The last MWA Symposium panel I’d like to talk about was Agatha’s Heirs, Smart Women, Smart Fiction. The panel was moderated by S.J. Rozan. Panelists included Sandra Brown, Meg Gardiner, and Dandi Daly Mackall, and Sara Henry.
Sandra Brown has published 70 novels. 61 of which were NYT Bestsellers since 1981.
Meg Gardiner is also a Bestselling author and won an Edgar in 2009.
Dandi Daley Mackall is an award winning author with 450 books published.
Sara Henry was a columnist and soil scientist. She is also an award winning author.
Sandra stated her career in writing after she was fired from her job. She didn’t want to join junior league and be the consummate wife and mother. She wanted something of her own. She started writing romances because they were hot at the time.
Dandi taught part time at college and wrote magazine articles. When her first husband left her, she made writing into a paying gig and wrote for Hanna-Barbera.
Meg always wanted to write. Her dad told her she could write but she’d also have to wait tables. So she went to law school so she’d have income while she was writing.
Sara spent ten years working on a novel and stuck it in a drawer.
Being Agatha’s Heirs
Meg mentioned that you stand on the shoulders of those who come before you.
Sandra said that everything she read is still up there. She also stressed the importance of living up to herself. She has to be the first one she entertains.
Sara said she didn’t feel like an heir to anyone.
Dandi reminisced about how she read Agatha at a young age and felt it was almost like a YA.
Sex Scenes in Books
Meg mentioned that there shouldn’t be sex scenes if they are just a snack for the reader.
Sandra talked about how love and sex are the most compelling motivators, especially in romantic suspense.
What the upshot of sex scenes in books?
Sandra talked about how sex reveals a lot about a person.
S.J. joined in by reminding that there is a whole dimension of human interaction in a sex scene but it needs to propel story in a whole other way.
Sandra had a terrific perspective on whether she wished she started earlier. She explained that she would not do it differently because she would not be the person she is now if wrote then. She did regret writing under pseudonyms.
Sara regretted not writing down a story concept that came to her on a long car drive as it came to her.
Advice for New Authors
Sandra stressed the need to write a good book. She mentioned that there is so much social media and called the Internet “a giant blue whale”–the more you feed it, the more hungry it is. There are so many intrusions on your writing, make sure they come in second and third place.
Sara talked about the year before her book came out as the time to build up an audience with Facebook and other social media. The Internet gives you possibilities for an unknown book to find publicity. She also mentioned writing on laptop without Internet.
Meg mentioned the need for uninterrupted time to write. 1.5-2 hours where she can’t think about her blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
S.J. has no wi-fi in her house. She had made getting online a conscious decision and a chore.
Dandi cited the need to write cause you love it. If you lost that joy, something is wrong.
“Everyone in here has books in them that no one else has in them. Only you can write your book.”