A Chat with Colby Marshall, Writer Extraordinaire

Hello, faithful stalkers!
Today I'm going to do something a little different (though this blog seems to be pretty eclectic as it is, so this post should really fit right in). For those of you who don't know, I'm a very avid reader. I'll read any piece of fiction you put in front of me. Living pretty far out in Queens means that I have about a 40 minute subway ride to and from work. Combine that with the fact that I'm a very fast reader and work at a job where I can sit and read at random times during the day, I usually end up reading an average of 5-7 books a week.

The only way I could be at Colby's first book signing!
My love for reading factored heavily into the bond I now have with my best friend Colby Marshall. I'd barely known her a few weeks before she started sending me pages from whatever book she was writing at the time. It's been so fun to be on the other side of the book, if you will, where I got to help Colby research weird questions and point out continuity problems. I also feel like it's been a huge privilege to be able to watch her journey from writing book after book until finally one got published - Chain of Command, where McKenzie McClendon chases after the story of a lifetime when the president and vice president are assassinated simultaneously. And now she's already in edits for a McKenzie sequel, The Trade, where a surgeon is providing infants to a black market baby trade and leaving helpless women to die.

As part of her blog tour, Colby asked me if I wanted to interview her and the answer was a resounding yes! Enjoy!

1. Do you work better during the day or at night?

Definitely at night.  I'm a night owl by nature, and it also just happens to work out for me right now because with a new baby, it's tough to settle down to work when she's awake and needing lots of attention.  So, since I'm a nocturnal beast anyway, I'm able to put her to bed for the night and get some work done before turning in myself.

2. Who is your favorite character in Chain of Command and which character do you feel you relate to the best?

It's so hard to narrow it down to one favorite.  I actually have three, I think, but if I have to pick, I'd say my favorite character is Uhlig.  I love him because he's quite badass, and I love how much he spices things up in ways you don't realize until the very end.  The close seconds are Pierce and Jig.  (Is it strange that my favorite character is the one who blows up things and the runners up are hackers?  Does that say anything bad about me?)  I relate most to McKenzie.  She's incredibly ambitious, and she wants to be known for her writing, something I can honestly say I have lived and am still living as we speak.

3. What's the most demeaning thing you've heard said about you as a writer or writers in general?

Wow!  That is a such a tough question.  The most demeaning thing I've heard about myself as a writer is one bad review I got on Amazon.com.  The particular reader did not  like the habit one of my characters has of making references to Jesus in "colorful" ways  (example: Jesus riding a skateboard).  She felt they were juvenile.  Everyone has their own opinions and personal preferences, and every person also tends to have his or her own list of tender spots they find offensive.  So, I appreciate her taking the time to review my novel and leave her comments even though I respectfully disagree with her take on Noah's "swearing."  I actually used this tactic in particular as a character quirk for Noah to avoid the need to have him swear as much.  He's a Navy SEAL, so it's only normal that he would use some colorful language, but I hoped this would be a nice way to get around a ton of f-bombs.  

As for what I've heard that demeans writers in general, I think the thing I think most writers find tough is when someone finds out you've written a book and immediately begins telling you about the book they would write if they had time.  Usually this statement is followed by the person telling you all about why they didn't have time, such as having a "real job," etc.  No writer on earth who has actually written a book has time to write it.  We make time, because it is our passion.  It's a little tough to stomach to have someone diminish what is your life's blood by saying, "Oh, yeah, I could do that, too, if I was as much of a bum as you are!" Ha!

4. Are all the names of your characters important?

No, not always.  Usually I feel like I need to come up with just the right names for main characters, so I won't name a large character something that doesn't feel right.  As you know, Elaine Covington in CHAIN OF COMMAND is named after you, but that said, if the name Elaine hadn't fit her perfectly, I wouldn't have used it for this particular character.  I know you know this, but for readers who don't, I do actually tend to have a character named for Ashlee in some way in every book I write, but Elaine's character is the first time it has worked out to be such a huge character.  Typically, if I name a character "for" someone, it is a small character that only appears for a scene or two (this is why so often if I name a character "for" someone, it ends up being a murder victim!).  Another huge character, Uhlig, is named after someone I know, but similarly, it happened to be a name of the sort I was looking for for this particular character, so I picked it for fit.

5. Do you ever wish you had an average 9-5 job instead?

I have moments where I do wish I had a nine to five job, mainly because it is very difficult for me to "leave" work.  If I'm at home with my laptop, I feel like I should be working.  In ways, it would be nice to be able to leave work and clock out for the day and come home and know my hours were over.  As it is, I end up being somewhat of a workaholic because I don't have that separation.  Even so, though, I do love the freedom of having an out of the box career, and for me, the benefits of doing things I love outweigh the problems.

6. We already know that McKenzie lives in NYC, though Chain of Command sees her chasing her story all over the country. I understand that in your sequel, The Trade, the bulk of the story is actually set in NYC. What led you to choosing the Big Apple, as opposed to the other big cities around the country?

CHAIN OF COMMAND was tough moving from city to city for settings, because I was dealing with so many time zones, I needed to time stamp every new scene to make sure the reader knew when things were happening all over the world. So I knew this time if the story would lend itself to it, I wanted to make it occur in one geographical area. I love New York so much so that I hope one day I will be in a position to move there. When Ashlee and JP moved to New York as well as when I started taking trips to the city to go to writer's conferences and conventions, I got to know the city better and better.   When I was in New York one of those times, ideas began to flow for me about particular spots in the city that would work perfectly for the scenarios I had in mind for The Trade. Having gotten to know the city well, I felt like that knowledge would only add to descriptions I could give of the scenarios and ultimately add a lot of authenticity and help set the tone for the story.

And now some fun random questions that have nothing to do with anything:

Crayons, markers, or colored pencils?
Markers almost always.

Favorite Harry Potter character?
Dumbledore.  No!  Snape.  No!  Dumbledore.  Or Snape.

Favorite alcoholic beverage?
White wine.

Vanilla or chocolate?
Chocolate. (unless we're talking frozen yogurt, in which case I like them to both be present and swirled)

Do you enjoy breakfast or dinner more?
Dinner here lately, though this seems to go in phases for me.

If you were deserted on an island, which 3 famous people would you want with you?
This answer probably changes on any given day I'd answer it, but today, I think it would be Whoopi Goldberg, R.L. Stine, and Ellen Degeneres, because they're some of the funniest people to me, so if nothing else, I'd be entertained! 

Oh one last thing: be sure to visit Colby's website and join her S.W.A.T. team for awesome giveaways, merchandise, exclusive materal, fun facts and trivia, even deleted scenes! You can join in the fun here.

Writer by day, ballroom dancer and choreographer by night, Colby has a tendency to turn every hobby she has into a job, thus ensuring that she is a perpetual workaholic.  In addition to her 9,502 regular jobs, she is also a contributing columnist for M Food and Culture magazine and is a proud member of International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.  She is actively involved in local theatres as a choreographer and occasionally indulges her prima donna side by taking the stage as an actress.  She lives in Georgia with her family, two mutts, and an array of cats that, if she were a bit older, would qualify her immediately for crazy cat lady status.  Her debut thriller, Chain of Command is now available, and the second book in her McKenzie McClendon series, The Trade, is due for publication by Stairway Press in June 2013.

1 comment:

  1. I had such a good time doing this interview! I'm also glad the world now knows I'm a fan or markers.