Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz Interview – Autistic Savants, Dates, & the Spider and the Fly Poem

How do the authors keep the dates for each specific storyline straight? Why did they decide to introduce a character into the story who was an autistic savant? How do they choose to which people to dedicate each episode?

post-it notes on board, flickr

How do you keep the dates for each specific storyline straight? I find myself having to go back and check the dates about specific things that have happened, like when Tank died. Do you have charts on the wall so you can see them or what?
Some writers might have chosen excel to capture all the important data or another writing tool like Scrivener, but not us! We love a challenge, haha. When we are writing a book, we break down the three episodes and have detailed boards with post-it notes laying out the entire timeline. We work “old school” and like to look at the story visually. Andrea has literally printed an entire book and spread out the date/time headers all over the floor and gone through each to make sure they work and are correct. If we need to know when something happened in the past, we simply reference our own book!

Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins sounds as though he was a truly fascinating and amazing individual. Had you already decided to introduce a character who was an autistic savant before you learned about this extraordinary gentleman? Or did you run across historical accounts of this gentleman and he became the inspiration for Newt Drystad?

The process of creating Newt and how Tom Wiggins played into it happened kind of by accident. We always knew we were going to introduce an FBI “wunderkind” into the story to be Stan Lee’s rival. We knew he’d have a high IQ as well. By pure chance, we stumbled across Tom Wiggins story in the months before introducing Newt and that is where the concept of Newt being more of a savant came in –which we felt made him more interesting. As much as the story of Tom Wiggins is fascinating because he was blind, we already had a character in the series, Gerylyn Stoller, who does not have the use of her eyes. To ratchet up the situation with Newt, we elected to go with the idea that he would enter “frozen” states. Plus with that as his problem, we were able to remedy it in a unique way as well. As we try to do, we mix little bits of “fact” or real events and people into our fiction.

Oklahoma City bombing, flickr

Pipi was in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building during the Oklahoma City bombing and was thought to have been killed, but she turns up three years later, ready to go back to work. Where has she been and what has she been doing?
Things are not always what they seem in Onyx Webb, are they? Pipi explains her absence when she comes back that she somehow survived the bomb blast but had amnesia and spent all that time on the streets and in shelters. This explanation will get brought up again in a future book!

Will you walk into my parlor, wikimedia commons

I read “The Spider and the Fly” for the first time. You changed parts of the poem to fit what was going on with the serial killer in Onyx Webb. Was doing this in your mind when you wrote the first Onyx Webb book? If not, when did you decide to do this?
We had not specifically decided to use the spider and the fly poem until this exact moment. It was on our radar screen because the general premise of the story being that everything is connected in the way that the strands of a spider web connect. Since we knew that the cat and mouse game between Newt and Stan Lee was going to develop throughout the rest of the series it worked here. That is one of the things we have experienced while writing this series. We have global ideas about the plots and stories but the scenes and details are not formed until we start writing. We have been lucky to find things when we start researching that seem to fit perfectly for the book we are working on. We’d look like geniuses if it was all fully orchestrated in advance but almost every time it hasn’t been.

reading books, flickr

How do you choose to which readers or people to dedicate each episode?
It’s a little challenging as we’d like to list everyone who has ever encouraged us along the way. They all deserve a mention! It all goes into our energy bank to help us be inspired to write the series. That said, if we’ve had interactions with someone, we try to remember them and include them in the dedication. It’s hard because we never want to make anyone feel excluded either. We love writing but the truth is, for all writers, when people read your work escape this world into the one you’ve created and it captures, entertains or moves them – there is no better feeling.

Recommended Articles:

Onyx Webb: Book Six: Episodes 16, 17, & 18 – a Review

Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz Guest Post/Interview – Music, Historical Events, & Developing Characters

The Fun of Writing Fiction: Using Famous People, Infamous Mobsters, and Real Places – Guest Post by Andrea Waltz and Richard Fenton

Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz Interview – Ghosts, Mirrors, and Imaginary Friends

Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz Interview – Serial Killers, a Ghost Detective, and Shadow Men

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