I am thrilled to have Christina Kovac, the author of The Cutaway, on Clues and Reviews today. When I read The Cutaway by Christina Kovac, I was in awe of its originality; I was so glad to find a novel from a fresh, new perspective. After reading, I took to Twitter to
stalk down Christina ask politely for an author interview, completely casually. And she agreed! Here is what Christina Kovac had to say about her novel, the writing process and life in general!
Virginia Knightly is a brilliant character. Do you have any plans on continuing novels with her and developing them into a series?
Not a series, per se. I really like what Tana French does with her books: creates a world of Dublin detectives, from which she picks one detective as a protagonist for her standalone novels, but then in the next novel, that protagonist is a minor character and it’s someone else’s story. Keeps the novels so fresh. Like Tana French, I’ve found the world I like to write about: contemporary DC with its mix of journalists and crime and politics that so often become crimes, and the strong and idealist and cruel and cynical characters that people it. Such a rich playground to write in. But not to duck your question: Virginia and Ben were very hard to let go of. I can see them popping back into another novel—just not the second one I’m writing. Maybe the third? (And by the way, thank you for liking Virginia. I found her a mysterious character at first, and now I just love her so much, that when the book was over and I pressed send to Dawn Davis, my publisher, I put my head on the desk and cried.)
You have a background in journalism and media broadcasting, now that you have started your career as a writer, do you ever miss the journalism world?
I always miss the people. There are so many good people in journalism: of all different backgrounds and beliefs and motivations—they come from every corner of the country, sometimes from across the pond. That’s one of the things that’s so perplexing about how the media is viewed. It’s not one animal, but a wild mix of many different people of every color and creed, and I loved that diversity. I also have such respect for what they continue to do every day. But the work? I much prefer sitting home creating worlds while wearing pajamas.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I try to. There’s a lot of blogs that came in really fast, especially from the bloggers—who, by the way, work very hard. I don’t know how they read all these books and write so many blogs so quickly. (I’m a slow reader). When people post something on Goodreads, I try to friend them, even if they think my book was terrible. Look, a novel is an incredibly intimate thing for a reader, and I’m just so thrilled that they gave me a chance. That they listened. Now, if they don’t like what they read, that’s perfectly understandable. Everyone has their own taste and their own need from a book. Why should I get all the reader’s or reviewer’s acclaim anyway? There are 44,000 books published every year. All authors work hard to get their books published and deserve love from readers, but none of them deserve all the readers. Neither do I.
What does your writing process look like? Are you a consistent writer? Is it more sporadic? Do you make an outline? Go with the flow? Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I go with the flow and try to get a first draft out as quickly as possible. Once I get the kids off to school and kick the husband out to work, I settle at the desk for a 90 to 2-hour writing session. It’s timed work. Can’t get up, except to refill the coffee mug. Then I take a break. If I’m feeling energized after, I go for a run or walk the dog or take long walk to Starbucks for even more caffeine to fuel up for the second session of writing. If I’m exhausted (which I usually am during a first draft—I hate first drafts), then I make a note about what I’m struggling with, what plot or character question, and take a nap. Sometimes I wake up out of the nap having dreamt out the problem. That’s the best. And, by the way, I love naps.
If you were to cast The Cutaway for a movie, which actors/actresses would you cast?
The Cutaway sold its TV rights to 20th Century Fox TV for Howard Gordon (creator of Homeland, 24, etc.), so it will never be a feature film. But I always imagined Virginia Knightly with that same physicality as the British actress, Keira Knightley. Above average height, willowy, almost fragile looking—until you notice her chin. She’s got a strong, determined chin, and big intelligent eyes that refuse to look away. I love that complexity of strong female characters: they may be physically unintimidating, but they have wit and determination and they know the brain is the greatest weapon. Virginia also carries a heavy flashlight, and is not afraid to bash someone over the head with it. So if The Cutaway is made into a TV series, whatever actress is cast will get a good upper arm workout!
What is your favourite crime fiction novel that you have read in the last year?
2016 was such a great year! I loved Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman, You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott, and Tana French’s The Trespasser. So many other great books, too. But those three—ahhhh, the best.
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I know you are a huge baseball fan, what team do you root for?
My life has become so crazily busy that I just enjoy downtime with the family and friends. My mom has a place at the beach in Ocean City, so that’s a great place to get some quiet. I love being outdoors—bird-watching and hiking and running and camping and boating. But my favorite thing, as you mentioned, is going to a ballgame at Nationals Park in Southwest DC. I’m a huge Nationals fan. My favorite player? Max Scherzer: such an amazing, smart pitcher, and sometimes I study his pitching arsenal, what he serves up to each batter to brainstorm how to write whatever scene I’m working on: do I go with the fast ball here or a curve? What is the batter (reader) expecting? Whatever it is, throw something else. What’s my out pitch? Ahh, baseball. My husband and I go to the home opener every season.
Huge thanks go out to Christina Kovacs for answering my questions! Looking forward to your next book!!
If you haven’t already, I would make sure you pick up a copy of The Cutaway and if you missed my review, you can check it out here!