was a dark and
stormy night as the Rabid Reader climbs the trellis outside
the suspense novelist’s home. Looking right and left, Rabid Reader
assures herself that she hasn’t been seen. Good. She has trained for
this day. Dressed in black, she feels a bit like a cat burglar. Only it
isn’t jewels she wants; it’s information. Once she climbs through the
conveniently unlocked window and lands quietly on soft carpet, she
tiptoes across the bedroom and looks down the hallway. There, two doors
down, comes a soft light. That is the room! The office where Pamela
Tracy works, writes stories—stories that have driven Rabid Reader to
Pamela: Ouch! Hey, what’s with
Rabid Reader: I’ve tied you up.
Now you won’t be able to type another word until you tell me all your
Pamela: Secrets? Me? I’m on
deadline. I’m too tired to have secrets.
Rabid Reader (waving the cover
of Pamela’s upcoming August release, Fugitive Family
from Love Inspired): It’s all your fault. I start these stories, and I
have to read them in one sitting because I have to know whodunit.
Pamela: And you’re telling me
this . . . why?
Rabid Reader: So I can finally
wake up in the morning with more than five hours sleep, so I won’t be
looking at my clock all day and thinking when can I get back to the
book, so I won’t be at work and wondering if I’m—like the heroines in
your book—just one step from the extraordinary, so—
Pamela: I get it. You’re
wondering how a suspense writer works? Specifically, how I, a wife,
teacher, mother, friend, come up with these plots that keep you
guessing until the end?
Rabid Reader: Yeah.
Pamela: Untie me and I’ll tell
Rabid Reader (picking up a
bookmark and aiming it at Pam): No, I don’t trust you.
Pamela: Good, never trust a
suspense novelist. We just might put you in a book.
Rabid Reader: That would be
grand. I love all this characterization stuff you guys do. Just what do
Pamela: My heroines are always
one-third me, one-third someone I know, and one-third spunk. My heroes
depend on the book I’m writing.
Rabid Reader: What are you
working on now?
Pamela: Revisions for December’s
release. It’s called Clandestine Cover-Up. My hero
is a handyman. He’s really Vincent D’Onofrio from Mystic Pizza, only
he’s a handyman who’s afraid to commit but not afraid to come to the
Rabid Reader: Oh, I wish I could
Pamela: Buy the book in
Rabid Reader: I will. Hey, you
have a television in your office. Way cool. What are you watching?
Rabid Reader: Is that your
Pamela: No. I do like it, but I
watch it for mood only. You can’t trust it for fact. See, the
investigators on the show have way too much freedom with crime scenes.
When I write, I have to pay attention to what my readers will believe.
Personally, I don’t believe all I see on Bones. I
actually am really into The Gilmore Girls right
now. On DVD, of course. During their heyday I was much too busy meeting
deadlines to watch it.
Rabid Reader: Judging by your
books, I’d not take you as a Gilmore Girls fan.
Pamela: My critique group
actually made me stop watching it. They said I was starting to put
cutesy stuff in my suspense novels.
Rabid Reader: Where’s your
critique group now? If they were loyal writer buds, they’d be here
Pamela: They’re too busy to
rescue me. We all have a three-pages-a-day goal. Then we meet once
every two weeks for critique. They’re brutal, which a suspense writer
Reader (waving Fugitive
Family around again): You mean, you wrote this book in just
three pages a day?
Pamela: Well, I wish I’d written
it in three pages a day increments. But really, I have a full-time job
(college professor), a husband (Don), a son (Mikey, age four), and so
many other things to do (clean house, attend church, judge contests,
stare at bank mirrors) that I’d start with my three pages a book goal
(Did you know that at three pages a day, you can write three books a
year?), but eventually I’d be behind and start trying for five pages a
day, until I’d be really behind and then I’d try writing ten pages a
day for ten days. It works. By the time I get to the last one hundred
pages, I’m flying.
Rabid Reader (frowning at book):
Wow, a college professor. Do most writers have day jobs?
Pamela: Yeah, I’m pretty sure.
Rabid Reader: Do you get your
ideas during your day job?
Pamela: No. The book you’re
holding, I got that idea while standing in line at the bank. I was
looking at the mirror that shows the customer line, and I thought to
myself, “Ummm, do I really look like that?” I’m pretty sure I also
thought to myself, “Ummm, no more candy for me!” A whole book idea came
from that moment.
Rabid Reader: A whole book idea?
Pamela: And you’re holding it in
Rabid Reader (staring at book):
So, the idea came complete, all you had to do was write it?
Pamela: In Fugitive
Family, a dead body is discovered in a deserted farm house,
warnings are posted on blogs, snow storms, people getting followed,
stolen identities. Oops! I’m telling you too much. I need you to buy
the book and then read it. Oh, and I also research. I found a bank
manager and investigated what his life was like, because I made the
hero a bank manager. The heroine is a teacher. Then I also researched
things like masks and flowers and the missing children's network and—
Rabid Reader: Stop! All of those
things are in here! In one little book. See, that’s why I broke in
tonight. You put all this great suspense in a book, and then I buy it,
and pretty soon I’m losing sleep because I try to read it in one
Pamela: I think you lose sleep
because you’re reading and training to be a cat burglar when you should
Rabid Reader: Do you have a cat?
Pamela: I used to.
Rabid Reader (studying the walls
and pictures in Pamela’s office): Do you have any jewels?
Pamela: Hey, I thought you were
here to find out how I wrote books.
Rabid Reader: Yeah, but you just
told me that most writers have day jobs. I’ll be a cat burglar by night
and a writer by day. Thanks for helping me out.