I write cozy mysteries about an amateur sleuth who teaches school, has two young children, and who breeds and shows Standard Poodles. The majority of the series revolves around the world of dogs in one way or another and I've tried to explore many different aspects--from breed competition to obedience, training, grooming, therapy dogs, and in the most recent book, doggie day care.
I have always been a writer. Even when I was five years old, I composed little "books" and bound them together with colored yarn. The process of becoming an author took considerably longer, however, and I guess the best way to explain how I became an author is to say that I simply kept writing books until one of them finally sold.
What type of writing schedule do you have?
It usually takes me about 7 months to write a book. I start in January and finish in August, just in time to start promoting each year's new book which comes out in September. When I'm writing, I write 5 days a week, usually 4-5 hours a day, which gives me about 2,000 words. I'm not the fastest writer, but I am persistent.
Tell us about plotting your books.
Over the years, I've used a number of different systems. In the beginning, I had to write a synopsis in order to sell a book, so the plotting--from start to finish--was done at that stage. In more recent times, I've started simply using a more vague outline that I have in my head, and giving the characters more free rein to take me where they want to go.
How has publishing changed from your first book to your last book as far as your books are concerned?
Well the series started in 1995, and has continued through 2009 (the last paperback will be released in August) and during those 14 years, the publishing industry has changed a tremendous amount, with the dropping of many imprints and the consolidation of others. With regard to my series, I have been very fortunate to spend that entire time working with a terrific editor and a great publisher who have protected my series from being buffeted by the marketplace as many other authors' books were.
Let's talk about your covers because they are wonderful.
I'm glad you like them! Some I've loved; others I've been not as crazy about. My covers have actually gone through three stages over the years. In the first 7 books of the series, they were a mostly realistic depiction of the dog breeds contained within each story. At some point, those covers were felt to be too young for adults--I was often asked what age children the books were suitable for--so subsequently the next 6 books were changed to a more cartoon-like look, which somewhat shortchanged the dogs. The final 2 books were a melding of the 2 styles and, I think, turned out to suit the series the best.
Is there something you would like to say to your readers?
Well of course, the most important thing I want to say is thank you. Thank you for seeking out my books, and enjoying them, and recommending them to your friends. Authors often feel like they are working in isolation and perhaps a little bit disconnected from the final product, so it's always wonderful to hear from readers, even those who are only writing to tell me that there's a typo on page 328. I'm always delighted to know that someone is sitting down with one of my books and having some fun with it.
Tell us about book signings, conventions and your writing pet peeves.
Earlier in my career, I did many more signings and conventions that I'm doing currently. I think every writer reaches the point where they realize that the promotional aspects of being an author have a way of taking over your life--sometimes to the detriment of the writing itself. So now I'm trying to concentrate more on doing the best writing that I can, and less on travelling in aid of sales.
What advice do you have for the novice mystery writer?
This is a tough, tough, field to make a living in. The best advice I can offer any aspiring author is: do it because you love it and not for the glory (of which there is usually precious little); be determined to succeed no matter how many people try to tell you you won't; and just keep writing...even when it seems as though no one else will ever read your words.
What has inspired you along the way of your writing career?
Every writer who's ever told a good story and written a good book that I've lost myself in the pages of has been an inspiration to me.
Do you believe in writer's block and have you ever had it?
I believe in it, I certainly know writers who have had it. But for me, I see writer's block as a bit on an undulgence. Writing is hard work; there's always something more fun to do. But if I sit myself down and make myself write, eventually the words always come. Writer's block is a handy excuse for someone who wants to write one book over the course of her whole life. I think if you ask most writers who turn out a book each year if they get writer's block, the majority will say no, they can't afford to.
Give us a little insight on you as a person and where you live etc...
Let's see. I'm currently living in Kentucky where my husband and I breed Thoroughbred racehorses. My idea of the perfect way to live includes lots of fresh air, open land, and animals of all kinds.
Now for the fun questions....
What is your favorite meal, dessert, movie, and music?
Favorite meal: anything with pasta
Favorite dessert: mocha cake
Favorite movie: Shakespeare in Love
Favorite Music: the Corrs
In closing direct us to your website and leave us with some mysterious words of wisdom.
My website is at http://www.laurienberenson.com/
Wisdom is tough--I wish I had more. I guess the best advice for any situation that I can come up with is this: never give up.