Author of numerous books, Rebecca Forster spends part of her time speaking to philanthropic and writers’ groups about the brave new world of publishing for Kindle, Nook and other e-readers, teaching at UCLA Writers Program or having a ball at middle schools teaching with The Young Writers Conference.
Hi Rebecca, Please tell everyone a little about yourself.
Rebecca: I started writing on a crazy dare after meeting my client’s wife, Danielle Steele. That dare lead to my first book being published. Since then, I have published twenty-six novels and quit my corporate job as an advertising executive. I received my BA from Loyola Chicago and my MBA from Loyola Los Angeles. My husband of thirty-six years (think a “When Harry Met Sally” relationship) is a superior court judge. My two sons are in creative careers. The oldest is a producer/talent manager in Hollywood and the youngest is a playwright currently serving with the Peace Corps in Albania. I love to travel, sew, quilt and play tennis.
When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
Rebecca: The writing bug didn’t as much hit as it did present itself. I’m a sucker for trying new things. So, when a colleague dared me to write a book, I gave it a whirl. Who knew writing would become a passion? I started in women’s fiction but after about ten books my editor ‘fired’ me from romance. He said I kept killing people before they fell in love and perhaps romance wasn’t my genre. He was right. I read, write, live and breathe thrillers.
When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
Rebecca: When I began writing my goal was simply to save face after declaring I could write a book. I figured a nice rejection letter would prove that I had at least tried. Then my first book sold, and I was hooked. After that, I just wanted to keep writing books people would read. My intent has always been to continue to improve. It is interesting for me to go back and see where I started and where I am now. I take craft very seriously. I’m not so sure I have as much a message as I have a point of view about people and plots. The main objective is to always try to create an entertaining book. If it is also thought provoking, that’s fabulous.
Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?
Rebecca: In December I released Expert Witness. This is book four in the witness series featuring Josie Bates, Hannah and Archer. A few months before that I released Before Her Eyes, a stand alone novel.
What’s the hook for the book?
Rebecca: It’s two in the morning when sixteen-year-old Hannah Sheraton, Josie Bates’ ward, slips into Archer’s Hermosa Beach apartment to see if Josie sleeps in his bed. But Josie isn’t there. In fact, Josie isn’t anywhere.
How do you develop characters? Setting?
Rebecca: For me characters and setting must be developed simultaneously. In the Josie Bates thrillers, the witness series, I was originally going to set the stories in Venice Beach but that setting didn’t bring out the qualities of someone as physical and strong and beach-loving as Josie Bates. I walked from Venice until I reached Hermosa Beach – that’s where the AVP tournaments are held (Josie was a college volleyball player). That’s where Josie found a home. The setting made her ‘blossom’. In Before Her Eyes, a beautiful model used to being pampered and the toast of New York finds herself wounded and alone, lost in a wild forest on the Oregon border. That setting created a depth character that never would have been revealed in a New York setting. In one instance the setting nurtured the character and in the other it provoked her.
Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?
Rebecca: That’s a tough question. I think the most unusual character I ever created is Hannah, Josie’s sixteen-year-old ward. She is multi-racial, beyond beautiful, extraordinarily resilient and yet exceptionally flawed. For me, Hannah represents courage in its truest form. Likeable? I like the old man, Jerry, in Character Witness (not a part of the witness series). He was based on an old man who had once been a very prominent attorney in Beverly Hills. In his 90s his practice he wasn’t on anyone’s radar but he was still plugging. What great style he had. Oh, and I loved Amanda Cross, the heroine of Beyond Malice. She is a loser who keeps getting up until she finally is a winner. I love that about her. And, of course, Josie. I guess you can tell I have trouble choosing one character. Almost every character I write is based on a real person, I suppose that’s why I can’t decide which is the most likable or interesting.
Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
Rebecca: I always know the beginning and the end of a book before I write. If I don’t know the opening and closing scenes, the book doesn’t get written. It’s very strange but it’s more visual than a writing technique. I can actually see those scenes and hear the critical voices.
Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?
Rebecca: I actually prefer to write in first person. Before Her Eyes is the book of my heart, actually. It is split between first and third person – two parallel stories – two points of view. But each book has a voice, and I try to follow where it leads.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Rebecca: It’s not so much my upbringing as it has been my marriage that has influence what I write. My husband’s early career was as a federal prosecutor specializing in organized crime in terrorism. Throughout the years he has moved on to become a municipal court judge and a superior court judge. He was also presiding judge of the Los Angeles court system – the largest in the world. His work has opened my eyes to the world of the law and politics, to how small people can get caught up in big things, and big people can be brought down by small mistakes. I think it’s a writers job to be attentive to their surroundings. It is the world of law enforcement that truly captured my imagination.
Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.
Rebecca: That’s an easy one. “If Tess Gerristen and John Grisham had a literary love child, it would be Rebecca Forster.” I’m going to have that chiseled on my headstone.
What are your current projects?
Rebecca: I am working on book five and book six of the witness series. There are huge surprises in store in each. I firmly believe that a good series explores the personalities, connections, and lives of each character – not just the primary one. That means that the plots sometimes veer from the expected. I think this is how series characters become more than recognizable, they become real. I also have two scripts in development. I also have another book I’m dying to do – but first things first. Josie Bates has to live out her next two books.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
I would love to have anyone who is interested in my books or contacting me to visit my website at http://www.rebeccaforster.com
I’m also on twitter @Rebecca_Forster and on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Thanks for joining us today, Rebecca.
Rebecca: Thank you so much for this opportunity.