remember any crime scenes that I came upon when I was a kid.
2. What or who inspired you to be a writer?
It’s my third grade teacher’s fault. Mrs. Hixon. Whitman Elementary School. I had written a story for class. She called me up to her desk and said, “You should write more.” I thought she meant that it wasn’t long enough. She was the first person to give me the idea that I could write for something other than schoolwork.
3. What type/genre of books do you like to read?
I read a lot of nonfiction. The last three books I read were ‘Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead’ by Neil Strauss, ‘Stories I Only Tell My Friends’ by Rob Lowe, and ‘Typography For Lawyers’ by Matthew Butterick. When I read fiction, it tends to be crime fiction just because that’s what I write and what I enjoy the most. I’m straying a bit from that right now and reading John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War simply because I love his website and haven’t read a sci-fi book in a while. Next up I’m back to the crime novels with ‘So Much Pretty’ by Cara Hoffman. (Also looking forward to George Pelecanos’ next novel, The Cut)
4. What are you working on now?
I’m just finishing up a crime novel. It’s called A Better Lie. It’s set in Tacoma. It has sex, violence, guns, and flowers. Lots of flowers. I’ve sent the manuscript to a few close friends who are good enough to tell me when something sucks. Once I hear back from all of them, I’ll work on a final draft and send it on to my editor. My hope is that it will be ready to sell before Christmas.
5. If you were going to give new writers advice, what would that be?
Outline. Write. Complete. Outlines will save you every time. You don’t have to religiously follow them, but trying to write a story with no outline is like going on a road trip without a map. It might be fun…until you get lost.
Even when you’re not working on any big writing project, write. No books, classes, seminars, or websites are going to help you more than just writing will. Write something every day. A journal entry. Something random. Whatever. Even the busiest person can take ten minutes and write.
Last, and just as important, complete what you work on. A lot of beginning writers get stuck trying to make whatever they’re working on absolutely perfect. The results tend to be that they never get it finished. No one is going to read 2/3rds of a novel. Get it finished. Then get it perfect.
Thanks to Pam Phree for helping me on this week’s 5 Question Friday.
As always, if you think you or anyone you know would be a good for 5 Question Friday, email me at email@example.com