Guest Author Jean Rabe: Do You Have O.C.W.?

jean-head-shot-sepiaI met Jean Rabe at Killer Nashville, where she and sometime writing partner Don Bingle racked up so many Silver Falchion awards in the paranormal category that I stopped keeping count. It was a lot. Or for those of you familiar with Watership Down, the number of awards they won was hrair.

Apparently, Jean doesn’t believe in doing anything halfway.

I say I met her at KN, but after we’d talked for a while I realized that, as a long-time role-player and reader of fantasy novels, I’d read some of her Dragonlance books. So I’ve been a fan for a long time, even though I didn’t know it, and I became a fan again when I picked up a copy of her debut mystery novel, The Dead of Winter.

I loved it. Her protagonist, Piper Blackwell is the new Sheriff in town, and less than hPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00072]our on the job, she’s pitted against a serial killer who poses his victims to mimic Christmas Cards. her opponent in the election is now her Chief Deputy and he has no intention of making her job easy. I won’t spoil it for you, because you’re going to want to savor every page yourself.

Jean’s graciously agreed  to talk about an affliction common to many writers: O.C.W.

Take it away Jean:

O.C. W.

by Jean Rabe

Maybe there’s a pill for it, or some long-term therapy involved. Not that I’m looking for a cure. I suffer from O.C.W. Obsessive Compulsive Writing. I can’t stop myself. I write every day.

When my second grade teacher asked the class: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I told her a paperback writer. Back in those days paper books were the only ones you could buy and e-readers and tablets were the stuff of science fiction.

I’ve written stories as long as I can remember, and I started getting published when I was eleven. I entered contests, and won enough to keep me encouraged, wrote for the local newspaper, my college newspaper, and then for the Rockford Register Star, Quincy Herald-Whig, and the Evansville Press I even had a piece picked up by the Chicago Tribune. I garnered a few local and national awards…a local one for a news story the lead of which I still remember: It crawled into the wall and died. It was about students at Northern Illinois University who would smuggle pets into their dormitory, naturally against the rules. One incident had expensive repercussions because they had to tear out walls to get a dead critter out…the stench had been eye-watering. And a national prize for my coverage of an air disaster in Gander, Newfoundland. My journalism degree got put to good use for several years. On the side, I wrote short stories and gathered rejection slips.

News reporting was great for a time, but the dark stories got to me…the murders, kids killed in house fires, plane crashes. I was shot at once, and threatened by a psychopath (seriously, I’m not kidding). Eventually I got tired of the real world and escaped entirely to fiction. Because I could not escape writing.

love-haight-coverHonestly, I can’t stop myself. I just write. Novels, short stories, magazine articles, fiction, true-crime, game rules. If I’m away from my office, I’m scribbling in a notebook. When I attended Killer Nashville in August, and got to know Beth Terrell better, I filled a thick notebook with dialog, story threads, and snippets I picked up from seminars. Beth suffers from O.C.W. too and writes amazing books…go out and buy some.

Beth asked me to give her a blog post about how I got started and why I write. I think I write because I don’t know what else I’d do for a living. Once upon that proverbial time I’d entertained the notion of being a field geologist; I have a minor in geology. And I’d thought about being a veterinarian…I knew two veterinarians who were nudging me toward vet school and offered to help. It would have fit; I love dogs. There are four around my feet while I write this. And there’s a parrot hovering over my desk.

Either of those endeavors would have paid better. But instead I decided to write.

I am a storyteller. I have all these plots and notions swirling in my brain. I will never get them all written before I die; there are just too many of them. I write because I have to. Indeed it’s a compulsion. It’s not a 24/7 thing. It’s a five to eight-hours-a-day thing. I have dogs. I have to take time out for walks and tennis ball tossing sessions. And I have to go on the occasional vacation and to conventions so I can come up with more ideas. I always take a notebook with me and write in the slow times.

My first novel came out in 1991, and I’ve written thirty-six since…fantasy, science fiction, mystery. I even penned a true-crime book with F. Lee Bailey. I’m working on my thirty-seventh novel, tentatively titled The Dead of Night.

Let me backtrack. I shouldn’t say I write because I have to. I should say I write because I want to. How awesome is it to do what you want every day?

Thanks for letting me chat,

Jean Rabe


Find The Dead of Winter on Amazon by clicking here:

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