Today Wednesday Writers welcomes mystery/suspense author Lillian Duncan. She’ll be telling us about her book Deadly Communications, and about herself. Lillian, please tell the readers about the book that is being showcased today.
DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS features Maven Morris, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who gets a little too involved with her clients. Okay, a lot too involved. When a client she’s working with leaves abruptly, Maven is suspicious and she won’t rest until she finds her.
How did you come up with the concept for this book?
I had a great time creating Maven Morris—a crime-fighting speech pathologist! In many ways, we are quite similar. I was a speech pathologist for more than 30 years! She’s short just like me, but not as short. She has Bell’s palsy, just like me. But we’re also different. I would never get myself into the trouble she gets herself into. I’m not very adventurous and would never get myself into that kind of situation!
I think all authors live a little vicariously through their characters. What is your next project?
I’m working on two more books in the Deadly Communications Series—Deadly Intent and Deadly Silence.
Oooh, Deadly Silence. I like it. So let’s talk about writing style. Are you a panster or a plotter? Linear or non-linear writer?
I am a definite pantser. I never know what’s going to happen on any given day when I sit down to write. There’s advantages and disadvantages to that. Sometimes nothing happens. And that means it’s time to go back and find the problem. Other times, I can’t write fast enough to get my thoughts out.
For the most part, I’m a linear writer. Though at times, I’ll skip around if I have certain scenes in my head. Then I’ll fill in the story to get to those parts of the story.
I tend to write in stages: dialogue first, then go back and put in the different layers—sensory, visceral, emotional, settings. What is does your writing process look like?
My writing looks much the same as yours. I’ll write a scene one day, then the next day as I revise I’ll add in more details. But even after the story’s finished, I do a few more run-throughs to specifically add emotional and sensory details.
What does your revision process look like?
I revise as I write. When I first start a story, I’ll go back to the beginning every day and rewrite until I get to the new scene. When that gets to be too much, then I just go back to the previous scene and go from there.
Sounds like we are a bit alike as writers. So, are you a procrastinator or do-it-now person?
It depends on the situation. If you’re talking about writing, I am not a procrastinator. Whether it’s blog postings for others or even for myself, I always do them in advance. If you’re talking about the rest of my life, then I’m a procrastinator. Whether it’s paying bills or vacuuming the floor, they can always wait…until after my writing!
I know writers are also readers. Have your reading (and writing) tastes evolved over the years? Do you still read the same genre of books you did as a teenager?
Most of my life, I’ve read a variety of genres, but my reading habits have changed some since becoming a published writer. Unfortunately, there’s only so much time in the day. So, now I read mostly in my genre of suspense and mystery because that’s what I enjoy the most.
What’s the book you are reading now?
I’m actually in the process of re-reading Terri Blackstock’s Last Light series. I loved them the first time around and am enjoying them just as much this time.
How often do you read non-fiction?
I usually have one or two non-fiction books that I’m reading at any given time. I read a bit of them now and then. But right now, I don’t have one I’m reading. I better get busy on that!
Let’s get personal. Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?
I was a speech pathologist in schools for thirty-four years, but retired in 2012 due to some health issues. I miss the students but not the paper work! Now, I’m a full-time writer which I’m loving more and more every day.
Hence your heroine’s career. They say write what you know. Even if you don’t write with music, what’s in your CD player right now?
Something of Chris Tomlin’s, I’m sure. I exercise to him most every morning. Though, now and then I’ll switch it up and listen to other praise music!
Speaking of exercising, writing is such a sedentary job. How do you keep in shape?
I’ve actually lost over 30 pounds this year and so has my husband! And that definitely means exercising. One of the things I’ve done is put an exercise machine in the middle of my office and I try to use it for a few minutes every hour or so to keep the metabolism moving
Wow, you must have a pretty big office. Congratulations on the weight loss. That’s hard to do. Exercise and weight loss are one of my New Year’s goals. I’m hoping it will balance out my love of sitting and watching movies.
Speaking of the movies, do you like to go to movies? If so, what was the most recent movie you’ve seen?
I love movies but we don’t go any longer since I’ve lost so much of my hearing due to my brain tumors. Now we wait for them to come out on DVDs and put on the close-captioning.
Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. We use closed caption when listening to BBC shows. It makes it so much easier to understand them.
It’s been a pleasure having you here today. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy? (A quote, a Bible verse, a precept you live by or have tried to instill in your children?)
Our attitude determines much of who we are and what we will accomplish in life. In Proverbs 23:7 it says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” In other words, if we think we can do something, we can. If we don’t think we can, then we won’t
Improving communication skills is never easy. In this case, it could be murder!
Maven Morris is a speech-language pathologist on medical leave–or as she likes to put it: out to pasture. When she’s offered a lucrative position by one of the community’s most powerful men to help his traumatic-brain-injured daughter improve her communication skills, Maven discovers deadly secrets behind the iron gates of the mansion.
Now, she must find the courage to seek justice no matter who gets hurt–even if it’s her.
Excerpt from Chapter 1:
Moving through the woods, a sharp pain sliced through her terror. Her arm. It was too dark to see. Her fingers found the pain. Wetness. She must have scratched it on a branch, or maybe an old, rusty nail from a long-forgotten tree swing.
A noise. Someone was creeping through the darkness as they searched for her.
“Ella, come here. We aren’t going to hurt you.” A voice called out. “You need to come back. It’s not safe out here at night.” A voice she knew so well. A voice she trusted. A voice she loved.
Life would never be the same again.
She swiped away the tears.
She wanted to believe him, but he’d said they wouldn’t hurt the man either. He’d lied.
If they found her, she would be dead, too, just like the man. She couldn’t let them find her. But if she moved, they would hear her.
She searched the darkness for somewhere to hide, but there was no place. They were stronger and faster. They would overpower her. There was no way to get away from them, but she couldn’t simply stand here.
If they found her, she wouldn’t see the morning. The kneeling man no longer knelt. He’d collapsed on the ground, not moving. Was he still alive? She had to call 911 and get an ambulance to try to help the man. But first, she needed to leave. They would never let her call for an ambulance or the police.
The call to the police would have to wait until she found a safe place to hide. A safe place? No place would ever be safe after what she’d seen.
Not until they were behind bars. Not until they paid for what they’d done.
On hands and knees, she crawled through the trees and the bushes inch by inch, praying only she could hear the soft rustling sounds she created. Muscles tight with fear, she grew tired and laid her head on the ground. She forced her ragged breath to slow, her eyes closed. The horrible scene replaced the darkness once again.
His eyes—dark and soulless as the gun flashed silver, and then the man slumped over lifeless. No matter what he’d done, the dead man didn’t deserve that. It had been an execution, plain and simple.
She forced her eyes open. She couldn’t think about that now. She had to get away. Back on her knees, she crawled through the darkness as she wiped away tears. How could they have killed that man? She would never have believed it if she hadn’t seen it, and she would never forget it.
A different kind of noise reached her ears. Traffic. Traffic meant cars. Cars meant people. People meant help. Help meant they couldn’t kill her—at least not tonight.
It was her chance. Without hesitation, Ella jumped up and dashed towards the noises—towards safety. She wouldn’t live the way they wanted. She wasn’t a monster. She wouldn’t live with the monsters. No matter what.
“I hear her. This way.” His voice called out in the darkness. “Find her. Now.”
She ignored the voice and kept running towards the traffic—towards safety. Her heart pounded as she ran. She was unsure if it was from the exertion or the terror. How could she not have known? She should have known. Not that it mattered. The only thing that mattered was getting away from the monsters.
The trees thinned out and the noise from the traffic was louder now.
Turning towards the sounds, she ran down the hill and into the road.
Bright lights came towards her—too fast.
About the Author:
Lillian Duncan: stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.
Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced mystery and suspense with a touch of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us. To learn more about Lillian and her books, you may visit her at www.lillianduncan.net or www.lillian-duncan.com.