Friday, October 10, 2008

Interview with Bette McNicholas

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Bette McNicholas. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Farragut Square. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Yes, Farragut Square is a novel about Lindsay McCallister, a ballerina who trades in her tutu for a blue policeman’s uniform and her ballet shoes for a 9mm Glöck. She changes her name and enters a man’s world and works hard for five years to become a detective on the Unsolved Mystery Task Force in order to find out what happened to her half-sister who disappeared from a park bench in Farragut Square over eight years ago.

She meets her new boss, Sgt. Joseph Dragani, Washington, D.C.’s top detective who isn’t pleased he’s forced to accept a female rookie on his team. He also has a mission and she’s afraid he will delve into her past and expose her secrets and remove her from the squad.

Lindsay finds an escaped prisoner (the man who abducted her sister), who is obsessed with having sex with virgins, hiding in her closet when she comes home from work one evening. But Dragani, the street-smart detective who has now fallen in love with his partner, has other plans for Lindsay and is not about to let this murderer strike again…

Farragut Square is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Farragut Square is a prime piece of real estate in the heart of D.C.’s financial district and is in one of the largest police districts. I have always loved walking through the park and going to the restaurants and shops in the area because it is very metropolitan.

Would you describe your book as a cozy, mystery, suspense, or thriller?

This novel is my first attempt at romantic suspense, but there is mystery and a woman in jeopardy too—a little bit of everything except a cozy.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

When I started writing about 30 years ago, I only wanted to write Civil War novels. And I did, I finished several, started others that have anywhere from 3 to 8 chapters written. I loved the research, but the genre was dying and most large publishing houses had a CW author. So, I decided to change genres.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I wanted to write about a heroine who was a ballerina and that’s where I started! Don’t ask me how I got to where the book ended—it just happened as I went along…

Do you have all the key suspense/mystery elements thought out before you begin writing?

No. I had my two protagonists lurking in my brain and I saw a young man on a TV show that said he only had sex w/ virgins. That led me to call a psychologist friend who gave me about six reasons why someone would have this obsession and I went from there!

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I did a lot of reading and watched videos about the ballet. I took the subway into the city and spent a few days in Farragut Square getting the feel of the area and the people who work there, wrote down the sights, sounds and aromas while I sat on the park bench. Did some research about Admiral Farragut, spent time in the police station and took a tour and went to a firing range and learned how to use a Glöck, the police department’s choice weapon. It was a great venture. The rest was from living and working in the D.C. area for 40 years.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I seem to have more fun developing the male protagonist and he’s Italian. But I had fun with Lindsay because she was a tad sarcastic and strong.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I do one or two paragraphs about my two protagonists and the antagonist: grandparents, parents, ethnic background, birth date, occupations etc. My research doesn’t affect my character development because I have them in my head before I do any research. I write around them and let them take me where they want to go.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

No. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have favorite authors. I wish I could write like some of my favorite authors, but don’t even try. Before I started writing, I read about one historical romance a day. I began reading paperback novels because I was obsessed w/ reading and spent too much money buying hardbound books. I’m dyslexic and until I took a speed-reading course at Georgetown University, I only ever read books that were required in school. After I took that course, I discovered I could read a book in a month, then a week, and so on and so on…It was a whole new world for me.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I sent postcards to all the bookstores in the Farragut Square and Phoenix areas and to all the librarians here also, announcing my book. And I sent postcards to bookstores in my hometown and places where I have lived. And being on the Much Cheaper Than Therapy blog is a great opportunity. Another Wild Rose Press author has a blog that announces new releases and Farragut Square was on there. I had notices in July newsletters and websites on three RWA chapters that I’m a member. I hope these things will have an effect.

What do we have to look forward next?

Memory’s Edge, a Civil War novel. My editor called this weekend and it has been edited and sent to a reader for a final proofreading and then I will read it again before it goes into production, but I don’t have the pub date yet.

Thanks, Bette!

To celebrate her book release, Bette is offering a free ebook of Farragut Square to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...


With a background in politics and real estate, Bette is a published author of fiction. Prior to Farragut Square, she co-authored An Obsession with Honor (Warner Books) a historical romance set in the Washington, D. C. area. Romantic Times called the novel, "The kind of love story you want to read again and again."

Bette attended Bryant College in Providence, Rhode Island, worked as an assistant to a U.S. Senator, an executive in radio and later as a real estate executive with expertise in financing, law and marketing. She brings knowledge of these diverse fields to her work as an author. She recently finished collaborating on a contemporary novel with one of her friends. She has a Civil War novel coming out soon and is completing another one, besides finishing her second romantic suspense.

She is an active member of Romance Writers of America, its Published Authors Network, PASIC, the Desert Rose Chapter, and is a charter member of the Washington Romance Writers. For Washington Romance Writers, she served on the Board of Directors for two years, was the Published Author Liaison, as well as Published Author Chapter Representative to RWA.

Bette is married, has three adult children, three grandsons and two granddaughters. Besides writing, she enjoys reading history books, biographies and novels, knitting, and cooking Italian food. She also played duplicate bridge and was a Junior Master.



Anonymous said...

Wonderful interview. Your story sounds intriguing. I've seen this cover often. It always catches my attention. I love dark mysterious covers. ~Skhye

Skhye said...

Well that last post was from me. LOL. Stupid finger!

Anonymous said...

Great interview, Bette. Looking forward to your next book.

Karen W.

Pat Cochran said...

I so enjoyed your interview and that
wonderful cover. It exemplifies
darkness in all its shadowy,sinister,
and mysterious wickedness!

Pat Cochran

Tina LaVon said...

Where did you come up with the ballerina angle?

Anonymous said...

Bette asked me to post this for her. :)

Thank you all for your positive comments regarding Farragut Square. I love the cover, but unfortunately, I failed to describe the park bench. Mea culpa! The park benches in D.C. are made from thin slats and painted dark green & usually have splinters, too! However, the artist did create a cover exactly as I had asked.

The reason I made my protagonist a ballerina is because I wanted to be a ballerina when I was a young girl, but we couldn't afford the lessons, costumes and shoes for ballet. I hope you enjoyed her dancing! Bette