Interview with Author Angela Greenman – Ramona Portelli Blog

Interview with Author Angela Greenman

Angela Greenman is the author of the thriller, The Child Riddler, which was selected as one of the best books of 2022 by

She is an internationally recognized communications professional who has worked in 16 countries including Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, France, Japan, Malta, Pakistan, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, and Ukraine. She has been an expert and lecturer with the International Atomic Energy Agency, a spokesperson for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and a press officer for the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, the City’s civil rights department.

Tell me more about your latest book

The Child Riddler is about how a riddle holds the code to unleash the most lethal weapon on earth—the first ever “invisibility” nanoweapon, a cloaking spider bot—and only one person knows it: a gifted nine-year-old girl. Top operative Zoe—an agent for a mysterious governmental group—abducts her to get the code, but soon her enemies reveal the weapon’s existence to underground arms dealers, and now every government and terrorist organization in the world want to find that little girl. From Malta to the Italian Alps to England, Zoe races to save the child she has grown to care about all the while battling the demons of her drug addiction.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

My biggest challenge was in plot development. I didn’t outline The Child Riddler ahead of time, so I had to keep going back through it to fix plot issues. A mistake I won’t make again. My lack of initial plot outlining slowed down the book writing process considerably.

Another challenge I had was research. Even though my professional career supplied me with a wealth of information, I found I still had a lot of work to do researching what “most lethal weapon on earth” would be! Since I’m interested in the future technology of warfare, I chose a cloaking spider nanobot. Cloaking and nanotechnology appear to be the future of warfare and countries are spending billions into research programs on them. I also figured an invisibility weapon would be something that global powers and spy agencies would want to get their hands on, thus creating action for the story – and realism.

What is your normal procedure to get your books published?

I followed the traditional path of querying agents and publishers, and had many disappointments. But then when I sent a query about The Child Riddler to my publisher, they loved it! 

How important are the elements of character, setting, and atmosphere to a story, and why?

They are extremely important to immersing your reader into your story. All three—character, setting and atmosphere—must be believable and relatable to get your reader invested and involved in the story.

It is also important, even in the thriller genre, to strive to craft suspense and tension in personal relationships. Each of us has individual experiences that shaped who we are, and it is often difficult to understand why someone reacts a certain way in situations. Developing a character’s complexities makes the story realistic—because we are complicated beings!

To bring the reader into a character’s moment, I store memories and experiences, and then select from them to help me sculpt a scene the reader can see, feel and hear. Fortunately, I have traveled extensively so I have a lot of colors, smells, sounds, personalities and scenery in my muse toolbox! Travel has helped me enhance The Child Riddler with exotic and atmospheric settings.

For example, when I visited the Prague Castle in the Czech Republic, I inhaled the cold musty air of the castle towers and it transported me back in time! I visualized the castle archers at the narrow windows, and felt the terror of the torture victims when I stepped into a tower prison. The atmosphere and history of this massive complex impacted me so much that I featured it in the first chapter of The Child Riddler.

In another example, a significant portion of the book takes place in Malta, and I incorporated many things from the culture and country, such as the colorful traditional Maltese “Luzzu” fishing boats, the wine and food, so the descriptions would be richer and more vibrant.   

How many books have you written so far?

I’ve written one novel, The Child Riddler. I’m working right now on a second book, a sequel to it.

What’s the best way to market your books?

This is not an easy question to answer because it depends on the genre of your book and other factors. The general answer is to try to figure out who your readers are (the target groups) and then go and find them—what social media platform they use, and what promotional and other outlets might reach them.

Belonging to writer groups and networking with other authors helps, because you’ll learn tips and experienced authors will share advice that can help you market to your readers. Many writer groups also have marketing workshops that members can attend.

What is your writing routine? When you write, do you plan or outline ahead

I am a morning writer. My brain and muse are fresh and energetic in the mornings. I learned from my first book that for me, a plot outline is best. With a plot outline, I can still be creative and fill in the various scenes that run throughout the book, but knowing the main plot points keep me on track.

Developing the plot first enables me to do the bulk of the research up front, before I sit down to write. This is very helpful to keep the creative flow uninterrupted. If I didn’t plot it out first, I’d have to stop writing frequently to research.

How hard or easy is it to establish and maintain a career in writing?

I think it is different for each person. Each person has their own goals and expectations. What a writing career means to one person maybe be different to another. Also, there are various avenues for writers. Do you want to write short stories? Poetry? This can be a career of freelance writing, such as magazines, newspapers, blogs, etc. There is ghost writing too.

Do you want to be an author of a novel? That is another path. In this case, more often than not, it is a difficult path to establish and maintain. The competition is tremendous. The book market is saturated. When you start out—unless you are a celebrity—you’re a needle in a haystack. And once you’re published, it is a long road to gain a readership.

As a business, publishing is a slow one. It can take a year or two once you have finished a book to get published. Then there is the promotion to garner attention, which can take time. So even if you’re already a published author, your next book may take years to get out.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Publishing, as I mentioned, is a very competitive business, but those that succeed never give up. Believe in yourself even when no one else does, and never give up on your dreams. This is my business advice.

My craft advice is to see the world around you as your abundant source of inspiration. Take in every moment with all your senses. Count how many times a bird repeats its pretty song from the tree next to you, ponder the varying color hues of nature’s glorious landscape surrounding you, inhale the sweet and spicy scents wafting in the air when you’re walking in in busy downtown. This sensory notetaking will enhance your writing as you will be giving your muse so much more to share with you when you write.

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