Interview with Author Theresa Weir

Theresa Weir (a.k.a. Anne Frasier) is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of twenty-three books and numerous short stories that have spanned the genres of suspense, mystery, thriller, romantic suspense, paranormal, and memoir. Her titles have been printed in both hardcover and paperback and translated into twenty languages. Her memoir, The Orchard, was a 2011 Oprah Magazine Fall Pick, Number Two on the Indie Next list, a featured B+ review in Entertainment Weekly, and a Librarians’ Best Books of 2011. Going back to 1988, Weir’s debut title was the cult phenomenon AMAZON LILY, initially published by Pocket Books and later reissued by Bantam Books.

Writing as Theresa Weir she won a RITA for romantic suspense (COOL SHADE), and a year later the Daphne du Maurier for paranormal romance (BAD KARMA). In her more recent Anne Frasier career, her thriller and suspense titles hit the USA Today list (HUSH, SLEEP TIGHT, PLAY DEAD) and were featured in Mystery Guild, Literary Guild, and Book of the Month Club. HUSH was both a RITA and Daphne du Maurier finalist.

Well-known in the mystery community, she served as hardcover judge for the Thriller presented by International Thriller Writers, and was guest of honor at the Diversicon 16 mystery/science fiction conference held in Minneapolis in 2008. Frasier books have received high praise from print publications such as Publishers Weekly, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Crimespree, as well as online praise from Spinetingler, Book Loons, Armchair Interviews, Sarah Weinman’s Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, and Ali Karim’s Shots Magazine. Her books have featured cover quotes from Lisa Gardner, Jane Ann Krentz, Linda Howard, Kay Hooper, and J.A. Konrath. Her short stories and poetry can be found in DISCOUNT NOIR, ONCE UPON A CRIME, and THE LINEUP, POEMS ON CRIME. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers.

Welcome to SFWG! You’ve had a successful career in both the traditional publishing world and as a self-published author, how has short fiction, its audience and its viability changed since you began?

Self-publishing has made it easy to get short stories to readers. In the past, short stories had to sell to magazines, be part of an anthology, or be posted to blogs. It’s very cool to be able to write a short story and upload it to the Internet.

What advice do you have for writers beginning to write short fiction?

Short fiction is so different from a novel. I think of short fiction almost like a good joke, with a hook and a quick build and a punch line. I always try for a twist ending, but sometimes I don’t achieve it. I also think of a short story as a circle. I try to bring the story back to the beginning, but sometimes that’s not possible and the story ends up being more of a straight line. I think practice is the power behind a good short story. If you write one that’s not so great, write another one. And another. You will improve.

How is writing short stories different from novels for you, in terms of your approach, process and mindset?

Years ago I was invited to be part of a short-story anthology and I turned it down, saying I could never write a short story. But now I’m kind of addicted. I love being able to tell a complete story in a short space. And I love not having to deal with the sagging middle and a lengthy outline. I think short stories come closer to perfection than novels. With novels, I usually have something I wish I’d done differently. With a short story, there’s a lot less chance of that because short stories are so distilled.

Do you think an author can make a living off of being a short story writer alone?

I wish we could. I’ve heard of people making a living from it, but I think it would be really, really tough. Maybe if you have hundreds of stories available.

How often do your short stories become novels, or vice versa?

I don’t think I’ve ever turned a short story into a novel, but I did write a short story called Santa’s Little Helper with characters from one of my novels.  However, I have taken really short stories and expanded them to make long short stories.

Thanks Theresa!  Interested in reading her work?  Find it here.


8 thoughts on “Interview with Author Theresa Weir

  1. Self-publishing is certainly a bonus for short story writers. In my experience, submitting short stories to magazines is harder than submitting novels to literary agents. Most agents these days accept the idea that writers need to prostitute themselves. Until dialogue reaches the ‘send me a full’ stage, exclusivity doesn’t get much of a look in. In contrast, short story magazines are still overly fond of demanding exclusive submissions, which is no fun for writers who also happen to be mortal.

    • I know some short story writers have a whole routine down where they write a story, submit it to magazines and then publish it once the exclusivity agreement wears off.

      There’s something to be said for that, I suppose. Getting paid for the story can help increase how much money you’re taking in long-term. But I think there’s something to be said for being able to write a “natural” short story rather than writing something of a specific word count to fit a magazine’s interest.

      • I think that’s where my short-story enthusiasm comes from. The total removal of the restrictions that come with writing for hire or writing with a publishing house in mind. Short-story writing brings with it a freedom I don’t experience with other types of writing.

      • It’s nice to hear a writer of Theresa’s caliber talking about short fiction like this. There seems to be a trend toward shorter stories these days, I hope it continues.

        The weird thing about submitting to magazines is the “down time” versus the potential of self-publishing. Sometimes short stories are time sensitive though, and might lose an audience or the immediacy if the writer waits for the magazine route. I think that’s one of the great things about Indie publishing though, the ability to publish quickly. I can imagine deciding on which route to take is a difficult decision for writers.

        I like the freedom of the format as well, to echo Alain’s comment, self-publishing allows writers to experiment without the need to satisfy a magazine’s market. And that is a good thing for my reading entertainment. 🙂

      • What’s funny is that I’ve been writing stories since I was sixteen but I never wrote them with the idea that they would ever get published because even then I knew they were too short lol.

  2. Self-publishing previously published stories after the exclusivity agreement wears off is very gratifying, because it keeps them alive. The anthologies where my stories were published are still on some library shelves and there are still copies for sale, but if somebody wants to read one of those stories, they have to buy the whole book where it appeared. Self-publishing lets me make them available individually and, in the case of ebooks, instantaneously. It also allows me to make them available as a single collection, both in print and electronic editions. Very, very few writers can expect to sell enough copies of a single-author collection to attract a publisher, but we can all can publish our own collections now. It’s very freeing for any writer of fiction to have that kind of control, but this is particularly true for writers of short fiction.

    • So true. Personally it was a door opening to a new realm experience when I first heard about e-publishing. I had always dabbled with shorts but it was just for my own enjoyment. It didn’t even matter if I made money it was just the fact that I could be PUBLISHED that made the whole thing seem real to me. It was my motivation to take my writing to the next level.

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