Linda Wiken, aka Erika Chase, is a former mystery bookstore owner in Ottawa. Book Fair and Foul, the fourth book in the [Erika Chase] Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries, has just been released and the fifth, Law and Author, will be out next spring. As a fan of the Ashton Corners mysteries, I can assure you that this is a cozy series you’ll want to add to your to-read list!
Linda is also working on a second series for Berkley Prime Crime, the Culinary Capers Mysteries, writing as herself, which will debut later next year. She has been short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story from Crime Writers of Canada, and for an Agatha Award in the U.S. for Best First Novel for A Killer Read. It was my privilege to sit down with Linda to conclude my “Interview with an Author” She-Bang series.
Tell me about your writing process.
On an ideal day, my morning is relegated to the business side of writing. That means, answering emails, writing blogs, posting on Facebook and Twitter, checking other blogs, updating the website, and scanning the Internet for pertinent items. This all is geared to promotion and that’s critical for a published writer. It has to be scheduled and it has to be done. After lunch, I head to my computer for a few hours of writing. How long depends on how well it’s going. I’ve been known to continue writing all afternoon while some days, I stop after my minimum of 1,000 words.
You have to be used to the editing process by now. How was working with Janet Costello in both She-Bangs?
I find Janet Costello to be a really good editor. She’s easy to work with. She has a keen eye and doesn’t let anything slip by, and she’s very precise at letting authors known just what she wants. She’s also very up on promotion and sends useful and encouraging suggestions to the anthology authors.
I understand you’re a member of the Ladies Killing Circle. Sounds ominous. Is it?
Well, we are actively involved in killing people off and then solving the crimes, but it’s all on paper! The group of writers includes Vicki Cameron, Sue Pike, Barbara Fradkin, Joan Boswell, and Mary Jane Maffini.
We’ve been together for too many years to count, or admit to. Together we’ve produced seven anthologies (The Ladies Killing Circle, Cottage Country Killers, Menopause Is Murder, Fit To Die, Bone Dance, When Boomers Go Bad, And Going Out With A Bang) with the help of some dynamite female mystery authors from across Canada. Each anthology has garnered at least one shortlist nomination, very often a Best Short Story winner, from Crime Writers of Canada (the Arthur Ellis Award). The stories run the gamut of mystery from darkly brooding to ones you’ll die laughing at. Each anthology also has themed poems from an award-winning writer.
In addition, The Ladies have all had short stories published in other offerings, and at the moment, four of our authors (Joan Boswell, Barbara Fradkin, Mary Jane Maffini and Linda Wiken) are writing series novels. Besides slaving away at writing, we’ve also been known to go on shopping sprees, travel to warmer climes, hit the conferences, and eat a lot of lunches.
You mentioned author promotion earlier. As an established author, what do you find to be the most effective marketing tools?
I find bookmarks are excellent. Most stores are happy to take them and pass them along to customers. They’re convenient for passing out almost anyplace—even in a line-up at the grocery store, and are a good way for potential customers to remember the title. Signings can be great but authors should remember not to base the success on the number of books sold that day. If people walk away with a bookmark, they’ll often come back another time to buy the book. Facebook is a wonderful tool. I prefer it to Twitter, where your tweet is just one in a million and everyone is trying to sell something. I think Twitter has lost its initial effectiveness because of that. Promotion hasn’t really changed too much over the years. If you’re with a smaller publisher or a small rung on the ladder of a larger one, it’s still up to the author to get out there and promote the book. Word of mouth is still the very best selling tool.
Thank you, Linda.