Monday, March 7, 2011
Interview with author Pamela Callow
I would like to welcome author Pamela Callow to the Socrates’ Book Review Blog. Pamela Callow is the author of the first two books in the Kate Lange series, Damaged and Indefensible.
1) What made you jump from a legal career to a writing career? What is the first thing you ever wrote?
Thanks for having me today, Yvonne! To answer your question, I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I could read. My path to a writing career was a typically convoluted one. I studied English literature as an undergrad, but a practical streak sent me in the direction of a legal career. It was excellent training and I’m very glad I did it. After I was admitted to the Nova Scotia bar, I also completed a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, and then worked for an international consulting firm as a strategy manager. After my children were born, I left my corporate career to stay at home with them until they started school. I loved being with them – but I also needed an outlet. I decided to exhume an old passion: creative writing. After taking a couple of adult education courses, I decided to write a book. Then I realized that I could make a career of this. When my children started school, I began writing full-time. Four years later, I sold my series.
It’s funny you should ask what was the first thing I ever wrote, because I think I just found it in some family papers. It was a “story” describing my dog, in which I itemized in bullet form her various characteristics. It made me laugh because I still work in bullet form to outline my books. And I always have a dog in my stories. The circle is now complete…
2) Who are the biggest influences in your writing career?
My fabulous editor Valerie Gray, and my wonderful agent, Al Zuckerman of Writers House. They each guide me, encourage me, and coach me.
3) What are your favorite genres to read?
I read across the board – thrillers, mysteries, literary fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, classics. I love reading broadly, because it broadens my mind to other approaches, styles, story structures.
4) Who are your favorite authors?
All-time faves: Jane Austen, John Irving, Rohinton Mistry, Elizabeth George, Donna Tartt, Shakespeare, Barbara Kingsolver. Those are just a few. :)
5) Do you ever plan to branch into writing other genres?
Yes. When I sold DAMAGED, I was working on a YA mystery series, which I’d love to develop. I also have a series on the back burner which features a lawyer who time travels to Napoleonic England.
Plus there are a few other story ideas that I’d like to develop when I have some time.
6) How would you describe your heroine, Kate Lange?
Kate is a struggling thirty something lawyer who is a survivor. She has overcome a tragic family past to land her dream job, only to discover that her fast-track to a corner office in a high powered law firm won’t necessarily make her happy. She’s what I call an ordinary superwoman: someone who has known her share of heartache, is sinking money into a fixer-upper house, owns a rescue dog – but has the inner strength to dig deep and do the right thing, no matter the personal cost to herself.
7) How many books do you plan to write about Kate?
There are currently four books under contract. DAMAGED (June 2010), book #1, and INDEFENSIBLE (January 2011), book #2, are available everywhere. I’m currently working on TATTOOED (June 2012), the third book in the series.
8) Do you use an outline when you write each book? Do you know exactly how each story will end before you finish writing it?
My writing process is evolving, but I have always used an outline. I need to know the plot, the twists and turns, the motivations and backstories of all my characters before I can write. I find my writing is stronger, more organic and requires less revision when I do so. Often my first draft of prose is my best. I know where the story is going for each book, and how it will end. For TATTOOED, my agent suggested I start the outline working from the end, and that was a really interesting, informative approach.
9) What type of research is involved with writing each book?
I do extensive research for each book. I usually have a premise that is inspired by news stories: DAMAGED was inspired by a US criminal case, and INDEFENSIBLE was inspired by wrongful accusation cases. Then I spend time exploring subplot ideas, and figuring out which ones fit into the story. After that, I conduct intensive research on the subject matter areas of the plot: criminal law procedure, police procedure, forensics, pathology. For each book, there is a different research spin – DAMAGED was biomedical, TATTOOED is forensic anthropology. Once my core research is completed, I construct scenarios. Then I contact my subject matter experts – police detectives, forensic pathologist, lawyers, etc. to run the scenarios by them and get them to confirm and elaborate.
10) Can you give us a little teaser about what to expect from your next book?
I’m really excited about TATTOOED. There is a cold case in this book, so I’m having lots of fun digging up (pardon the pun) information on forensic anthropology and taphonomy. As well, Kate goes head to head with her alter ego, a tattooist from Kate’s past. I’ve been fascinated by the mainstreaming of the tattoo culture over the past few years, and I’m enjoying researching the symbolism of the designs. Plus, watching Miami Ink for “research” purposes is a definite job perk!
Thank you for taking the time to visit us and answer our questions.
Thanks so much for having, Yvonne! I love to hear from readers, so please drop by my website at www.pamelacallow.com, or my FB Book page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pamela-Callow/104724752898990?ref=sgm. You can also finding me on twitter @PamelaCallow.