9 Questions for 57-Time Author Christina Dodd

New York Times best-seller Christina Dodd is the author of 57 books—of historical romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and suspense—but it took two children, three completed manuscripts, and 10 years before she got published. Her third attempt, the manuscript that became Candle in the Window, won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award for unpublished manuscripts, came out in 1991, won the RITA, and launched Dodd’s multi-decade career into the firmament. Now one of the most popular authors writing today, Dodd considers one of the highlights of her multi-faceted literary career to be the time she was a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. (Her mother was delighted.) We spoke with her about her latest novel, this spring’s Dead Girl Running.

JOHN CHARLES: Who is Christina Dodd?

The better to hold you with, my dear.

CHRISTINA DODD: Depends on your point of view. For much of the world, I’m the author of the three-armed heroine book.

I’ve been married since the earth’s crust cooled, we have two adult daughters, Dead Girl Running is my fifty-seventh book, and my husband likes big projects (he built me a stone circle and a treehouse; my newsletter readers have been incredibly entertained). Because my father died suddenly, leaving my mother with two daughters and pregnant with me, my husband and I support local shelters that provide housing, education and advocacy for homeless women and children. My husband’s father is 94, a huge reader, and the little town where he lives gives his library no money for books. The librarians there are great fundraisers, and my husband and I donate books and money in my father-in-law’s name.

I first published in historical, then concurrently wrote romantic suspense, then added paranormal romance, and now I’m writing straight suspense. I say I’m a restless writer, and that’s true. We all know writers who get stuck writing one successful series and as readers we can see them growing weary. I write in one genre for awhile, look around and think, “That looks like fun, too,” and hop over without any sensible consideration at all. Every time I make a change, it’s a tough learning curve, my readers are confused, my publishers moan. On the other hand, I’m still in love with the writing. For me, this job is as challenging, terrifying, rewarding, and glorious as it was when I wrote my first book—which, by the way, never got published.

There’s an Erma Bombeck quote that inspires me, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.'”

 

Tell us about Dead Girl Running.

I have three confessions to make: I’ve got the scar of gunshot on my forehead, I don’t remember an entire year of my life, and my name is Kellen Adams. . . and that’s half a lie.

Those are the opening lines, and I think they say it all.

 

You have a real flair for putting your characters into dangerous situations. What is the most dangerous thing you ever did in your own life (that you are willing to admit to in print)?

Before I was a writer, I was a drafter who designed roads, mines and sawmills, and I made a good wage. When our first daughter was born, I told my husband I was going to quit work and write a book. It was a good time to start a new career, because how much trouble could one little infant be?

I was also the first human to test the zipline my husband put up. (He did send down a bucket of sand first.)  You can watch a video.

 

In Dead Girl Running, your heroine confesses to three things. What is something no one would ever believe about Christina Dodd that is actually true?

I’m tactless.

What? Everybody knows that?

 

What is one romance novel you return to time and again?

Jane Eyre. They fell in love, passionately in love as only two kindred souls can do. Everything was against them—society, fortune, morals, that pesky living wife—but they made it work in the long run.

 

What is the best piece of advice about writing you ever received?

I love quotes, and there are some wonderful ones about writing.

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”—W. Somerset Maugham (Who am I to argue?)

“All of us learn to write in second grade. Most of us go on to greater things.”—Bobby Knight (He has a point, and it’s something to keep in mind when the author ego starts roaring.)

“Writers should be read and not seen. Rarely are they a winsome sight.”—Edna Ferber (I always think of this when I have an autographing.)

“When the perfect sentences aren’t so perfect and the bestseller lists are elusive, remember why you became a writer. It isn’t for the fame and fortune. It’s not for the success. It’s sure not for the respect. You got into writing because you have stories to tell, and you and you alone can tell those stories and move total strangers to laughter or to tears.”—Christina Dodd (I know. Pretty ballsy quoting myself, but I’ve been writing for many years and many books. Sometimes I fall into a writing funk, and that truth is what keeps me going.)

 

Who is one character in literature that you wish you could be for a day?

Nobody from a Dickens novel, I’ll tell you for sure. I have believed I was Jo March my entire life, except when I was snotty little Amy March. (I’m the youngest of three sisters.)

 

What is next for you?

I wrote the Virtue Falls series and set it on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. The current series, Cape Charade, is located just down the coast. Both series have their roots in my Bella Terra series. I’m doing what I do best, which is develop an expanding world with memorable characters: misfits, snappy old ladies, murderers, psychopaths, women who face the most terrible challenges and rise to conquer every obstacle and their own fears, and one eccentric waitress.

Oh, and Cape Charade #2 comes out in February 2019 and is called What Doesn’t Kill Me. The first line is, “What doesn’t kill me had better start running.” My readers always know the adventure they’re getting right from the start.

 

How can readers best connect with you? Christina Dodd

I have a fabulous website with an unadorned Printable Book List sorted by genre, series and in order, and a Clickable Book Page sorted by genre and series. Readers love, love, love those two pages above all else. I can’t begin to tell you how often I’ve been thanked for making it easy for readers to follow a series from beginning to end.

My newsletters are personal and wildly entertaining. Newsletter readers who come to my autographings invariably ask about my stone circle, my treehouse, and the time I rode the zipline in my bathrobe and slippers (and have a photo to prove it.) They talk about the mistakes I admit to; for instance, while writing and editing my forty-seventh book, Betrayal, I found this misplaced modifier, “Noah couldn’t take his gaze from Hendrik’s blood-shot eyes as they rolled on the floor, punching & kicking.”

If you don’t have time for a long, chatty, friendly letter, follow me on Amazon or BookBub. They’ll send you a notice that says, “Hey! Christina Dodd has a book out!”

Finally, I’m going on book tour to some fabulous bookstores, and I’d love to meet you there.

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About the Author:

The Romance Writers of America 2002 Librarian of the Year, Charles has been reviewing romances for Booklist since 1999 and is the author of Romance Today: An A to Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance. After working for the Scottsdale Public Library System for 30 years, Charles retired and went to work for Scottsdale's independent bookstore the Poisoned Pen, where he still gets to push books but has to deal with far fewer computer questions.

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