Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Author Clare O’Donohue: Easiest And Hardest Book To Write

Please join me in welcoming author Clare O’Donohueclare-o-donohue as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress as she makes a stop on her virtual book tour.

Clare’s latest release is MISSING PERSONS. Here’s a brief synopsis: In the edgy and entertaining Missing Persons, Chicago crime TV producer Kate Conway finds herself pegged as the main suspect when her unfaithful ex-husband Frank is found dead.  Things can’t get worse, except Frank’s grieving mistress has a vested interest in becoming Kate’s new best friend.  Welcoming distraction, Kate delves into work on the new program Missing Persons, and the cold case of a missing young woman, Theresa Moretti.  Theresa is not as innocent as she seems—Kate suspects foul play and believes she can reveal the killer.  And as she gets closer, strange occurrences indicate someone might be trying to make Kate herself disappear.  

Thanks to Clare, Mary, and the good folks at Plume Books, I have 3 copies of MISSING PERSONS to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway guidelines.

Clare’s here today to talk about the ‘easiest and hardest’ book to write.

MISSING PERSONS, my fourth novel, was the easiest and hardest book I’ve written. Easiest because everything about it was fully formed in my head – my main character, her camera crew, her job as a TV producer of true crime, the mystery, her relationships with her in-laws, her (about to be ex/ late) husband, and her husband’s girlfriend, Vera. I knew them all as if they were old friends even before I wrote the first word.

But it was the hardest book I’ve written because 21my main character, Kate Conway, couldn’t wait to come out. My brain would hurt as various ideas pushed into my head and demanded to be heard. After hours of trying to sleep, I’d get up at three in the morning, turn on my computer and write a scene that wouldn’t let me rest until it was on paper. It spilled out of me. The first draft took less than ten weeks, and about ninety percent of that first draft is in the finished product. This was a book that knew what it wanted to be, and I was merely typing.

It was also hard because it was a chance. Not just that I wrote it without a contract from my publisher, but because it was so much different than the series I started only a couple of years ago. My previous books, part of the Someday Quilts series, are more gentle, kinder. They center around a woman working in her grandmother’s quilt shop, falling in love, and solving what I call “step over the body” murders. I call them that because the victims, poor things, don’t really impact the lives of the main characters. They serve their purpose, namely put the story in motion, but life goes one without them pretty easily. It’s the kind of fun mystery that Miss Marple solved, or Jessica Fletcher. 

But Kate doesn’t have that kind of mystery. She’s left by her husband, Frank, for another woman (a nicer woman) and then he dies. Frank’s death makes Kate realize that underneath the anger, betrayal and years of unhappiness, there was still some love left. Only now it’s too late. And when she tries distracting herself with work, she gets in deeper. She produces a TV show about a missing 22-year-old woman from Chicago. A woman loved and missed and remembered by family and friends. 

Whatever happens, no one’s life will go on easily. And for me, writing about grief, even grief covered by humor, wasn’t always fun. There were nights that I sat and cried as I wrote, nights when I was annoyed at Kate and the other characters, nights when I wished I hadn’t killed Frank off, because some part of me loved him too.  

When I finished the book and sent it off to my agent (and then my editor) I worried how Kate’s combination of sarcasm and vulnerability would be received. I wondered if her ambivalence about her late husband would make sense to people. Luckily, I worried for nothing. Kate’s contradictions are finding fans, and her unique approach to life and television seem to be resonating with readers of my Someday series, and people new to my work.

But now that she’s out in the world, I wonder where Kate came from. She and I aren’t very much alike, aside from the day job and perhaps an ill-timed sarcastic remark here and there. I wonder why she was so insistent about telling her story, and where she will take me next. And most importantly, I wonder if next time, she’ll let me sleep through the night. 

Clare, thanks so much for guest blogging. As a reader, I love hearing how a story came together and the pros and cons of what the author thinks of the book. Sounds as though Kate has an independent streak. Can’t wait to see what she’s up to next. Wishing you much success with your writing.

Now a bit of background on Clare. She has been freelance television producer for thirteen years on shows for The History Channel, truTV, A&E, Food Network and others. She has written four novels, including the just released MISSING PERSON, A KATE CONWAY MYSTERY. Her other work includes the SOMEDAY QUILTS MYSTERY series. She lives in Chicago.

For more information on Clare and her writing, visit her website at  www.clareodonohue.com and she is also on Facebook (her author page is clare odonohue) and on Twitter (clare_odonohue). In addition, she writes a blog which I update several times a week at  www.clareodonohue.com/blog. MISSING PERSON can be found at Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, at Penguin, and at Indiebound

Here are the giveaway guidelines. To enter this giveaway, send me an e-mail (mcbookshelf@gmail.com) with the subject line, “Win MISSING PERSON.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. In addition, winners are advises that they will be subject to the one copy per household rule, which means that if they win the same title in two or more contests, they will receive only one copy of the title in the mail. (Winners here have always be great about letting me know if they have already won the book somewhere else so another winner can be selected. However, this announcement is something that has to be passed along). And, just so you know, I don’t share the mailing information or use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance at one of 3 copies of MISSING PERSON will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, July 6.

Share your thoughts on this post. As a reader do you enjoy books that have a strong-willed protagonist like Kate? As a writer, have you had characters that would not leave you alone until you put them down on paper?

As always, thanks for stopping by Thoughts in Progress. I hope to have some time this week to drop by and visit with all of y’all, my wonderful blogging friends. We’re doing well with my mother-in-law’s bones healing, but Alzheimer’s has raised its ugly head and is giving us a bit of a problem.. We’re checking on new medication, so hopefully we’ll be back on an even plane before long. Miss everyone, have a great day.



  1. Having just finished "Missing Person", I highly recommend it.

  2. Hi Mason .. glad to know that life with the elderly is sort of improving, or being clarified - not an easy time at all. My thoughts are with you and the family.

    Missing Person - sounds like a really good read .. and I do love these type of books .. just give me time! Clare certainly seems to be on a winner .. and Kate seems to becoming part of her life ..

    Thanks - Hilary

  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Clare.

    Clare - This sounds like a really fascinating story! And I know all about characters who insist on having their stories told. Mine do that to me, too! I wish you much success with Missing Persons; it sounds like a winner.


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