Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Author Jennifer Chase Discusses Her New Thriller Compulsion

Today we welcome Jennifer Chase, author of the new thriller Compulsion, to our writing blog. She shares a discussion about her book with Sarah Moore, Author’s Assistant for Writers in the Sky.

SARAH: Tell me something about yourself and your writing background.

JENNIFER CHASE: I’ve enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was old enough, I read everything I could get my hands on. I love everything about books and dreamed what it would be like to be a published author someday, surrounding myself with even more books. When I was young, I would write short stories and I imagined what it would be like to be Nancy Drew solving mystery cases. When I became an adult, I still loved to write, but found that my life was filled with work and day-to-day activities in the business management world.

I have an intense curiosity about crime and the varied connections between the actual crime and the criminal mind. I decided to go back to school and I earned a Bachelor degree in police forensics in 2003 and I just received my Masters in criminology in 2008. My academic background has helped prepare me to write in the thriller and true crime genres. Everything in my life seems to point directly back at writing, so that’s when I decided it was time to complete my first novel.

SARAH: Share the premise and general plot of Compulsion so that we will know the genre and storyline of your book.

JENNIFER: Compulsion is a suspense thriller novel about a woman named Emily Stone, who tracks down child serial killers on the West coast. She uses her police background and natural ability to get inside the criminal mind in order to gather detailed, on-the-scene evidence. In doing so, she stealthily tracks down the most deplorable pedophiles and serial killers. Then, she anonymously sends her information to the police detective in charge of the case, and another monster is swiftly taken off the streets. Her secret identity is imperative not only for her protection, but to ensure that her hunt will continue uninterrupted. But, when two brazen serial killers are terrorizing women right in Emily’s hometown, she gets too close to the action. She becomes the hunted and must rely on help from a handsome local police detective.

Compulsion probes the minds of two serial killers known only as “The Killer” and “The Accomplice,” which sets the tone for the dangerous cat and mouse game. There’s action, suspense, and CSI techniques used to track down these two killers with a few surprises along the way.

SARAH: What inspired you to write this book?

JENNIFER: My favorite genre has always been suspense, mystery, and thriller books. My inspiration for Compulsion is really three-fold. First, my love for writing and wanting to complete a thriller novel has been the main driving force. Second, my academic background actually gave me the confidence to write about serial killers and related crime scene investigations. And finally, it was my first hand experience living next door to a psychopathic individual with violent tendencies that consistently threatened my life for more than two years, along with my interaction with local law enforcement. But, this bad experience gave me first-hand research and a great jumping off point to begin planning the characters for my book. It was a horrible experience that ultimately turned out to be a great experience.

SARAH: How long did it take to write this book? Any interesting tidbits you would like to share concerning your writing method or how the book developed?

JENNIFER CHASE: I have been thinking about this book for quite some time, so when it came time to outline my story it went rather quickly. One of the finishing touches to my story was when I discovered how many children are reported missing each year (approximately 800,000). That information propelled the storyline for Emily Stone to hunt down child serial killers.

I spent two months completing an extensive outline of my story—it was approximately 100 pages. I weave every plot component that I possibly can to make sure that my story flows properly. With an extensive outline, I’m able to spot things that I normally might not see with the finished drafts. This absolutely eliminates countless rewrites, which is time consuming and frustrating. Once my outline is completed, I let it sit on the shelf for at least a month and work on something else. The actual chapter writing and the bulk of the story took approximately two months for a 300-plus page book. Editing the book then took an additional four to six weeks from an experienced editor. I usually read my entire story aloud to make sure that it flows properly and to find any minor mistakes. Ideally, I should let the manuscript sit for another month and take another critical look, but I was extremely excited to submit my final project.

First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S. Wiesner was extremely helpful to me for planning my book projects and helped to spur on the writing. I highly recommend this book for any writer that wants to incorporate a writing schedule and any other type of marketing plan for a book project.

SARAH: How did you publish your book? Tell me about your publishing experience and what you learned from it.

JENNIFER: I felt that it was possible to publish this book through mainstream publishing houses, but I simply just didn’t want to wait for the long process and there are still no guarantees. I decided to look at other alternatives and what they had to offer. There are several types of self-publishing houses out there and I studied each one. I decided on Outskirts Press. It allows you complete control over your book, from pricing to marketing. I was impressed by the caliber of books they publish and the consistent overall quality. It was a great process for me, but you have many decisions to make. Sometimes it was a bit overwhelming, but the representative assigned to you makes it a breeze. Overall, I feel that they packaged a great product. I was impressed with the cover design and overall look of the book. And once the project is over, it doesn’t stop there. Outskirts will continue to answer any questions after publishing and assist with marketing ideas.

I would suggest for anyone who wants to self-publish to study the different avenues and make a decision based on what you really want for your project. It is also extremely important to have an editor review the manuscript and a professional graphic designer to create the cover and back blurb.

For more information on Outskirts Press go to

SARAH: Did you work with an agent? If so, how did you find the agent? Was it beneficial to you?

JENNIFER: I don’t have an agent. However, I do plan on contacting an agent after my second book project is completed.

SARAH: Where is your book available? Do you have a Web site or blog where we can learn more about you or your book?

JENNIFER: Compulsion is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, and other Internet book retailers. You can have any local bookstore order a copy as well. You can also order Compulsion in an e-Book or Amazon Kindle format.

I welcome any questions or comments about my book. You can learn more information about my novel Compulsion at

SARAH: As far as marketing, do you do more online publicity or print/radio/TV promotion? Tell me some ways you have promoted your book. Give examples and links to any sites you feel might help other authors.

JENNIFER: After my book was published, it was extremely exciting but overwhelming at the same time. I wasn’t sure where to start or the best avenues to begin this long marketing journey. I’ve been marketing my book online, through book reviews, on radio, and through various local promotions. I would suggest marketing locally as much as you can to begin to build a fan base and expand. I feel that it’s important to network with other self-published authors in the same genre as well.

There are a few sites that I would suggest for new authors that have been helpful to me.

As far as marketing goes, Amazon is a great place to promote your book. There are many ways to market your book on their website. I found that the book Sell Your Book on Amazon by Brent Sampson is a great reference and I highly recommend it.

SARAH: Have you hired a publicist to help promote this book? If so, what was your experience like?

JENNIFER: I have not hired a publicist, but I’m looking into the possibility.

SARAH: Do you have any future writing projects in the works? Please tell us a bit about what we can expect next!

JENNIFER: I’m in the process of working on the extensive outline for my second thriller novel with Emily Stone as she tracks down an ingenious high-tech serial killer who uses the front of a prominent video game company to elicit unsuspecting victims. It will have even more excitement with some new and old characters. I hope to finish this project by the end of the year. Also, I’m beginning to research a group of unsolved serial homicides in California during the early 1980s for a potential true crime book.

SARAH: Any other comments you would like to share about your new novel, Compulsion?

JENNIFER: I really tried to write a thriller with a fresh new perspective on serial killers and I hope that all thriller lovers out there will enjoy Compulsion.

SARAH: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to get to know you and learn about your book. I wish you well in your journey as an author.

JENNIFER: Thank you.
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