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Writer Q & A (Archived) > Q and A with author Baxter Clare Trautman: July 1st-3rd

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message 1: by A.F. (last edited Jul 01, 2011 05:34AM) (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Please welcome, Baxter Clare Trautman, the the author of the L.A. Franco mysteries and The River Within, a saga set against the backdrop of war.
She is a born writer who tried her hand at several different genres before settling on the types of books she writes today.
Baxter works as a biologist on California’s Central Coast, where she lives on a ranch with her longtime companion and a fluctuating number of houseguests, wild animals, and domestic pets. Baxter is also the author of Bleeding Out, Street Rules, Cry Havoc, Last Call, End of Watch, and Spirit of the Valley.

Goodreads profile:
http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2893996-baxter-clare

Website:
http://www.baxterclare.com/

The River Within by Baxter Clare Trautman

Bleeding Out A Mystery by Baxter Clare


message 2: by L.A. (last edited Jul 01, 2011 06:10AM) (new)

L.A. (TicToc) | 5 comments Question

I noticed on your site where you said the character of Franco took you over when you were trying to write something different. Does that mean you just sit down and write what comes to you, or do you work from an outline. I am always curious how this works for different people.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I've always wanted to know how to pick the right topic for my book. Can you give me some advice?


message 4: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman Good morning, Leslie and Andrea. You get the early-bird prizes! Message me and I'll send you the coupon code for a free copy ofThe River Within.

I think I can answer both questions at once.

I have to "feel" what I'm writing. It's like the difference between being in love and being friends. Love is an all-consuming passion - you can't think of anything else, and don't want to! Liking someone is far less passionate. Enjoyable certainly, but you can take or leave them. My best writing comes when I love my subject. I was trying to write another natural history book but the Frank character just grew and grew in my imagination. She wasn't what I had thought or planned to write, but there she was. So I went with my gut rather than my head. I think all "art" - writing, painting, music, anything creative, even fixing an engine - is best when it stems form inspiration. For me, the mental process should only be applied for refinement - after the bulk of my passion has been spent on getting the bare bones down, the inital inspiration. Then I outline, edit, etc. First I play! Then I work. Hope that helps!

Baxter Clare Trautman,The River Within
http://baxterclare.com/
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/...


message 5: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman Oh yeah. Because I’m forever stunned how we ship young people off to war, subject them to horrors most of us will never know, and then expect them to slip easily back into the World. Our government asks much, sometimes everything of them, and gives little. The Wounded Warrior Project aims to take up some of that slack.

On this 4th of July weekend, in honor of these men and women, all “River Within” sales will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project. It’s a small way to help those who could use a hand. Literally.

Visit WWP at http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/..., and download “The River Within” at http://www.amazon.com/The-River-Withi..., or
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/....

Happy Fourth. And thanks


message 6: by Amy Eye (new)

Amy Eye | 98 comments What other types of genres did you try out before settling on what you are writing now?


message 7: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman Hi Amy - would that I had settled on a genre! First there was the natural history, which I loved doing and still would like to do a sequel too. Then the Franco character totally hijacked my brain and I had a good 5 book run with her, but I don't know that I have any more mysteries in me. I have one literary fiction still unpublished about a very successful man whose life is falling apart, River is about three women whose lives are falling apart, and I'm half way through writing a novel set in Italy in WWII concerning a GI who just can't go home again after the wars's over. So I guess you could say I've settled on literary fiction? For today?


message 8: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman You're killing me Ken - tough questions to answer on my lunch hour! I'm going to think about these during my commute and get back to you. (Although Dickinson's "...the thing with feathers" springs immediately to mind).


message 9: by Amy Eye (new)

Amy Eye | 98 comments Baxter wrote: "Hi Amy - would that I had settled on a genre! First there was the natural history, which I loved doing and still would like to do a sequel too. Then the Franco character totally hijacked my brain a..."

What sparks your interest the most when you are looking for something to read?


message 10: by Cambria (new)

Cambria (cambria409) Baxter wrote: "Oh yeah. Because I’m forever stunned how we ship young people off to war, subject them to horrors most of us will never know, and then expect them to slip easily back into the World. Our government..."

I really appreciate this and I think that it really shows respect for the troops and everything that they endure. Thank you for thinking of them.


message 11: by Cambria (new)

Cambria (cambria409) What is your favorite book and why?


message 12: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman Hi Ken - back to your questions. Love is a fierce derangement of our normal sensations. Akin to walking into a high tension wire. All our molecules get zapped, go temporarily haywire - for someone who's never experienced it I would say it feels like being very, very thirsty and then finally getting that first gulp of cool water. Maybe love is relief. Wasn't it Plato (gross paraphrase) that said humans were cut in half and are always looking for their other half? What a relief (ahhh) to find our other self. That long anticaiated, satiating drink of water.

Hope is an emotion (always hard to define). It can't be just an idea. It has to be a feeling, a wish or belief for a desired outcome. Back to the thirst analogy, for someone who has never felt hope, it would be like waiting for that drink of water, walking through the desert wishing and believing, anticipating there must be an oasis, a spring, a Bedouin with a canteen somewhere out there...

Best I could do on the commute home:)


message 13: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman Amy - my four and five star ratings almost always go to novels where the characters are complicated. I need a lot of inner action and adventure - not Dan Brown exterior stuff. I love Joseph Campbell's work and always look for the interior action, the Hero's Journey - when a character is challenged to evolve, to grow up, to move through a moral/emotional crisis and come out the other side. Wasted Vigil and Venus of Chalk are the last two novels I read that come to mind. The character's beliefs and values are challenged and how they react accordingly is the mystery of the story to me. Do they quail and back down, stay the same, or do they take a chance on behaving differently, on growing?


message 14: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman Hi Cambria - I posted the WWP here this morning right before I ran off to work and then thought oops it probably shouldn't have gone here. Sorry folks. My bad.

Anyway, my favorite book... I get a fiction and non-fiction, right? If I had to be stuck on a desert island with only one novel, it would be John Steinbeck's To a God Unknown. I rarely re-read books but I pull that one out every couple years and it's always deeper and different to me. See the answer I left Amy - talk about your interior drama!

(Oh, and Amy, speaking of Steinbeck and his beloved Salinas Valley, I love locale - I'll almost always give a library book a try if it's in a place/country that intrigues me.)

Non-ficiton would be [book:Dark Nights of the Soul|93571. It's like a reference book for me. There's no hard patch it hasn't helped get me through. I don't read it often, but I like knowing it's nearby.


message 15: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman Thanks for all the great questions everybody!


message 16: by Angela (new)

Angela Smith (dandilyonfluff) | 86 comments Hello, thanks for taking the time to let us pick your brain :) My questions are about your marketing plan; What are you doing to market your book? What methods have you found to be the most effective?

A. F. wrote: "Please welcome, Baxter Clare Trautman, the the author of the L.A. Franco mysteries and The River Within, a saga set against the backdrop of war.
She is a born writer who tried her hand at several ..."



message 17: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1777 comments Mod
Baxter wrote: "Hi Cambria - I posted the WWP here this morning right before I ran off to work and then thought oops it probably shouldn't have gone here. Sorry folks. My bad.

Anyway, my favorite book... I get a..."


There's no problem posting about the WWP; it's a good cause.

You mentioned the novel you're currently writing is set in Italy during WWII. What interested you in using a historic setting?


message 18: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman Hi Angela - marketing is all new to me. I've always let my traditional publishers handle that so I'm diving in to the marketing pool head first. Probably not a good idea to dive head first into unknown waters but what the heck! I can't say I've developed any strategies that seem more effect than others. I'm mainly using Internet promotion. I'm blogging a lot on sites where my book might be most receptive and joining all the independent publishing networks. Time is such a huge factor - there are almost 100 sites in my Promotion folder that I have yet to target. It's a slow process for me and probably not the most effective strategy. The good news is I'm garnering great reviews on some of the sites I've already joined. Word of mouth is one of the best promo tools there is so I'll just keep slogging away.


message 19: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman A.F. - I can't even remember the spark that started that novel. I vaguely remember coming across something on the Internet about how awful the war was in Italy. I'd always thought Italy was a cake walk but it turns out one of the costliest, most protracted battles of the European Theatre was there at a dot on the map town called Cassino. I started reading about the brutal fighting there and was hooked. Actually had to go visit the place and that was an experience in itself. I've always been drawn to stories of men at war (see my WWP post above). Probably way to much Hemingway influence at an early age! Plus, the advantage of writing older history is that there are not many people who can correct your fictitious license, though I love being as real and as accurate as possible whatever my setting.


message 20: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman Hi Carroll - never too late for the fray! Can't say love is "best" - I've been married 18 years and my love feels stronger than it ever has, so obviously there are different types of love.

I do know the proximity of danger heightens desire. Despite our religions or phDs people are first and foremost biological creatures. We're animals, and every animal has a powerful instinct to live. That is never stronger than when we are near death. Life becomes very dear when we are afraid we might suddenly lose it, and we tend to revert to animal instincts. We lose inhibitions about sex and who we have it with - look at pregnancy trends from wars. So I think passion is "best" in extreme situations like wars - it flare and burns quickly. War love is a 4th of July sparkler - bright and hot but without substance. Love is a well-tended hearth of fire, fuel, coals, and even ash. With a gentle breath and kindling, it is easily stoked and can burn forever.


message 21: by Amy Eye (new)

Amy Eye | 98 comments Ok, we have had some serious questions and I like to try to throw in some fun ones.

If you had to dress up for Halloween, what would you choose to be and why.

And if you had a choice between shaving half of your hair off or wearing only one mitten for a year, what would you choose?


message 22: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman Totally the hair! It's 106 degrees today and the mitten would be mocking me, mocking me... and could I take the mitten off? Could I ever wash it? (Ick!!)

I was Joan Jett one year - dyed my hair black and blew out all my speakers. Next year I was Katherine Hepburn - dyed my hair red and talked about myself all night! If halloween were today? Let's see, my hair's uber short, stubble really (shaved it for a friend going thru chemo), it's hot...I think it would be a good day to be the Dalai Lama! Hanging out, wearing a sheet, drinking tea, thinking deep thoughts. Yeah. Def the big DL.


message 23: by Amy Eye (new)

Amy Eye | 98 comments Baxter wrote: "Totally the hair! It's 106 degrees today and the mitten would be mocking me, mocking me... and could I take the mitten off? Could I ever wash it? (Ick!!)

I was Joan Jett one year - dyed my hair b..."


No, the mitten would have to stay on...so I think I would have to agree with you on the head shaving!! LOL

Katherine Hepburn is hysterical!

Out of all of the books you have written, which seemed to flow out of you the easiest? the hardest?


message 24: by Paul (new)

Paul Jones (paulantonyjones) | 32 comments A. F. wrote: "Please welcome, Baxter Clare Trautman, the the author of the L.A. Franco mysteries and The River Within, a saga set against the backdrop of war.
She is a born writer who tried her hand at several ..."


Happy 4th of July, everyone.

While some of us are stuck with plain old boring names, you get the perfect writer's name: Baxter Clare Trautman. Good grief! That's an unfair competitive advantage if ever I saw one.

I was wondering, was there a specific point in your life when you realized you wanted to become a novelist?

Thank you.


message 25: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman Hi Amy - (and think how hard to type with one mitten on!)

The easiest was my third, Cry Havoc. I had a little confidence by then, my character wasn't in such a dark place, and I LOVED doing all the voodoo/hoodoo/Santeria research. It was the most playful I've ever felt writing, and I'd still like to do some sort of sequel to "Havoc".

I think The River Within was the hardest. In some of my other books I'd used the bad guy's POV for a while, but certainly never gave it equal time. The whole LA Franco series is pretty much told from Frank's POV. In "River" I was trying to give an equal voice to three different characters, four if you count the letter from the son. It was hard switching voices in my head, keeping them true to each character and not blurring the lines too much. I think "River" was definitely the most work.


message 26: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman Hi Paul - glad you like the name - here's the link explaining it http://baxterclare.com/blog/2011/04/2...

I've always dabbled at writing - I published my first "work" in an Archie comic when I was eight years old. In my early teens-late twenties I dabbled with writing romances. I hate reading them mind you, but liked to write and thought, "How hard can it be?" Very, apparently. They were AWFUL! I didn't write again for at least another decade, when I wrote Spirit of the Valley as the Master's thesis for my Biology degree. People seemed to like it, and I'd had fun writing it, so thought to write a sequel. That's when my series character hijacked my brain. All I could think of was this bad cop, almost as bad as the serial killers she locked up. I decided, what the hell, let's just give her rein and write this book about her and the next thing I knew three publishers wanted it. I had such fun with that character I wrote four more in the series. It wasn't until 2005 though, that I really started to take myself seriously. Something happened that made me ask myself what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and the answer was write. That was the specific point.


message 27: by Amy Eye (new)

Amy Eye | 98 comments Thank you for answering all of our questions! It was great fun talking with you and getting to learn a little more about you!! :)

I hope you hae an amazing fourth of July holiday, and I look forward to talking with you more soon!


message 28: by Angela (new)

Angela Smith (dandilyonfluff) | 86 comments That was great! Thank you to the hosts and to the author for taking the time :D Happy 4th!


message 29: by Baxter (new)

Baxter Trautman Thank all of you. The questions were fun and I'm looking forward to next weekend's guest. Happy 4th.


message 30: by Sheila (new)

Sheila | 97 comments Thanks for this. I didn't get here in time to ask questions, but I certainly enjoyed reading them and learning from the answers.


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