December 17, 2013

Author Spotlight: Margo Bond Collins

Waking Up Dead by Margo Bond Collins
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Buy Links:

Amazon ♥  Barnes & Noble

Book Description:

When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex.

Now she's witnessed another murder, and she's not about to let this one go. She's determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison.

And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up in Alabama?

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When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always known. The first story I remember actually writing down was basically fan-fiction of The Wizard of Oz. I wrote it in long-hand in a yellow legal pad. I’ve been writing ever since. But about ten years ago, a friend suggested I join in National Novel Writing Month ( Until then, I had always written short stories. That year, I finished the first draft of what would eventually become Legally Undead—it will be my second published novel, but it’s the first one I wrote.
What comes first for you, the characters or the plot?
Characters, usually. Or an idea or a phrase or a setting. Plot is something I have to work through. The other things tend to simply show up.

Do you have a specific time of day that you work on your writing?

Any chance I get! I teach college courses online and have a three-year-old child, so my days are pretty full. Today I got to write for four hours in a row. It was heavenly! But that’s rare. Most days I try to get in an hour or two, usually in the middle of the day. And anytime I drive, I find myself coming up with ideas, so I often have to rush in to get things down on paper as soon as I get home from driving anywhere.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

The very best advice I ever got was just this: keep writing new things. Always have a work in progress. Finish writing a piece, do a quick edit, and submit it somewhere for publication. Then move on to the next project. Don’t wait to hear back—that way lies madness! If it’s rejected (and often it will be; that’s the nature of writing for publication), don’t let it get you down. Just send it out again and go back to your work in progress. And read, read, read!

What made you decide on making your main character a ghost?

I remember driving to work one morning and seeing just a wisp of fog move across the statue in the middle of the town square. The statue was of some Civil War figure, and I remember thinking that it looked oddly ghostly. In between teaching classes that day, I started writing Callie’s story. It took me less than six weeks to finish that first draft—her voice was just incredibly strong. I actually like trying to work through Callie’s difficulties interacting with the physical world—she hates it, but it’s fun for me as an author!
What character did you have the most fun writing?
Maw-Maw was a hoot to write! She just showed up and started telling everyone how it is. She’s is actually largely based on a combination of my own grandmother and great-grandmother--the only real difference is that they were white and from Texas rather than black and from Alabama. Otherwise, she talks like them and acts like them. It's my great-grandmother's voice I hear in my head when I write her dialogue, my grandmother's movements I see when I picture her walking around. Physically, I imagine her looking a bit like Ruby Dee in the television movie version of The Stand. But her attitude? That's straight from my own family!

Were there any challenges you came across while writing "Waking Up Dead"?
Figuring out the plot and making sure the mystery made sense! (That was also one of the best parts, though.) About halfway through I figured out that I was going to need to solve the mystery before the characters did! So at that point I decided where I was headed, generally—but the characters took me where I needed to go.

Why did you pick Alabama for your setting?

I was living there at the time. I think that I, like Callie, felt a little out of place. Writing Waking Up Dead was probably some form of unintentional therapy!

What three words would you use to describe each character: Callie, Ashara, and Maw-Maw?

Callie: Snarky
Ashara: Kind
Maw-Maw: Determined

Quickies (I’m clearly incapable of answering in one word!):

Coffee or tea?

Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon (my current favorites are Green Mountain Dark Energy coffee, and Cherry Blossom Green Tea from Camellia’s Tea House in London)

Milk chocolate or dark?

I love both, but if I had to pick, dark.

Favorite novel?

Unfair question! I ended up with a Ph.D. in literature in part because I love, love, LOVE books. But the one that prompted me to write my first novel was Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. I re-read it regularly.

Favorite author?

Also unfair. I could name favorites for various periods and styles. Aphra Behn. Eliza Haywood. Jane Austen. Connie Willis. Ann Aguirre. Lois McMaster Bujold. Neil Gaiman. Charles Stross. . . and the list goes on and on and on!

Hard copy books or ebooks?

I love it that I can now read on my phone. I have hundreds of ebooks at my disposal at any given moment. But I also worry that as the technology shifts and changes, the lack of a physical artifact will mean that many books will be lost forever. I have a Ph.D. in eighteenth-century British literature; I’ve spent much of my life reading old books and am worried that three hundred years from now, there won’t be all that much left of everything available to us now.

♥ ♥ ♥

Author Bio:

Margo Bond Collins is the author of Legally Undead, first in an urban fantasy series coming in 2014 from World Weaver Press ( Waking Up Dead, a paranormal mystery forthcoming from Solstice Publishing ( She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college English online. She loves paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters.


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