Where did the story idea come from/how did it come about?
My idea for the story came to me in many ways. I’ve always been interested in the stock market and the idea of an all-woman investment club was my hook. I added the Bloody Mary Drink after hearing about its historical tie to Alexandria. It was a convergence of ideas and I knew I had to write this story.
The Bloody Mary Club was first a screen play. In fact, I’ve written several screenplays that were optioned. The Bloody Mary Club novel is based on my script optioned by a Hollywood Production company for an Emmy-winning actress. Of course, being an asset type of gal, I took the money and bought a mink coat! It was the only sensible thing to do with crazy Hollywood money. The Bloody Mary Club came inches from becoming a TV series. After seeing the waist high stacks of scripts in the producer’s office that were ‘in development’– I took charge and turned my script into a novel. As a script the story felt limited with just dialog and scene settings. It was like an abbreviated version of the story in my head. When I wrote the novel the characters came to life and the story became richer and more nuanced. I knew it was meant to be a novel.
Two years later and after 17 rewrites, and agonizing advice from my two literary agents to ‘make it more ‘Sex in the city’, make it more ‘Desperate Housewives,’ with a hint of ‘scarier’, I stopped listening to them and rewrote version 18 back to my original vision.
One thing you want the reader to walk away with after reading this book.
After reading The Bloody Mary Club, I hope that the reader will realize that financial thrillers are fun to read and you might even learn something about the stock market. Through my story you will see that even the fat cats top get ripped off and that there are no get rich quick shortcuts. In this era of self-directed IRA’s, everyone is responsible for their financial future and must make wise investment decisions. We all need to be savvy investors or else face a painful and dismal retirement. In the process, I make it clear that there are short cuts to make money or guarantees to double your return. I also touch on the complicated feelings about money and self worth. What happens to friendships when the well-heeled rub elbows with the not so fortunate? What happens when the high net worth individual looses their money and in now scraping by? It is always juicy to write about the ‘haves’ and the ‘haven-not’s.’ I always say people lie about two things: sex and money. I prefer to explore what money (not sex) or lack of it does to people and what lengths they will go through to get it. Fifty Shades of Grey does a darn good job of covering the sex side of things! I’ll stick to what I know — the money side of things!
Why did you choose your genre?
I am most comfortable writing fiction and specifically financial thrillers. This field is ripe with stories that need to be told: financial intrigue, bank take over’s, embezzlers, investment shams, bad stockbrokers, international money launders, identify theft, corporate espionage, stock swindles, just to name a few. Wrap these themes around engaging characters, put them in interesting settings and let the writing begin!
I get a ton of story ideas reading the Wall Street Journal and Forbes magazine. The financial field is ripe with epic stories waiting to be told. I’ll start with a snippet of information, then figure out interesting characters, and soon I come up with a plot and timeline. For example, the idea of an IPO gone bad with sympathetic characters caught up in the offering could be a great story because of the human element involved in the high stakes financial transaction. When my radar is out, ideas are everywhere.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
The most challenging part of writing a novel is keeping the story moving along. There needs to be urgency in the story, you need an action line or heart beat that keeps the reader turning pages. The ultimate compliment for me from a reader is that my novel is a page turner! I learned this ‘urgency’ technique writing scripts — always leave a scene at the earliest and start the next scene at the latest. It creates interest and energy in the story.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
It’s very hard to make a living writing. There are very few that can make decent living writing novels. The best way to insure success is to perfect your craft by writing, taking classes, accept criticism from readers, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t expect perfection from your first or even tenth draft. You will write badly, everyone does, so don’t get down on yourself for this. You will have plenty of time to rewrite. As in the financial world, there are no shortcuts, you have to keep writing and improving if you want to be a professional writer. Writers have to learn their craft. The absolutely best way to improve as a writer is to write… write… write. And then write some more.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Yes, I do, but I know that one way to overcome this — forced writing. I have to be disciplined. If you wait for inspiration to strike, it could be hit or miss. If it’s just a hobby then that’s fine but if consider yourself a writer then, just like any job, you have to put in regular time. I write Monday through Friday and keep to a strict page count. I don’t leave the chair until I’ve written at least 5 to 10 pages a day. I always edit on the weekends.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
One thing that I need is an extra large screen, or two. I need to see what I’m writing and a large screen provides that. It’s also important to have a dedicated place to write. As a writer, you need to be open to new technology as well. I have been trying Dragon naturally speaking which is a speech recognition product that lets me dictate directly into the computer software rather than typing. It’s very cool product! I can sit with my feet up on the desk and just let the story flow. It is a time saver and very fun to work with. You also need to have a sense of humor and be able to laugh at yourself. Lastly, and most importantly, you need to have a group of friends or family who will encourage and inspire you to keep at it. Surround yourself with cheerleaders, eliminate the negative naysayers and stay positive.
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my journey with you. I hope you enjoy reading The Bloody Mary Club and come away with an appreciation of all things financial!