Thursday, 16 May 2019

Q and A with Elizabeth Ireland - Foul Deeds Will Pass Blog Tour

Foul Deeds Will Rise
By 1875, Lillian Nolan believes she has successfully shut off any connection to the spirit world. That winter she is thrilled when she wins the role of Ophelia in a new production of Hamlet in her home town of Chicago. Everything changes when the body of the managing director is found sprawled across the steps of the dress circle and all the investors’ money is missing. Lillian fears, once again, her career is over before it begins.
After her dearest friend is arrested for murder, Lillian commits herself to discovering the truth. Her search is complicated by a strange man who is following her, the romantic overtures of her co-star, and a reunion with an old nemesis. But nothing is what it seems. What she does find puts a member of her own family at risk and leads to the unmasking of the killer with lethal consequences for herself.
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Tagline: Life upon the wicked stage can be deadly.
Set against the backdrop of the Gilded Age, the Backstage Mystery Series stars Lillian Nolan, an unconventional member of Chicago’s upper class who dreams of a career of fortune and fame in the theater. Talented and ambitious, she possesses a hidden skill which she is extremely reluctant to use—the ability to communicate with those who have died and now live in the world of “The Beyond.”  
The series chronicles her adventures in which she continually becomes enmeshed in solving mysteries which often require her accessing the realm of the paranormal. Filled with an incredible cast of characters—factual, fictional, and sometimes non-physical—who either help or hinder her quest for the truth, the stories take place during a a period considered to be the golden age of both acting and spiritualism in America.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

First, it would be deciding what to write. It is as if I have this huge buffet of ideas and possibilities in front of me and I have to pick and choose what I believe will be the best choice for the story I am working on. These choices must create the most interesting characters, engender the most suspense, and fulfill the promises set up in the first chapter in a creative and satisfying way for the reader. That is a lot of responsibility and requires making a lot of good choices. Secondly, my propensity to procrastinate and/or become distracted by the every day things in my life is a challenge for me. I believe in taking responsibility for allowing myself to become distracted, but it is so easy to put off until tomorrow that chapter or that scene.

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I always work from an outline. Since I am writing a series, I have to keep in mind the story arcs of each of the characters. It is absolutely essential to keep track of where they are in that arc in each book, and what I want to accomplish with each character, so a spreadsheet is a valuable tool for me. Once those things are in place, I follow the outline but I also allow myself the freedom to go where new ideas take me within that framework. If I do come up with an idea that takes me in a whole different direction, I will explore that and if it fits into the framework, I will use it. Quite often I come up with subplots or clues that way and then I go back through the story and drop them in.

What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?

The easiest aspect of writing is when everything is flowing – it’s all working together and I forget time and space and just have fun writing. This only happens for me when I know I have made good decisions for my characters and the plot and the outline make sense and everything falls into place. I would like to say that happens all the time, but that would not be true. I often get in my own way when I begin to challenge or second guess what I write and it slows everything down and makes it more difficult than it should be.

What is your opinion on the importance of a good cover and title?

It is absolutely true that we as readers, judge a book by its cover. It’s the first thing that attracts us to a book or makes us pick it up in a book store, or click on it online. We are visual creatures, for the most part, and we are first attracted to something based on how it looks – color, composition, and tone. The title is also important, but I believe secondary to the image(s) on the cover. The cover should “hook” the reader, but the title should “reel” the reader in – in a good way. Then, the short synopsis on the back cover should finalize the decision.

Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?

Yes. In other words, I do both. Once I finish what I consider to be an acceptable draft, (it may actually be a third or fourth draft) I send it to my Beta readers. They not only pay attention to story, they focus on grammar and spelling as well. I either accept or reject their suggestions and make the changes. Then I usually run it through software programs designed to catch different kinds of errors. Then it goes to a paid editor who makes suggestions. After that, there’s a re-write, then I run it through the software programs again. It is only after I think the final draft is in excellent shape that I send it to the paid proofer who still finds errors. Those get corrected. After receiving the final product after publishing, sometimes, but not always, there still may an error or two. It is not a perfect process because we deal with humans who make mistakes. Also, about the twenty-fifth time you read the same thing, you just don’t always see the mistakes.

Have you gone on a literary pilgrimage?

Not really. However, when I got the chance to go to Ireland, I went to Dublin and to the Dublin Writer’s Museum. Swift, Sheridan, Shaw, Wilde, Yeats, Joyce and Beckett are all represented there. I brought back a small poster with portraits of these writers and it hangs in my office as a reminder of great writing. Since my series is theatrically based – particularly in the performance of Shakespeare’s plays during the 19th century in America – I would like someday to go to Stratford-upon-Avon.
Author Bio

Elizabeth Ireland discovered her passion for theater early. After receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in Theater, she accepted a teaching position in a vibrant performing arts department at a college in northern Illinois. For ten years, she taught, directed and ran front-of-house operations. American Theater History—particularly that of the 19th century—has always been of particular interest to her.
She has been a quarter-finalist and a semi-finalist for the Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowship in screenwriting sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Two of her screenplays have been optioned, but remain unproduced. Her nonfiction work, Women of Vision: Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives, was published in 2008. Her work has also been published in a collection of paranormal short stories, Paramourtal: Tales of Undying Love and Loving the Undead. She lives in metro Atlanta with her ever-patient husband, and two quirky dachshunds.
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