Thursday, July 27, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Valerie Massey Goree!

Talkshow Thursday:
Welcome Back, Valerie Massey Goree!

1.How do you develop your characters? (e.g. decide on their vocation, names, etc.)? My basic plot often determines who my characters will be and what careers they might have. For instance, in Every Hidden Thing, Flynn, my hero has a legitimate and personal reason to be a realtor. My heroine, Jo, needed a job where she’d have the opportunity or misfortune to discover nefarious acts of the bad guys. And her job needed to be a stop-gap measure while she improved her financial situation. Working in her parent’s real estate company fit the bill.

I spend a long time searching for appropriate names for my main characters. I try to stay away from hard-to-pronounce names and I like the first and last names to have a certain cadence when said together. I have lists of names that I’ve gathered over time and of course, the internet is a great resource. In some of my stories, the character’s name even forms part of the plot.

2.What sort of research did you do for your story, and was there an exceptionally interesting tidbit you knew you had to include? For Every Hidden Thing, I interviewed a realtor, and although informative, not very exciting. However, I asked to speak to a detective at my local police station. That proved to be an eye-opener. I learned that my initial plan to have Jo find skeletons of young children on the property was not going to work. Sure, the discovery would have added to the suspense value, but as a crime scene, the property would have been off limits to her for a long time, months even. Although I couldn’t add that tidbit to the story, my idea to have Jo working in the house during the investigation would have been a big no-no.

3.Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym? Why or why not? Before my first novel was published, I did think about using a pseudonym because my last name is unusual. Sometimes people are hesitant to pronounce it. Gory? Goray? Gore? Yup. Gory is correct, as in gruesome and grisly! I thought Valerie Gray sounded nice, but I decided to stick with my real name which includes my maiden name, Valerie Massey Goree. 

4.How are your characters like you? Different? I try hard to make my characters very different from me, but one of my traits keeps popping up in my stories, especially with my heroines. I have Obsessive Compulsive tendencies. I like order and organization. I make lists, stick to routines, not much spontaneity. I plan trips to the minutest detail and don’t like it when outside influences interfere.

I have to make a concerted effort to keep my heroines from acting this way. One day, I’m going to write a story about a heroine who has OCD. I’ll describe how the characteristics negatively affected her life and what compensations she had to make. Of course, this will be based on my experiences.

Pixabay/Roger Mosley
5.How has your book changed since your first draft? This question was designed for Every Hidden Thing! I began the story many years ago and set it in Boerne, Texas, a town close to where we lived. However, when my husband retired, we moved to Washington State and lived on the Olympic Peninsula. I wrote two other novels, then decided to complete this story. I researched the area and changed the setting along with descriptions of the weather and scenery. My lush “backyard” was the perfect place for Jo and Flynn’s adventure.

Soon after our move, my husband was diagnosed with cancer, and he passed away two years later. I returned to Texas, but it was a while before I felt like delving into a fictitious world. When I was ready to write again, I briefly considered changing the setting back to Texas, but left Jo and Flynn in Washington.

In my original plot, Flynn, a former Marine would have suffered a severe injury while deployed, maybe even an amputation. So many veterans were being depicted in novels as having PTSD losing a limb and I wanted something different for my hero. I had recently experienced an injury that left me with nerve damage in my right leg, and footdrop, which means I can’t raise my right foot when I walk. I use a cane and have to be careful that I don’t trip. I made another change and gave Flynn my symptoms instead. No research needed!

6.How do you come up with storylines? Ideas for stories hit me at the oddest times. One day I was
J. Garget
doing laundry and thought that an interesting first line for a story would be, “I’d been in the witness protection program for three years when…” That developed into Weep in the Night.

I used to take our dogs for walks along our country road. One of the properties we passed had numerous dogs, like maybe ten. Naturally, they serenaded us with their barking. One day as we passed the house, they didn’t bark. In fact, no dogs in sight, and my mind went straight to the first line of a story. “The dogs didn’t bark.” I have a trilogy planned and that will begin the second book.

7.What is one thing you wish you could do? I would love to be able to play a musical instrument, the piano or a guitar. I did take piano lessons for a semester at college, but hand-eye-coordination was not my friend. 

8.What is your next project? Way back in March, I met with my income tax preparer, a friend, and we discussed my plans for the year. I mentioned I wanted to travel to England again and stay in a cottage in a little village. She knew I was an author and suggested if I set a story there, I could use some of the expenses as a tax deduction. Great idea. I could take extensive notes and hundreds of photos and write the story when I returned.

Duh! I didn’t have to wait.

Pixabay/Ron Porter
I’ll be traveling to Scotland and England in August. Among other adventures, I’ll be staying in a village in the Cotswolds called Bourton-on-the-Water. The River Windrush flows through it, hence the name. Isn’t the internet wonderful for checking out faraway places? In doing research on Bourton-on-the-Water, I discovered the Fosse Way, an ancient Roman Road, runs close to the village. Other Roman ruins have been found there, too. Voila! Interesting facts that will play a major role in the plot.

The story is tentatively titled Where the Windrush Flows. It will be romantic suspense, as usual. I even contacted the owner of the cottage and she agreed for me to use the actual cottage in my novel and she provided some history of the place. I’ve named my characters, given them interesting careers as well as reasons for them to be in the village. The hero is staying in my cottage. I’m having so much fun writing this story.

Every Hidden Thing

While documenting needed repairs on a mansion, Jo makes a discovery that endangers her life. To complicate her plight, she uncovers a secret that could rip her family apart. Flynn, a co-worker, strives to keep her safe, however, a relationship from his past comes crashing back into his life and interferes in his efforts. Jo and Flynn are both scarred—one emotionally, one physically. As they work together and learn to trust each other, they find their perilous circumstances are intertwined, and culminate when a young man’s life is threatened.

Will they unravel the strands of intrigue in time to rescue the victim? Can they overcome their fear of commitment and foster their growing attraction for each other?

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