Romantic suspense author, Molly Kate Gray, dropped by for a chat about writing, the appeal of southern men and her favorite way to waste an afternoon. A fan of things that go bump in the night, Gray writes romantic suspense with a Southern drawl. Here are her answers to my Top 5 questions:
MN: Writers are often told, “Write what you know.” How much of what you write stems from your experience?
MKG: I’m from a small town, so I think that gives an authentic feel to my setting. I’m familiar with the “everyone knows everyone else’s business” aspect of small, country town life. Other than that, most of the story’s from inside my head….except for Tara’s creepy ex-boyfriend – a high school boyfriend of mine provided the inspiration for a few of his character traits.
MN: Once you have your premise, what’s your process? Are you a plotter or a “pantser” going with your instincts as you write?
MKG: I really don’t fit exactly fit either category. My first two scenes I write are always my finale and the climax for the story. If I don’t know who’s going to be in those two scenes and how they’re going to happen, I don’t know what elements I need to introduce along the way. After that, I plan out the rest of my “five big scenes” that will be the guideposts along the way for the story. Beyond that, I don’t do a lot of extra planning. I’m not one for character interview sheets or sketching out how each act will unfold. I like to let the story itself lead me as I write.
Since I work with romantic suspense, though, it is important to know what elements are vital to a story’s end. I think pulling a rabbit out of a hat in the “who done it” scene is cheating and unfair to the reader. Everything that will be important in the ending of my story will be mentioned (or hinted at) at least once along the way.
MN: What or who inspires you to write romantic suspense?
MKG: I think romantic suspense is kind of an adult version of Nancy Drew. When I was a teenager, we had a very reclusive woman who lived next door to my house. “Dana” was probably in her early 30s, but I never saw her outside and no one ever seemed to visit her. One night, I was home alone, and something made me look out the window. Dana’s house was pitch black – except for what appeared to be beams from multiple flashlights sweeping through the house. I watched for a while before closing the blinds. A day later, a team of FBI agents came to my house and wanted to know if I’d seen anything unusual at Dana’s house, and then I realized that something was very wrong. My dad and I went to peek in Dana’s windows that weekend, and I’ll never forget how completely torn up the house was. Every drawer had been emptied onto the floor – holes were in the walls – something…not good had happened there. We never saw Dana again. I always wanted to be the person who could put all the pieces together and solve the crime. Writing romantic suspense gives me the chance to live out that fantasy.
MN: What is it about southern men that makes your heart melt?
MKG: Um, I’m married to a Californian, so…. I think that I write about Southern guys because they’re what I know. I also like the idea of a genteel Southern man – polite, honorable, would run into a burning house to save his dog, etc.
MN: George Clooney or Brad Pitt. Why?
MKG: Looking guiltily from side to side – Ian Somerhalder. Sorry, the other two guys are attractive, but nothing beats Ian’s blue eyes. The fact that he seems to be a true Southern gentleman, loves animals, and is passionate about the environment – he’s just all kinds of perfect.
MN: What’s your favorite way to waste away an afternoon?
MKG: I’m a mom of a middle schooler and a high schooler. I don’t really have a lot of time to waste. If I had an afternoon where I didn’t have any commitments, I have to admit that I’m a huge Vampire Diaries fan. I’ve watched a few episodes until I can practically quote them from memory – it’s a nice way to relax. Also, I love it when I have the chance to sneak in some time on Twitter to chat with my friends.
MN: And, (only if you’re comfortable revealing this) – Is Molly Kate Gray the name you were born with? If not, why did you choose it?
MKG: As you might have guessed, Molly Kate Gray is not my given name, but Gray is a family name. I think I’ll leave it at that, after all, I do write suspense.
MN: Thank you!
About MKG’s Small Town Secrets:
Miller’s Grove’s most eligible bachelor, Josh Owens, could have a different date every night of the week, so he doesn’t understand why he’s drawn to Tara since she’s obviously not interested in him. Tara Sullivan is angry that he’s stolen the coveted prime-time anchor position she’d been promised.
A stranger begins preying on the single young women in Miller’s Grove, and the story’s assigned to Tara. As the number of victims grows, Tara reluctantly accepts help from Josh. As he researches his top suspect in the assaults, he unearths events in the past that more than one resident of Miller’s Grove wants to keep hidden.
Together they discover a web of conspiracy and lies involving the most powerful family in town. Josh and Tara put their reputations at risk in the hope of exposing the truth and, perhaps, finally bringing Tara peace.