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Archived / Author Q & A's > Spoiler Free Q & A / Wendy Walker author of The Night Before and Don't Look For Me

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message 1: by Norma (last edited Apr 25, 2020 04:01PM) (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
We are so excited to have Wendy Walker join us! We love love love her books!!! Her latest book Don't Look for Me, with an expected publishing date of September 15th is my absolute favourite book so far this year! I highly recommend it and it was awarded my Holy Shooty Balls stamp of approval!

Wendy Walker's Author Profile/Page can be found here:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show...

If you are interested in reading my review for Don't Look for Me can be found here:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Please add any spoiler free questions or comments that you have for Wendy below!


message 2: by Norma (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
Welcome, Wendy! Thank you so much for joining us! I am so excited to be able to chat with you about your books! You are a favourite author of mine!


message 3: by Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (last edited Apr 29, 2020 12:55PM) (new)

Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 387 comments Mod
I added some the discussion in an easier to read Q & A format

Debra: Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for joining us. I would love to know how you get your ideas for your books

Wendy: I get ideas from all different places. The key is to be observant of everything all the time – people, places, situations, reactions, etc. If something catches my attention then there is likely something of interest to others as well.

Debra: Do you do an outline of your plot or do you just write and see where the story takes you?

Wendy: I do outline carefully before I begin to write. I have to know where the pieces to the puzzle are going to fit in so that the plot can be woven together. Sometimes I will have a new twist idea as I’m writing and then I have to go back and revise to make it work, but otherwise, I know what’s going to happen

Brenda: What came first for you the plot or the characters Laura and Rosie? Laura and Rosie were very different sisters and this created some interesting dynamics in the story. How did you come up with the idea of them and can you tell us a bit as to why you created them so different?

Wendy: Rosie and Laura developed as I structured the plot. I knew Laura would be edgy because I wanted her to be someone on the edge of losing it – I wanted there to be a reason Rosie feared what she might do to the man and not the other way around. Then came Rosie – I wanted her to be softer but also tough. They had to be two sides to the same coin. Rosie is how Laura might have turned out if her father had shown her love.

Brenda: How did you maintain that suspense, tension and sense of dread? Were you aware that you were creating a sense of dread as you were writing or was it created as you were writing the story?

Wendy: Creating suspense is definitely a tool I had to learn. Plotting helps me a lot with this. For example, if I know someone is the killer, I will be careful to hide clues in other places, like a conversation about something totally off topic between my killer and someone else. I will drop in a comment there so that when the reader finds out who the killer is, he or she won’t feel blindsided because the bread crumbs were there. I also use red herrings and foils and other devices to distract the readers from the real ending!

Brenda: You explore some interesting psychological themes with your characters. How do you go about capturing their voices? How do you go about researching those themes for your characters?

Wendy: It is always my goal to make the reader have to read every sentence because nothing is there to fill the space. Everything is written to build the characters or drop a clue. The psychology here was very important. I like to have realistic element to why a character is a certain way. So I researched attachment disorders using experts I found and came up with her personality – a reason why she always chooses the wrong men and then hates herself for not being able to change. Attachment disorders are fascinating! Many of us have them to some degree. At the most extreme, it’s why people who grow up being abused or witnessing abuse will subconsciously choose abusers for their adult partners. They are drawn to the familiar because their brains know they can survive it. We are wired to do this – to seek out circumstances that we know how to survive, even if they cause us paid. And we also try to fix the past by recreating the problem and then solving it as grown ups. It’s our way of dealing with unresolved pain.

Debra: Do you ever get inspiration for your characters based on people you have met or know (or observed) in your real life?

Wendy: I almost never base characters on people I know but I do draw from themes that I see in relationships and also different personality profiles.

Sometimes at night these days, if I watch the news, I can get into a real slump emotionally. Like most of us I’m sure. I actually try to put those feelings onto a character and then imagine what she or he might say about them and what plot I could build that would provoke such powerful feelings. It’s a way of coping sometimes.

Norma: I’ve been learning that authors don’t always have a say sometimes in their book titles and covers. I was just wondering if you can enlighten us a little bit on that. When we first received our e-Arcs it didn’t have a cover and then when I actually seen the cover I was totally blown away with it. Did you have a hand in picking out the cover design? The title is perfect BTW! 🙂

Wendy: On covers and titles, this is true! We do not have the last say, although we can weigh in. There is a fuzzy line between creativity and marketing and what appeals to me won’t always appeal to the masses. This is true even with the content of the book. I like very dark, gut wrenching stories so I always have to tone things down just a bit when I’m writing, or usually editing. It’s so important to have a trusted team behind you to let you know where you’ve strayed!

Leslie: I know a couple of questions have already been asked, Maybe you can just describe your writing process a bit for us?

Wendy: To address a few of the questions at once – I always try to build to a dramatic ending where all of the clues are coming together but the suspense is also building. In The Night Before and Don’t Look For Me, I changed to very short chapters where the timelines finally meet and the characters are in the same place at the same time. I also try to come up with some spine chilling”scenes” that the reader can visualize and that will cause a powerful sense of surprise or fear or dread or shock. But I also like to have an emotional wrap up at the end so that it leaves the reader with a strong and lasting connection to the characters. I love books where I think about the characters as if they were real people for days after I finish reading. As if what happened in the book actually happened to someone. That’s always my goal

I also love to write in first person, and every book I have written has at least one first person narration. It is usually the character who requires the most explaining! It’s much easier for me to explain a complex personality by writing a stream of thought and going off on tangents etc, because I think that’s how we are used to experiencing people in real life. When we we build a relationship with someone, they tell us things directly, not through another person, and I think this builds closeness with the reader and allows for more nuances to come through.

DeAnn: Hi Wendy! Thanks for joining us. I’ve read 3 of your books and you are an “auto-request” author for me. I truly enjoy the characters that you create.

I’m curious if you feel pressure to keep putting out great books or have you developed confidence now in your abilities?

Wendy: I do feel pressure but it’s not negative. It feels like a challenge and it means that I am always thinking in terms of plot!

Diana: Welcome, Wendy! I absolutely loved All Is Not Forgotten! I look forward to reading more of your work! I want to ask you which authors or books inspired you to begin writing?

Wendy: I personally enjoy books that force me to feel something provocative, either good or bad. I want to be made to feel things I don’t normally feel in my life. So I try to write that way as well. I also studied some psychology when I was practicing law, so I always look for angles that will allow me to go into those areas.

Lindsay: Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for being here with us!! I’ve been a HUGE fan of yours ever since reading All Is Not Forgotten. One of my most favourite books ever! My question mirrors Brenda and Debra’s – I’m wondering if during the planning process of your novels, are your characters created through inspiration from people you know in real life? Or are they completely imagined and not based on anyone in particular? Your characters are done so extremely well in every novel. I’d love to know how these characters are “born”.

Wendy: Sometimes a situation in my real life will make me start thinking about the broader issue and how it might impact others and then I will extrapolate from that theme. For example, The Night Before was definitely inspired by my life as a single middle aged woman with a lot of single friends all out there in the darting world. Even though I wrote about a young woman dating, the stories that inspired the basic theme behind the plot came from my life.

Debra: Are there any scenes that were particularly hard/difficult to write?

Wendy: Scenes that are hard to write are the ones that need to be written for the plot but that don’t have anything that dramatic in them. Like some of Rosie’s investigation into the disappearance. The reader needs to know why and how she ended up in a new place but the process of that isn’t interesting to me because I already know!


Kris - My Novelesque Life (mynovelesquelife) | 2 comments Hi Wendy! I have been a fan of yours since I first read All is Not Forgotten. I was lucky to get an eBook from NetGalley, but had to buy my own copy. I am so excited your newest book is coming out in my birthday month, so I am saving it for release week (unless I cave)!

Do you think you will ever write in another genre?
What are some of your favourite authors to read?


debbicat *made of stardust* (cr8zycat) | 8 comments I am a big fan! I do have Don't Look for Me and will start it asap.


debbicat *made of stardust* (cr8zycat) | 8 comments You have been a favorite of mine since I got the ebook All Is Not Forgotten from NetGalley as well. I think I literally squealed with glee when I got approved for the next two books and enjoyed them just as much. This is my favorite genre and you do it so well. I look forward to this question and answer. I think I saw (a long time ago) that All is Not Forgotten was going to be made into a movie. Is that true? Wow! I sure hope so. I love a good twist in my thrillers and you never disappoint.


message 7: by Debra (new)

Debra | 26 comments Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for joining us. I loved both The Night Before and Don't Look for Me , the two books of yours that I have read. I love how clever and well thought out your books are.

I would love to know how you get your ideas for your books and do you have a certain writing routine? Plus, are you working on another book (I hope so!)?


message 8: by MarilynW (new)

MarilynW (huecotx) | 20 comments I loved Don't Look For Me. I'm not good at asking spoiler free questions so I probably should stop here 😂 Anyway, I look forward to reading your answers to all the questions that are asked.


message 9: by Debra (last edited Apr 20, 2020 01:47PM) (new)

Debra | 26 comments I have a couple more questions,

Do you do an outline of your plot or do you just write and see where the story takes you?

I am always impressed with how Authors shock readers with twists, turns, and revelations. Do you ever impress yourself with your twists and turns (I love them)? Plus, how difficult (or easy) is it to come up with them?

When not writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?


message 10: by Diana (new)

Diana | 1 comments Welcome, Wendy! I absolutely loved All Is Not Forgotten! I look forward to reading more of your work! I want to ask you which authors or books inspired you to begin writing?


debbicat *made of stardust* (cr8zycat) | 8 comments I have read :All Is Not ForgottenEmma in the Night The Night Before
and I think Emma in the night is my favorite tho I loved them all. I now really want to start Dont't Look for Me. Like tonight. But it is bedtime. I am so excited for this. I am interested in the answers asked by others as well...like where do you get your plot? I have always related to your characters. I was fascinated when I read All is Not Forgotten...I had not even heard of that kind of memory therapy prior to that. I wanna know about those twists too!

thank you for doing this with us!


Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition | 7 comments Hi Wendy,
I really enjoyed reading The Night Before
because of the characters - they were so real and I actually cared about them. I felt more involved with them than I usually do with suspense novels, in fact, I read the whole book in 2 sittings.
It was almost more about the characters, than the action for me - but I loved the ending!
Thanks


message 13: by Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (last edited Apr 25, 2020 07:01AM) (new)

Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 387 comments Mod
Debra asked about your writing routine and I just want to expand on that. How has it changed now that we are in crisis and need to be staying home? As for events are you doing more on-line using platforms like Zoom?

If you answered this alright with Debra's question just skip on over this question.


Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 387 comments Mod
For The Night Before what came first for you the plot or the characters Laura and Rosie?

Laura and Rosie were very different sisters and this created some interesting dynamics in the story. How did you come up with the idea of them and can you tell us a bit as to why you created them so different?


Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 387 comments Mod
I love that you created some unquie unreliable characters here with the internet dating storyline. You created so many questions for us in our group while we were reading The Night Before. We didn't know who to trust, who had secrets hidden and what they were, who was lying or what was real or not. That created suspense and a delightful sense of dread for us.

How did you maintain that suspense, tension and sense of dread? Were you aware that you were creating that sense of dread as you were writing or was it created as you were writing the story?

While you were writing did you plot some questions in there you were hoping we would be asking ourselves?


Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 387 comments Mod
You explore some interesting psychological themes with your characters. How do you go about capturing their voices? How do you go about researching those themes for your characters?


message 17: by Norma (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
The Night Before was one of those books that required my full attention and the world around me faded away into the background.

When you wrote this one was your intention for it to be read fast to keep its momentum high for the reader?


message 18: by Norma (last edited Apr 25, 2020 04:11PM) (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
I was extremely touched in the end with Laura's character. It isn't very often that a thriller moves me like this one did. I'm not sure if you are able to speak about this without being spoilerish but if you could share how you were feeling in the end that would be awesome. I'd love to hear your reaction to the ending and what you ultimately wanted the reader to feel.


message 19: by Norma (new)

Norma | 72 comments Mod
I've been learning that authors don't always have a say sometimes in their book titles and covers. I was just wondering if you can enlighten us a little bit on that. When we first received our e-Arcs it didn't have a cover and then when I actually seen the cover I was totally blown away with it. Did you have a hand in picking out the cover design? The title is perfect BTW! :)


message 20: by Debra (new)

Debra | 26 comments Terry mentioned about you writing characters that feel real. I agree, is it easy or difficult to write characters that feel real and evoke feelings in readers i.e. either we care about them, can relate to them, despise them, etc.?


message 21: by Debra (new)

Debra | 26 comments Do you ever get inspiration for your characters based on people you have met or know (or observed) in your real life?


Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (lindsaylivi) | 77 comments Mod
Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for being here with us!! I’ve been a HUGE fan of yours ever since reading All Is Not Forgotten. One of my most favourite books ever!

My question mirrors Brenda and Debra’s - I’m wondering if during the planning process of your novels, are your characters created through inspiration from people you know in real life? Or are they completely imagined and not based on anyone in particular? Your characters are done so extremely well in every novel. I’d love to know how these characters are “born”.


message 23: by Leslie (new)

Leslie - MamaNeedsABook (mama-needs-a-book) | 6 comments Hi Wendy! I just read and LOVED your book, Don't Look For Me! Thank you so much for coming to the group and answering our questions! I am overjoyed to have been invited, authors are definitely the biggest celebrities in my book!

Anyways, I (like everyone else) am so interested in where you come up with the ideas for your books? Do you begin with a complete story line? a character? or an issue you'd like to address?

Your characters are fabulous and have emotional depth! Do you let them lead your story? Or do you know the ending when you begin?

Are your characters' personalities based on people you know?

I know a couple of those questions have already been asked, so feel free to reference previous answers. Or maybe you can just describe your writing process a bit for us?

Why did you want to become a writer? And when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Do you read a lot of books? Who's your favorite author?

I am a huge fan of your writing! I look forward to many more books from you in the future! Thank you so much for taking the time to join this forum and for answering my questions!


message 24: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments Thanks so much! Glad to be here :)


message 25: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments For now I am loving this genre, although there are many different styles that authors choose from even within the thriller category. I've written more backstory driven books and more action packed stories. I enjoy all of them!


message 26: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments Kris - My Novelesque Life wrote: "Hi Wendy! I have been a fan of yours since I first read All is Not Forgotten. I was lucky to get an eBook from NetGalley, but had to buy my own copy. I am so excited your newest book is coming out ..." Thanks so much! I hope you enjoy it when it finally arrives :)


message 27: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments debbicat ☮~Traveling Sister wrote: "I am a big fan! I do have Don't Look for Me and will start it asap." I hope you love it!


message 28: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments debbicat ☮~Traveling Sister wrote: "You have been a favorite of mine since I got the ebook All Is Not Forgotten from NetGalley as well. I think I literally squealed with glee when I got approved for the next two books..." That's so nice!


message 29: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments On the movie front, it is still out there although the original option has expired. My next two books have been optioned for TV series so cross fingers!


message 30: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments Debra wrote: "Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for joining us. I loved both The Night Before and Don't Look for Me , the two books of yours that I have read. I love how clever and well..."

I get ideas from all different places. The key is to be observant of everything all the time - people, places, situations, reactions, etc. If something catches my attention then there is likely something of interest to others as well.

I do outline carefully before I begin to write. I have to know where the pieces to the puzzle are going to fit in so that the plot can be woven together. Sometimes I will have a new twist idea as I'm writing and then I have to go back and revise to make it work, but otherwise, I know what's going to happen!


message 31: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments I personally enjoy books that force me to feel something provocative, either good or bad. I want to be made to feel things I don't normally feel in my life. So I try to write that way as well. I also studied some psychology when I was practicing law, so I always look for angles that will allow me to go into those areas.


message 32: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments Lately, I have been writing early in the morning when my kids are asleep, since they have all moved back home. Once they are moving around, I become consumed with food and laundry and cleaning. Life has changed quite a bit!


message 33: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments I usually need about 3-6 hours in a row to really make progress. Three hours uninterrupted allows me to write about 10 pages a day if I have an outline so for example, I just wrote a book in about 4 weeks because I was so afraid I wouldn't have time to write I became very disciplined about the morning routine!


message 34: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments I started writing because I was home with my first son and I needed to do something productive. I must have always wanted to tell stories because of all the things I could have started to do, this is what I chose! I am a lawyer by training and before that a banker. I never studied writing so I had a lot of learning to do.


message 35: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments I think I have an eye for storytelling and psychology. But I had to get the told needed to write them down. Using narration and dialogue, pacing, structure, POV - all of that was new to me.


message 36: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments I almost never base characters on people I know but I do draw from themes that I see in relationships and also different personality profiles.


message 37: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments Sometimes a situation in my real life will make me start thinking about the broader issue and how it might impact others and then I will extrapolate from that theme. For example, The Night Before was definitely inspired by my life as a single middle aged woman with a lot of single friends all out there in the darting world. Even though I wrote about a young woman dating, the stories that inspired the basic theme behind the plot came from my life.


message 38: by DeAnn (new)

DeAnn | 19 comments Hi Wendy! Thanks for joining us. I've read 3 of your books and you are an "auto-request" author for me. I truly enjoy the characters that you create.

I'm curious if you feel pressure to keep putting out great books or have you developed confidence now in your abilities?


message 39: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments Creating suspense is definitely a tool I had to learn. Plotting helps me a lot with this. For example, if I know someone is the killer, I will be careful to hide clues in other places, like a conversation about something totally off topic between my killer and someone else. I will drop in a comment there so that when the reader finds out who the killer is, he or she won't feel blindsided because the bread crumbs were there. I also use red herrings and foils and other devices to distract the readers from the real ending!


message 40: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments Rosie and Laura developed as I structured the plot. I knew Laura would be edgy because I wanted her to be someone on the edge of losing it - I wanted there to be a reason Rosie feared what she might do to the man and not the other way around. Then came Rosie - I wanted her to be softer but also tough. They had to be two sides to the same coin. Rosie is how Laura might have turned out if her father had shown her love.


message 41: by DeAnn (new)

DeAnn | 19 comments I loved your most recent book and in my review I commented that you had perfect pacing. Do you think you achieve that with the outline? Or do you go back and check the flow of the story?


message 42: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments As for the structure, I used the split time frame to create suspense. Because you know the date goes wrong, every moment you spend with Laura on that date, you are wondering what is going to make it go off the rails. It's like knowing there's a monster in the closet but the character doesn't and she's just wandering past the door again and again. Then, by having Rosie the next day, I was able to plant clues at the end of Laura's chapters that make you want to reach into the pages and shake Rosie and tell her where to look. All of that is automatically suspenseful.


message 43: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments It is always my goal to make the reader have to read every sentence because nothing is there to fill the space. Everything is written to build the characters or drop a clue. The psychology here was very important. I like to have realistic element to why a character is a certain way. So I researched attachment disorders using experts I found and came up with her personality - a reason why she always chooses the wrong men and then hates herself for not being able to change. Attachment disorders are fascinating! Many of us have them to some degree. At the most extreme, it's why people who grow up being abused or witnessing abuse will subconsciously choose abusers for their adult partners. They are drawn to the familiar because their brains know they can survive it. We are wired to do this - to seek out circumstances that we know how to survive, even if they cause us paid. And we also try to fix the past by recreating the problem and then solving it as grown ups. It's our way of dealing with unresolved pain.


message 44: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments I don't do much besides write, take care of my kids and exercise! I used to see my friends a lot. And I read, but mostly to offer support for fellow thriller writers. And I love to unwind at night with a glass of wine and a good show. Right now, I'm watching Defending Jacob and After Life.


message 45: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments On covers and titles, this is true! We do not have the last say, although we can weigh in. There is a fuzzy line between creativity and marketing and what appeals to me won't always appeal to the masses. This is true even with the content of the book. I like very dark, gut wrenching stories so I always have to tone things down just a bit when I'm writing, or usually editing. It's so important to have a trusted team behind you to let you know where you've strayed!


message 46: by Leslie (new)

Leslie - MamaNeedsABook (mama-needs-a-book) | 6 comments Love that you're watching Defending Jacob! Did you read the book?

What you said about attachment disorders is totally intriguing! Your research into their minds is probably why your characters have so much depth!


message 47: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments To address a few of the questions at once - I always try to build to a dramatic ending where all of the clues are coming together but the suspense is also building. In The Night Before and Don't Look For Me, I changed to very short chapters where the timelines finally meet and the characters are in the same place at the same time. I also try to come up with some spine chilling"scenes" that the reader can visualize and that will cause a powerful sense of surprise or fear or dread or shock. But I also like to have an emotional wrap up at the end so that it leaves the reader with a strong and lasting connection to the characters. I love books where I think about the characters as if they were real people for days after I finish reading. As if what happened in the book actually happened to someone. That's always my goal.


message 48: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments I also love to write in first person, and every book I have written has at least one first person narration. It is usually the character who requires the most explaining! It's much easier for me to explain a complex personality by writing a stream of thought and going off on tangents etc, because I think that's how we are used to experiencing people in real life. When we we build a relationship with someone, they tell us things directly, not through another person, and I think this builds closeness with the reader and allows for more nuances to come through.


message 49: by Debra (last edited Apr 27, 2020 12:42PM) (new)

Debra | 26 comments Are there any scenes that were particularly hard/difficult to write?


message 50: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Walker | 30 comments It also allows me to become more connected to the character because my thoughts have to become his or her thoughts. I have to try to become that character and for me it's easier to do that in first person.


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