Rebecca Forster started writing on a crazy dare and to her own great surprise, her first book was published. Since then, she has published twenty-three novels, finding her true voice with legal thrillers. ‘Keeping Counsel’ was a USA Today bestseller and the Witness series continues to appear in the top 100 Kindle bestsellers on Amazon. Rebecca also currently has a film script in production teaches at UCLA Writer’s Programme and volunteers her time in classrooms to bring the joy of writing to middle school children. She holds an MBA, had a career in advertising before becoming a full-time writer, is married to a superior court judge and is the mother of two sons.
TSR: A very warm welcome to you Rebecca, and can I thank-you, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today. For the benefit of our International readers can you tell us a bit about where you live and why you like living there?
I live in Palos Verdes, a beautiful peninsula in Southern California. We are, technically, a suburb of Los Angeles. I love where I live for so many reasons: our wild cliffs where you can hike along the ocean and see whales migrating, horse paths winding through the eucalyptus trees, lots of park land and I especially love that easily get to L.A., or Hollywood, or Malibu when the mood strikes!
TSR: Do you think the books that you read as a child influenced your writing in any way?
I loved Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’, but my favourite books were the Nancy Drew series. I think it was Nancy Drew that planted the seeds of love for a good mystery.
TSR: Did you have favourite book that you read when you were in your teens?
I don’t remember a favourite book from my teens. What an interesting question. I seem to jump from childhood to adulthood in terms of favourite books. Ah, wait, Lord of the Flies!
TSR: Did you always want to become a writer?
No and I think this sets me apart from most writers. I never thought about it until I met a client’s wife when I worked corporately. She is a very successful author, Daniel Steel. I made the mistake of saying I could write a book just like her. My friend dared me to do it and the rest is history.
TSR: My mother always warned me not to ask a lady this question, but, here goes, how old were you when you first started writing?
33. I’ve been writing 26 years. People should know the older you are, the more life experience you have, and the richer your writing will be. No one is ever too old to begin!
TSR: You first writing success was through writing romance novels. Can you tell us a bit about this?
I had actually never read a romance novel but it seemed the logical place to start. My background is marketing so I treated writing a book like trying to sell a new product. Romance publishers need a huge amount of inventory, they are willing to consider an un-agented author and they offer extraordinarily precise guidelines. I used this information to craft my first book. Add to that luck since I wrote stories about working women at a time when romance fashions were changing and things came together. However, I found I was not a natural born romance writer. I am in awe of those who can continually put a fresh spin on romantic relationships.
TSR: You are now writing thrillers. What made you decide to change your writing direction after writing successful romantic novels?
I changed my writing direction out of necessity. I found I was a better storyteller when I did not have to write to strict guidelines or lead with a relationship. I also preferred reading thrillers so it seemed natural that I gravitated toward writing them. I always felt I wrote better about relationships when there was an active, outside force driving the story. So, in my case, my characters love interest grows from their common desire to deal with a life-threatening problem. In romance, it’s just the opposite. I think every author has a comfort zone and sometimes we have to try a few things before we land in just the right spot.
TSR: Do you have a set routine when you are working on a novel?
Sometimes I start as early as 6:30 a.m. I work for about five or six hours writing. When I’m home, I answer mail, edit, outline new stories and work on my website. I work seven days a week but it is work I love.
TSR: Where do you do your best writing?
If I stay home I am distracted by housework or just being lazy. I have been going to the same coffee shop - Coffee Cartel - for twelve years to write. It is an eclectic place where the clientele is always inspiring and the owner is incredibly welcoming.
TSR: What was the inspiration for writing your top selling novel ‘Keeping Counsel’?
A number of things came together when I wrote that book. First, I had just passed a milestone birthday. Second, I had been engaged in a conversation with someone about whether or not it was better to be married even if it wasn’t a love match. Third, there had been a case involving a murderer and a question of whether counsel broke their oath to their client. My best friend lived in New Mexico – a wild desert – and I put all three of those things together and came up with the premise. What would you do if your best friend was involved with your client – a man who murdered women? Would you break your oath to keep his counsel in order to protect her?
TSR: Can you tell us a bit about your book ‘Hostile Witness’?
‘Hostile Witness’ is a favourite! My husband had to sentence a 16 year old male to life in adult prison and the case concerned him greatly. I began to wonder what I thought about trying juveniles as adults. How horrible did the crime have to be before I would determine that a person had crossed the line from innocent child to cold blooded killer? These characters – Josie, Hannah, Archer – are as real to me as my own family. The situation they find themselves in brings up a question that did touch someone in my family.
TSR: How did you think of and develop the main characters’ in your books?
I am very visual. My characters are often born because I see someone who is intriguing. The way they move, the cut of their hair or clothes starts the wheels turning. Once I have a sense of ‘how’ my characters live and their backstory, I begin to determine what would create the most dramatic conflict for them. Money? Lust? Power? They don’t have to want those things. In fact, sometimes the best drama is when a character fights against them.
TSR: You seem to have moved away from publishing hard copies of your books to e-books. Has this been an easy change for you?
No, this has been a very difficult. There is nothing like walking into a bookstore and being able to pick up my book. But times have changed. In my area there is only one bookstore left. Independents have shut their doors. I love Europe because there are still so many bookstores. But here, the future is digital. Many authors are finding the contractual agreements with traditional publishers difficult because they must sign away the bulk of their digital rights. I think this is a choice all authors have to make these days. It is not an easy one. I would love to find a traditional publisher to work with again but, until there is a change in contractual obligations, I will probably continue publishing digitally. I have, by the way, been very happy with the results. It’s nice to be master of my literary fate.
TSR: Does your mum read your books and what does she think of them?
My mother does read my books and she is a harsh critic. Her favourite is one of my first romances, ‘Rainbow’s End’. I must admit, I re-read it not too long ago and it did bring a bit of a tear to my eye. She also liked ‘Beyond Malice’ because it was inspired by my youngest sister. She thought that was great. She’ll be so pleased you asked!
TSR: Would you have any sound advice for budding authors?
The best advice I can give is to be realistic. Writing is hard work. If you don’t work hard you’re not doing it right. Most of us will not become rich but all of us will touch those who choose to read our books. Never forget that someone is waiting for your words to move them, inspire or entertain them.
TSR: What is your favourite of the many books that you have written and why?
Tough call! For sheer thriller appeal,’ Hostile Witness’ and ‘Beyond Malice’ but I am most proud of my latest book, ‘Before Her Eyes’, as I stretched craft boundaries on that one and I’m so pleased with the results.
TSR: Are you currently reading a book at the moment, and if so what is it?
I am reading a couple of books. ‘The Specials’ by Scott Westerfeld and George Friedman’s, ‘The Next Decade’. I have just finished – and loved – ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’.
TSR: Do you have any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in order to give you a break from your normal writing routine?
Tennis (I play in a competitive league), traveling, walking, cooking, quilting, sewing. I think it is important that writers do something physical – and preferably competitive.
TSR: Have you any other books in the making at the moment and when are they due to be published?
I am working on the fourth book in the Witness series. It’s called ‘Expert Witness’. The opening chapters are on my website. I just finished writing a script that was requested by a producer. Who knows where that will go! 'Expert Witness' will be released digitally.
TSR: Rebecca, it has been a pleasure and delight that you agreed to be interviewed for my literary site. I would like to thank-you for taking the time to speak to us today and for the very interesting answers that you have given to my questions. Good luck too with your new book ‘Expert Witness’. I’m really looking forward to you finishing it, so I can read it!
If you would like to find out more about Rebecca and her writing, a direct link to Rebecca’s website is given below. Rebecca has a very interesting website so pop over there and say hello!:
International Digital Book
Rebecca has very kindly offered to provide five digital e-book copies of any of her current novels for an International Book Giveaway Draw to go with her interview, here at 'The Secret Writer'!
It is very simple to participate in this draw. If you visit this blog and have joined as a 'Google Friend Connect' follower, leave a comment on this post telling us which book of Rebecca's you would like to win (also include your e-mail address in your comment so I can contact you if you are a winner), you will then be entered into a draw for your own choice of one of Rebecca's digital e-books!
To make things easier for you, I have posted the book covers of Rebecca's thrillers in the left side bar of this blog and the book covers of Rebecca's romance novels in the right side bar.
There will be five winners from this draw. Each entrant to the draw will be allocated a sequential number. After the closing date for this draw (Tuesday 31st May 2011 at 23.59GMT), The five winning numbers for this draw will be chosen by random.org. This is an International Giveaway for all my GFC Followers! Thank-you Rebecca, for providing a great choice of prizes for this draw!
Good Luck Everyone!