Monday, April 6, 2015

Danielle Girard, Everything to Lose

AUTHOR:        Danielle Girard
BOOK TITLE:  Everything to Lose
GENRE:            Mystery/Suspense
PUBLISHER:    ePublishing Works

Please tell us about yourself.
I am the author of nine suspense novels, including the bestselling Rookie Club series, Chasing Darkness, which won the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and Cold Silence, winner of the Barry Award.

Please tell us your latest news.
My 10th book, Exhume, is due out in May.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Full-time. As for organization, I’d like to say that I’m one of those marvels like Stephen King or Michael Connelly who rises, grabs a cup of coffee (black, I’m sure and with no sugar) and sits down to pump out a few thousand words before lunch. Alas, no. I try to start writing by 10 a.m. It usually takes me an hour or two to settle in. After all, there are all sorts of fun things to check on Facebook and Twitter. And it’s essential that I know if there are new reviews…I mean, you can’t start writing until you know that. 

I’ve got school age children, so I have a hard stop at 3 p.m. That helps, I think. It means by noon, I’m starting to think ‘Uh Oh. Better get writing.’ I have a 1,000 words/day self-imposed goal. If I don’t get them done while the kids are at school, they have to be completed in the evening. I miss some days, but I tend to feel pretty lousy when I do, so it doesn’t happen too often.

When and why did you begin writing?
I wrote a little in college, but “writing” was not an acceptable career choice in my house, so it was always pushed to the side by “important” things like organic chemistry and calculus II. I was working in finance and met a woman who wrote romance novels. She inspired me to sit down and just start something. I had no idea what it would turn out to be until (on page five) someone got shot. I’ve been writing suspense ever since. 

What inspired you to write your first book?
I read a story in the New York Times Magazine about a police officer who had an accident and lost the use of his hands. The officer reflected on how his inability to shoot his gun was one of the hardest parts about the injury. Casey McKinley, protagonist of Savage Art, was born from that story. 

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
I love to be with friends and family and I also enjoy curling up with a good book or an episode of something fun on TV, like Sherlock. Mostly, my time is occupied by being mom to two teenagers. I sometimes joke that when I’m not writing about murder, I’m thinking about it. But truly, I’ve got great kids. (Not the I’m-not-realistic-that-they’re-perfect type but good ones. Inquisitive, compassionate, and interesting as well as combative and determined. All the things that will serve them well in life.) We are an active family (them more than me), so we’re always on the go. This time of year, mostly skiing—downhill or cross-country.

What are your thoughts about promotion?
I think promotion is important but it can never replace the time that must be spent writing. So, I do it when the words are done. I still think a good book will find its readers.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
My first novel was called Murders & Acquisitions. It didn’t sell, but I sent it out to a lot of agents. One response came back, “The title of this is great, but the rest of it sucks.” In hindsight, I’m sure he was right, but it certainly wasn’t very kind.

The biggest compliments I get come from readers every day who reach out and tell me that they enjoyed a book. Or ask, ‘When is the next one out?’ That’s just wonderful for an author to hear.

Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
I’m sure the criticism did, but not in a way that I can recall specifically. I think every rejection I got (and there were lots) made me a little more determined to publish a book. So, in the end, I guess I should be grateful to that jerk who said my writing sucked. I may have to think about that one a while….

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
Mostly, writer’s block seems to be my brain saying one of two things: 1) you need a break from writing or 2) you’re moving the story in the wrong direction. Either way, I usually try to do something else like using a toothbrush to scrub tile or dusting every picture frame in the house. Something mindless and physical that lets my brain do the work on the problem in the background.

Oh, and I try to be patient, but I’m really not very good at that part.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
I love to hear from readers! So please come find me!!

What genre do you write in and why?
I don’t know that I consciously chose mystery/suspense. More like the genre chose me; I started writing and there was the dead body. But I think the reason they appeal to me is that stories about life and death create the highest possible stakes. Everything is on the line for the protagonist. There is something very compelling about how people handle situations where everything is at stake.

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
I have a soft spot for broken characters. I think we’re all damaged in some ways. Some of us do better at hiding it, but it’s these little cracks in our plaster, these little breaks that make us interesting and also real. Jamie Vail, protagonist of Dead Center and lead member of the Rookie Club, is like this. She’s quite angry and a little self-destructive, but when push comes to shove, she’s also fiercely loyal and protective. I love this about her.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?
I love discussing research with fellow writers and friends. For instance, Lisa Gardner researches every tiny detail before she starts writing. Harlan Coben, on the other hand, jokes about how he does zero research. I know this isn’t true, but he basically argues that research just gets in the way of the writing. I am somewhere in the middle. I am currently writing a protagonist who is a medical examiner, so “winging it” is out of the question. But I also work hard to reign myself in. I believe my readers are there to read about the human aspects of Annabelle Schwartzman more than they are there to learn how she draws vitreous fluid from a victim’s eyeball to get a more exact read on time of death.  

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The beginning takes the longest. I feel like the first 10% (40 pages-ish) has to really hold together before the story can take off. I usually spend almost a month on that. After that, the rest of the book is usually written, edited, and prepared for publication in another 4-6 months. The end is always the easiest because it’s been teasing itself out in the back of my brain for so long.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?
Write. Read. Repeat. Try to clear out the background noise. It isn’t easy, of course. Find a good critique group and supportive writing friends. (Note: I said writing friends. These are different than other friends because they understand the inherent insanity of the process.) On the other hand, make sure to have some good “other” friends because being in your writing world all the time isn’t healthy either. That, and good luck!

What seven words would you use to describe yourself?
Passionate. Loyal. Creative. Determined. Compassionate. Tough. Sensitive.

Describe your writing space.
It’s an absolute mess. I have a sign that says, “Genius is a messy process.” I swear it’s a quote I found somewhere, but my husband is convinced I made it up to explain my office. I don’t like to admit that he might be right.

At the same time, it’s a beautiful space. The walls are painted kind of a light sea green, the one behind my chair a little bolder. My husband and kids have framed all my covers, so they hang on the walls along with art done by my brothers (who are both artists) as well as art done by the kids and pictures. On one wall is a case with all my taekwondo belts in it, from the white one all the way through to my second degree black belt. These remind me that good things take a lot of time and effort. Not to mention sweat and blood and a few tears.

 Everything to Lose:
When the daughter of San Francisco socialites Gavin and Sondra Borden is brutally assaulted, Jamie Vail makes it her mission to find the attacker. A seasoned Sex Crimes Inspector with the SFPD, work is what Jamie does best. She isn’t distracted by the fact that her adopted son and the victim go to the same school.

Jamie can almost set aside that the man caught on tape with the victim is a man she’s been wary of for years, her son's biological father. At home, her son is performing poorly in school, becoming more reclusive, and nothing she does can draw him out. Every piece of evidence seems to bring her closer to home.

Desperate to be wrong, Jamie must find Charlotte's attacker before her son lands behind bars, or worse…

Purchase Links:

Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for CHASING DARKNESS
Barry Award for COLD SILENCE

About Danielle Girard:
As one of four children, Danielle Girard grew up in a house where the person with the best story got heard, and it's probably no surprise that fast-paced suspense stories have always been her favorite. Girard's books have won the Barry Award and been selected for the RT Reviewers Choice Award. Two of her novels have been optioned for movies. Visit her website at

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