September 8, 2010

What Makes a Keeper a Keeper

Today's blog is by award winning author, Autumn Jordan. Enjoy!
And make sure to visit her website to learn more about her and her books.

Write what you know. As writers, we’ve all heard the statement more than once, and it’s stopped many from writing the stories of their heart. Why? Because the writer takes it literally. They think I’ve never visited the Emerald Isle or step through a time portal or had contact with a serial killer, so how can I write a story dealing with the subject?

Thousands of writers have visited Ireland and wrote about it, and thousands more have written about the beautiful country and haven’t had the pleasure of touching its shores. I know of no one who has actually skipped through time, yet. And, I’m sure there are very few writers who have written a book dealing with a serial killer based on their actual experience with them. Most subject matters or settings can and should be thoroughly researched so as to propel the reader into a realistic world. In the genres of fantasy or paranormal, in order to make the world come alive for the reader, building the world needs to be detailed.

In my story Evil’s Witness which released on June 18 from The Wild Rose Press, a tractor-trailer containing U.S. currency is stolen by the Russian Mafia. My heroine witnesses a blood bath during the act and is sent on the run not only to save her life but also the lives of her children. Have I ever witnessed a horrific act such as this? No. Could I write about it? Yes, based on a few of my own past experiences.

Because of my family’s trucking company, I knew about tractor-trailer heists. They occur more often than you might think. We’ve hauled for the U.S. Treasury so the research for the bases of the story was easily available to me but not impossible for someone else to investigate. I had to make contact with local and state police concerning local law enforcement procedures, their weapons and use, and I interviewed an FBI agent on the witness protection program. I also read any articles or books I could find on the Russian Mafia. What I didn’t have to research and what makes any book a keeper on my shelf is emotion.

Years ago, while working at a restaurant, I was held at gunpoint during a robbery. It’s not a time I like to recall. I had nightmares for months. I managed to overcome the fear, tuck the experience away in the recesses of my mind and move on. While writing Evil’s Witness I recalled the horrific moments and use them positively to write emotional charged scenes.

As a mother of four, I’ve experienced more than a few times when my heart wedged in my throat with fear for my children. I’m sure you’ve had a moment when your child disappeared from your view for a few moments or they had an accident which required medical help. Can you recall the visceral responses your body had as seconds ticked off until you found them hiding between the clothing racks or at a friend’s house or help arrived? Did your heart pound? Did your mind scatter recalling the last moments before they disappeared—their birthday parties, holidays or smiles? Did your eyes skip from area to area, searching for a glimpse of your baby? Could the emergency vehicles not get there fast enough? How about sweaty palms or dry mouth?

Excerpt from Evil’s Witness:

A blast hit the air and a micro second later the windshield of the car beside them splintered. Pulling Bobby and Em with her, Stephanie dropped to the tarmac, the skin tearing from her knee.

“Stephanie, get down,” John yelled too late.

She was already flat faced on the blacktop. Her heart thundered, barely covering the voice inside her which screamed, “Not again.” She strained, stretching her arm, her fingers, grasping to protect her children.

Walking through a parking lot, I’ve felt threatened by someone following me. My blood rushed as I fumbled for my keys and raced to my car. I also recall the relief that washed through me after I pulled away unscathed.

Excerpt from Evil’s Witness:

Suddenly, a hand slapped across her mouth and a strong arm circled her waist, lifting her off her feet. Her nostrils flared against the ridge of skin as she fought to suck in air and the scent of the man dragging her away.

A car whizzed by but didn’t stop. The street ahead was deserted except for two elderly women waiting for a bus and a couple standing on the corner. They had their backs to her. They didn’t see her.

She searched wildly for anyone who would come to her rescue. There was no one.

I’ve had a broken heart. I’ve felt the sorrow of death. I’ve rejoiced at births and I am in love.

Excerpt from Evil’s Witness:

She stood before a mirror. A single lamp, turned low, lit the room. Through the silken material of her nightgown, her fingertips traced the outline of the scar near her waist. A mirror image of it marked her back. She didn’t want to remember how her life had come to this point. The memories caused fear to wrap around her heart, tainting the joy she’d come to know.

In the glass, she noticed movement behind her. A second later, he was there, staring at her. The man she’d die for.

I’ve experience all of these feelings and more. I’ve used them to create an emotionally satisfying story in Evil’s Witness. A novel which I hope will remain on my reader’s keeper shelves and have them search for my other works.

Emotion is the connection between a writer and reader. Remember that bit of advice. And the next time you hear, write what you know, think that’s easy. All I need to do is open the door to my past and draw from my emotional well.

Autumn lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her husband, who supplies her with support and tons of laughs. Her favorite destinations farther from home are Vermont and Arizona where she enjoys hiking, golfing, horseback riding and learning the history of the areas. And no matter what Autumn is doing, she’s busy dreaming up ideas to put the characters of her romantic thrillers in grave danger.

All material contained within this post may not be used without expressed permission from author.
Copyright© By Autumn Jordon


Sarah Grimm said...


Thanks for visiting today! Great post and so true about writers taking the statement 'write what you know' literally.

Evil's Witness sounds wonderful. I've added it to my TBR pile.


P.L. Parker said...

Good Morning - I've read books where it was very obvious the writer had no idea about her subject matter and I found myself dissecting her story until the thread was lost. Good post and loved the blurb.

Donna L Bolk said...

I enjoyed your interview. You brought up some excellent points. For me reading and writing is all about the emotional pull.

I read a lot of books authored by friends. I know they've tapped into my emotions when I get so into the story, I forget who wrote the book.

Autumn Jordon said...

Sarah, It's wonderful to be here. Thank you for having me and for adding EW to your TBP. I hope you enjoy.

I'll be around all day and night, so please comment.

Autumn Jordon said...

We've read the same books, P.L. I don't think you need to overdo the research, but your story certainly has to have factoral favor. Is that a word?

Thank for the compliment. WINK

Autumn Jordon said...

When that happens to me, I'm like emailing them and saying how did you do that?

I love when I get lost in a story. I hope my readers feel the same way when reading my stories.

Mimi Barbour said...

Great blog Autumn! I, too, try and remember certain feelings when I write a passage that evokes emotion. I also find myself sitting alone in my office making all kinds of gestures so I can put them down acturately-combing fingers through my hair, facial expressions, hand movements, etc. Anyone looking in would wonder about my sanity. Sometimes even I wonder, as I self-consciously look around the empty room. Guess it comes with the job???

Autumn Jordon said...

LOL, Mimi. I do that too. You know what you learn by doing so? Your face had parts. Your hands. arms, body and legs have parts. You can give an old phase new life. So Kudos to you, girl!

AJ, nudging your elbow. WINK

Liana Laverentz said...

Congratulations on finaling in the Golden Leaf! It should be just a hop, skip, and a jump away from you if you live in NEPA :) Can't wait to read Evil's Witness. It's been on my list since long before it came out!

Autumn Jordon said...

Thanks, Liana. I sure wish you were going to be in NJ. I'm so thrilled just to be nominated for the Golden Leaf.


Unknown said...

Wow, Autumn, what a compelling post! Thanks for sharing how you used life experience to bring life to your characters. Sounds like a great read.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Autmun, you've had an eventful life. Evil Witness will definitely go on my TBR pile--or rather hard drive. Your post was excelletn! Thanks for sharing.