Feature on Mickey J Corrigan and her new release Professional Grievers.
Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan lives and writes and gets into trouble in South Florida, where the tropics provide a lush, steamy setting for pulp fiction. Books include the edgy novellas in The Hard Stuff series from the Wild Rose Press, and the spoofy Geekus Interruptus and F*ck Normal from Australia's Bottom Drawer Publications. Salt Publications in the UK published her urban crime novel Songs of the Maniacs. Most recently, the neo-noir satire The Blow Off was released by The Wild Rose Press in paperback. This summer, Champagne Books is re-releasing her early novellas Dream Job and Professional Grievers.
How do you keep coming up with fresh characters and stories?
Some writers begin with a character, others with a situation or setting. I usually start with an idea. What if…?
For Professional Grievers, the stimulus to write the story was perhaps my most common. I was talking about someone with my family and I said, "He's a professional griever. He should get paid to do that." Zing. What a great idea for a book!
When the book was released, one reviewer said she immediately googled the topic to see if the profession actually existed. Are there people who are paid to attend funerals? I have read about one company that provides paid mourners. But that business is not in Florida. Although, it could be. And it would probably thrive here.
Do your characters stick with you after you've finished a book?
Oddly, my characters do not hang around in my consciousness once a book is done. But they do hang around if the story has not been completed to their satisfaction. Once I finish a first draft, the characters I'm writing about continuously appear in my mind to tell me what I need to add, delete, or change. When I complete the next draft, their voices in my head usually diminish. But these voices don't go away until the story is done. I know a manuscript is complete once they stop telling me what to do with it.
After that, the characters disappear. So completely, in fact, that I often forget their names. I have to reread my own stories to recall my characters. Although I can always recall my plots.
What do you like to read? What are your reading pet peeves?
I read dark fiction with dark humor. If a book has no humor, I don't like it. If it's not dark, I usually don't like it. It has to be well written. And literary.
I also read a lot of nonfiction on subjects of interest. Memoir, narrative nonfiction, creative nonfiction. I like to read about people who do strange and interesting things. Or explore strange and interesting subjects. This often inspires my own writing.
My biggest pet peeve with reading is poor editing. If I am reading a book that has not been professionally edited, I will not finish it. When I pay for a book, I expect it to be edited. If a book has obviously been rushed into print without a proper edit, I feel ripped off by the author. With the current speed of publishing, this happens too often.
What motivates you to write your books? How do you handle writers' block?
I've been writing books for decades. It's just what I do. I'm not sure what motivates me. Maybe experience feels more real when I am writing about it. Maybe I'm unraveling the puzzles in my own subconscious mind. Maybe I'm addicted to the practice.
I do not experience writer's block. But sometimes I feel exasperated with publishing. The payoff for authors has diminished with ease of access to publishing and reduced pricing for books. I used to make a living with my books. Now I must edit and ghostwrite to bring in money. Although I love editing. And ghostwriting can be fun too.
Tell us a little about your new book…
Professional Grievers is a second chance romance about a lonely man who has lost his girlfriend. He's seriously depressed. Then he meets a weird stranger who hires him to attend funerals. The story is short, so I don't want to tell you much more except there's humor, pathos, and some real wacky situations. And romance.
The book is set in Florida, where every day you'll see lots of lonely older people sitting in coffee shops or on park benches. This story is very real to me. It's about the redemptive power of love. It's about not giving up. It's about living your life fully, no matter how old you are.
Not your typical romance!
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