Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 130 · 2 months ago

130: Creepy Elevators, Serial Killers, and Breaking Writing Rules with Faye Snowden

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Writing noir mysteries and stories about killers is a fine balance. You’ve got to build worlds that stay true to the setting while delivering characters that people still want to root for, even if they’re mired in some shady stuff.

Faye Snowden has honed this craft, writing several noir mystery novels, short stories, and poems. Her latest book, A Killing Rain, is the second of a four-part Southern Gothic series.

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Good people cool things as a condcast future and conversations with entrepreneurs, writers, musicians and other creatives. Get inspired by their stories to do your own cool thing. And here's your host, Joey held. Welcome to good people, cool things. Today's guest is face not in, an author of warm mysteries, poems and short stories. Our latest book, a killing rain, is the second and a four part series of a southern Gothic tale featuring a homicide detective. So we're talking all about serial killers and creating those kinds of characters that people kind of want to root for, even though they might be doing some less than ideal things. We're also talking about book marketing techniques that have worked. So if you have any kind of creative endeavor and you're like Hey, I want more people to hear about it, well then you better tune in because there's lots of good stuff. And if you're new here, we end every episode with a Corny joke. This one, I'm gonna say it. It's in the top of any joke that has ever been told on the show and through a hundred thirty episodes, that's pretty good. And if you want even more good stuff, head on over to good people, cool things dot com. Sign up for the newsletter. Poke around pick out some other episodes. I've got a few favorites. You can always reach out to me, Joey, at good people, cool things dot com. Tell me what you're working on, what you want to hear some more of, and I can point you in the right direction. That's what I'm here for. I'm your guide. I'm like one of those signs that's pointing in eight different directions and you've got like New York one way, Tokyo another, Stockholm in a third direction. I'm one of those I can point you wherever you need to go and it won't take you miles to get there. will be like one click, because that's how the Internet works. You Click on something, you get it and it's great, just like this conversation with Fay. Four people. You might not know who you are. Can you give us your elevator pitch and the type of elevator that we're writing on? Actually, I'm afraid at elevators. Did you know? I don't know if you know, I'm very claustrophobic and I try to avoid elevators whenever I can, which is a can't do that in Vegas, too much so. But but my name is...

...face noted and I write a very dark and warm mysteries. Um In this in the southern gothic fashion. I have written short stories, poems and also mysteries, which we're here to discuss today. Um. My latest book is a killing rain, which is the second book in my killing series. The first book was a killing fire, and that book features strong and very flawed from the side, detective Raven Burns, who is trying to navigate the fact that her dad wasn't a mysterious, I'm not a mysterious and notorious Um serial killer. Um. So she's always trying to atone for his sins and gets into all kind of shenanigans while she's doing so. So's so I definitely want to get into all the writing, but I need to ask have you, do you have a bad elevator experience, or is it just the idea of it being custrophobic? Yes, I was so weird. Nobody's ever asked that. plad never came up in an interview on the elevator. But I have a when I was young my mom sold dollar closed to sing a mom just how she saved money and I was jumping on the bed and a needle went in my knee. So I went to the hospital and we grew up pretty poor, so I was never, you know, got out of a neighborhood and certainly not in anything like a hospital. And I was young and I was just already freaked out. And they got it one of those huge elevators Um with the doctor and they rode in a bed right next to me and I don't know if it was a body, but you know how kids minds work. Later on I thought I was in the elevator with a dead person and it just been closed. The doors lost all control then. Ever since then I have been really I do not I've always been very claustrophobic, but I do not like elevators and airplanes and yeah, I think other things.

That's a pretty pretty outrageous thing to see, I think at a point, but especially as a child. Yeah, but I don't think it was. I mean, would you really wrote and roll a dead body? They probably have service elevators, I would hope. So. Yeah, there's like some some secret path in the back that they can get through, but who knows? I don't know that. I don't know the inner workings of hospitals very well. But going back, I would like to ask writers this. Do you remember the first thing that you ever wrote? Oh my goodness, you're asking such a good questions. Yes, okay, so I've always day dream stories, right. Um, so I, like you said, childhood was not the greatest and so I always escaped into TV and I escaped into reading books. But when I was reading and books and TV, I didn't see a lot of folks that looked like me. So I would day dream stories in my head where I would add a diverse character or write or make the woman all Badass and kick ass and all that stuff. But the first story I wrote down was because when I was growing up in the seventies and early part of the eighties, coats were a big thing. So like, so I wrote a story about this teenager who was getting sucked into this cult and, uh, and my sister read it and she immediately asked sisters will made terrible fun of me, a terrible fun and it was a long time before I ever picked up a pen again and actually or let anybody read my work. But yeah, that's where that's what it was. I can still see it the funny thing is I see the paper, the line notebook paper, I see the black ink, I remember what she said and was laughing at it and I read all that is just really there in my memory. So now do you show her that you've written several books? But are like yeah, yeah, she sees them, she season. She's very proud of me.

She'll be saying people will be seeing what I'm trying to get published and it's hard and she goes not for my sister, but I want to you know, I don't even disabuse her of that notion. I'm like hell, yeah, I'm sorry, but I was like hey, yeah, it's hard, but yeah, so she's very proud and everything. She probably even remember it. She probably doesn't even remember doing it and I talked about it. Well, when she listens to this, maybe you'll get an apology message. Yeah, yeah, we'll see. Now you said how you write no war mysteries that are in a in a southern gothic sort of setting, which is certainly a, you know, less common than like a romance novel or like a Sci Fi um type of style. So what is it about this specific war mystery that really appeals to you? I to me. It's when I did. I did write romantic insistence when I first started writing. My first three books were romantic it I think as I got older I was like yeah, yeah, I done with that, done with that, and then so I kind of stepped into the mystery. But the southern GOTHIC IG norm mystery. It what attracts me to it is I get to examine the underbelly of society, you know, all that pretty stuff on top Um, you know, all the you know, I just kind of think that's that's fine, but there's something, especially in this country, where is underneath, and southern Gothic lets you get at that right that you kind of explore that, and that's what and the dark stuff, that what it gets me going. And also I like giving people a thrill ride to be scared, but in the comfort of their own home and from their favorite reading chairpital, you know exactly. You know. Yeah, so I like doing that as well, because I think it's about about also people want to be entertained. H Two.

So yeah, I think there's UH, this is just speaking for me personally. I think there's like a good way to be scared versus kind of like a almost like a too gross out way, I guess, um which I feel like a lot of horror movies sometimes will just try to like pile either they'll either do the scares of like what it could you know, what might be there, which is ultimately nothing and it's just like our own minds playing tricks on us, which I think there can be very nice ways to do that, or it's like the extreme opposite of let's just go way over the top with things that I'm like, this shouldn't scare me, but occasionally it still does and I'm just like that's that's when you've done it well. So have you ever written something where you're like Oh, that might be it might be too much and you've had to like dial it back a little? Yes, and Um, I've done that. And then and then, I guess, as mature as a writer, I know when I'm doing in that it's like that deep and King thing, kill your darlings. But you know when it's not moving the story forward or doesn't add anything to the conflict or the tension, it's just gratuitous. Um, then I know, okay, now I need to diet that back. Didn't add anything to the scene, didn't move the story forward. Did it unsettle the reader in a way that had something to do with the story, then, but if it's just there for shock value, the readers see through that stuff, I believe, and especially readers of mysteries, because they read a lot and they can see through that stuff a mile away. So you have to be really careful about how you explore that in your writing. Now you've got a killing rain, which is your most recent book, which people can get right now. You can order it right now. Yeah, you said it's a second and a four part series. So is it easier or harder to write a sequel then it was writing the original? I think it was easier writing the sequel because I didn't do it have to do all the backstory. So I had to do the...

...backstory of my new characters, of course, but I I knew what Raven was a lot like and I just became more comfortable in the sequel getting to know her. Um, I didn't like what the sequel did to my poor Billy Ray, who was her partner. Yeah, so, yeah, but I think it's easier writing the sequel because you have a lot of things that are already set up in the sequel, you can just kind of go describe your new characters and how they're interacting with your road characters and just go from there. And did you do a lot of research into serial killing as you were putting this together? Are you? Are you a professional? Not, not a professional serial killer, but, like you've you've done enough. Hopefully not. If you are, maybe don't admit it. I did. I did. I read some books and I and then none of it stuck. I mean maybe it did stuck, maybe it's in my ugly subconscious, but if you tell me that, I guess I could. If you tell me to think five serial killers off the top of my head, I probably would struggle to do it. But I did a lot of search in Um, you know what you know kind of the factors, the commonalities between them. I listened to a lot of because I used to have a commute and so I would listen to my research by listening books on the way to work. Um, there was one that I listened to by an FBI agent that here there'll be monsters or search for monster. That pay which one it is. But Um, I listened to that. But that book fascinated the heck out of me. Um, yeah, so just like that, but nothing too I didn't go down too many rabbit holes when it came to serial killers. But I tell you right now, if there's a show one about a serial killer, I'm there. I'm like, okay, what's going on? Who is he? Oh my goodness, I haven't heard about you before. And so, because there are a lot of them out there, a lot of them you don't hear about, right because of the victims that they kill, or people don't really care. You know, they're from the friend of society and they don't get a lot of news play. But yeah, yeah, yeah, I am always pressed, amazed, whatever, whatever you know,...

...outrageous worked you want to use, when I I'm like scrolling through a Netflix or Hulu or something, and it's just like the sheer volume of stories like that, where it's like and and all of them are based on a true story or, you know, based on true events, and I'm just like, I mean outside of Dexter, I guess is probably the only one that, although, who knows, Miami is kind of a wacky place. So Oh, yeah, I heard about that, about Florida. But isn't it interesting how there's this instinct to make your serial killer palatable, I think. And Dexter, you know, a smaller alert, but he kills bad people, so it's okay to hang around Dexter. And I don't know. I mean I love Dexter, don't get me wrong, but I often think about okay, is that what? Why do we do that? Right? Why do we? Why is that successful? It is. It is interesting, and that's Dexter was a show where I don't I'm not going to do this to anyone listening, but I had a very critical plot point spoiled in that show for me and I was so sad. Yeah, and it has another one. Oh, somebody. So you found out what was going to happen? Yes, yeah, yeah, they they casually. I think if you tell someone you're watching a show, their next sentence shouldn't be oh, is that the show where major plot point happens? There's other ways you can confirm that you were thinking about the same show. Yeah, there is, there is. But anyway, this isn't a podcast about Dexter, it's about you. So you've written full full length novels, short stories, poetry. Is your process for all of those kind of the same, or do you like outline things differently. What does that look like for you, and do you have a preference out of the bunch there of your favorite ones to write? Um, I like writing books better because they're more forgiving books than a short story. And then, Um, and you can get too into the story...

...a lot more. For short stories, I write them totally different from the way I write books. So for a short story I'll have a germ of an idea that I'll carry around in my head for far too long. It needs to get out of my head, but I keep it in my head because I'm wazy. And then I'll take four or five days when I'm ready to write, and then I'll just free right, I mean just like Natalie Cold Burke, free right Um. And then after that I get it on a computer and then I just kind of cut move things around until I got to me. It's almost like, I know it's Corny cheesy, but it's almost like finding a sculpture and a stone, or a short story for a book. It's kind of taking the stone and I guess make it a tablet, you know, make it makes sense, Um, and I do that the same way. You know. I'll start with the question, and the question I started with the killing fire. The series is what will happen if a daughter grew if somebody's father was a serial killer, and how would that make them feel? How would they go about their lives? You know what? How would how would they feel about? How much evil? And then so that's the question I started with. So I usually start with the question and then I'll get the villain. Usually kind of comes to me out of the blue. I'm carrying this story around, and then the main character, and then I'll kind of flesh out a rough, rough outline and then I'll just right. You know, I'll just right and mostly free, right, and mostly free right. Yeah, yeah, I think it's always interesting to chat through the process like that. And, as you know, writing it's only a small portion of putting a book together. So much more that goes into it. And two things I like to talk about. I always say this. First one is probably not the best thing to talk about on an audio only podcast, but the covers. If that draws them in, then they'll read the description they might page. For me, if you're in a bookstart so your covers. I mean a fire, killing rain. There there...

...are those elements. You see them on on those pages. Where those kind of the original concepts that you had in mind, or did that go through kind of like a lot of different tinkering before you got to know? I'm sure they tinkered at flame tree as a publisher. They tinkered there. But when I saw them, first of all killing rain, I was like, Huh, I don't know if I like that, and was like it's gonna be Great. Believe me, it's gonna be Great. And then I was like, well, can we change it? He's like no, it's gonna be Great. And so when that one came out, I got so many compliments on that cover you will not believe, and people thought it was an amazing cover. And now I'm looking at it, I'm like, Oh, it is pretty amazing that. It's pretty an amazing cover. And then so when a killing rain, they showed me a killing rank cover and I looked at it and I was like, you know, kind of curled and he said, so what do you think? I think it's gorgeous. Like obviously you know way more about this stuff and I do. Hey, I just do the words. I'M gonna leave the graphics to you professionals. And now I get a lot of compliments on when they did some changes, even after I said it was great. The first thing. I didn't think they get one more changes, like do they darkened character on the cover. I'm looking at it now, but but after they you know, they brought it again. It's just like the colors work so well together and then that water and she's kind of underwater there, and I just think they did a brilliant job on the cover. So I did. From those experiences, I recognize that that is not my Bailey Wick. I've got to leave that up to people who know better and I'm happy to do that. Yeah, I'm always impressed by what designers can can come up with. And Yeah, and to your point of like, Oh, I think this looks great and they still find ways to tweak it and enhance it even more, and I was just like, Oh, I didn't even see that potential there, and so I didn't. Could us to the designers out there, we need you go away.

Yes, if I if I ever have to design the cover of something I create, it's going to be a bad, bad time for everyone. And so, outside of the cover, obviously book marketing is a huge part of any book launch or even you know, a book that's been out for a while to continue to market it. So what have you found that has worked really well for marketing your work and has there been anything we were like, Oh, I thought that was going to be great end up kind of being a dud? Yeah, so my first house on my apology, nouse as with kings in ten and I didn't have a lot of marketing and promotions there. So you know when I was kind of a first time writer and I thought, on my goodness, they could got to really market and published this book, which they didn't. So that was a surprise to me that they didn't really get involved too much of that and not anyone understood I was a first time author and them in a necklist author or whatever. And then for flame tree, Um, they had a you know, it's a small publisher out of the UK and they had a marketing department and and and stuff. But I think the biggest surprise that I learned is that bookmarket well, I wasn't surprised at how important marketing is for your book, but I was surprised at how much as an author, you have to kind of get in there and set the strategies and the goals and sometimes you have to come up with some funding. Right. So this time I hired a publicist to kind of help help out, you know, flame tree and myself, especially myself. Flame Tree has a marketing department, but come up with a strategy where we can all work together to get the word out about this book. Yeah, and that's how you end up on a wonderful podcasts like this, like this. Right. Absolutely, Yes, we love the work of publicists as well. Shout out to everyone. It takes a village. It does, it...

...really does, and this is something that, you know, when I first started writing books and publishing, it was like I didn't realize when they put the final book in your head and your hand after it was living, Your Head in the manuscript and you see this. He's like, you know, you think I did do this by myself. There's like twenty people behind this book. It's just I wrote the story, but then every you know, the editors bring it together, the developed, the copy editors making you, you know, fixing your grammar and making sure you look brilliant, you know, and all that stuff. So it takes a lot of people to help out with that. Did your I think this is another fun thing to ask did your compy editor or any editor really notice or call out a certain quirk that you hadn't noticed so that the example that I like for my book was that I started so many sentences with well, and I don't say that in life, like I don't, I don't use that one. I'm talking, but apparently writing it was like a crutch and my editor called it out and I was like, thank you, I would never have seen that. Like he counted the Times that happened and he was like, he's like, that's too many. I was like thank you. Um, shrugs. My characters did a lot of shrugging and also they called people by name. So he said people really don't use other people's names like that, and then he goes in, your characters do a lot of shrugging. So I caught and I'm saying just so sometimes after especially nowadays, you know, you've got all this technology and tools. Um, I would go through and just find the uh, I would just do a workout in shrugs and go look at each one of them. Yeah, I mean, and I mean sometimes you do need to shrug, but yeah, if you can tone it down a little bit, and I think the just is a good I try to do that in all writing what like, even in an email like Oh, I just wanted to check it. It's like now, I didn't just want to do that, I wanted to check it, like I i. You know, can you can, I think, tighten up the writing a lot by getting rid...

...of just. So that's yes, that's our one writing tip for today. Yeah, getting rid of just and ask him why are you putting it in there? I don't want to seem like I'm nagging you. What you are nagging? I want to find out where you are on x y Z. I haven't heard exact months. Yeah, so another question I like to ask, and I say it's because it's less work for me as a question that you wish you were asked more frequently. So I'm making you come up with the question here and for yours. You. I don't think we've mentioned this, but you have a literature degree. So why don't you write literary or mainstream fiction? Why do you write genre fiction? Yeah, and the main reason I do is I have one kind of a literary fiction short story out there and one of my fans, the person that really supports me, one of the people like one of the two people. I'm just children, but she goes Heay, I love that, but where's the ending? And I was like yeah, about that. Um, but I just Um, I decided to to go genre fiction because a lot of the scaffolding is already built for you. You know the rules, the convention, the Conventions, the you know first person, third person, you know a lot of that's already taken care of for you and you kind of know those roles and you can Um, you can adjust them or break them if you want straight at, which I break a lot of roles in my in my writing. So because I'm lazy, I guess. For the first of also, I have had all those already set up. and then I think what genre fiction allows you, and I don't have to do it, you know, I don't have to be the thing out of whole cloth. and I think what genre fiction also does for you is that it um it. It allows you to kind of Um. Oh Gosh, how do I say this? It allows you to explore, because so many things already done for you. It allows you...

...to explore those hard questions and it also allows you to kind of sneak in things that the reader may not have thought about before. Right, so it's almost like a Trojan horse, a bit, a little bit, I don't know. Yeah, yeah, so, and then I'll give you an example, like killing. These killing series is based on it. They're they're based on a small town called bird's land in Louisiana, which is in the south, and I loosely based it on the parish that it's like cattle parish of Louisiana, which I believe when I read this that Um that that area of the country had more mentions than any other area of the country back in the day. So the town itself acts as a acts as a character, and then it also acts. It impacts the people that live there a negative way. It brings out their darkness. So Um, so it's kind of get readers to think about, oh my goodness, why is this town so corrupt? I mean what, what is it with the people in this town? I'm wondering what's going on, and you kind of like sneak that information in there a little bit, and I do just one scene in this book, but you probably won't even I don't even know if you remember it. But yeah, I do sneak it in a little bit. Yeah, I love a good sneak. Yeah, yeah, alright, you're almost off the hook here, but we always like to wrap up with a top three and for you, top three women you admire most and why? Okay, so my beautiful Stevie Nicks. She doesn't get in her because I have so many women I admire, but I want to get her in here because Stevie Nicks is just I just think, Um, I love her music, I love her writing, her lyrics. UH, my kids don't her boys, but you...

...know what, they all know, just kids. But then I also like the fact that she has such a strong work ethic. Um, it's just a hard worker and I love and that it kind of inspires me to do my best and a lot of her songs inspired me to do my best as well. Um, and then there's also, you know, Tony Morrison. I mean, how can you not? Uh. And then, because of her writing, what she did for authors in the publishing world. Uh, you know, I think I forget what she was. She was like Random House, I remember, but she kind of opened up the door for a lot of black author so, especially female. So that's why I love Tony Moore. Question. Her writing is just off the book. So that's that's like one. And then I'm gonna give a shout out to Josephine Baker. She was a Vaudeville twenties star Um who experienced so much prejudice in the United States and she went over to France, where she became a Darline, a celebrity in France. And Uh, and she also became a war hero because she spied for Um, fight, spy for the French Resistance. Joseph Baker, I don't. Have you heard of Jin Baker? I have, I don't. I don't know how much I know about her, but yes, she yea from what I from what I know, I was like, and I mean anyone, I think, with Joseph or some some very end of Joseph in their name. It's gotta be cool. Yeah, yeah, me too. Yeah, I love that man, Josephine. Yeah, awesome. Well, thank you so much for hopping on your podcast. Thanks for handing me. This is really fun. Yeah, this is delightful and if people want to learn more about you, check out your work and maybe, maybe, get notified when the next killing books are coming out. Where can I go? Oh, oh my gosh, face noten DOT com. Sign up from my newsletter. I do a monthly newsletter. The next one is probably gonna becoming mid July, and then I also have some really cool giveaways in all my newsletter. Don't want to tell you a secret. When when these...

...books go on sell, you know, like for a dollar ninety nine or a dollar ninety nine books, I grab about fifty. I'm gonna Start Doing it with other folks book too, when I do it with mine or books I have stories in, and then I will give those, you know, giveaways or just to thank for readers. And so I have lots of giveaways and then sometimes I'll give away a short story or two. But in the newsletter you can see and also on my website, like I said, face Notte and dot com, what's coming down the road, and then ask for social media, you can. There's buttons to follow me there as well. I do a lot. I hang out a lot on twitter. Um, some on instagram and some on facebook, but just follow me on twitter if you want to know what's happening. Are you getting in the twitter spaces too? Not. Yeah, no, yeah, because I also have a day job, so I don't a lot of time to kind of play there. Changed a little bit. Haven't thing a little bit. Yeah, I want to explore them some work. Is it? Um, it reminds me of the brief period when clubhouse wasn't totally like overrun by Tech Bros, where it was like you could, you know, you can get in a conversation with maybe like ten people that are in the same you know, either same like genre of writing as you if you were doing writers, or like, you know, I could chat with other podcasters or anything like that, and it seemed like twitter spaces. I think seems a little less like again, for lack of a better word, brewy than than clubhouse became. So I would like to explore it some more, but I have only dabbled very lightly, I think. So, as far as I know, I still have the APP on my phone, but I haven't updated it. So who knows, maybe they have a new logo now too, even I don't know, maybe that's homework for us, like, what the they're not doing their marking right...

...ever, asking that question. Well, say, thank you again for taking the time to chat. This is great and yes, definitely people listening recommend the killing series because it is very delightful. Oh, thank you. Thank you so much. And of course we've got to wrap up with a Corny joke, as we always do. And you complimented my basketball shirt, so this is actually a basketball theme joke here. Why did the basketball leave the party? MM HMM. To get the basket it had to bounce. I'll have to tell that to my grandkids. Yes, please, yes, please, spread the corny jokes across the lay. Good people cool things it's produced in Austin, Texas. If you were a fan of this episode, go ahead and hit that follow button. That helps more people here the show. You can send me a message, Joey, at good people, cool things dot com. Thank you to all of the guests who have been on good people cool things. Can check out all the old episodes via good people, cool things dot com. As always, thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

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