Tuesday, June 17, 2014
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Peggy Rothschild
1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?
I was an English major in high school and had always enjoyed writing, but years of writing ads, articles and promotional materials pretty much leached away the fun. Then I took a newsletter design class and, as a part of an assignment, the instructor had us write an essay on whatever we wanted. Wow. I had so much fun. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed creative writing. As a lifelong mystery and thriller fan, they seemed like natural genres for me to try. Through a class at UCLA, I managed to connect with a great critique group and started honing my craft. But it took a number of years before I felt like I had something I could send out into the world.
2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?
For mysteries, my go-to books as a child were the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series. I also loved reading S.E. Hinton, Dickens, Tolkien, Louisa May Alcott, and Esther Forbes (the author of my favorite childhood book, Johnny Tremain). Nowadays, I practically get giddy when a new book comes out by any of my favorite authors, which include Linda Barnes, C.J. Box, Jan Burke, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Gillian Flynn, Tana French, Sue Grafton, Steve Hamilton and Jo Nesbo–to name a few.
3. What was the inspiration behind your thriller, Clementine’s Shadow?
For Clementine's Shadow, I actually started with one of the ancillary characters. I had this idea about a person who tracks their failures, but never their successes. After that, the main character appeared and the concept began to take shape. Stories are funny that way--sometimes a line from a song or poem will spark an idea, sometimes an article in the news will get the gray matter buzzing, and other times a character burrows into the brain and demands to be fleshed out.
4. What do you want readers to take from the story?
All of the characters in the story have checkered pasts, but each discovers that their past failures don’t have to define them. I think that’s a valuable message to put out into the world.
5. Will you write more about these characters?
When I started writing Clementine’s Shadow, I wanted to tell a story from four points of view, with a tight timeline where all the characters end up in the same place trying to rescue a little girl. Because of the multiple POVs, I envisioned it as a standalone, but lately I’ve started thinking about future story lines for two of the characters. I can see centering a story on Jane (the teen with anger management issues), five years down the road when she’s a sheriff’s deputy. I also have a story idea for a mystery that focuses on Brady (the pot smoking artist) and a long-ago murder that occurred on his land. At this point, I envision Deputy Casey Lang in a supporting role.
6. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?
Still writing and still living in California. You never know what’s coming around the next corner, but I assume I’ll also still be gardening, making art and practicing yoga.
7. What author (dead or alive) would you like to collaborate with?
Quite frankly, I think I’d be too overwhelmed and awed to collaborate with any of my favorite authors. But, if I could put aside my emotional fugue state, I think working with a master storyteller like Michael Connelly or Robert Crais would be an amazing experience.
8. Would you like to see a film made of Clementine’s Shadow? Who would be the stars?
Of course! I think the landscape of the California High Desert is a dramatic setting for a story and would translate well into film. The scenes inside the mine would also be appropriately spooky in a visual medium. As for casting, I’ve had several people tell me they see Jeff Bridges in the part of Brady–I suspect that’s because Brady reminds them of The Dude. But I think it would be fun to see someone like George Clooney take on that role. For Casey, I picture Kate Winslett–since she can do tough and smart—as well as handle an American accent.
9. Are you working on anything that you can tell KSR a little about?
I’ve had a busy year writing-wise. I’m currently editing, a Young Adult mystery which takes place in Ventura during fire season in 1977. I’m also polishing Erasing Ramona, a mystery set in Mill Valley, California, which centers around a decade old murder.
10. What other genres would you like to try your hand at one day?
I’ve always read across genres, but I’m happy writing in the thriller and mystery genres. I love the puzzle aspect of composing the plot and the research involved with each setting and set of circumstances. The only shifts I anticipate is targeting books for different age audiences since I enjoy writing for both adult and YA audiences.
11. What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
I’d be creating ceramic landscapes and working in my garden.
12. Thank you for participating in the interview! Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to talk to you and your readers.
As for things about me that may surprise your readers…
1. As a part of my research, I actually took a required peace officer training class (PC 832 Concepts) to learn police procedures. In addition to learning how to execute a follow-along hold and properly handcuff someone, I also passed the firing range test!
2. I’m an old movie fan and enjoy re-watching old classics like The Philadelphia Story (Kathryn Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant).
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