Writer Interviews: Mickie Turk
















I have so many things to say about Mickie, but I’d rather she do most of the talking. But here’s just a smidgen about her: Mickie not only has the coolest name, she’s ultra talented in so many areas: writing novels, writing films and documentaries, and taking photographs. She’s just overall cool and I’m honored to be friends with her.

1.  Describe your writing routine and/or schedule.

I wish I could say something like, ‘I write for two hours every morning, or, I write until I come up with 1000 words. Or even, I write everyday. I don’t have a routine. When I’m in the throws of a story, I write in the morning, I come back to the computer to write at night. Sometimes, I write as I work (in my head). Or while taking a walk. I write in the car when I’m listening to NPR. I will pull over and talk new ideas into my phone; sometimes I do it while I’m still driving, to the detriment of myself and everyone around me on the road.  I work best when I’m under pressure. Like when I have to submit to my writer’s group. I’m pretty faithful to coming up with something every two weeks, for the times we meet.

2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?

I cry. No, I wander around the house and outside and try to imagine scenes. I don’t get stuck too often, but when I do, it helps to break things down into itsy bitsy parts. If I need to write a chapter about a discovery the protagonist makes, or new mayhem, I write a broad outline of things and events and then, one word underneath each idea. Then I tackle one sentence at a time. This madness does occur from time to time.

3.Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?

Stephen King’s On Wriing and  Eudora Welty’s On Writing.  Two smart people who came up with the same title. Interesting, right? Classes and books are helpful and necessary in the beginning, but to sustain life as a writer and sane person, I recommend a really good writer’s group. After a few times, after getting to know each other, the critiques you get, and more importantly, the critiques you write, teach the best. Every time I leave my writing group, not only do I feel like I’ve learned something I could use to improve my story, but I also learned so much about the world from invested and like-minded participants.

4. What do your read for fun.

Suspense. I like reading European writers—just to see what’s going on across the ocean. And I just love that unself-conscious way they write about flawed characters and flawed lives. A breath of fresh air. Lately, I’m really into Benjamin Black, Sophie Hannah, Minnette Walters, Reginald Hill, Henning Menkel.

5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.

When the Coca Cola truck drove through my neighborhood giving away writing tablets. The cover was yellow with Coca Cola Advertising on the front. Inside were lined white pages. Yummy, I started writing stories. I was in second grade. In sixth and seventh grade, I wrote a lot of poems and essays. One poem was about wanting to be a writer in order to escape from the world.

6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer.

Try everything.

7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?

The want. The passion. Figure out the discipline later.

8.What is your favorite food and/or drink?

I love sushi. I love trying new things. If it involves fish and home-grown veggies, and flavorful and exotic herbs and spices—I’m in.  I love tea—all kinds of flavors. And Belgian beer and white wines. I prefer to drink and eat outside on a sunny day.

9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?

Too many too count—but okay – just for now, just for this:  One Hundred Years of Solitude and Satyricon.

10. Is there anything else I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share.

Wow, the podium all to myself. So . . . I am tremendously grateful to so many whom I’ve Ioved and who loved me back, and for all of the shared experiences – too sappy? It’s all I think about these days.

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Mickie Turk has worked independently and commercially in film, photography and journalism, for the past 20 years. She wrote, directed and produced several films, both short and feature-length narratives and documentaries. Wayward Girls, which appeared in festivals and on PBS, can be found in libraries across the United States and Canada.

Between 1992 and 2004, Mickie traveled extensively to photograph and film. Included were four trips to Cuba–during the last expedition she brought back a rare Cuban shorts film festival to show at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design–a gazillion times to New Orleans and the south generally, and to visit family in Russia and Ukraine.

In the past eight years, Mickie completed three novels, several feature-length screenplays, a variety of short stories and memoirs, and continues to write for a number of Minnesota journals.

One of Mickie’s favorite activities is keeping up with her globetrotting daughter, whose travels have included Peace Corps service in Bulgaria and teaching English in South Korea.

Here’s Mickie’s blog:  http://www.mickieturkauthor.blogspot.com/

Here’s the Amazon/Kindle site (The Delilah Case) : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00833790A

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Writer Interviews: David Corbett
















I first heard about David Corbett from the fabulous blog, Murderati. I immediately picked up one of his books and was not disappointed. He is not only a talented writer, but one of those rare writers who can actually teach a bit of his magic to others. I am thrilled he agreed to be on my blog and will be first in line to buy his book, THE ART OF CHARACTER, in January.

Please comment if you have questions as David said he’ll be available to respond.

Here’s David in his own words:

1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?

On a good day, I’m at my desk by 7 AM and I write until 2-3 PM. I take a break for lunch and may get back to things from 5-7 PM, at which point I quit for the day. This schedule includes writing for blogs, articles, stories, essays and other requested items as well as fiction, and includes time spent on research.

2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?

Keep writing. Writer’s block is just fear that you’re going to write badly. Admit that your first draft will be execrable and plow ahead.

3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?

If I can plug, I’m coming out with a book this January from Penguin titled: THE ART OF CHARACTER, and I believe it’s an excellent and comprehensive text on the craft of characterization.

Oakley Hall’s THE ART & CRAFT OF NOVEL WRITING is one of the best general texts that exists. For more advanced tutelage, I’d suggest: Charles Baxter’s THE ART OF SUBTEXT, Robert McKee’s STORY, John Truby’s THE ART OF STORY, Elizabeth George’s WRITE AWAY; are all excellent. Although I’m not wedded to its approach, Christopher Vogler’s THE WRITER’S JOURNEY is revered by too many people in the business to avoid. For beginners, I’d recommend Jim Frey’s HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD NOVEL.

4. Who do you read for fun?

Most recently I’ve read or am reading: Nicholson Baker’s THE HOUSE OF HOLES, Denise Mina’s THE DEAD HOUR, Ann Patchett’s BEL CANTO and a few non-fiction books, specifically a book on the neurobiology of affection titled A GENERAL THEORY OF LOVE and two history books, FREEDOM JUST AROUND THE CORNER by Walter McDougal and Gordon Woods’s THE IDEA OF AMERICA.

5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.

I wrote poems and such like any dimwit in high school. Then I became a musician and wrote some songs, only seriously turning to fiction after studying acting in my mid-twenties. As I was trying to decide which artistic path to choose — fiction or theater — I got offered a job at a private investigation firm in San Francisco. I took it with the understanding it would form my “years at sea,” giving me the material I would draw upon in my fiction for years to come. It did just that, and more.

6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

If you want to write for yourself, keep a journal. Otherwise, remember you’re writing for others — respect them by making what you write worthy of their time.

Also: Learn to write scripts, and don’t rule out writing for the video game industry.

7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?

The ability to tell a story. I also think it’s important to have a unique and engaging voice, which is hard but not impossible to teach.

8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?

I’m an omnivore, so that’s rough, but I particularly love the buche (spicy pig belly) tacos from Tacos Jaliscos, my local roach coach.

My favorite cocktail at the moment is a tie between a perfect rye Manhattan, a Negroni, and a nameless concoction a friend invented, a kind of variation on the Jasmine, which is itself a variation on the Negroni (with Cointreau instead of sweet vermouth, plus Meyer lemon juice). I also like an Old Fashioned, but good ones are hard to make or find (they make an excellent one at the Chop House in Oakland).

9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?

Too many to name. I was very much influenced by these books: DOG SOLDIERS by Robert Stone, CLOCKERS by Richard Price, and GOD’S POCKET by Pete Dexter.


10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share?

Again, another bit of shameless self-promotion (thank you, Kristi): On May 15th, my first two novels, THE DEVIL’S REDHEAD and DONE FOR A DIME, plus a short story collection titled KILLING YOURSELF TO SURVIVE, are coming out in ebook format from Open Road Media in collaboration with Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Press.

A video profile of me, prepared by Open Road, can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEyBejWmjjQ

And the books are available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a number of other online sites.


David Corbett is the author of four novels: The Devil’s Redhead, Done for a Dime (a New York Times Notable Book), Blood of Paradise (nominated for numerous awards, including the Edgar), and Do They Know I’m Running? David’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Mission and Tenth, The Smoking Poet, San Francisco Noir and Best American Mystery Stories (2009 and 2011). He has taught both online and in classroom settings through the UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program, Book Passage, LitReactor, 826 Valencia, The Grotto in San Francisco, and at numerous writing conferences across the US.

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This Writer’s Life: 2777 Francis Avenue, Part IV Guest Post!


Editors note: I am beyond thrilled that my friend and former housemate has agreed to write a guest post — the last one — about life at 2777 Francis Avenue. I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you T. xoxo P.S. The photos are all of the housemates and close friends/family who hung out at our house. (No, I didn’t live with Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick, but Bibbe and her famous father, Al Hansen, were friends with Warhol and regulars at his Factory.)

I am the “Touch me and you die,” girl. Although in my defense, I must say, Satan and I were never more than passing acquaintances and I was never his concubine! What’s more, it wasn’t so much being woken up early that got my goat, (uh oh, is a reference to a cloven hoofed beast evidence of my association with a similar being?), as it was the loud whispering that Kristi and our Danish housemate were doing as they tried to decide whether or not to wake me up. Honestly, I had never before heard whispering that sounded like it was coming through a megaphone!

When I wasn’t threatening to kill my housemates, I was actually socializing with them at the café, going to art openings, to see bands play, etc. Our circle was tight, but not exclusive. We often ventured outside of our little community, but we could just as easily have stayed in and been equally entertained. We had among us poets, writers, musicians, philosophers, comedians, singers, chefs, critics, whistlers, and champion crossword puzzlers. There was never a shortage of conversation or debate.

Our house was a large, old Craftsman style in a part of town that had once been frequented by the rich and famous. It sat in the shadow of the Bullock’s Wilshire. Now an historical landmark, The Bullock’s Wilshire’s clientele at one time included Marlene Dietrich, Alfred Hitchcock, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, and Mae West. However, at the time we lived there, old Hollywood was long gone and the wealthy shopped further west. The neighborhood fell into neglect and disrepair.

It had become an “unsavory” part of town. Now there were bars on the windows, heavy iron screen doors, and double dead bolt locks. Neighbors kept a wary eye on each other. Along the side of our house was a walkway with overgrown bushes that offered perfect cover for the weary traveler, (read: falling down drunk), to rest his tired bones, (read: to toss back another bottle of Night Train). We were used to the sound of bottles clinking or cans being crushed as the “guests” slunk around in their own debris. However, it’s one to thing to know they’re out there when you are inside. It’s another thing to come home and find them there in the dark. As Kristi mentioned in a previous post, it can be pretty frightening.

One night on the fourth of July, everyone in the house had gone out. Kristi, our Danish friend, and I were the first to return for the evening. As we pulled up to our house, we saw a man sitting on the front porch alongside the steps. He appeared to be smoking, but he also wasn’t trying to hide. Our imaginations collectively engaged and we immediately assumed he was the lookout for whoever was inside. No doubt they were big, scary guys, cleaning us out of all our thrift store purchased treasures. Kristi, our driver, turned her little car around and headed back out to the big street that intersected ours. We figured more traffic would increase our chances of finding a cop and we were right.

We spotted one right away and flagged him down. We told him that we lived right down the street and there was a suspicious man sitting on our porch and we didn’t want to go in our house without a man who was carrying a gun and wasn’t afraid to use it. OK, I just added that last part. Still, I’m pretty sure we were sufficiently frantic to persuade him to follow us home. On the way there, we saw the guy walking down the street. SCREEECH!

Kristi slammed on her brakes and we pointed him out to the cop. If memory serves, there was another police officer who put him into his car for questioning. Meanwhile, the first cop went home with us and entered the premises first. As he went through each room, we commented on whether we thought anything had been removed. Living room – clear. Dining Room – clear. Kitchen and laundry room – clear.

The downstairs back bedroom belonged to our Danish friend and her boyfriend at the time, who happened to be the son of the red-haired lady of the house. They were, shall we say, “artsy”. By artsy, I mean, not overly concerned with the oppressive nature of housekeeping, making a bed, or folding and putting away clothes.

When the cop walked into this room he probably thought he had found the scene of the crime. There was no sign of the floor underneath the strewn clothes and I think I even saw him walking on tip-toe. The three of us looked at each other, not quite knowing what to say, but when we noticed the cop was also at a loss for words we immediately assured him, “Oh, it always looks like this.”

He noticed, too, that the bars on the window were unhitched and we had to tell him that was not unusual either. We needed a way to get in should anyone ever forget their key. We had a feeling we were losing credibility fast, so we got him out of there and thanked him profusely. He assured us that he would make sure the guy was driven to the far end of town where he would undoubtedly fall off and never be heard from again. OK. I added that last part too.








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Weekend Inspirations: Blessed are the Dead

Instead of my regular weekend inspirations, I wanted to share the pitch for my novel, BLESSED ARE THE DEAD, that ran in the newsletter my literary agency puts out. If you aren’t Facebook friends with me, you MAY not have seen it! : )








Gabriella Giovanni’s big Italian-American family can’t understand why she chooses her adrenaline-pumping career as a San Francisco Bay Area newspaper reporter over being married with little bambinos running around. Gabriella spends her days on the crime beat flitting in and out of other people’s nightmares and then walking away unscathed. That’s because for twenty years Gabriella has avoided confronting her own dark childhood memories: her sister’s kidnapping and murder followed by her father’s sudden death three days later. That changes in an instant when a little girl disappears on the way to the school bus stop, and Gabriella’s quest for justice and a front-page story leads her to a convicted kidnapper who reels her in with tales of his exploits as a longtime serial killer and promises to reveal his secrets to her alone. Meanwhile, her passion for her job quickly spirals into obsession when she begins to suspect the kidnapper also killed her sister. When the biggest newspaper in town continues to scoop her on the story, Gabriella begins to believe the fate of her career and the mystery of what happened to her sister both lie in the hands of the kidnapper. When he is sprung from jail on a technicality, Gabriella risks her life to meet with him, hoping to find answers that will help her confront her past and heal her deep psychological wounds. Award-winning former journalist Kristi Belcamino‘s debut crime novel, BLESSED ARE THE DEAD, is an atmosphere-rich sojourn that has been compared to Sue Grafton and offers chilling, authentic glimpses into the mind of a psychopath while also mining the psyche of an extremely likeable and sympathetic protagonist. The novel was inspired by Belcamino’s dealings on her crime beat with a serial killer who police and FBI agents linked to the kidnapping and murders of at least two little girls. When the man died in prison two years ago, she was called for a comment. Belcamino’s personal past colors this smart, effective novel that showcases a strong new voice in the market. (Please note, Stacey Glick is the agent on this project.)



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Food Friday: Easy Pork Chops and Apples

This meal has always been an easy family favorite (what kid doesn’t like apples with brown sugar and cinnamon?). But I discovered something new about it this past week. It is a great dish to prepare ahead of time.

Last Saturday morning we received an invite to come over and hang out at my sister-in-law’s house so the kids could play. My sister-in-law said that we could also all make dinner together. I told her I’d bring the main dish. So I basically made these Saturday morning (up to the very last step – 7) and then covered and refrigerated them. That afternoon, I stuck them in the oven at her place and voila! we had dinner! (I don’t have a picture of the finished dish. I forgot!)

Note: I usually use six or seven apples because my family likes them so much.


Easy and Yummy Pork Chops & Apples

1. Heat over to 300 degrees.

2. Brown chops in skillet

3. Place three to five peeled, cored, sliced apples in greased baking dish.

4. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

5. Dot with butter.

6. Top with chops.

7. Bake 90 minutes or until pork chops are done.

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