Theresa Schwegel On Crime Novel Writing

theresa schwegel Name: Theresa Schwegel
Author’s Website, Facebook
Hometown: Algonquin, IL
Based In: Chicago
Education: Bachelors at Loyola University Chicago, Masters at Chapman University in California
Favorite Read: McCarthy’s The Crossing
Pet Peeves: People using smartphones without smarts
If You Weren’t a Writer You’d Be…screwed.
Author Crush: Aleksandar Hemon (Hemingway’s ‘one true sentence’ bit? That’s Hemon’s every sentence)
Fiction or General Publishing How-To Book I’d Recommend: Betsy Lerner’s The Forest for the Trees (though I haven’t read the revised edition and publishing has changed quite a bit since 2010)
Up Next: I started a new book about a cop working an elder abuse case, but I’m leaving it alone for a little bit because something’s not quite right. Admittedly, I’m also distracted by The Good Boy release. I hope the story holds up when I return to it because I really like the characters.

Were you really into fantasy when you were little? The Unicorn’s Lost Horn, the title of the book you wrote as a kid makes one think so.

No. Well I was horrified and curious about The Dark Crystal. And I loved the Muppets. And I watched Clash of the Titans at least a hundred times. Okay, so yes.

Growing up in Chicago, did you ever witness any a crime?

Not until two years ago when a kid came out of my alley shooting at two others who were harassing him. He missed; I’m not sure he was really aiming. Also, I’m not sure which crime was worse. Bullying does real damage.

Were police and detective shows part of your TV-viewing diet when you were little?

I remember watching “Crime Story”, but I think my diet was mostly garbage. MTV—when they played videos. Sitcoms. “Days of our Lives”.

When you started off writing Last Known Address, did you have all the pieces figured out?

I did, and I think it’s the tightest plot I’ve written. I chose multiple points of view so the reader would have some perspective on what it’s like to be a victim. I love that book; it’s the most ‘me.’ But it’s also me when I was kind of sad. I’m afraid that came through too clearly on the page.

theresa schwegel-book cover

Officer Down, your first novel, earned the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Would you change anything about the plot now that you’ve matured as an author?

No. It’s the story I wanted to tell when I told it.

Now, in regards to the book…what do you think led to its success?

I have no idea. Some strange alchemy.

How long did it take you to write The Good Boy from inspiration to final draft?

About 2 1/2 years. I junked the book before it.

At one point, you were enrolled in Chapman University’s Graduate Film program. Does this mean that after you’ve completed each of your novels, you automatically begin writing a screenplay version?

No—quite the opposite: I use screenwriting structure when I construct plot. Once I’m finished with a novel I don’t really want to break it down again. Of course, if there were money in it…

Do you think that Sandra Bullock would make a great Samantha Mack?

Sure. Do you have her number?

Er…No.

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