Kevin Peter of Moterwriter.com caught up with author Betta Ferrendelli and got her to talk a little about her latest novel Dead Wrong. This is what transpired in the tête-à-tête with the author.
Kevin Peter: For all the curious readers, explain to us in brief, what does your writing process look like?
Betta Ferrendelli: I follow the sun through my house. In the mornings, I typically write in my office and in the afternoons, I write at my kitchen table, which has always been my favourite place to write.
KP: Any vices or habits that you can’t seem to do without while writing?
BF: I am very big into fitness and can’t really forego that at any time. I find that if I write three hours or so in the morning, I am ready to go and workout. It is through working out at my health club that I continue to think about the chapter I am working on and how I can improve it and see it evolve.
KP: Just as your books will inspire others, any authors that have inspired you to write?
BF: In the mid 1990s I saw the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, which continues to be my favourite movie even today. The book wasn’t near as good as the movie, but it was film and the storyline that made me want to write books and hopefully touch my reader’s life in much the same way Fried Green Tomatoes touched mine.
KP: What do you think is the best way to influence others, through your actions and your deeds or through your words?
BF: They always say actions speak louder than words.
KP: What prompted you to take up writing? Is it something you always knew you wanted to do?
BF: I wrote my first poem in the seventh grade and have been writing ever since. I majored in journalism in college and have written professionally since landing my first newspaper job in 1989. I have worked at newspapers in Denver, Colorado, Seattle Washington and Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have won a number of writing awards as a journalist and as an author. The Friday Edition, the first book in the Samantha Church Mystery Series, was named one of the best books for 2013 by Kirkus and earned the 2014 Readers’ Favourite Gold Medal Award in the Mystery, Sleuth, Fiction category.
KP: You made a very moving tribute to your sister Shari in the acknowledgement section. How much of an influence did she have in your writing?
BF: My sister loved the funeral business. It was her passion and, at the time of her death, she was going to college to study mortuary science. Her dream was to become a funeral director, though that did not happen. She always had a great passion for working in this industry and, in some small way, I wanted to share in that with her through the writing of this book.
KP: What was your inspiration behind ‘Samantha Church’ mystery series of books?
BF: The real inspiration is that I have worked professionally as a reporter since 1989 and I’ve always wanted to write a mystery series featuring a newspaper reporter as a protagonist. It is what I know. Another reason I wanted to write a series has to do with one of the continuing characters in the series, Samantha’s grandmother, Frances Marino. I was very close to my maternal grandmother, who passed away in September 1997. I want to continue to develop the relationship between Sam and her grandmother as the series progresses.
KP: What’s ‘Dead Wrong’ all about?
BF: It’s a story about people determined to do the right thing at whatever the cost.
KP: What makes Sam so unlucky when it comes to men and relationships when she is so determined and intuitive at her work?
BF: Unlucky with men because she just hasn’t met the right one yet and determined and intuitive because those are good traits for newspaper reporters! Nothing makes a reporter happier than to stumble upon a big story and scoop their competitors.
KP: How much has Sam evolved in Dead Wrong from the person you introduced to the world in the first book?
BF: She has come a long way. My goal from the beginning was to introduce a main character that wasn’t very likeable (which based on some of the reviews I have received—especially in Revenge is Sweet—seems to be the case. Then slowly make her go through many transformations from failure to hopefully acceptance as a likeable human being. She’ll still be flawed in the human ways we all are, but yet hopefully still likeable because Sam never gave up, despite the battles and challenges in her life, she continued to move forward to make a better life for not only her, but for those she loves.
KP: What are you expecting readers to take away from your books?
BF: To experience every emotion while reading my books and to think about the story and the characters long after they have finished the last chapter.
KP: What was the hardest bit to write in this book?
BF: There were times when I was writing certain chapters that I was thinking of my sister, and I had a few tears. But I kept writing, because truth be told, I can’t think of any kind of therapy that‘s better!
KP: How many more books can we expect with Sam as the protagonist?
BF: My goal has always been to write at least eight books for the series.
KP: Are you planning to work on anything new after this series gets over?
BF: I have ideas for three contemporary books that will focus on women’s and social issues. Just three books though and it won’t be a series.
KP: Reading anything at the moment?
BF: I usually don’t read much when I am writing except newspapers. I was reading Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn. I am reading it because her main character is a reporter like Samantha Church. I will start reading that again soon.
KP: What is your favourite and least favourite part of the writing/publishing process?
BF: My favourite thing about writing is finishing! Mark Twain used to say, “I love writing, but I love having written better.” I like everything about the writing and publishing process. The marketing part is always time consuming and I feel as though I am stumbling along in terms of getting word of my books out there, but I keep trying and I learn something new to try almost every time.
KP: Any writing advice you have for other aspiring authors?
BF: Write! Even if it doesn’t seem like it’s coming or you’re not happy with it, keep writing. It’s a lot easier to edit when you have something already on paper.
KP: And lastly, thank you for parting with your valuable time Betta Ferrendelli and all the very best for your book.
BF: Thank you, Kevin. I appreciate your time as well. Your questions were open-ended and thought provoking!