Friday, July 20, 2012

Guest Post: Author Phyllis Smallman

Award winning author, Phyllis Smallman, lives on Salt Spring Island, B.C. but spends the winter months in Florida where her books are set. Phyllis published her last book in 2017--Last Call

How/why did you start to write?

I was a potter, working in my studio and listening to the CBC, when I heard an interview with an editor from Harlequin say they need new romance writers.  I didn't read romances but arrogantly thought it couldn't be too hard.  Turned out I don't have a romantic bone in my body and in the end I found it easier to kill people off than to seduce them. Hooked on writing, I turned to my true interest, mysteries.

How did you become an author?

I was short-listed for the Debut Dagger in the UK and then short listed for the Malice Domestic in the US and won the Unhanged Arthur from the Crime Writers of Canada. Winning the Ellis got me a publishing contract with a Canadian Publisher. This first book, Margarita Nights, was published in 2008 and was again nominated for an Ellis for best first novel.  Three more books followed.

What inspires you?

Ideas come from everywhere but for me spending six months of the year in Florida always gives me oodles of ideas.  Florida seems to be a giant bug light for crazy people.  They all hurry down there with their dreams and schemes and start causing mayhem.  The papers are full of people acting badly, grannies selling drugs out of baby buggies, development scams gone wrong and  parents caught in drug raids with toddlers in tow.  Add to that the wildlife and weather, alligators in swimming pools, pythons taking over the Everglades, and hurricanes...well, there's more than enough to write about and it all ends up in my books. My protagonist, bartender Sherri Travis, mixes the drinks and watches the show, trying not to get involved in the madness around her. That never seems to work out for Sherri. Her good intentions always fail. For instance, after the murder of her husband Jimmy she swears off romance, saying, "Cinderella is dead and the prince is gay." She may say she doesn't believe in romance anymore but it doesn't last more than a chapter or two.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques

Marketing is an ongoing struggle.  Reviewers have been kind to me and this is the best marketing tool of all. 

I belong to Mystery Writers of America and Crime Writers of Canada and attend their conferences and this helps me learn about the industry.

Parting words

I long ago decided that I'd go on writing even if I was never published.  Writing seems to fulfill a need in me. I hate to think how crazy that makes me. One of the great things about writing is getting to meet other writers, other people who share my obsession.  I have no idea what I'd do with my days if I didn't write or what I'd do with the ideas that begin..."What if...?" or "One night in a bar..."