Interview with Joan Livingston, Author of Killing the Story

01 Sep 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, Killing the Story?

Isabel Long, an amateur private investigator, uses her skills as a former long-time journalist to solve cold cases in the hilltowns of Western Mass. For her fourth, she is investigating the death of a small town newspaper editor, which might not have been an accident after all. One of the obstacles Isabel faces is the local police chief, who makes it clear she is not welcome in his town or looking into this case. But then again, the chief and the victim have a dark history. Could there be a connection? Isabel is brave enough to find out. This book can stand on its own, but those following the series get to enjoy the characters, settings, and story lines that I carry over on these books.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I was fortunate to have teachers and professors who made me believe I am a writer. In college, I fancied myself a poet. But I had a serious writers block afterward during the time I raised six kids and my creative energy certainly went into them. Funny though, I still believed I was a writer although I couldn’t get anything down. Then, I got this very part-time gig as a correspondent for the local newspaper covering the small town (1,200 people) where I lived. I was not only writing again, but observing people and listening to the way they talked. But my fiction didn’t take off until I became a news editor. (Being a reporter is a lot of work.) Suddenly, all the pieces came together and I couldn’t go a day without writing fiction, which has become such an important and rewarding part of my life. But the path to becoming a published author was harder. As I say, there’s writing and then there is the business of writing.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

I would say any book that makes me forget I am reading it goes to the top of my list. But if I have to choose the top five: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey; The Shipping News by Annie Proulx; Animal Farm by George Orwell; Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask

Stephen King, not to talk about his genre, but about the topic of writing. He wrote one of the best books on the topic, On Writing, in which he says writing is telepathic. I heartily agree and would want to learn more about his experience.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I’d say totally losing myself in it, that when I write, I am thinking and doing nothing else.

What is a typical day like for you?

I am the editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper, which naturally consumes a great deal of my time. So, I get up very early, typically 5-5:30 a.m. to write after making coffee and something to eat. I don’t do quotas but I typically end up with 500 more words for WIP. Then, I head to the newsroom. On the weekends, I certainly can devote more of my time to my writing.

What scene from Killing the Story was your favorite to write?

It was also the trickiest to write, that ah-ha moment when Isabel solves the crime. Sorry. I can’t tell you any more about it or I will spoil it for readers.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

I seek the best possible outcome for any situation I face.

Joan Livingston is the author of the new book Killing the Story.

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