About Donna Cummins:
With the success of Donna Cummins’ debut mystery/thriller RAIN OF TERROR, Book 1 in The Blacklick Valley Mystery Series, now comes its haunting sequel, ANGUISH. Grab onto your seat because ANGUISH, Book 3 in the series, epitomizes the stuff that nightmares are made of, a tale where darkness takes on a whole new meaning. A REASON TO KILL, Book 2, is a ‘stand-alone’ Blacklick Valley Mystery—a gripping story of suspense and romance that addresses the horrific crime of domestic violence, an issue for which the author has a deep concern. Both RAIN OF TERROR and A REASON TO KILL have earned many outstanding reviews and both have reached Amazon’s TOP 100 in the mystery genre.
Ms. Cummins has set her mystery series in the Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania where she was born and raised. She has attempted to stay true to the authenticity of the scenery, the climate, and the culture of the area—all deeply embedded in her memory and experience. She says that writing is like creating her own tapestries with words—a means of expressing all the thoughts and feelings and dreams and emotions that she harbors inside, a place where all things are possible and her imagination can run free and wild. As her series exemplifies, she has a proclivity toward the mystery genre. The twists and turns in plot, the questions, the clues, the suspense, the final revelations, and the challenge of bringing it all together captivate her because often she’s not certain where her characters will take her.
Ms. Cummins graduated cum laude from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and has spent many years as an educator—her most recent position at Webster College where she taught Creative Writing and Composition, along with a number of classes in the social sciences. She now lives in Tampa, Florida, with her family and her little dog Toby and enjoys reading, cooking, and gardening—the quiet passions that seem to define her.
What inspires you to write?
Writing is first and foremost an emotional outlet for me—a means of expressing my thoughts and feelings and ideas. It’s also a creative outlet because I can create any character I want and have him do whatever I can imagine. And it’s also just plain fun! Secondly, I write mysteries, in particular, because of the challenge involved—it’s like working a complex puzzle. You have to set up and develop your characters so that they are believable and ones that your reader can relate to; then you must set the stage in a realistic way; ah…the plot—the most difficult part—the questions, the clues, the twists and turns, the suspense, the final revelations, the challenge of bringing it all together. It gives you a rush!
Nothing inspires me more than a rainstorm, preferably a violent thunderstorm, with dark swirling clouds racing across a gun-metal sky. My ideas come from both my own personal experience as well as my own wild imagination, I guess.
Tell us about your writing process.
I am definitely NOT an outliner! For me, that method of writing is much too structured and inhibits the natural flow of thoughts, feelings, and emotions from whence my best writing comes. My characters come from inside myself–not from a penciled-out character sketch. My characters almost always take on a life of their own and lead me through the story, sometimes to places I never expected. For example, in writing my new release, ANGUISH, I began with only one word, ‘Breathless,’ racing around in circles in my mind. I tried to imagine in what circumstances and why would a person feel ‘breathless.’ The entire story just came to me, one scene after another, based upon that one word.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I definitely LISTEN to my characters! They lead me where I need to go and lay out their story in front of me.
What advice would you give other writers?
If you love to express yourself, if you love to write, then just start WRITING. Let your thoughts and ideas and feelings and life experiences and emotions just flow, just as if you were speaking to someone. Put it all down on paper–you can always go back and re-write and edit. Write about what you are interested in; write about something you’re familiar with or have experience in; write about a life experience that is unforgettable to you and weave it into a story. The important thing is to stop procrastinating–wishing, hoping, thinking about it–and just GET STARTED!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I–like most others, I think–believe self-publishing is the wave of the future. With the growth of technology and the popularity of digital formatting (better known as eBooks) the world of publishing has changed dramatically. Amazon has tapped into this change in a big way by promoting self-publishing. Although there are a number of sales platforms out there, Amazon is by far the leader of the pack. I chose to use Amazon not only for the sale of my books in digital format but also for my print books through their affiliate Createspace.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think more and more authors will get on the bandwagon of self-publishing.
What genres do you write?: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Romantic Suspense
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print