Mike, thanks for joining us today! And congrats on your new release, A Score to Settle. Tell us a little more about you. Are you an outliner or a pantser?
Lord help me, but I’m a pantser. I’m thinking of writing a non-fiction work titled, The Perils of Pantsing. Not really, but while it’s easier for me to start a story by pantsing, I’ve found it often gets tougher the deeper into the story I go. I always have a fifty thousand foot level idea of where things end up overall, but a lot of times I find myself wondering what happens in the meantime. I can’t stay at the fifty thousand foot level long because we write at ground level. ‘What happens now’ is often my unwelcome visitor. That’s when I wish I was a plotter. But, starting with only the most general outline also allows my characters to round themselves out and my plot to do lots of unexpected things. Twists and turns are part and parcel of being a pantser, although I know plotters often encounter surprising happenings along the way, too. And I don’t even want to talk about how hard it is to polish a pantser story. Having said that, though, that’s what seems to work best for me.
Which element of novel-writing do you consider most challenging? (Plot, setting, characters,
Description. My novels are set in the Old West, with many scenes set outside amid spectacular scenery, so description is very important, and that’s where I have to pay the most attention. I do lots of research in order to ‘see’ my scene’s surroundings clearly before I can properly share those settings with my readers.
What comes first, character or plot?
For me, it’s plot. My characters reveal themselves as I create the story. As long as my plot holds together, the characters seem to fill themselves in.
What is your favorite part, and least favorite part, of the publishing journey?
I’m not very good at marketing and social media, which is a common problem for writers. I’m getting better at it, though. Writing is hard work for me, and lots of authors, and it’s gratifying to hear from readers that they appreciate the stories. I just have to do a better job of reaching more folks, but I am casting a wider net!
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
One of the biggest is thinking a manuscript is ‘ready’ before it really is. I worked on my first novel (still unpublished) for a year and a half before approaching agents/editors. For all my efforts, I am the proud recipient of nearly one hundred rejections or ignores. It took me a while to see through my pride and really dig into the writing’s weaknesses. Having said that, one of the rejections for this book actually led to my first contract, which I wouldn’t have guessed. (Long story).
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Other than sociopaths, everyone feels emotions strongly. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to discover them in people, but if you make the effort, you will uncover them. That’s also the case with a novel’s characters⎯sometimes hiding a character’s strongest emotions makes them⎯and the gradual revelation of those emotions⎯more interesting.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I do tend to hold some aspects of a character or a plot close to the vest, then gradually reveal those as the story unfolds. But I’m always careful to drop a crumb here and there to give the reader a clue or a foreshadowing about things to come. What bugs me are writers (mostly mystery) who don’t give their readers enough to go on so they can solve the ‘who dun it’ themselves. (Hear that, Agatha?)
Broken after his family is murdered, rancher Del Lawson signs on to a cattle drive along the Goodnight Loving trail in 1870, unaware he’s still in danger. When he falls for a pretty Army nurse, the killers target her.
If he’s to recover from his grief and build a new life, Del must set out on a gritty hunt for the men who are hunting him.
Meanwhile, Del’s mother, Maybelle, doesn’t know her son survived that murderous night. When she discovers the gold the killers are after, she uses the treasure in an elaborate masquerade to take the murderers down.
Will mother and son’s plans reap justice-or destroy what’s left of the Lawson clan?
“Tell me your story, Del. We got time.”
Del tried to piece the last few days together. He told Sonny about leaving Rose and—
She interrupted. “That your woman?”
“If she’ll have me. If I ever see her again.” He told her about the search to find Tyson. Riding through Santa Rosa, the trickery about Lost Creek, Potter’s ambush south of town amid the sandstorm. Riding for Wilkins’ ranch and Shade being played out. The desperate walk to find Sinola in the dark.
“You’ve had quite the adventure, Del Lawson.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Torreano has a military background and is a student of history and the American West. He fell in love with Zane Grey’s descriptions of the Painted Desert in the fifth grade, when his teacher made her students read a book and write a report every week.
Mike recently had a short story set during the Yukon gold rush days published in an anthology, and he’s written for magazines and small newspapers. An experienced editor, he’s taught University English and Journalism. He’s a member of Colorado Springs Fiction Writers, Pikes Peak Writers, The Historical Novel Society, and Western Writers of America. He brings his readers back in time with him as he recreates western life in the late 19th century.