Interview with Christina Dodd

christina-dodd_credit_marc-von-borstelThank you to Book Breeze for this opportunity to talk about BECAUSE I’M WATCHING and share some interesting insights into the creation and writing process of my newest thriller.

Tell us about your new release.

Veteran Jacob Denisov is dealing with the worst kind of PTSD — he blames himself for the loss of the soldiers under his command. He lives alone in his small, darkened home, sleepless and starving, waiting for the moment when he gathers the courage to kill himself. When neighbor Madeline Hewitson drives her car through the front wall of his house, she breaks his house—and his life—wide open.

She is “Mad Maddie,” the survivor of a college dorm massacre, a woman accused of her lover’s murder, and tormented by a killer only she can see. Dealing with construction and forced to see the world outside his home, Jacob watches Maddie, recognizes a kindred spirit and wonders—is this truly madness, or has is she the victim of cruel abuse? When Maddie’s imaginary killer takes form, will she be strong enough to triumph, or is the assassin she fears no more than a shadow, an illusion … that watches?

What led you to write this book?

because-im-watching_coverA lot of reviews flatter Virtue Falls by using the word, “Hitchcockian” to describe the books, and in this case, that’s spot on. BECAUSE I’M WATCHING is a mashup of Hitchcock’s classic movie Gaslight, about a woman who sees and hears things that aren’t real — or are they? And Rear Window about a man trapped in his house by an injury, watching his neighbors and learning dangerous secrets. I updated the plots and gave them a twist — actually, several — and then sat down to the hard work of fulfilling my vision of the story.

How important is setting to your story?

Creating the town of Virtue Falls, was a challenge from my editor. She said, “Make the town the character.” I live in Washington state where tourists visit to view the most gorgeous mountains, seashores, and forests the world contains. As a bonus, the state is a magnet for intriguing eccentrics. So the town is located on Washington’s wild and stunning Olympic Peninsula, and I hope Virtue Falls becomes so popular every reader in the world drives up and down the Washington coast looking for the Oceanview Cafe.

image-for-interviewDo you have an interesting quirk about your personality that you’d like to share?

I don’t know that you’d call it a quirk, exactly. But I do have a stone circle in my yard. I guess you could say I would fit in among the other Virtue Falls eccentrics.

Are any of your characters loosely based on people you know in real life? Do you people watch for character inspiration?

Ha! When a reader asked this question, I wrote an article: How Many Of My Characters Have Traits Or Personalities Of Real People I Know. The short answer: Real people have moments where they’re brilliant, anguished, fascinating, tormented, humorous, aroused, glamorous, but for the most part, we’re all sort of, don’t take this wrong … we’re boring. I write suspense. I write romance. In my characters I want mystique! Excitement! Adventure! Angst! In other words, no matter what story I’m writing, I need to sell books. So I don’t model my characters on real people. I have a rule against boring my readers into a coma.

You can read the whole article here:

Which book impacted you as a teenager?

Lord of the Rings. Yes, I’m one of those people. I love quests, adventures, different worlds, the hero’s journey. My husband and I named our daughters after the female characters. When my youngest was in college, the movies came out and she was accused of changing her name … from someone who was unclear that the book had, in fact, come first.

Do you read the same genre you write? What are you reading now?

I read suspense, romance, fantasy, paranormal and mystery. Right now I’ve got a couple of books going: BRAIN RULES by John Medina, a fascinating compilation of brain studies and principles you can use to get the most out of your mind, and SHADOW RIDER by Christine Feehan, which is a sexy romp. The standout suspense from the last year was, for me, Gregg Hurwitz’s ORPHAN X. Highly recommended and it’s the first of a series.

Have you ever written a scene that ‘creeped’ you out?

I’m writing THE WOMAN WHO COULDN’T SCREAM: Virtue Falls #4, and the climax is creepy and terrifying. To complete it, I had to write, then run away to a different, less traumatic scene, then go back, write more, edit, run away again… There’s a bonus excerpt of THE WOMAN WHO COULDN’T SCREAM at the end of BECAUSE I’M WATCHING.

Before my editor read BECAUSE I’M WATCHING, she asked what I thought of it, and I said it was brilliant. Which is the worst kind of self-aggrandizement, but Jacob and Maddie both suffer such mental anguish and yet they are so funny and, in the end, they save each other.

I love these characters, and I believe BECAUSE I’M WATCHING is the best thing I’ve ever written and I’m so excited to put it into readers’ hands and carry them into twisted labyrinth of revenge, guilt … and eventually murder.

What social media do you participate in?

To help readers, I made a list of best ways to get my book news:

-My mailing list: I always always always tell about book sales & new releases + I’m open, friendly, chatty.

—Bookbub: For readers who don’t have time for chatty but simply want a brief notice about new releases. Bookbub always sends.

—Goodreads: Sends a monthly notice and highlights the authors readers follow.

—Amazon: Amazon sends notices about new releases AND reprints…sporadically.

— Facebook is, sadly, no longer good for book news. 😦

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