Before I begin this week’s interview, I would like to thank everyone who has offered me their feedback when asked what they would like to see changed within an Ink Drop Interview. Most of the feedback was positive but there were a couple of suggestions I heard more than once so I have decided to implement those changes. First, I have decided to shorten the interviews slightly and keep them to roughly 10 questions. It has something to do with the human attention span, yada, yada, yada… but, enough people felt that they were a little long, so we’ll try it that way. It certainly isn’t my intention to bore anyone. Another thing I just wanted to touch on was the fact that I leave it up to the authors as to which questions they would like to answer. Someone said that some weeks, it seems like I have asked all of the same questions. I’m really very easy to get along with although there might be a man out there somewhere who might like to see me in a dominating role (kidding), I never tell anyone which questions to answer. I send out about 25 and let them choose, or even add their own. So, if the questions seem repetitive at times, I have no control. I suppose I could start cracking the whip and ordering my subjects around, but that might lead to a completely different kind of blog (kidding, again). Personally, I find it quite interesting to see how different authors answer the same questions. Often times, it makes me see the process in a whole new light. But, for now, we’ll try it this way and wait for the feedback to follow.
And now, let’s move forward with this week’s interview.
Jim Ingraham is a mystery author of, most recently, Evidence of Evil and Remains to be Seen, both of which are available on Amazon. His latest work, Sahara Dust is set for release in September of this year by Five Star/Gale. His stories appear occasionally in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.
IDI – Jim, what is it that you love about writing? What keeps it flowing for you?
JI – I love the process of writing — finding the exact word, the sentence that says what I mean, dialogue that delivers a person rather than a ‘character’ and advances the story. If my three hours of writing each day produces one good paragraph I am happy. If readers or editors don’t care how exacting I am, it doesn’t matter. I care. The most interesting book in my library is the dictionary. Next is the thesaurus. I love building story people; I work hard to develop a good tale; I enjoy getting published; I like positive feedback. But it’s the writing itself that ignites me. At age 88, I still feel the thrill in the belly when each morning I join my computer for the day’s work. It’s like getting into bed with a woman.
IDI – Did you always know that there was a writer inside you just waiting to begin his creative journey?
JI – I’ve never figured out what I was born to do. I studied music my first two years in college, then switched to history. I didn’t want the life of a musician. I had a forty-five year career as a college professor. Couldn’t imagine doing anything else for a living. Always enjoyed English class as a kid in school, was pretty good at diagraming sentences. All other classwork was a chore. I don’t remember when I started writing fiction or why I kept submitting stories after they were rejected. It was when the late Cathleen Jordan at Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine returned a manuscript with a note saying she’d look at it again if I’d change the ending — that’s when I knew I had a chance to cross the big divide. I guess that’s when I became a writer. She published that story and many more. Several novels were rejected before I sold one. My persistence should have told me I wanted to be a published author, but it didn’t. I just liked finding words and writing sentences. My introspection dwelt on other matters, like how to regain my sanity after two years as a marine in the Pacific in WWII. I now think of myself as a writer because, except for sleeping and watching television with my wife, it’s about all I do.
IDI – What are you working on now? Can we get a peek?
JI – Here are the beginning paragraphs of a story I recently finished:
On a warm June afternoon in southwestern Maine, Mike Kadish and I were on the golf course in Brackett Shores enjoying a breeze that carried a fragrance of evergreens from trees on a distant cliff overlooking Casco Bay. Mike had just teed up his ball when we saw red-headed trouble coming up the fairway in a tasselled golf cart.
“Damn,” he said. “I can’t get away from them.” He had deliberately left his phone in his car so that his game wouldn’t be interrupted. This was his first day off in weeks. I watched a beautiful long leg slide out of the cart, a sandaled foot touch the grass, pale arms draped over the steering wheel and a sloppy wet mouth grinning self-consciously at me.
“You’re Duff Kerrigan?”
“Usually,” I said. “What can I do for you?”
Mike turned, gave her a lot of interest, then looked away. “Good,” he said. She hadn’t come for him.
IDI – Are your stories plot or character driven?
JI – My characters tell me what to write. Finding the zone of my talent means getting into the head of my characters to learn what they’re thinking and what they intend to do. outlining to me means developing the story like an editor. It’s like building the shell around a turtle before you know the turtle. I write from the inside out, not the outside in. I never know what the story is about or how it will end until the characters take me there. The cement that holds everything together is motive.
IDI – Online cafe’s or writer’s groups. Do you belong to any and if so, help or harm?
JI – No, I’ve never wanted to live in Paris. I don’t know any writers personally and wouldn’t spend much time with them if I did. I’ve never met a writer personally although I’ve met many men and women who write.
IDI – Everyone has his or her own style, but what author would you say your work most resembles?
JI – I don’t know, but my work has been strongly influenced by Hemingway, Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham. Maybe a little by Dashiell Hammett. Readers have said I write like D. Hammett.
IDI – What made you decide to write from a woman’s point of view, as in ‘Remains to be Seen’, ‘Evidence of Evil’ and ‘Sahara Dust’?
JI – By making the main character a woman I was able to escape a tendency to sound like Raymond Chandler and others of his time — the wisecracks, etc. It helped me develop my own style.
IDI – What advice would you give to new/unpublished authors?
IDI – As a writer, what is the one thing you would most like people to know about you?
JI – That I am alive.
I would like to thank Jim for joining me on Ink Drop Interviews and to let his fans know that he can be reached at www.jimingraham.com He will also be doing a signing at Walker Memorial Library in Westbrook, Maine, which also happens to be his hometown.
Interviews are conducted by Kathy Reinhart, author of 3 novels, most recently ‘Lily White Lies’.
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If you would be interested in participating in an Ink Drop Interview, please contact me at ladybuggerly at hotmail. I would love to have you! Next week’s interview – Karen Pokras Toz
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