How are you enjoying our week with Schobernd? Isn't it great?! Today's visit will be an interview with Mr. Schobernd that he was kind enough to sit down and do for Books N Beans.
So grab your cuppa and enjoy the conversation!
Q 1. Do you remember when exactly the idea for The Dogtrot Murder started in your mind?
A. No! Storylines don't just pop into my head. It evolves from a snippet of an idea and changes and matures as it's wrestled around in my mind. Since the first Carter A. Johnson novel dealt with catching a guilty party who had fooled the justice system I was looking for something different; a wrongly imprisoned innocent.
Q 1b. Was there a particular event or moment that first sparked the idea?
A. Again, no! It was just a matter of creating a change of pace from The Blonde Heiress.
Q 1c. How did it develop into the story it became?
A. The outline called for the wrongly incarcerated woman to be sent to the State of Kansas Women's Prison in Topeka. I made contact with a lady there and she was very gracious in speaking to me about the prison system. I'd write a few pages and need additional information, call Colleen, and ask more questions. She was a great resource and deserves much credit for the prison sequences and for putting up with me.
For the remainder of the story characters and events were invented as the need arose. I find I don't need to choreograph every event or character ahead of time; when a need become apparent something just pops into my head and I write.
Q 2. Some authors state the story for them is like an outline they follow, and others say the way characters develop alter the author's original vision as they write it.
A. I do both. An outline is like a roadmap of the initial direction I plan to follow. Then billboards along the route indicate additional sights I'd like to visit, so I alter the trip and take side trips. Some develop into keepers while others are simply dead ends that don't work out.
Q 2a. Are you an author that knows from the beginning the path your story will take?
A. In general, yes. But I keep an open mind and change direction. With The Dogtrot Murder I was about fifteen pages into it when I decided to make Kate, the woman in prison, a main character along with Carter A. Johnson, the series lead. Then I chose to write both of them in first person to bring out the emotions being felt, especially in Kate's predicament. The ending also was the result of the characters evolving from the original outline to become more that I had originally envisioned.
Q 2b. Or are you an author who lets the characters decide the direction the story will take?
A. I'm a type A aggressive, controlling personality so I don't relate to "letting the characters decide". It's my responsibility to make or break the characters I write. In the case of The Dogtrot Murder it quickly became apparent to me that Kate's character could be much deeper than just a one shot guest appearance, so she evolved into a co-star.
Q 2c. Were there any surprises or bumps along the way that altered the story?
A. Definitely. Kinky Stillbrink and Greg Loman filled the need for despicable heavies. Bad guys are always fun to write because they don't need to be action type murders, rapist or even tough guys. They just need to conjure up images of personalities we'd all like to avoid. As for surprises, there are several throughout and a major one at the conclusion. These developed as the story grew and new avenues opened up to be explored.
Q 3. Choosing a particular genre over the others seems to be a very personal decision.
A. I suppose if a writer's primary goal is to be a popular, recognized author and make lots of money it makes sense to stick to one genre. I follow my instincts and cross from one genre to another. I've written five crime novels, one love story and one political commentary. There are ways a writer can lead readers to form an opinion without the reader being aware of it; then something unexpected can be sprung on them.
Q 3a.What is it about the mystery genre that made it the genre for you as a writer?
A. I like the freedom of writing crime stories because there is unlimited material to work with. The internet is a fantastic source of information on weapons, poisons, locations, etc. Actually the first three books I wrote, the Irrevocable Change trilogy weren't in the Mystery genre. It was a character study of an assassin; the story followed his life and showcased his relationships with friends and family along with his professional kills. There wasn't a real mystery, the story just unfolded.
Q 3b. What do you remember sparking that first interest?
A. Nothing in particular. I've always been partial to action stories.
Q 3c. Do you have authors that you credit as being an inspiration to you?
A. No. I'm sure the novels I've read and the movies and TV shows I've watched have influenced my choice and my writing but no one example stands out.
Q 4a. What's your newest release?
A. The Dogtrot Murder.
Q 4b. Can you tell us about it (synopsis)?
A. The Dogtrot Murder is the second story in the Carter A. Johnson series. The Blonde Heiress was the first. The series follows Carter in his role of vigilante, righting errors made by the judicial system.
Kate Menke is the wife whose husband was murdered by an antagonist who staged the evidence to frame her. The opening chapter takes the reader along as the unknown character commits the murder.
The following chapters show Kate's state of mind as she arrives at the Kansas State Prison for Women near Topeka. She shares her feelings and emotions as she is indoctrinated into the daily routine of prison life.
Concurrent with Kate's plight Carter A. Johnson is introduced as he deals with a developing relationship with a new female friend. A sharp contrast evolves between Kate in prison for life versus Carter leading a normal life with a new relationship. Carter is then assigned to take a cursory look at Kate's case as a favor to a member of his shadowy support group. Carter soon discovers reason to doubt the evidence against the prisoner.
As Carter delves into the case Kate deals with the tough women she is confined with. After being attacked she is further punished by being put in solitary confinement.
From there Carter spends his time running down leads to gain evidence to free Kate while she examines her feelings about incarceration and develops an attitude about being framed for her husband's murder.
Each of the main characters experience surprises as the plot throws new challenges at them.
Q 4c. Where can readers find it/purchase it?
A. My e-books are published by Smashwords.com and are available for purchase there. The books are also carried by Barnes and Noble, Apple, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, and Baker & Taylor. They are available in all the popular electronic reader formats.
Q 5. If you have a current project that you're working, I'd love to share it.
A. Several weeks ago I began doing research for two new political commentary books.
Q 5a. Can you give us any sneak peek information?
A. The first will be "My Perceptions of Our Current Problems" and the second will be "My Perceptions of The Presidency". Our Current Problems is self explanatory. The Presidency will deal with past Presidents from Truman up to and including Obama.
Q 5b. When are you anticipating it'll be released?
A. Sometime in the fall if all goes well and the creeks don't rise. Then I'll start the third Carter A. Johnson novel. A major issue there is the role Kate Menke might play in it. I'd like feed back from readers of The Dogtrot Murder as to their impression of Kate and if they would like to see more of her.
Q 5c. Where can readers go to get more information on your writing progress and book releases?
A. On my Authors Page at Smashwords.com