Thank you J.P. Choquette for answering a few of our questions. We wish you all the best with the Tayt Waters series! -- Erin
Series: A Tayt Waters Mystery
Tayt Waters didn’t want to become a private investigator: too much red tape and too little action. Instead, she’s started a legitimate securities firm where she works hard and struggles to pay the bills.
But that’s not Tayt’s only job. She also helps women in need, who call her with the code phrase, “Sunflower Specials.” An after-hours vigilante, Tayt tracks down abusive husbands, errant boyfriends and deadbeat dads to give them a taste of their own medicine.
When her estranged father arrives in her office, disheveled and panicked, Tayt is drawn into a case she’s rather not touch: a young woman, murdered and her father the key suspect.
As she works to prove her father’s innocence, Tayt becomes ensnared in an underground ring of human trafficking, drugs and murder.
What’s a good story with an antagonist? In Subversion, Miller Stevens play the role effortlessly. He makes a living through all manner of illegal acts, drug trafficking just one of his many streams of income. Miller and the protagonist, Tayt Waters, went to school together. But maybe it’s easier to introduce you to Miller.
This conversation is taking place between Miller Stevens, his sidekick, Sam, and Tayt and her friend who is training to be a priest, Ezra (I point this out because Miller refers to Ezra as “Padre”). Miller is talking about his younger sister as the scene opens …
“Oh, haven’t you heard?” Stevens snorts, elbows Sam in the ribs. The smaller man winces but smiles along. All in good fun.
“Got knocked up at that prestigious school out in Michigan. Some deadbeat. Decided to keep the kid, mistake if you ask me. The last I heard she was at some rehab clinic and her baby’s in foster care. Yeah, she’s a real smart kid, Padre. Real waste of time.” He draws the word time out like it has three syllables. He takes another swig from the bottle and spills some on the front of his too-tight black t-shirt.
“And who’s the lady?” Stevens motions with his hand and the bright light pins me again like a bug. I picture my eyes with that deer in the headlights look and raise a hand to shield my face.
“Hey, Stevens,” I say. “Still as charming as ever.”
Miller curses. “If it isn’t little miss goody two shoes, Tatum Waters. You still dating Padre? I should have known. You two always were joined at the hip. Or maybe the lip,” he gives Sam another jab. “Or maybe somewhere else.”
RH: How do you deal with the critique?
Ahh, the critique. While positive feedback can leave an author flying high, a few negative words can quickly sour one’s day. While overall people are very kind at author-events and classes where I’ve taught, one particular, uncomfortable situation that stands out in my mind.
A reader at a book club didn’t like Subversion. Which is fine. Not everyone is going to like everything an author writes. But what started out as a few points the reader felt that I missed and/or didn’t make sense, ended up feeling like a hail storm!
Though the criticism hurt, I reminded the reader (and myself) that he was certainly allowed to have an opinion. Thankfully, none of the others in that book group or others shared the same sentiments and pointed out all the reasons why they liked the book.
RH: Tell us about Tayt:
Tatum “Tayt” Waters is a 29 year-old woman who runs a securities firm by day and works as a vigilante by night. She calls these gigs “Sunflower Specials” and through them helps individuals who have been “done wrong” by the justice system. She’s sarcastic, somewhat bumbling and has a tender heart.
RH: Where do your ideas come from?
Though ideas come from anywhere, the grains of an idea first resembling ‘Subversion’ began, weirdly enough, in a dream. Like the asleep-at-night variety, not a daydream. I saw one of the scenes and started writing the novel shortly afterward.
RH: Why do you write?
Like so many writers, I write because I can’t NOT write. I write every single day—sometimes it’s working on a novel, writing blog posts or crafting an article for a client, sometimes it’s my own journaling or stream of consciousness pieces. I write to communicate, to understand things and to get my feelings and thoughts out to be processed (or not) as needed.
RH: What research went into Subversion?
At first, Tayt was going to be a real, honest private investigator. I was fortunate to schedule an informational interview with a female PI locally who told me a lot about the process. There was way too much red tape and meetings for my taste. Since this is fiction, I converted Tayt soon after into a vigilante.
RH: How do you go about character creation?
I’m a hugely observant (OK, some would say nosy) person. I have a degree in psychology and human nature fascinates me. I find creating realistic characters a fun challenge.
RH: What are 5 musts every thriller should have?
1. Cliff hanger chapters
2. Believable characters, especially bad guys/ladies. What’s their motivation?
3. Elements from nature (thunder storms, dark clouds, storms, etc.)
4. A little humor
5. Edge-of-your-seat suspense … but not torture/gore/dismemberment. Scary doesn’t have to be sickening.
RH: What would you tell a new author?
Be patient. Write because you love it and keep writing … even in small chunks.
RH: What is the hardest part about writing?
RH: Do you prefer Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing?
I like the idea of a hybrid process: where you work with an agent/publisher and each take on different tasks and parts of the process that make the most sense. I’m independently published but am learning to contract more and more of the pieces that I don’t excel at out to others. I like being the captain of this ship. Some days it is frustrating and overwhelming but most of the time it’s an awesome ride that I’m truly grateful for.
RH: List 10 Things you didn't know about the publishing industry:
1. If you build it they WON’T necessarily come?
2. How challenging marketing can be, especially online.
3. How much I don’t like editing.
4. How to do a book launch (I created my first as a “mobile book launch” by having a parade float. It was so much fun!).
5. How long it would take to start getting some steady sales.
6. How important my in-person events would be (book signings, book club presenter, leading classes and workshops).
7. And how much I would come to love in-person events. (I used to break out in a rash when I had to get in front of people.)
8. That no one has all the answers, not even the experts.
9. How important it is to stick to your guns: do what your gut/Spirit/inner self says is right for you, no matter what naysayers tell you.
10. How incredible it feels to hold your first book in your hands.
RH: How do you deal with those procrastination demons?
I’m fortunate in that I’m pretty goal-oriented. Even though no one sees/knows what my goals are but me I find it very satisfying to meet them. So I set my big goal—say publish the next novel—and then work backward with mini-goals.
I also use a method that I call the 15-Minute Writing Method. I wrote an ebook about it, The 15-Minute Novelist, but the basic premise is this: write for 15 minutes, most days of the week. The time period is too small to feel overwhelming so it’s easier to be consistent with it. I’ve used this method for all four of the novels I’ve written, as well as the one I’m working on now. Before this, I used to be a great starter of novels … I just never finished any.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Choquette has a bachelor's degree in psychology and is continually fascinated by human behavior. Her novels are fast-paced and often have an underlying theme of justice/empowerment.
10% of the profits of Choquette's books are donated to the International Justice Mission (www.ijm.org) which works on issues of human trafficking.
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | LinkedIn