Joan C. Curtis On ‘The Clock Strikes Midnight’
Dr. Joan Curtis is an award winning writer who has published 5 books and numerous stories. She joins us to chat about her latest mystery novel, The Clock Strikes Midnight.
Welcome Joan! First, tell us about yourself.
I’m an avid reader, turned writer. I have a doctorate in Adult Education and have spent my working career as a communication consultant/coach and seminar leader. My writing prior to the publication of The Clocks Strikes Midnight was business oriented. I published four business books related to communication and leadership.
I’m married to a psychiatrist and I have three stepchildren and four step-grandchildren. I have four cats and one dog and many friends. I am half-Italian and have visited Italy many times. In recent years, I’ve learned the language.
Is there a defining moment that set you in the direction of writing mysteries?
I don’t really think there was a defining moment that led to writing mystery. I write mystery because I enjoy reading books with a mystery component. I’ve read a lot of literary fiction where there is no mystery, but I don’t enjoy those as much. The Clock Strikes Midnight began in a totally different vein, but as it progressed, the mystery surfaced. I learned quickly that when there’s nothing mysterious going on, I lose interest.
While it’s relatively easy to independently publish these days, it’s still quite a feat to get a traditional press interested in your work. Tell us a little about your publishing experience and how you landed your first contract.
You are right about indie publishing. I made a decision that I would not publish my work myself. If I could not find a publisher willing to accept my work, I would close up shop. I began like most of us in search of an agent. I found agents very difficult for many reasons. They prefer a sure thing—someone with a history for selling books versus a new writer. When I stopped the agent search and went directly to smaller publishers, it did not take long to find a home for my work.
Do you write a single genre or do your fingers flow over the keys creating tales in many forms? Does your reading choices reflect your writing choices? Are there genres you wouldn’t attempt?
As for fiction, I write mysteries. The Clock Strikes Midnight did not start out as a mystery, but it became one. That tells me that mysteries are my natural genre for fiction. That said, I’ve published four business books and several memoirs.
As for my reading choices, that’s where I’m more eclectic. I read mystery, literary fiction, biography, woman’s fiction, memoirs and some YA (The Book Thief). In essence, I love to read character-driven books.
Tell us about your villains. How do you choose one? How do you make them human?
I’m not sure I choose a villain. They seem to jump into the story. With Ralph in The Clock Strikes Midnight as soon as the “stepfather” walked on the stage, he became a villain. That’s very odd because I have a wonderful stepfather. So, go figure. Nonetheless there are some endearing features about Ralph and I do hope some of my readers will pity him rather than simply hate him.
In the mystery series I’m currently writing, there is a killer (of course) but the killer isn’t necessarily a villain. Not to give too much away, but the villain in my current WIP is the one actually murdered. That means that whomever did him in could be considered a hero. J
What was the biggest challenge during your writing process?
Often the biggest challenge in the writing process is finding chunks of quiet time to write. Many authors write very early in the morning, but I can’t do that. I prefer to write during the day. That makes keeping a day job, managing a household and balancing life’s other little demands hard.
What are your writing habits?
I write fast. I like to get my thoughts on paper quickly. Then, I spend time revising. I read everything I write out loud and in printed form before I send it out. I have several Beta readers who give me honest feedback. I like to have at least 2-hour blocks for writing in a quiet setting. And I set a goal of 500 words a day when I’m creating a new book.
Tell us about your latest release.
The Clock Strikes Midnight is a debut mystery/suspense story. It is the story of two young sisters whose lives are fraught with death, abuse and neglect. After twenty years one of the sisters returns home to avenge the mysterious death of her mother. Because the main character is dying of cancer, the story is a race against time in a quest for revenge and atonement.
Learn more and order your copy of The Clock Strikes Midnight here.
I attended an incredible concert in which Joshua Bell played ..
There's nothing we love more at Shelf Pleasure than a ..
Author and Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase on how ..
One of author Mary Miley’s favorite things about being a ..
Author and police psychologist Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D., weighs the pitfalls ..
Little known fact about Shelf Pleasure's Kristen: she's obsessed with ..