Minnette has always had an active imagination. She had a difficult time as a child: her parents were alcoholics; she was unpopular at school because she cried all the time; and the other children were extremely cruel.
“I used my imagination to convince myself that I could rise above the vagaries of life; in my hand was magic, in my head was brilliance, and in my heart was the kind of love that could conquer any evil,” she remembered. “My fantasies bought me time to grow up and learn to fight for my rights. It worked… it still works.”
Her first words were sung, not spoken, because music shaped her life from the womb. All she wanted to be when she was growing up was a singer and an actress.
“Thanks to good friends, wonderful teachers, and a plethora of gracious gods, I started singing in clubs when I was 13 and began acting professionally much later in life on the stage,” she told me. “I retired from that about 20 years ago, but music and the love of art are in everything I write. The STARSIGHT books especially encapsulate my solid belief that the human voice is magical and can change the course of history. “
Minnette was born and raised in Portland and it’s as much a part of her as her family is.
“The state and the city are all about conservation, keeping things green, and have been recycling since before it was popular. The people are amazing, sometimes colorful but always entertaining. Mt. Hood looms beautifully over my city and I wouldn’t live anywhere else, I don’t think.”
From her first year of high school, she was a self-admitted theater nerd.
“I loved the stage and had wonderful teachers and directors. Of course, everyone thought we were freaks… we did nothing to disavow them of that notion,” she said, laughing. “However, they always came to us when they needed talent… High School was very interesting.”
Minnette has published seven full-length novels: two fantasies, three historical romances, one paranormal romantic comedy, and one urban dark fantasy romance, as well as a children’s book.
“Yes, I have a schizophrenic muse,” she assured me. “I have three more books coming out this year and next–the second and third books in the Ghost series (paranormal romantic comedy), and the fourth Centurion series book (historical romance) about an Egyptian Pirate. I have several works in the works at the moment. Check out my website for future books… My favorite is always the one I’m working on.”
That would be Phantom Hearts, the second book in the Ghost series. Minnette’s doing research on demons, the tarot, the nine circles of hell (Dante), Portland Police, paranormal phenomenon, and HOAs. She’s having a blast and sharing some of her research on her blog. Check it out—it’s good stuff!
“How do you develop your plot and characters?” I asked.
“There is a story ARC in everything you write; whether it’s a thriller, mystery, or even a children’s book. I use a mix of the Heroes’ Journey and Aristotle’s tragic fall from grace for most of my books. For a complete outline of the steps I take in plotting check out this article. I develop characters using a character survey that goes through every aspect of their lives. I use this form and LOVE it. I don’t know what I did before this!”
Minnette thinks the plot comes first for her, but she told me she does the character survey to learn about her characters and see which way they would go, developing their GMC (goals/motivations/conflicts) which drives the plot in many ways.
“It’s kind of a back and forth for me,” she said. “Sort of the chicken or the egg, I guess.”
Since Minnette works full-time as well as write, she usually writes in big blocks of time—12-16 hours at a stretch over a 2-3 day period. She’s found it the best way for her to get anything done. Then, she does her research on the weekends.
I asked her about her writing space.
“Here is a picture of my wonderful little space. Having raised a bunch of kids, I never could find enough space for myself and had to settle for a corner of my bedroom or the kitchen table… funny thing is, now that I have a writing space to call my own, I STILL write on the kitchen table and in my bedroom! Just goes to show you that habits are hard to break.”
She loves hearing from her readers and told me, “They are absolute angels. I love to chat with them on Facebook and Twitter and they have helped me so much, especially over the last year. I run ideas by them, ask for their help in finding pictures, making choices on names and traits. I’ve even have a few of them help me get organized during contests! They are brilliant and keep me sane and writing.”
She has many favorite authors, but the most influential ones on her own writing were Ray Bradbury and Rex Stout.
“Bradbury’s writing is more human than anything I’ve read. Even when he writes about aliens. There is a warmth and lovingness in everything he writes. I don’t think I’ve EVER read a bad Bradbury book. Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes are among my top five books of all times,” she explained. “Rex Stout is another matter; his characterizations of Nero Wolf and Archie Goodwin have deeply influenced my approach to writing characterizations. There is humor in every nuance and a brilliance of simplicity in everything he writes.”
“Your books are so varied,” I said. “How do you do research for them?”
“I use every angle I can on research. The internet, Wikipedia, books, magazines, articles, scholars, and even friends and family. I also strive to live as much as I can of the book by experiencing it first-hand. In the Centurion series I spent a great deal of time in the woods living without electricity the way it was at the turn of the first century AD. In Ghost of a Chance, I went for a ride-along with the local police and interviewed a wonderful, tolerant officer for hours. For The Belle Stalker, I spent several hours with the Chief of Homicide at the central precinct on how they did a murder investigation. For the Centurion books, I contacted the Frasier Museum who got me in touch with a master in arms fighting who was a field scholar in Roman fighting styles. When I requested a review of my battle scene, he did me one better; he took his 12 black belt experts and choreographed the fighting scenes for me. They were amazing and I think my stars for this wonderful man’s help. For my current book, I’m working with an expert on Tarot to get the readings right and studying Dante’s Inferno (the classical piece). It’s been an amazing journey. For Starsight, I was very fortunate to get a copy of Patricia Wrede’s Fantasy World Building Survey. It has been my bible for creating all my worlds.”
About the Author:
Somewhere between thirty and dust…red hair, blue eyes…six kids, one slightly used husband, and any number of pets from time to time… wanttabe hippy… wanttheirmoney yuppie… pro musician and actress for 20 years…native Oregonian… lover of music, beauty and all things green. Willing slave to the venerable muse. Minnette currently resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband and one cat. The cat Formerly Known As Spook, pretty much runs the show.
Find the author online:
STARSIGHT I Excerpt_Chapter One
Trenara never thought she would have to guide a student she loved to become a messiah, but it is the only way this second trial Starguider can salvage her world.
“[Starsight] is one powerful and imaginative fantasy adventure novel with many nice touches…there is magic galore, and challenge galore; nothing comes easy. It’s the first of a series, and it should do well…” Piers Anthony
STARSIGHT II Excerpt_Chapter One
Trenara no longer trusts the power that has turned the boy she once loved into a man she no longer understands. He frightens her. Will Joshan use the power to rescue his world or will a new tyrant sit upon Sirdar’s throne? Second volume in the Starsight Series.
“This is a Typhoid Mary of a book, from a writer to watch.” Spider Robinson