DAB: Was there a point in your life that prompted your desire to write or have you always wanted to be an author?
EB: Firstly, thanks so much for having me here, DA. I really appreciate it.
Many authors say they’ve known all their lives they wanted to write, but I can’t say that. Informally, I’ve been writing since my mid-teens, but I took the leap to writing full-time January 2010. I knew I could write, and it was probably a way of nurturing my rich fantasy life and my love of reading.
DAB: What was the catalyst for this novel’s premise?
EB: It was a vacation I took to Jamaica in January 2013. The setting and timing of the book mirrors that trip. I stayed at a mysterious resort, right next to where Ian Fleming used to live and where he thought up and wrote his James Bond novels.
I’m a big James Bond fan, so it didn’t take much for my imagination to go into over-drive. I formulated ideas for the book while I was on holiday and started writing it after I returned home.
DAB: Do you have a character(s) in your novel with whom you closely identify?
EB: Yes, it would be my protagonist, Dr. Kate Hampton. As with all the women in my fiction, she’s mentally strong, intelligent, and has a wicked sense of humor. In many ways, I “lived” as Kate while writing the book.
Actors call it method acting, a technique to create in themselves the thoughts and feelings of their characters in order to develop lifelike performances.
As a writer, I tried to do the same thing by connecting to Kate. It forced me to draw on personal emotions and memories. This allowed me to write realistic scenes and have her behave in a way that was plausible.
DAB: Character depth is so important in writing. Do you ever have difficulty writing from the point-of-view of a member of the opposite sex?
EB: No. I’ve written many stories from a male point of view, and Stranger at Sunset is told from multiple POVs, some male and some female. Male readers have told me I think like a man sometimes, so perhaps that’s why I can create authentic scenes in a male voice.
Often, I see scenes as whole conversations with people. The dialogue is usually easiest for me to write, then it’s a matter of bringing the characters to life, no matter what their sex is. This has more to do with the mechanics of writing such as adding movement to their bodies, sound to their voices, and so on. That’s the part I find more challenging.
DAB: What kind of research practices do you utilize for writing?
EB: For Stranger at Sunset, it was a combination of things—a location that I knew would make a wonderful setting for a book and my love of psychology. The two came together serendipitously.
I love travel, culture, and language, so anything that takes me away from home is a wonderful source of new ideas. I research using the Internet, but if I’m writing about a location, it’s always best to be there in person to soak up the environment.
My protagonist is a psychiatrist, and research was important in that vein to make her appear credible. My lifelong interest in psychology made this part fun. I still read texts from the field just because I’m interested in the mind. One of my go-to books is the seminal work of Dr. Hervey M. Cleckley called The Mask of Sanity.
The book describes his interviews with patients in a locked institution. His detailed clinical description of psychopathy is still relevant today even though the book was written back in the forties.
I was also a student of Freud’s writings, but many of his observations are no longer studied. It all makes for good fiction though.
DAB: When I write, I have particular composers and music that gets me in the mood for certain scenes and characters. Have you ever written to music?
EB: No, I can’t. I need complete silence to write. Even the sound of my nails pecking the keyboard will bother me, so I wear ear buds to dampen the noise. I do love music though, and I feature it regularly on my blog. Because of that, I did some pre-book release promotion featuring songs as clues for my novel.
Now, I’ve partnered Stranger at Sunset with iTunes, so my book actually has a soundtrack!
DAB: That's cool! There's the eternal debate whether to outline or not. What is your preference?
EB: I’m a pantser bar none, and I’ve had the luxury of never having to outline when I wrote short stories and novellas. Prior to Stranger at Sunset, the longest book I had written was about 30K words.
A novel, however, requires a different mindset. What I did not plan and outline had to be hashed out in final edits; that was painful. For my future novels, I intend to spend more time upfront outlining and plotting. I think it will make for less tears in the end.
DAB: How do you handle negative feedback about your novel(s)?
EB: Thankfully, I haven’t had much, but I think it’s inevitable to receive negative feedback. Books are subjective in every way imaginable. The subject matter and style of writing vary from author to author, and readers can be choosy, as they should be.
Though it would be wonderful if everyone liked what I wrote, I know that’s not possible. If I were not prepared for criticism, I should never have ventured into writing because it’s such a personal outpouring of who I am. Having said this, I can also be detached when necessary. If the negative feedback is constructive, I will use it to improve on upcoming books. If it’s just mean-spirited, I will ignore it.
It’s the Zen way of looking at things; there is no point in me adding fuel to the fire.
DAB: Very true. It would do all authors well to develop that mindset. Of all your novels, which one is your favorite, and why?
EB: Wow, that’s like choosing a favorite child! I think I’ve improved as I’ve written more, so I’m very proud of Stranger at Sunset as my foray into a novel and a different genre. It’s created a lead character whom I see a future with, and that’s exciting.
My previous books were erotica short stories and novellas, and each of them has a special place in my heart.
DAB: Care to tell us what is next on your writing horizon?
EB: More of Dr. Kate Hampton! Stranger at Sunset is the first of a trilogy with her in the starring role, and the next book, A Fragile Truce is something I’m working on right now. You can read an excerpt of it at the end of my current book.
DAB: Now’s your chance – give us the final plug for your novel.
EB: Ha! Thank you DA, I don’t think anything else can sell my book more than what’s inside it. I can sing its praises all I want to, but my suggestion is for the reader to go to Amazon and use the “Look Inside” feature.
Sample the book and read the chapters available. I know I use this option all the time before I pay money to buy a book, so I highly recommend it.
EB: Thank you again DA for interviewing me and having me on your great site.
And thanks to you, Eden, for stopping by and sharing with us about your writing regimen and for allowing a peek into your novel. Sounds like something I'd enjoy reading if I can ever find the time.
If Stranger at Sunset piqued your interest, pick up a copy at Amazon US Amazon UK or Worldwide.
Dr. Kate Hampton, a respected psychiatrist, gathers with a group of strangers at her favorite travel spot, Sunset Villa in Jamaica. Included in the mix are friends of the owners, a businessman with dubious credentials, and a couple who won the trip from a TV game show.
It is January 2013, following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The luxury resort is struggling, not from the storm, but due to a scathing review from caustic travel writer, Matthew Kane. The owners have invited him back with hopes he will pen a more favorable review to restore their reputation.
Even though she is haunted by her own demons, Kate feels compelled to help. She sets out to discover the motivation behind Kane’s vitriol. Used to getting what he wants, has the reviewer met his match in Kate? Or has she met hers?
Stranger at Sunset is a slow-burning mystery/thriller as seen through the eyes of different narrators, each with their own murky sense of justice. As Kate's own psychological past begins to unravel, a mysterious stranger at Sunset may be the only one who can save her.
Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to become a full-time writer. She incorporates many of her favorite things into her writing such as: travel; humor; music; poetry; art; and much more.
Stranger at Sunset is her first mystery novel, on the heels of several books of erotic anthologies and short stories. She writes in multiple genres.
An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounding by books. She in an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often!
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