Interview with Robin Donovan

Robin Donovan Cover
Author Talk: Richard Lowe Interviews Robin Donovan

Robin Leemann Donovan is the president of Bozell, a marketing/communications firm. She is also the author of the Donna Leigh Mystery series on Amazon (rldonovan.com). Her first book in the series: Is It Still Murder Even If She Was A Bitch? won an AMA Pinnacle award.

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In addition to the Donna Leigh Mystery series, Donovan is the author of the blog, Menologues, a humorous yet informative look at the trials and tribulations of menopause by someone who’s been there. Menologues has been republished on two commercial sites: Vibrant Nation and Alltop and has won regional honors for social media at the AMA Pinnacles and PRSA Paper Anvil awards.

Donovan was born and raised in New Jersey but lived and worked in Connecticut for a number of years before moving to Nebraska in 1999. Starting her career as a high school English teacher, Donovan moved into advertising in the early 80’s. In 1999 she accepted a job offer from Bozell, an Omaha based ad agency. In late 2001, she and three colleagues purchased Bozell from its New York based parent company.

Donovan lives with her husband of nearly 40 years and three bulldogs, Roxi and Sadie (Sweet Pea) and Frank.

Robin Leemann Donovan always imagined herself as a humorist, somewhere between Cornelia Otis Skinner and James Thurber, but never had the time to bring this dream to fruition. Her Donna Leigh Mysteries have combined this dream with the ability to kill off those who have annoyed and/or thwarted her through the years, thus providing much needed therapeutic value. Her protagonist, Donna Leigh, is the menopausal owner of an ad agency in Omaha, Nebraska, and people around her keep getting killed. Donna Leigh is a flawed character who has high aspirations and a caring heart. In her first two novels, she is forced to help the police solve murders in which the victims were people that she disliked – a lot.

Robin’s 3 Books

3rd Book – I Don’t Know Why They Killed Him He Wasn’t Really That Annoying

When your close friend is murdered nothing makes sense. Badly shaken by the news of her friend Ed’s murder, Donna Leigh does not sit idly by in the wake of the tragedy. Aware that he’d been conducting investigations of suspicious behavior within several notable vineyards, the menopausal ad exec enlists the aid of her friends and colleagues to navigate the dangerous underside of the wine industry looking for answers. Donna’s sleuthing leads her through a labyrinth of corruption and deceit that threatens danger at every turn.

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Interview Transcript Robin Donovan

Richard Lowe  00:00

Good evening. This is Richard Lowe with author talks with Richard Lowe. And I’m with Robin Lehmann Donovan. She is the president of bozell, a marketing communications firm. She’s also the author of The Donna Lee mystery series on Amazon. Her first book in the series, is it still murder even if she was a bitch won an AMA Pinnacle Award So, Robin, tell me a little bit about yourself.

Robin Donovan  00:33

Well, I was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, probably will while bullets were still flying. I grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, which is almost like a sort of a suburb of of Manhattan. And when I was 12, my parents dragged me up to Connecticut, it was a quite a culture shock. And, and I spent the next 20 or so years in Connecticut, and, and then was recruited for a job out in Omaha. So three very different cultures. And I took my, you know, kind of New Jersey, what ends it attitude with me and, you know, sometimes that plays well, it doesn’t always play well, you know,

Richard Lowe  01:19

I understand, and how did you get into writing?

Robin Donovan  01:23

Well, I was always an avid reader. And I started my career as out as a secondary English teacher. So and I think we all wanted to right at some point in time or another, but even as a kid, I had visions of being a cross between Cornelius Otis Skinner and James Thurber, delusions of grandeur, I guess you could say. And I just always had a million excuses that I don’t have time. I’m working too hard. I am going to school I’m working. So. So I probably postponed it longer than I should have.

Richard Lowe  02:02

Okay, and you chose mysteries. And what was so interesting about mysteries for you.

Robin Donovan  02:07

You know, when I as I was growing up, my mother was always reading Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie. And when we would get together as a family, we were always watching murder mysteries. And so that, that was sort of just I was, I knew that I wanted wry humor. But I said, Okay, well, that’s great. But, you know, I’m not Dave Berry. So how do I write humor, I had to have some kind of a platform or plot. And the thing that I was most familiar with was was murder. So that seemed like the best bet.

Richard Lowe  02:42

It’s interesting to say you’re most familiar with murder. Why is that?

Robin Donovan  02:46

Um, that I mean, believe it or not, murder was the you know, you’re from New Jersey murder is fun. I mean, my mother’s favorite show was the was the Sopranos. So that kind of gives you a hint of, you know, that’s, that’s what it kind of like grown up on.

Richard Lowe  03:08

I see. I like The Godfather. I’m not too crazy about the sopranos though.

Robin Donovan  03:12

When I when I realized that my mother thought it was terrific. I thought, well, you know, people said to us, do you? Did you ever know people who actually talk? Hell yes. We knew people that talk like that. Yes. So they were very familiar to us. I don’t we don’t know that they did any of those things. But they definitely sounded like that.

Richard Lowe  03:29

Understood. Yes. And I think the title of your first book in the series is it’s still murder, even if she was a bitch. It’s an interesting title. How did that come about?

Robin Donovan  03:38

Well, I was thinking that I wanted to write a series. And of course, before I had published anything, and I was thinking I then I have to come up with some kind of a clever name like a su graft in A is for alibi. D is for whatever. And I really couldn’t come up with anything. That didn’t sound trite. So, but I kept thinking, and I just put Claire’s murder on the top of the book. And as I wrote, as I was writing the book, I was thinking, why am I not coming up with something? And I got finished writing the book, and I still didn’t have a title. And I was talking to my business partner who has been in marketing for over 30 years. And I said, and I said to her, Well, I can’t find the perfect title for the series. And she said, Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. She said, just put a title on this book. You don’t know if it’s going to be a series. So I said, Fine. Is it still murder, even if she was a bitch, and we started laughing? And I wrote it down as a joke. And I thought my publisher is gonna say, There’s no way you can have a title this long. But at the same time, I was interviewing candidates for a creative director spot, and almost all of them came out of California in New York. And of course, what candidates do these days they look you up and they And they started asking questions about you. They want to, you know, they want you to love them. So when they were asking what, you know, what do you do for a hobby? I said, well write murder mysteries. And when they said, you know, what, what’s your title? And I told them, they all got hysterical laughing. So I said, You know what I’m keeping this title. And, you know, so that’s the whole series is kind of that’s one of the trademarks that they have very long titles, but,

Richard Lowe  05:25

you know, does the title have anything to do with the contents of the book?

Robin Donovan  05:29

Oh, definitely. Yes. What, um, you know, one of the things I that I wanted to write about was, what happens when the person you were close to that got murdered, you actually couldn’t stand that person, you know, and everybody’s thinking, Oh, my God, she was a colleague of yours, you must be devastating. Your little really, like, you know, I’m kind of celebrating. But, you know, I know that I’m supposed to be devastated. So yeah, they all they all have something to do with. The first two are I really did not like the person that got killed. And the third one, I switched it around, and I and I killed a friend. And that actually turned out to be a bigger challenge than I expected. Because it’s hard to juxtapose humor against murder and not sound like you’re up to callous or, or, in some cases, trite, and when I was when I murder a friend, I was really sappy. And going on and on about oh, no, we lost and he was such a wonderful friend, I and as I was reading it, after I wrote, I said, this, God, this is awful. I would never read this book. So I had to try to come up with another mechanism so that I, so that I could not seem so callous. I didn’t show feelings about a friend, but that I could move on and get to the humor, which is really the heart of what I write.

Richard Lowe  06:55

Okay, so you write basically humorous mysteries.

Robin Donovan  06:58

Exactly. It’s all about humor. And how do you do that? That is a very good question. I think one of the things that helps me a lot i i throw a character in for fun, it’s actually this person really does kind of exist. And she was the the main character Donald Lee, she was the the antithesis, basically, and so we’re Donnelly is not a perfect person, the other person is a total narcissist, and is always blaming Donald Lee for everything and always claiming that Donald Lee has too big of an ego. So using this person, I can get very ridiculous and still be within the realm of reality. I was interesting, because the first book had five different editors. And one of them wrote back and said, This person is completely unbelievable. This person is is a real person. So you know, but I in my business, I meet a lot of people that are unbelievable. And but they exist.

Richard Lowe  08:08

And what is your business? By the way? Advertising? Okay, yeah, I understand.

Robin Donovan  08:14

Yeah. So, you know, emotions run a little bit high with us. And you get to see a lot of that drama that you’re not seeing in an insurance company.

Richard Lowe  08:23

Sure. Um, but I’m sure there is drama and an insurance company.

Robin Donovan  08:27

It’s there, but it’s in the ladies room, and the door is closed.

Richard Lowe  08:31

Yes. True. Now, you also have a blog minilogue. So once you tell me all about that,

Robin Donovan  08:38

um, well, when logging first really became popular. We have we have a company blog, on our website. And I was writing for that blog periodically. And my partner, my business partner came to me and said, You need to write a blog on menopause. And I said, why on God’s green earth what I wanted, you know, why don’t I just hang a sign on myself saying here? She’s old, you know? So she said, No, I really think you have to do this because she said, The problem with menopause is that it’s it’s a huge denial thing. So women, very intelligent women get to menopause, and they have no idea what it’s about, and what to do about it. And you’re making in some cases, I mean, you could say, life changing decisions based on how you treat it. So what happens typically is people rush up to menopause and complete denial, hit menopause, and then panic because they don’t know what to do about it. So there are some very dry textbooks. And then there are some very campy joke things and doctors are like, I don’t really I don’t know how we could try some stuff. So what she said was, you sort of have a way of, of giving them real information, but doing it in a way that’s not threatening and makes them laugh. So Well, that’s really what we started out to do with mental logs. And then it got picked up by vibrant nation, which is a website for women 50 plus, and then it got picked up by all top, which is a factual website. So that’s that’s kind of that was the start of my thinking, Well, you know, I’ve got some menopausal women reading and like and commenting that they like what I’ve written. So maybe if I write about a menopausal woman, I’ll have a little bit of an audience.

Richard Lowe  10:27

Interesting. Are any of your people in your murder mysteries menopausal is that like

Robin Donovan  10:34

menopausal and other people that are in there with her but that Donnelly is menopausal and Donnelly was actually a lot of people ask me if she’s if she’s me. And I would say probably she is me, although I haven’t actually solved any murders. But what I wanted to create was the, the opposite of the Mary Higgins Clark 20 year old perfect figure, brilliant top of her field. And then she goes out and meets them knows she’s meeting the murderer and meets or meets the murderer without having any backup. And I’m thinking to myself, Okay, my character is not perfect in any shape, or form. She does the best she can. But she makes mistakes along the way. And there’s no way in hell that she was meeting someone in a dark alley without police backup or somebody to back her up. So in fact, there’s a scene and I think it’s second or third book where she gets a phone call. And it’s a guy and his voice is of size. And he’s saying to her, I have information for you, you have to meet me at midnight at this back alley, and she just turns on and says, bullshit, I’m not meeting you anywhere. What do you think I’m stupid. And he also needs he goes to his regular voice. He goes, I’m sorry. I thought I could help. And I thought that’s how you do it. And I was like, not with me. You don’t, buddy, you know, so. So it’s, you know, so she’s kind of, I wouldn’t say motherly, but you know, she’s been around the block a few times. And, you know, when she gets into a bad situation, it’s, it’s by pure accident. It’s not because she’s stupidly fumbled into it, which most of us, you know, most of the really, really smart detectives do end up doing that at some point in time.

Richard Lowe  12:25

Sure. Sure. So would you tell other writers to write what they believe in or what they feel rather than what somebody tells them to write or what they think is the best genre or something like that?

Robin Donovan  12:37

I don’t think you I don’t even know if you could write what somebody tells you to write. I mean, I have to in my day job, I have to write articles. And I struggle with them. And I get into and then they edit my articles. And I get irritated about that, because they take the brilliant part out and leave the part I didn’t love. But I, my first publisher, my publisher, made some suggestions like don’t don’t have to be in Omaha, and haven’t been in Kansas City. And I thought I but I know Omaha, I don’t know, Kansas City. You know, it really was important to me. And my first very first editor said, you’ve got this one character who could be gay, with a very, very small adjustment, this character could be gay. And I said, but he’s not, you know. So it was it was important to me that what was in my head really rang true with what I know. And I didn’t I don’t really like to, of course, what I say is what I write is fiction, these things didn’t happen. But the the reactions of the people are based on what I see people do and not not somebody else. A lot of editors trying to tell me what to do differently. And there was a lot of fighting.

Richard Lowe  13:58

Of course, you tell you just said you base it on what you see people do Where do you see these things?

Robin Donovan  14:04

everywhere, everywhere in my my whole life, my whole career. I just pick people up from all different parts of my life and if they have something that I that I find interesting, you know, and I try to be careful too. I try to be very PC. I mean, Janet Ivanovic, her one of our characters is a is a black hooker, former Hooker and boy, I think she’s got a I don’t have that kind of guts, you know, so I try to stay as PC as possible, but make my characters interesting. My my one character that’s sort of the narcissistic mirror to Donnelly is from a family of Romanian gypsies. And you know, in reality, the person that that knot was modeled after is from a family of traveling circus people. So it’s not that far afield. Really. You know?

Richard Lowe  15:10

So you take bits and pieces of people you’ve met or seen on TV or whatever, and kind of jam them together into your various characters.

Robin Donovan  15:17

Absolutely, yes. Interesting. I had. It was actually a lawyer, I was very paranoid at the beginning that I was that I would get sued. And my publisher had this legal lawyer, publicists lawyer, and I met with him. And he said, All right, a few things. He said, Don’t get cutesy and writing the names. And I was like, Okay, are you scratch writing names? And he said, you know, and I had, I had pulled this really, really good disclaimer out to put in, he said, you’re taking it a bit far. He said, You cannot invent human beings, because what you see is what you know. And so he said, You can morph people together, but you can’t just invent stuff. So I thought that was good advice, too. I’m, you know, I’m not embarrassed to say that I draw from what I know.

Richard Lowe  16:13

That’s good. Because I think a lot of writers have trouble with coming up with characters and characterizations it’s, they bang their heads on the wall. Probably next to coming up with an idea. That’s one of the harder things is designing that character as they go. Do you create your characters when you first start? Or do you design them as you go? And do you find them taking over your story?

Robin Donovan  16:33

I designed them as I go. And absolutely they take up Clovis, Cordoba, Seville is my she, I was going to use her for in one chapter to sort of, you know, kill a little bit of time, and she has become my favorite character. Because she always brings, he always grabs all the attention, I can write the best lines about her. You know, one of my one of the famous favorite lines that I’ve written is she would rather be the murder victim than not have it all revolve around her. You know, and so the, the left that level of narcissism, which I’ve seen, I have experienced. And so you get to say great things about that.

Richard Lowe  17:21

Oh, now, where do you get your ideas from?

Robin Donovan  17:24

Um, well, when I first started writing it, I, I, the publicist, or the publisher that I had, became a client of our ad agency. And I had started a book about our buying the ad agency, and it was awful painful. I hated every second of writing it, but I felt it was a story that shouldn’t be told, I still think it is, but I’m not sure I’m the right one to tell it. So I said to him when I when I first started with him, Gi, I’m just writing a book, but I’m a little worried that I might get sued. And he said, Well, what do you mean? And I said, Well, when we bought that the agency, a lot of things happen. And he said, You mean people behaving badly? And I said, Yeah, people be having based on I don’t think you have anything to worry about. And I said, I think I might. So he said, Well, give me what you’ve got. And I’ll bring it to my lawyer. And he came back a week later. And he said, the lawyer wants to know, are many of these people dead yet? And I said, not yet. So he said, Maybe you should backburner this. And so he said to me, you know, tell me what, tell me what else you like, what else do you like? And I said, I like comedy. And he said, well, then go write your comedy and show me. So then I said, Now, I don’t know how to write a comedy or and as I said earlier, I don’t know. You know, like, comedy about what, you know, just like a book up Stand up routines or something. So that’s when I said, Okay, I really like murder. So I’ll enjoy that. So then I realized I wrote the first three chapters, and they came out like they were there for years. I sent those to him. And he said, Yeah, I like this. I want you to keep going. So after three chapters, I said, Okay, well, I’m ready to write the ending. And, you know, I’m like, Well, you can’t write the ending now. So what I did was I split the book up into four equal parts, and I looked at a books like joke, like Ivanovic and said, Okay, she does humor. How many? Aside from just saying funny things, how many comedic incidents does she typically have? And it looked like, probably about six to a book. So then I started as I was, you know, wending my way through my plot. I would try to think of well, what would be a comedic incident that I could throw in here and it and I definitely stayed away from blowing up cars because that was the event that’s about On a pitch, so I that’s her thing. So I’m not blowing up cars, or car fires. But, but as I started getting into it, I things would just, Okay, well, there’s a knife so back and this could happen, or Okay, they’re waiting in a coffee shop, what if, you know, a guy came in and tried to rob the coffee shop? What would happen then? And so, um, you know, it just really just evolved, and I never planned any of it, it just all of it just, you know, I’d be like, Okay, we’re in this situation, is there something funny here? You know, and tried really hard not to put too much into make it, you know, ridiculous. But you know, and the nice thing about it is, there were times when I got to kind of make quasi political statements about, like, one, I think it’s two, they’re driving to the airport, and they’re busy chatting, and they don’t realize there’s a detour and they end up on a runway. So you know, and so I talked about how back east, they tell you, you have a detour, but they don’t tell you where to go from there. So you’re wandering around aimlessly for hours, you know, and they usually don’t do that in the Midwest, they’re usually pretty good about directing you so that you’re so you get right where you need to be. So you know, so it’s not against me, but it also, you know, talks a little bit about culture and the East Coast and that sort of thing. Because I used to make me so mad. And I, I would die whenever there was a detour when I lived in Connecticut, because I knew that I didn’t have a good sense of direction, and I was wandering around. And of course, back then we didn’t have Gorman’s. And so you know, it was it was not a fun thing, a detour back then.

Richard Lowe  21:50

I remember speaking of garments, I remember a time when I had when, and it delivered me to the wrong spot. There was this long, I haven’t had that happen. And that’s like, where am I I don’t even know how to get out of here. And it was very frustrating.

Robin Donovan  22:03

I know. It’s it’s like, you know, but it’s like the police let you down. They were supposed to show up and they didn’t come. I mean, if Garmin can take you to where you need to go? What you know what his life, right?

Richard Lowe  22:16

It was just weird. Because it’s totally unexpected. It’s got to happen a lot. I’m sure it means complicated. So how do you promote your books?

Robin Donovan  22:27

Ah, not as effectively as I would like to. I, when I first started, I did a lot of local public engagements and, and that was a lot of fun for me, because I’m basically a big ham. So I like to get out there. And you know, so that was really helpful. But the kind of ironically, what I’ve come to learn is, no matter what else I do, my best sales are through Amazon, when they offer Amazon Prime, they offer it for free, they still have to pay me. So that’s probably where the volume of sales come from. I mean, I’ve, I’ve done. I don’t I can’t do a lot of traveling, because I do have a business to run. So, but I’ve done, I had a phone call from the University of Arkansas, and they said, We’re going to do your book in a book club when you call in and be a guest speaker, you know, so I’ve done stuff like that I’ve done, you know, long distance call ins and things like that. But, you know, it’s the volume. It’s not a huge volume. And, you know, the the only time I’m seeing volume is is Amazon. So,

Richard Lowe  23:35

yeah. Promotions is like the elephant in the room for most writers, they don’t understand how to do it. Because it’s, it’s totally different thing.

Robin Donovan  23:43

Yeah, it is a different ending, you know, I mean, I actually have a company that does promotion. But book promotion is is very different from I mean, it’s funny, because we can, we can advertise and promote anything, but books are very different. And so you know, so it’s, and part of that is that I’m cheap, you know, in which most most authors are cheap. I know, if I spend money I could, I could make, you know, I could move it. And you know, at some point, I spend a little here and a little there and I test things out. But I don’t spend the kind of money that you need to really, you know, move the needle.

Richard Lowe  24:19

And of course, different genres have different promotions that will work and not work. I’m sure romance has to be promoted in a different way than mysteries and science fiction and so on. Right?

Robin Donovan  24:29

Although pretty much everything goes with murder. So

Richard Lowe  24:33

true. True. And how do you remain productive when you’re writing?

Robin Donovan  24:39

Um, when I am in the middle of writing a book I write on Saturday and Sunday for about eight hours each day. And it’s not I don’t tell myself I have to do that. It’s what I look forward to at the end of the week. I really enjoy the writing part of it. i That surprised me because when I started the first book about buying back the company, every second of it was fun. painful but a lot of it was, it was a very difficult, challenging time. And I remember the pain as I was writing the book. When I’m writing comedy. I’m just I’m having the best time. I enjoy writing a comedy as much as I do sitting in watching a really good comedy.

Richard Lowe  25:17

Yeah, I’m a ghostwriter. And sometimes it’s like, but you said you have trouble understanding how people write things that is not their own ideas and things. As a ghostwriter. I’m always writing something that’s somebody else’s idea. It’s very interesting.

Robin Donovan  25:31

A lot of credit for that I’m not sure I could do it.

Richard Lowe  25:34

I’m actually writing six books at a time, different books for different people

Robin Donovan  25:38

that I know I couldn’t do. I don’t think I could separate in my head.

Richard Lowe  25:43

One hour, I’ll be writing one book, and then artificial intelligence. And then an hour later, I’m writing a science fiction novel. And it’s very in there, none of them are mine. Yeah, it’s very interesting. I’m writing my own books, too. But so do you get writer’s block to get to the point where you go sit down and you want to write and I have no idea.

Robin Donovan  26:02

You know, it’s funny, I only really experienced writer’s block once. And it was because I was trying to force myself because I had a self imposed deadline, and I was trying to get it done. And I I said to myself, you’re not in the mood. And I said, Just do it anyway, and I got nothing out of it. So from that point on, I said, you know, what, if I don’t feel like it, I’m not doing it. And you know, because I don’t have anybody breathing down my neck. I have that luxury. I don’t have to. So for me, it’s just the most fun I have is writing the book. The second most fun I have is getting up and talking about it and if people laugh then I’m having a great time.

Richard Lowe  26:48

I found that for me writer’s block is the screen being right here in front of me all day long.

Robin Donovan  26:52

Well see now if I bought I we have writers we have copywriters in my company. I don’t know how they I could never do what they do. People say to me, are you a writer, I’ll say I’m a writer, but I’m not a copywriter. And they they don’t want me right. They let me write articles, but they don’t let me write copy.

Richard Lowe  27:11

I understand. I’m also a copywriter, so I understand exactly what you’re talking about.

Robin Donovan  27:16

So you got that screen. 24/7. So my job. Yeah, that could be intimidating, I think.

Richard Lowe  27:24

But I found the biggest thing is just having the computer screen there, I gotta get up. And when I do that, I come back and even for 10 minutes, I’m gonna be able to write it’s true. What do you like most about being a writer?

Robin Donovan  27:39

We that’s a very good this. There are many, many, many, many things I like about it. So what do I like most? I really like to make people laugh. And I’ve had people I know and people like don’t know, tell me that they really enjoyed my work. Even with mental logs. I I’ve actually had somebody a girl I went to high school with and back in New Jersey that I haven’t seen in 1000 years. We hooked up on Facebook, she saw my blog, somebody she knew was having a problem. She referred this woman to my blog, and she contacted me and said she said you saved your life. And that sounds so melodramatic, but if you’re really in a bad place and somebody can make can teach you something and make you learn at the same time. To me that’s as powerful as it gets. And that’s what I love.

Richard Lowe  28:34

That is interesting. I’ve been read it wrote a number of blogs and have the same kind of thing that’s saving their life but saving their job or their marriage or something like that just from little thing I wrote like, Oh, that’s cool.

Robin Donovan  28:45

Yeah, that is cool. I mean, and and whatever I can do if I can do it through humor, I mean, I would like to help somebody no matter how I could but, but humor is everything to me.

Richard Lowe  28:55

Of course. Now what kind of tips would you have for other writers out there?

Robin Donovan  28:58

Ah, well, other writers of murderers I would say keep notes on every chapter that you write up show where you introduce the characters and if you gave them a name make sure you remember what the name is and who which character has that name because one of the one of my pet peeves is the leaving red the red herring at the end of a especially like a cozy murder mystery that’s not a hard detective book but you know more about the humor I still want the mystery to hold and be of interest that I I want to I want to capture people at two levels. I want to make them laugh but I want to make them read a murder mystery and and get to the end of it. So if I if I didn’t have notes on every chapter, I would have left everything dangling all the way. You really forget what You write something that’s 300 pages, will you forget? I don’t know. Did I say that? Or did I think I was gonna say that I, you know, so. So that would be my my bet. And it was funny because the very first talk I did was in the pavilion library. And this guy, Ray, very sweet man was sitting there taking notes. And I was so proud that somebody would take and the whole talk was on. How do you write, which I thought was a little aggressive for somebody who was given her first talk, but I went through the whole thing, and he asked me some questions. And it got to the end. And he said to me, I’m an engineer. And this is the process we use to create products. And I was like, blown away, I never dawned on me, I guess I was reinventing the wheel. But I guess it’s kind of human nature to get where you need to go to organize a project like that, and, and be able to know, this is what I did. And this is what I’m doing. And this is when I did that. And, and I think that’s for a murder mystery. That’s the key, about 10 minutes after I got my three chapters back after the publisher said, Yes, I want you to write and I was celebrating, and then I thought, How am I going to keep all this straight? I have no idea. And so I thought I better have a system then. And that’s what I spent the next few days doing is devising a system.

Richard Lowe  31:24

I keep notes on the characters off on separate pages. So each character has its own page. And as I go through the book,

Robin Donovan  31:31

I should do that too. Because sometimes I forget where I introduced them. I like that I’ll, I’ll do that next time, too.

Richard Lowe  31:38

I also keep notes on each scene. So because I write science fiction, so this planet or this building or this spaceship, because otherwise I totally forget. Oh, I

Robin Donovan  31:48

know, I It’s amazing what you forget. And you know, like you killed someone, and then you bring them back again. And you really have to be careful about

Richard Lowe  31:57

or the teleport problem, which Game of Thrones is suffering from a little bit right now? Suddenly, we’re here and suddenly they’re over there. And they get there.

Robin Donovan  32:05

Yes, yeah. You’re bloopers.

Richard Lowe  32:07

Yeah. Anyway, so we’re almost to the end. Do you have any closing remarks for our listeners?

Robin Donovan  32:14

Um, yes, I do. My first book really wrote itself. And I think probably, that’s what happens. It’s divine inspiration and your your the hands that are doing it. My third book, I was pushing myself a little bit because what I wanted to do if the first book, I said, while it was being edited, I wanted to write the second book, so that I could then go move into editing that when the first book came out, with the third book, I wanted to do the same thing. Once the second book went into editing. I wanted to have a book so I, but I really didn’t know why. What I wanted to do. I know I wanted to kill a friend. But I really didn’t have I really, I have to tell you why it was my favorite thing. As the reason I picked this guy. He’s he’s really a smart ass. But he has had one older sister and she had some mental problems. And he was telling me, yeah, we had to clean out our apartment. And I opened up the desk, the drawers or nightstand. And there was a note in there that said, if I, if I’m found dead, my brother did it. And I said, I’m killing you. And so anyway,

Richard Lowe  33:24

well, you have to be careful, because this could be taken out of context, you know, some, there could be some murder in the area, and they can see this interview, and I want to kill a friend.

Robin Donovan  33:33

Right? We do have to be careful about that. But when I first started writing the third book, I was pushing myself, and I said, I’m going to write half the book. Because if I don’t get half the book done, I may never come back and finish it. And I know if I write half, I’ll get it done. So I put it aside for probably two years. And then I went back to it and read it. And I said, this is this really stinks if Dad, I mean, it’s just, there’s nothing, I don’t think there’s anything redeemable about it. So I really thought about it. And an idea popped into my head that had never been even close to, it would never have come into my head two years earlier. And I wrote the last chapter. And then I went back and revamped the whole front of the book. And then the rest of the book was wrote wrote was written beautifully. And I was shocked that I was able to dismantle it the way that I was and then put it all together and then actually have it flow. So So I guess my advice is, even if it doesn’t work, you can make it work.

Richard Lowe  34:50

I’ve actually done that exact same thing where I wrote about a third of the book and then written wrote the end and then came back and rewrote parts and finished it up.

Robin Donovan  34:59

Okay, So I mean, I That’s so weird. Weird. And I mean, I’m like, I’m impressed with what you do I, I’ve always thought about some ghost writing, I’ve, I’ve met a couple of authors, that one of the things that I found out and tell me if in your experience, this is true, if you have a personal connection to a murderer, you will get a book published, and you will get a movie offer, even if your books is terrible. So I’ve met a couple of those authors and read some of their work and thought, who would actually published this, you know, and I mean, it’s, you know, and I’m not William Faulkner sitting here, and this stuff was bad. But, but the one woman in particular, who I won’t get too specific, because she will recognize herself and, and come after me with a pickaxe. But a member of her family was a mass murder. And so that was her first novel, and I read, like her third novel, and it was one of the worst things I’ve ever read. And she wanted me to do a review on it. That was not easy. But, you know, so that I mean, I would have loved to try to go straight that and make that into some I don’t know, I don’t know if I could have.

Richard Lowe  36:18

But yes, it’s an interesting career.

Robin Donovan  36:22

Yeah, I think so. Get enough credit for it.

Richard Lowe  36:26

I get no credit, I get paid for it. So they pay me usually part of it upfront, and then I finished the book for them and get paid as I go. So that’s, that’s my compensation.

Robin Donovan  36:37

Do you belong to the ghost Writers Association of America? And do you all have a big party and talk about?

Richard Lowe  36:43

There is a ghost ghost writing Association? There’s probably several, but I’m a member one and yeah, we do have parties. And we don’t generally talk about it because it is confidential, and we sign agreements. Wow.

Robin Donovan  36:53

I Yeah. I mean, I don’t think of myself as a huge info, but I’m not sure I could do that. But I guess if the compensation is good enough, you can do a lot of things.

Richard Lowe  37:03

Pays the bills I love to write. So there you go. That’s great. Anyway, well, thank you for coming. It was it’s been an interesting interview. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Robin Donovan  37:12

Thank you. It was my pleasure. It’s a pleasure meeting you. Thank

Richard Lowe  37:15

you. And for all of those people out there. Be sure and subscribe to the video. Hit the button down below to get more videos in the future. Thank you for coming on. Robin. I wanted to call you something data, but I didn’t.

Robin Donovan  37:27

Well, that’s why my protagonist has done it because everybody calls me Donna, because my last name is Donovan. Yes, yes. So I thought well, all right. I’m gonna use her.

Richard Lowe  37:37

And be sure and stay in touch and I’ll let you know when this is published.

Robin Donovan  37:41

Perfect. Thank you so much, Richard.

Richard Lowe  37:43

Thank you. You have a great night.

Richard Lowe
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Robin Donovan

It was a genuine pleasure getting to know you, Richard. Thanks so much.