Interview with W. S. Gager (Wendy)

Marilyn: Hi, Wendy or W.S., the name you write under. How about telling my readers why you chose to go that route with you name.

Wendy: Way back when I decided to write the Mitch Malone Mysteries, it had a decidedly male feel to it. I figured that it would appeal to a male audience so I decided to disguise my sex by using initials. I figured if it could work for J.K. Rowling, it could work for me. The funny thing is that the series seems to appear more to females than males.

Marilyn: Tell me something about your background.

Wendy: I’ve always written but for many years it was nonfiction. I worked a dozen years as a newspaper reporter and interviewed famous and not-so-famous people. I’ve ticked off a county sheriff so my name made the unofficial most wanted list. When it came time to write, it just seemed easy to follow the old maxim of writing what you know so my main character, crime beat reporter Mitch Malone, was born.

Marilyn: What made you decide to write from the POV of a male? And do you find it difficult?

Wendy: When I started, I didn’t plan to write from a male point of view. It was supposed to be in the point of view of Patrenka from A CASE OF INFATUATION. When I write, I only have a general idea of the plot line. Somehow Patrenka became the tall, dark and silent femme-fatale type and Mitch took over the story. His voice was so strong that it was easy to write in the male point of view. I also had a great critic partner who pointed out every time Mitch’s voice strayed the least little bit. Now I would need an exorcism or lobotomy to get rid of Mitch’s quips from my head.

Marilyn: I’ve been fortunate enough to have read both books (if there are more tell me) and enjoyed them. Beginning with the first, tell me what inspired the idea for each one.

Mitch: The third book, A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES, just came out but I will start with A CASE OF INFATUATION. That is the one with Patrenka and came in a dream. The characters and story just poured out of me. I wrote it like I was possessed. I still can’t believe how it all came together so well.

A CASE OF ACCIDENTAL INTERSECTION was inspired by an accident with a college van that had two blond and beautiful coeds in it along with other faculty and students. One girl survived and the other was in a coma. It wasn’t until several surgeries and therapy later that her family realized she wasn’t their daughter. I used the same kind of mix up for Mitch to come across but made one of the girls an heiress for more fun.

A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES was inspired by going to my husband’s class reunion. I had such fun watching all the classmates interact that I had a rough outline of the plot and my fictional characters on a bar napkin as I sat there. I got up early the next morning and started to write and it all came together so easily. It was fun to write Mitch being uptight returning to his hometown and watching him interact with his high school crush.

Marilyn: How difficult was it for you to find a publisher?

Wendy: I think it was too easy and it all happened too fast. I wasn’t looking for a publisher but for feedback on my manuscript. I entered the Dark Oak Mystery contest looking for constructive criticism to improve my manuscript before looking for publishers. Instead I won the contest and the prize was a publishing contract. I was so stunned, I didn’t know what to do.

Marilyn: What is your writing process?

Wendy: I’m not sure I have a process. My favorite part is writing the first draft of the book. I love discovering along with my characters what is going to happen. I generally have a rough idea of where the plot is going and who the bad guy is. The problem is that another part of my process is I kill off the bad guy about halfway through the book and have to come up with a plausible murderer from the rest of the cast. Why I do that, I have no idea. The second draft is where I add in more details, firm up descriptions and layer more clues in the early chapters to fit the ending. I hate the third, fourth and fifth drafts because that is where I struggle to fix all the sentence structures, punctuation, spelling and word choice errors. I never seem to succeed at finding them all.

Marilyn: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers out there?

Wendy: The best advice I can give is write. Even if you only have a sketchy idea of your book, just start putting words on paper. Then you can go back and polish and change. If you never put a sentence down, you will never get another one down, or the first chapter finished. Try not to look at the big picture.

Marilyn: Is there anything else you’d like my readers to know about you or your books?

Wendy: I’m never sure how to classify my books. They are clearly amateur sleuth mysteries. They are fairly PG rated because my 16-year-old daughter is one of my biggest fans. When I first started, I wanted them to have a gritty noire feel like Loren D. Estlemann’s PI series set in Detroit. But I couldn’t let it rest at that. I had to add in humor and irony that I’m not sure people get. It may be my own crazy humor.

Marilyn: Thank you, Wendy, I see I have missed on, I'll have to pay catch-up.

When Pulitzer-winning reporter Mitch Malone's editor presses him for a favor, Malone breaks his vow to never return to his hometown. It seemed simple enough--lead a seminar for Flatville, MI's newspaper, keep a low profile and get back to the city post haste. But memories of his parents' death swarm him, and, to avoid solitude, he stops for a beer. In the crowded bar, Mitch is dismayed to see many of his former classmates--including the still-lovely Homecoming Queen, Trudy. Once the object of his teenage crush, Trudy joins Mitch. He quickly realizes she is upset and inebriated. Always the gentleman, Mitch sees her safely home, and returns to his B&B, still trying to shake memories of his parents' sad demise. The next day, he is stunned to learn Trudy was murdered and he is the prime suspect. The locals treat the murder charge as a slam dunk, and Mitch realizes he must track down the real killer to keep his butt out of jail. As he investigates, facts he thought he knew about his family unravel, and danger ratchets up. Can Mitch discover the truth that will allow his parents to rest in peace, or will he be resting with them?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: W.S. GAGER has lived in Michigan for most of her life except when she was interviewing race car drivers or professional women golfers. She enjoyed the fast-paced life of a newspaper reporter until deciding to settle down and realized babies didn't adapt well to running down story details on deadline. Since then she honed her skills on other forms of writing before deciding to do what she always wanted with her life and that was to write mystery novels. Her main character in the award-winning Mitch Malone Mysteries is an edgy crime-beat reporter always on the hunt for the next Pulitzer.
“A Case of Accidental Intersection” Synopsis

Mitch Malone hates hospitals, but when a suspicious traffic accident lands a comatose victim in the hospital, he must put that aside to find the truth. The surface looks smooth but the more the crime beat reporter looks the more bodies pop up, including a private detective and his own editor. Can he get to the truth before the surviving victim is murdered in her hospital bed and an elderly witness has a heart attack? Will he get his exclusive printed before he's the next victim?

A Case of Infatuation Synopsis
Crime Beat Reporter Mitch Malone's rules are simple: He never lets the blood and guts he covers bother him. He always works alone. And he hates kids. Mitch breaks all three rules when he unwittingly agrees to smuggle a potential witness out of a suburban Michigan home while police investigate a mob-style hit that's left two dead bodies. Mitch sends his intern (a real hottie, but nonetheless an interloper) to interview neighbors, hoping to throw her off, but when he finds the pint-sized survivor the killer overlooked, he decides she might be helpful. When the FBI accuses him of the murder, Mitch goes into hiding with the bombshell intern who doesn't talk and the precocious preschooler. Mitch works his contacts to regain his freedom from his roommates only to find they each hold keys to a bizarre story of disappearances, terrorists and the perfect hamburger recipe.
W.S. Gager
Author of Humorous Whodunits
A Case of Infatuation & A Case of Accidental Intersection-Now Available
A Case of Hometown Blues - Coming this summer!

Purchase the book today:


Anne K. Albert said…
Thank you, Marilyn. I love reading how other authors write.

Like you, Wendy, I've killed off the villian and then scrambled for an alternative. Fun times!
Kathy Bennett said…
Hi Wendy!

Very interesting to hear how easy it is for you to write from a male's POV.

I also love how you've titled your series - The Cast of...

Congratulations on your many books and success.
WS Gager said…
Marilyn: Thank you so much for having me today! I loved your questions!
WS Gager said…
Anne: It is amazing how the creative juices start flowing when under duress! Good luck with your scrambles!
WS Gager said…
Kathy: Thanks for the comment. The "Case of" started because the name of the first book that I proposed was "Infatuation" and my publisher was worried that people would think it was a romance and not a mystery. They have just stuck!
chocoaddict said…
Great interview! Congrats on your third book.
WS Gager said…
Thanks Patti! I love choco adict!
jenny milchman said…
I'm with you, Wendy! I absolutely adore the first draft. Now revising, that's...well, another story, so to speak :)
WS Gager said…
Jenny: I'm trying to edit the fourth draft right now and really can't find the energy. Need either caffeine or a shot of ambition! Thanks for the comment.
I'm the opposite of you, Wendy, writing the first draft is painful to me. I like the rewriting process best.

M.M. Gornell said…
Loved hearing more about you, Wendy! I really like the idea of Hometown Blues, definitely on my list to read! I know what you mean about the W.S.--funny how things work out. Great seeing you at PSWA...

Madeline (M.M.)smile.
WS Gager said…
Marilyn: We would make a great writing pair! In order to keep up I would have to drink Chai tea by the gallon. Thanks so much for hosting me. It has been a lot of fun!
WS Gager said…
Madeline: I did enjoy seeing you at PSWA. That conference is always so much fun but I still never to get talk with all the people I would like! Do you ever wish you hadn't started with your initials?

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