Sharon Dunn writes both humorous mysteries and romantic suspense. Her book Night Prey (Love Inspired Suspense) won a Carol award for 2011. Her first book Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves was a Romantic Times top pick and finalist in the inspirational Novel of the Year. Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante, the second book in that same series (The Ruby Taylor mysteries) was voted book of the year by ACFW. Zero Visibility is her fifth Love Inspired Suspense with another one scheduled for release in March 2013 titled Guard Duty. When she is not writing, Sharon spends time with her husband, three children, two cats and a nervous little border collie named Bart. You can read more about Sharon and her books by visiting her website.
SS: First of all, how long have you been writing and have you always wanted to be a writer?
I measure the time I decided to become a writer from when I joined my first critique group over 22 years ago. That would have been in 1991. My first book was published in 2003. I always gravitated toward the arts. I was never a Math and Science kind of person. I majored in film production in college. But I didn’t see writing as an option until I had kids. I needed a creative outlet and writing was something I could do in small increments and work around having small children.
SS: What is your process when you are writing a book?
I think most people develop a process that lessons the fears they have about writing. For me, I fear that my idea can’t really be made into a book, that I will get to page 60 and there won’t be any more story. So I write hard and fast to get the rough draft done. No stopping, no going back to fix things. As the story unfolds, I’ll make notes on post its of what I will need to go back and change. Once I have the rough draft done and I can see the structure of the story, I can breathe a sigh of relief.
In that rough draft, what I am striving for is for all the scenes that need to be there and for the action to unfold in a logical way (that means sometimes scenes get moved around) I don’t worry about description or even the names of minor characters. I will say thinks like “Officer Blank Blank walked through the police station.” I have a lot of characters named Blank Blank in my rough draft. Even if I have named a minor character in a previous chapter, I don’t want to go back to look up the name because it shuts down the flow of the story. Also, I might have something in brackets or bold that says Need More Description Here or Research That. I don’t worry about the emotional responses of the characters being fine tuned or layered. That will come in a later draft. When I don’t like an emotional response, the note in my manuscript will say (icky). Honestly, there are parts of the rough draft where I type “Blah blah blah” because I know there needs to be more something in that part of the story, I just don’t want to think about what that something might be when I’m doing the rough draft.
With every book during the rough draft when I hit a wall, I hear that voice that says, “There is no story here.” That when I go back to my mantra. Trust the process Sharon. Trust the process.
SS: What accomplishment are you proudest of in your life?
Believe it or not it’s not writing a book. Being a mom and staying the course through the difficult teen years (believe me there were times I wanted to get in my car and drive away) is toward the top of the list. But when I look back on my life, I think the thing I am proudest of is getting a college education. At the time, I didn’t realize the odds were against me finishing. My father was a high school drop out who worked as a miner all his life. My mother started nursing school, but didn’t finish. I was one of six kids and we lived really close to the poverty line. I didn’t have a car in college and lived on top ramen and the samples they handed out in grocery stores ( a little bit of hyperbole there, I did buy groceries). One summer, I lived with three other girls in a two bedroom apartment. My rent was $67 a month. I never thought of myself as suffering or deprived because I was getting to go to college. It was one of the happiest times of my life.
SS: Tell us about your new book.
Guard Duty is the third book in the Texas K-9 Unit series. Rookie Police officer Valerie Salgado can identify a murderer who is probably a member of the crime syndicate that has plagued the town of Sagebrush, Texas for months. With a death threat hanging over her head, she has new responsibilities caring for her niece and proving herself as a member of the K-9 police unit. When FBI agent Trevor Lewis comes into town looking for a fugitive, he offers her protection in exchange for her help. A troubled childhood has left more walls around Trevor’s heart than a maximum security prison. The book is the third book in the Texas K-9 Unit series. Margaret Daley (also a suspense sister) wrote the book that comes before mine.
SS: Writing is normally a solitary activity, did you like working with the other authors?
I had so much fun. I’m doing another continuity series for 2014. I think because writing is usually kind of a lonely process, it was refreshing to share with other authors via the email loop while working on the book.
SS: Finally, if you weren’t writing what would you be doing for a career?
Probably saying, “would you like fries with that?” a lot. Seriously, I have a really limited skill set. I think I would in one way or another be doing something connected with storytelling.