Rick Mofina grew up east of Toronto, in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. He began writing fiction in grade school. At age 15, he sold his first short story to a U.S. magazine. In his teens he hitchhiked to California and wrote a novel about the experience. He has held jobs ranging from working at a horseracing track to delivering cars to Florida, before he attended Carleton University where he studied Journalism, English Literature, and American Detective Fiction.
What is the best writing (or life) advice you have ever heard or wished you had followed? Why?
Always stick to the emotions shared universally,: Love, Hate and Fear.
Tell us a bit about your current project.
The PANIC ZONE, follows the first in the series, VENGEANCE ROAD, which the International Thriller Writers selected as a finalist for Best Paperback Original. And this is what Dean Koontz says: “The Panic Zone is a headlong rush toward Armageddon. It’s brisk pace and tight focus remind me of early Michael Crichton.”
The Panic Zone concerns the story of Emma Lane, an anguished mother from Wyoming who refuses to believe her baby died in a tragic car crash. Jack Gannon, a relentless wire service reporter from New York, joins her in the hunt for a perfect killer whose trail leads around the world in a race against time. The Panic Zone is the second book in the Jack Gannon series. Thriller fans met Gannon in the first book in the series, Vengeance Road when it was released in 2009. The prestigious International Thriller Writers (ITW) named Vengeance Road a finalist for a 2010 Thriller Award in the category of Best Paperback Original.
Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work, or struggle in a particular area such as writers block or angst driven head-banging against walls? Please share some helpful overcoming hints that you’ve discovered.
Always. I bear in mind two quotes, the first from Shakespeare: “Our doubts are traitors and makes us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” The second is from Churchill: “Never quit, never, never, never.”
What is your favorite source for finding story ideas?
I draw on my times as a reporter, my experiences as a human being, I observe the world around me, always thinking, wondering, “What if?” When I’m stuck, make things up.
Have you ever had one of those awkward writer moments you’d like to share with us, the ones wherein you get “the look” from the normals? Example, you stand at a knife display at the sporting goods store and ask the clerk which would be the best to use to disembowel a six foot man…please do tell.
No. As a former crime reporter, having interviewed murderers face-to-face on death row, having interviewed grieving family members of homicide victims, having interviewed detectives on the case and then try to make sense of it all, I think I’m good on knowing how to take care of myself on the fiction front.
With the clarity of experience what advice would you offer up to the wet-behind-the-ears you if beginning this writing journey today?
Just an overall message or two: The only guarantee that you will fail, is if you give up. The only thing impeding you stares back at you in the mirror. Don’t make excuses for not writing, create sentences. Don’t trouble other people looking for the magic beans, because you have them in your hand. Get to work. You have to earn the right to be on a book shelf next to all the other authors who have all paid their dues. Do your homework, read, study the industry, be realistic and ask yourself the following: Are you a writer? Or, do you want “to be” a writer? Real writers reading this will understand the difference immediately. Those who don’t get the meaning of that, never will. And, as Stephen King, said, “Do not come to this lightly.”
Oh yes, don’t quit your day job.
What event/person has most changed you as a writer? How?
Sister Mary Avita, my grumpy Grade 7 grammar teacher who drilled composition into me with such intensity she scared the class. She always called us by our last names. One day after giving me a thorough public grilling on sentence syntax, she said: “Mofina, one day you will thank me for this.” I now have over 1 million books in print in 15 countries. Yes, I thank her.
What do you love most about being a writer?
Reader reaction. I’ve had a lot of nice comments, like ‘you kept me up all night,’ and ‘you need to write more books faster’. But one that stands out came from a lovely handwritten letter from a woman in Indiana. Seems she was on vacation in the west and bought my first book, If Angels Fall, in a used book bin for 25 cents. After reading it, she liked it so much, she cut me a personal check for the full cover price, $7.00, which she’d attached to her letter. She told me I’d earned it. I was blown away. I thanked her. And yes, I cashed the check, but I’ve kept a photocopy that I intend to frame some day.
Yeah, its the feedback from new readers who have just discovered you is very rewarding when someone takes the time to write you a kind note telling you how much they enjoyed your book, that never gets old. Hanging out with other writer friends at conferences is fun, too.
What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?
Turn on my computer.
What is the most difficult part of pulling together a book? Ex. Do you have saggy middles, soggy characters, soupy plots during your first drafts…if so, how do you shape it up?
For me, the most challenging part of the writing process is writing the first draft. It’s like drilling through rock. It’s hard work but I get through it and usually enjoy it when progress is evident.
Have you received a particularly memorable reader response or peer honor? Please share.
Twice nominated for the International Thriller Writers Thriller Award. Two-time winner of Canada’s top prize for Crime Fiction, the Arthur Ellis Award.