CHRISTINE FINLAYSON: IT’S SO MUCH FUN TO CREATE, WHETHER THROUGH WRITING, ART OR MUSIC
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Christine Finlayson is a professional editor and author of mystery novel Tip of a Bone (4.7 av. stars from 26 Amazon reviews!). She worked as water scientist, but now is concentrating more on writing. Our next feature author is avid photographer, but let’s hear from her more about the book.
– What is your last book, Tip of a Bone, about?
– Tip of a Bone is the story of a young woman who finds her brother in dangerous waters:
Hidden bones, a missing eco-activist, and a deadly fire? It’s not what Maya Rivers expected when she moved to the coastal town of Newport, Oregon, seeking a fresh start and a reunion with her brother, Harley. Yet when Harley is accused of an unthinkable crime, Maya insists on playing amateur sleuth. She soon discovers an eerie clue . . . but the closer she gets to the truth, the closer a murderer follows.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– I’ve been reading mystery, suspense, and thrillers since I was about ten and found a spy novel on my parents’ bookshelf. I knew it would be fun to write a mystery—but had no idea how challenging it would be to plot one. Tip of a Bone merges my background in environmental issues (theme) with my love for the Oregon coast (setting), so it was the perfect first book.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write-up process?
– Learning to write fiction well is an ongoing process, like many things worth learning. When I began Tip of a Bone, I made plenty of mistakes. It wasn’t I had taken writing classes, studied the work of mystery authors, and joined a critique group that the story began to come together. Doing book research was sometimes challenging, but also fun because I got to travel to the Oregon coast and sample Newport’s famous craft beers and seafood.
– Tell us about your main character. Is she close to someone from your real life?
Whether she is fighting crime or defending her family, Maya Rivers is fierce, determined, and loyal. But she also feels lost in her personal life and worries about her future. Although Maya isn’t based on a real person, she does contain aspects of people I know. She probably also has some of my “younger self” inside her. (For more about Maya, see: http://christinefinlayson.com/blog/2014/09/25/meet-my-character-maya-rivers/ )
– How much time did you need to finish the story and publish it?
Writing Tip of a Bone took several years. After each draft, I would attend a writing class and decide that everything needed to change. Then I’d revise and create new drafts. This happened many times—so although this is my first published novel, it’s probably my 5th book!
Once I finished the manuscript, publication happened quickly. I saw an announcement from an indie press (Adventure Publications) that was searching for mysteries with “outdoor or environmental themes.” I submitted the book and six months later, Tip of a Bone appeared on store shelves.
– Who are you?
– I work as a writer and freelance editor, but in my spare time I love photography, gardening, reading, biking, and exploring the forests, trails, and towns of the Pacific Northwest. I used to work in the environmental field—on water issues—and also as an educator, teaching kids how to use the outdoors to study science and math. Even now, I continue to love water in its many forms (rivers, lakes, streams, waterfalls, snow, and rain, to name a few) and you’ll find at least one “water spot” in all my stories.
– What are your writing habits?
I envy people who can write every day. My own writing time comes in fits and starts, but when the muse appears, I could write for days. When it’s time to focus, I plan a writing retreat near nature. In fact, I just returned from four days at the beach, where I managed to spend ten hours a day editing—despite the beautiful weather and occasional whale sightings through the window.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of your book and do you plan another one?
– I’m pleased that Tip of a Bone has reached so many readers, including international readers. Of course, any author would love to have more sales! I’m currently working on two mystery-suspense novels, due out in 2015. They offer a new set of characters and are centered on deadly crimes and the Columbia River.
– What are you doing to promote your book?
– I’ve done events in bookstores, author fairs, and libraries, participated in a blog tour online, attended conferences such as Left Coast Crime and the Writers’ Police Academy, and promoted the book through Goodreads, Facebook, and other social media. What I’ve found, though, is the best marketing is when readers tell other readers about your book, and also the personal connections made with fans and other authors.
– You worked as an environmental scientist. Tell us more about that experience?
– My degrees are in environmental science and water—and I worked in this field for several years (for a consulting firm, universities, nonprofit groups, and government agencies). But what interested me most was how people use science to make decisions or change behavior, so I soon started working as an environmental educator and science writer. Over time that led to my first novel—a roundabout path.
– Why is the Oregon coast so special to you?
– They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll start with this:
The Oregon coast is wild, windy, and often rainy, but it’s also one of my favorite spots. It’s peaceful to walk along the sand and watch the waves break. I also love the wildlife—whales, seals, sea lions, puffins, crabs, and other creatures—and winter storm watching.
– As an editor, what are the most common mistakes that newbie authors are doing?
– All writers, including me, have blind spots about our work. It could be minor issues with writing style or bigger problems, such as characters not showing their emotions or gaping holes in the plot. My best advice to new writers is to let your manuscript “rest” before you publish it. You’ll come back to it with fresh eyes and see things you missed.
It’s also helpful to have other people read your work and provide feedback, whether it’s from critique partners, readers, or professional editors. At the very least, ask people to review your early chapters. Book openings are so important—and you can take the things you learn and apply them to the rest of your story.
– Ask yourself a question?
– What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
It’s been both crazy and wonderful to hold my debut book in hand and hear from readers. But my favorite part about being a writer is having a job that allows creativity to flourish. My mind can invent characters, scenes, and dialogue faster than my typing fingers can keep up. It’s so much fun to create, whether through writing, art, or music. Everyone should try it!
Take a look at her book
Tip of a bone