How do you pronounce your last name?
It is ko-ree-ta. Rhymes with Juanita or Margarita. I believe there should be a drink named the Juanita Koryta Margarita.
Will there be more Lincoln Perry books?
There are no planned Lincoln Perry books at this point, although I am working on a short story featuring Lincoln. I have never ruled out returning to the character. It just hasn’t happened. One of these days, Lincoln might knock on the door a little louder and I’ll have to let him back in and see what he’s been up to. Or maybe he likes keeping his head down, and he’s relaxing somewhere on Clark Avenue right now, listening to the Tribe game on the radio and sipping a beer and staying out of trouble.
Do you read manuscripts?
Only when I am teaching at a writer’s conference. I have taught at several writer’s conferences and enjoy working with students in those settings. I can’t accept unsolicited manuscripts.
Where can I find editions of your early work?
All of the titles remain in-print in ebook and paperback editions and can be ordered from major retailers. Hardcover copies are out of print and much be purchased from a used bookstore, although I am planning to sell some collections of my early first editions via this web site for a fundraiser soon. Stay tuned.
How old were you when you published your first book?
I was 20 when I sold it and 21 when it came out. I am not the type of author you want to study in terms of the submission process because I didn’t do it right and didn’t even have an agent. I won a contest for new writers sponsored by St. Martin’s Press and the Private Eye Writers of America. I think that writing contests are a great and wonderful opportunity, obviously. I’m forever indebted to the PWA for creating that prize.
Why do some books feature the supernatural and others do not?
Because some of the stories require it, and some do not. I went through a phase during which I really was hooked on the history of the American ghost story, and I was reading a lot in that genre, and my experience is that the more you read in a genre, the more you want to write in it. Even against your own will, at times. I had planned for So Cold the River to be a crime novel. Once I began to consider the place and its bizarre history, though, it called out for a ghost story. With The Prophet, I thought that the supernatural would distract from the sort of quiet, intense family drama that needed to be told, so I went back to my traditional crime story roots. I have no grand vision for what I will write in the future, but I expect to dabble with both types of stories.
How do I reach you?
I have historically tried to keep a low profile on the web. I’m a little more engaged now – I have a Twitter account, and I check in on my Facebook page sometimes and write the content for a lot of those posts, but in general I try to preserve as much time as possible for writing. The internet is a really dangerous black hole of wasted time for me, so I try to keep my time there minimal.
What’s the best writing advice you could give?
The best I have heard came from Michael Connelly, who said “write with your head down.” In short, keep your focus on the story and the characters and the craft and do not pay attention to the chatter about the industry and promotional techniques and ways to get noticed. Good work will get noticed. You have to worry about generating the good work first. So write every day and read every day. I think it is very difficult to achieve anything as a writer in fits and bursts, particularly when you are just starting out. Writing at least a little bit every day keeps your mind engaged with the story.
Will you sign books if I send them to you?
I’m sorry that we can’t do this, but there are plenty of great bookstores who can help you locate signed copies.
What are your favorite and least-favorite things about being a writer?
They are one and the same – freedom to create as I choose. On the good days, this freedom allows me to have some truly euphoric moments, the sense that the story is revealing itself to me, and the characters are behaving in ways I hadn’t anticipated, and everything is going in a new and good direction. On the bad days, none of these elements are cooperating, and it is up to me to create something out of the mix that seems worthy of another’s time, and that can feel very daunting. I think that’s the reality of the daily life of a fiction writer – you’re battling through highs and lows and you’re fighting to let the story speak for itself.
How do you choose the type of story you are writing?
They choose me, and I really mean that. There are a lot of ideas floating around in my mind on any given day, but I never have had to cast about in search of one that I wanted to write. The one I’m going to write is always very clear – or very demanding. I don’t feel I have all that much choice in the matter, honestly. In looking back over my work, I feel as if place is very important in dictating what I write. The different locations that have intrigued me have all demanded different types of stories.
When will there be a movie or TV show made from one of the books?
I have no idea. My motto for this is to keep my fingers crossed but don’t hold my breath. There are a lot of possible projects out there with really talented and accomplished people involved, and I’m excited about all of them. There are a lot of moving pieces in the mix, though, and I admire any producer who sees a film through to completion, because it is a difficult task. I’m hopeful that we will see a good one made someday soon, but my job is just to write the books.