Today’s Free-for-All Friday brings us an interview with NiFtY Author Dorothy Bodoin. Dorothy has written numerous novels and is the author of the Foxglove Corner mystery series. Join me in learning more about Dorothy and her writing!
BH: Hi Dorothy! From what I read on your website, your Foxglove Corner mystery series is eleven books strong. Can you tell us a little about the series?
DB: In the first book of the series, Darkness At Foxglove Corners, my heroine, Jennet Greenway, and her collie move to Foxglove Corners after a tornado damages her previous house. She hopes to find country peace and quiet. Instead she finds a mystery in the old yellow Victorian across the lane and romance with a handsome, enigmatic deputy sheriff named Crane Ferguson.
I never intended to write a series, but one idea led to another and another. At present I find myself writing the twelfth book about Jennet Greenway and her collies.
BH: Which of the Foxglove Corner mysteries is your favorite?
DB: It’s difficult to choose one, but The Collie Connection has a special place in my heart. I wrote it after an accident threw my life into a tailspin. During this time, I lost my beloved collie, Holly, who served as the model for Jennet’s Halley. I didn’t think I’d be able to write that book because, according to my plan, Jennet was supposed to lose Halley just before her wedding, but I did; and it received my publisher’s Golden Wings award.
BH: What are some of the joys of writing a series character?
DB: By now, I know my series characters better than I know my friends. I know how they’re going to act and what they’re going to say, and I look forward to seeing them again. I also have fun playing matchmaker. When I bring one of my characters into my current book, it’s like greeting an old friend.
BH: Do you have any tips to share on how to keep a main character growing and learning throughout a series?
DB: Each one of my books is set in a different season. At this point, for example, I have three books that take place during Christmas. My characters, like real people, change. They get married, survive disappointing love affairs, and deal with life’s problems—Jennet’s encounters with unruly students, for example, and her conflict with Principal Grimsly.
My setting is also real. I live about an hour’s drive from the fictional Foxglove Corners. Places change, too. People react to change. Readers, I’m happy to say, often refer to Jennet and Crane as if they’re real people rather than characters in a book. They’ve been known to react to the collies this way too.
BH: Tell us a little about your path to publication.
DB: When I was fifteen, I wrote a science-fiction novel on a portable typewriter. I thought it was quite good and submitted it to all the big publishers I could find and collected several kind rejection letters. It was a different publishing world then. I didn’t sell my book, of course, but I learned an early lesson about perseverance.
A decade or so later, I wrote a western Gothic novel. Once again, I thought it was good and tried to find a publisher. There were different markets available to writers now. The publishing world was changing. Some editors were still kind, but no one wanted to publish my book. From time to time I revised it and tried again. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had a lot to learn about writing. My manuscript spent many years in a box on my closet shelf.
Finally—I won’t say how much later—I left my job teaching high school English and started writing full time. Once again I had faith in my book, Darkness At Foxglove Corners. This time, I was determined to be published. I had my manuscript professionally critiqued not once but twice, and kept learning. After twenty-eight submissions, I found a publisher for it.
Unfortunately, I still had a lesson to learn. One acceptance doesn’t add up to success everlasting. My publisher rejected my second book, Cry For The Fox. I was disappointed but also by this time a professional. I submitted it to other publishers and, while waiting for replies, wrote a third book, Winter’s Tale. Wings ePress accepted Winter’s Tale and Cry For The Fox. And I kept writing.
Finding Hilliard and Harris on the Sinc-ic website was a lucky break for me. They published my stand-alone novels of romantic suspense, all of which have been selected by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery BookClub.
BH: What does your workspace look like?
DB: I have two workspaces: two desks, one in the living room, one in a bedroom converted into a home office and library. I do the majority of my planning and rough draft writing in the living room and fine tune my chapters on the computer.
In both rooms, I have oil paintings and prints, mostly of collies, and photographs all around me. The dictionary and thesaurus are never far away. Both spaces look neat in the pictures because I’m between chapters today.
BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?
DB: Phyllis A. Whitney’s Guide To Fiction Writing is my all-time favorite. I read an earlier version of her book with a different title when I was in my teens. In those earlier years, I often returned to it for enlightenment and encouragement. Every time I read it, I seemed to read her message between the lines: “You can do it!”
BH: Any words on advice to aspiring writers for keeping the hope alive?
DB: My advice is simple. Keep writing and keep submitting and, in your leisure time, read the kinds of books you’d like to write. I learned from writers like Velda Johnston and other favorites, and I’m still learning.
Find a group like Sisters in Crime and become as active as you can. Find the right critique partner or critique group. At one point, the Internet Chapter of Sisters in Crime had a wonderful Workshop. I posted the entire draft of Winter’s Tale in the Workshop before submitting it to Wings.
Also, it’s important to write every day if possible, even during life’s bad times. Even three or four pages will eventually turn into a book.
Write about something that’s important to you. I’ve always loved collies and like to think of myself as the Albert Payson Terhune of the mystery world. Moving ahead to promotion, I advertise in collie magazines and have met many wonderful people who first saw my name in The Cassette or Collie Expressions.
BH: If you want more of Dorothy (and oh, I bet you do!), check out the links below!
http://www.dorothybodoin.com is my website. Here in my Photo Album you’ll find pictures of beautiful collies like the ones who romp through the pages of my books.
http://www.wings-press.com is the publisher of my Foxglove Corners series.
http://www.hilliardandharris.com is the publisher of my novels of romantic suspense.
http://www.amazon.com Here you’ll find my books; the Hilliard and Harris books are also in bookstores.
http://www.sistersincrime.org I recommend joining this organization, along with Sinc-ic, (the Internet Chapter) and the Guppies. The last group is slanted toward the unpublished, but many of us remain members after we’re published.
What a great interview! I learned so much about Ms. Bodoin here. And I’ve read all of her books. I can’t wait for the next one. I appreciate the advice she’s given through her answers, too. Writing isn’t for sissies, that’s for sure.
I like what Ms. Bodoin says about “one acceptance” doesn’t mean success forever. Lots of other writer blogs I read talk about looking for that one publishing deal, as if it will solve all their writerly angst. Thank you for the reality check, and thank you, Beth, for introducing us to another winning author!
Marja and Mary, thanks for your comments! Dorothy does have some great advice, and I’m glad she could give us this interview.
I enjoyed the interview and the road to publication described. It mirrors my own but I’ve yet to gain acceptance after over 35 years. I hope it happens soon as I’m nearing my 73rd birthday. Thanks again,Dorthy, for the insight and lesson on “keep on, keeping on.” Larry