MLC: What started you writing mysteries?
AUTHOR: My agent said that since I use so many examples and anecdotes in my non-fiction books, maybe I should try my hand at fiction. I read mysteries, so naturally, I gravitated in that direction.
MLC: Did you publish the first mystery you wrote?
MLC: What is your favorite mystery subgenre to read? to write?
AUTHOR: Traditional mysteries, mostly, although I like private eyes, too. And some thrillers. And police procedurals. Okay, I like all mysteries, except the graphically violent ones.
MLC: Which comes first for you, the plot or the characters?
AUTHOR: I write a recurring series, the Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries, so many of the characters already exist. That said, plot comes first.
MLC: What is your daily writing schedule?
AUTHOR: I write all the time…On writing days, I generally am at the computer by eight in the morning and work until six or seven. On teaching days (I teach craft workshops and college classes), I’ll sneak in as much as I can. Ten minutes here and ten minutes there add up.
MLC: Do you outline?
AUTHOR: I’ve tried everything… outlines, synopses, mini-synopses, and nothing. As near as I can tell, all approaches work and all have challenges.
MLC: Who are your favorite mystery authors? Do you try to emulate them in your own writing?
AUTHOR: Rex Stout is my favorite. He wrote the Nero Wolfe stories. I integrate a lot of Wolfean trivia in the books for fun! I don’t try to emulate him. I simply sit in awe.
MLC: Are you writing a series or standalone book(s)?
AUTHOR: A series. Josie is an antiques appraiser who uses her knowledge of antiques to solve crimes.
MLC: If you are doing a series, how many more books do you have planned?
AUTHOR: At least one more. I’m working on #7 in the series now, Dolled Up for Murder.
MLC: Do your characters ever drive you a bit crazy by going off in their own direction? What do you do?
AUTHOR: In the last couple of books, Josie’s confidence level has shot up. That means she’s more sassy and assertive than ever. I have no control over her…I write the scenes she tells me to.
MLC: Do you pattern your sleuths after yourself or someone you know?
AUTHOR: No, I made Josie up. That said, I think everything we write is an amalgamation of who we are and who we know and what we believe.
MLC: How long did it take you to get published? How many rejections did you receive? Any suggestions for writers?
AUTHOR: I wrote mysteries for years and years before getting published. I wrote my first novel when I was seven. I was on the shady side of forty when I was first published, so you do the math.
MLC: Do you ever attend any conferences? If so, which ones?
AUTHOR: I always attend Malice Domestic and Bouchercon. I try to attend others if my schedule permits.
MLC: What marketing has worked the best for you?
AUTHOR: My Web site.
MLC: Have you won any awards?
AUTHOR: I won the David Award for Best Novel. I’ve been nominated for Best First (Agatha and Macavity) and best short story (Agatha and Anthony).
MLC: What is your next project, and when will it be out?
AUTHOR: Dolled Up for Murder will be out in spring 2012.
MLC: If you could write anything at all, what would it be?
AUTHOR: I’m experimenting with plays… and enjoying it very much.
MLC: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?
AUTHOR: Learn as much about the craft as possible. I discovered late that the more I learned, the better my writing became. Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect; practice only perfects what you’re practicing. So if you don’t know how to write believable dialogue, for instance, it doesn’t matter that you’ve written five novels. All you’re doing is getting very experienced at writing weak dialogue. I teach a variety of course, including one called “Aspiring Writers Weekend,” at MIT’s spectacular Endicott House; for some writers, attending a course such as that can open up new worlds of possibility for them.
MLC: What one goal would you like to reach?
AUTHOR: Only one…hmmm…I would like to have a play professionally produced.
MMLC: Please give us your Web site url and your e-mail address where people can contact you.
MLC: Thank you so much for giving us a little glimpse into your books and your life. We look forward to a lot more books from you.