MLC: Do you remember the first mystery you ever read? If so, what was it, and what pulled you into it?
AUTHOR: I’m not sure what it was, but probably a Nancy Drew or Agatha Christie. I couldn’t get enough of those.
MLC: When did you first decide you wanted to write a mystery, and what led you to that decision?
AUTHOR: I’ll read just about anything, but mysteries have always been my favorite. It never occurred to me to write anything else.
MLC: Do you write in any other genres? If so, which ones?
AUTHOR: My stories have a bit of romance in them, so I suppose that qualifies as another genre. I like the blend of the two genres.
MLC: Which comes first for you, the plot or the characters?
AUTHOR: Characters always come first with me. In my reading as well as writing. Give me deep, well-developed protagonists and I’m a happy girl!
MLC: When you are all wrapped up in the story, do you feel like you could solve the crime, or maybe even solve all the world’s mysteries?
AUTHOR: That’s a good question! I never thought about it. When I’m wrapped up in the story, I tend to worry about telling enough so the reader can solve it, but throwing in enough red herrings so they won’t.
MLC: Do you write every day, or what kind of a schedule do you have? Do you write fulltime, or do you have a “day job”?
AUTHOR: I’m a retired accountant, so I can write whenever I want. Which is what I do. There’s no schedule. I tried that, but felt too much pressure and got nothing done. Now I write when the mood hits. I’m very lucky to have that luxury.
MLC: Other than your writing, what do you enjoy doing? What is the most important thing to you in your day-to-day life?
AUTHOR: I have lots of hobbies, but most of them tend to be things I do alone. I knit and crochet, love logic problems, reading, Nintendo games and jigsaw puzzles. My husband and I enjoy fishing and cooking and do a lot of both. We’re counting the days until spring so we can get our ancient boat out and go fishing!
MLC: Who are your favorite mystery authors? Do you try to emulate them in your own writing?
AUTHOR: I’m a mood reader, but some I’m always in a mood for are Dennis Lehane, Martha Grimes, Elizabeth George, Jeffery Deaver and Minette Walters. There’s no way I could touch them when it comes to talent, so I’d never try to emulate them. I’d never try to emulate anyone. We all have our own voice, and it seems pointless to ignore it.
MLC: In your present book, is this part of a series, or is it a standalone book?
AUTHOR: Oblivious is a stand alone, although two characters from Amanda’s Rib make a brief appearance.
MLC: If you are doing a series, do you see an end to it sometime, or do you plan to go on for several years with it?
AUTHOR: In my next book I take characters from Amanda’s Rib and Oblivious, but add new ones. I don’t have plans for a series per se. It’s nice to revisit characters because I know them so well. But I want each book to have new protagonists as well.
MLC: Do your characters ever drive you a bit crazy by going off in their own direction? If so, how do you rein them in, or do you just let them run off on their own?
AUTHOR: Oh, my. They surely do go off without my permission! But I let them go because they lead me in directions I hadn’t expected. My characters become real to me, and I trust their instincts. It’s hard to explain, and probably sounds ridiculous, but that’s the best way I can put it.
MLC: Do you pattern your sleuths after yourself or someone you know? If so, do you let that person know they were your “pattern”?
AUTHOR: My characters are almost always completely made up. Family and friends tell me they see me in some of them, but I don’t. Sometimes I use the physical qualities of someone I know. I have a buddy I bicker with, and had Amanda bicker with a character in the same way in Amanda’s Rib. No one in Oblivious is based on a real person.
MLC: How long did it take you to get published? How many rejections did you have to suffer through first? Were you ever tempted to give up? What do you think made the difference when it was accepted?
AUTHOR: It took years and years to write my first novel. Then years to get published. I can barely lift my rejection file! But I tried to look at each rejection in a positive way. At least I’d tried. No pity parties. Then I’d send out more queries. That’s what made the difference. I never gave up.
MLC: Do you ever attend any conferences? If so, which ones?
AUTHOR: I go to as many as I can. Bouchercon is always fun. There is the cost to consider, but I’m hoping to go to a couple this year.
MLC: Do you have to promote your own work, or does your publisher do that for you?
AUTHOR: I do it. Amanda’s Rib was my first book, and I had no idea how to promote. Now I have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t, so I’m better prepared.
MLC: If you have to do marketing, what methods have worked the best for you?
AUTHOR: Because I’m still new, and my publisher is small, book stores don’t stock my novels. I talked a local gift shop into carrying it, and that has been fabulous. She’s sold well over 150 books, and is chomping at the bit for Oblivious to be released. Book clubs bought from her, and I’d meet with them after they read the book. If someone wants a copy personalized, I run over to the store and sign what they want. It’s been terrific.
MLC: Do you have any idea how your book is selling?
AUTHOR: Not really. I can track numbers at Amazon and B&N, but that doesn’t give me the number of books sold. Royalty statements are helpful, but only show what’s been paid to the publisher.
MLC: What has been the best review you have gotten, and why?
AUTHOR: Romantic Times and Amanda Killgore both gave Oblivious 4 ½ stars. They each mentioned laughing out loud. Since humor is so personal, I wasn’t sure Oblivious would make anyone but me laugh. So far every review mentions how much they like Olivia, my protagonist. That was a huge relief.
MLC: Have you won any awards, either as an author or for your books? Please tell us about them.
AUTHOR: No awards. The closest I’ve come is being one of Mundania Press’s best sellers.
MLC: Is there any one certain thing that a reader has written to you that made you just want to jump up and shout “Yes!!!!”?
AUTHOR: I received several emails from women who read Amanda’s Rib and took comfort from it. They said they no longer feel alone. One email actually had me in tears. I hope people like Oblivious and say it made them smile. Reaching people and touching them in some way is what it’s all about. Those are my ‘Yes!’ moments.
MLC: What is your next project, and when will it be out?
AUTHOR: I’m still working on it, so I don’t know when it will be out. I hope sometime next year.
MLC: If you could write anything at all, ignoring what editors and publishers say they want, what would it be?
AUTHOR: I do write what I want. My attitude has always been if I’m never published, then I’m never published. I don’t think I could write something I didn’t like or want to write.
MLC: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring mystery authors?
AUTHOR: I think as writers we rely too much on other writers. By that I mean we join critique groups and take classes, but we’re with other writers. Have a few readers look at your work. Let them tell you when they want more or less. There is a lot to learn from people who love to read, but don’t want to write.
MLC: Do you have any teasers for your readers and fans about the next book?
AUTHOR: In the one I’m working on now, someone has disappeared, but no one thinks anything suspicious has happened. They just think she got mad at her husband and took a vacation. Olivia, however, believes she’s been murdered and sets out to prove it. Although Amanda and Olivia are in it, the missing woman and her husband are the focus of the book.
MLC: If a genie suddenly appeared and said they would grant you just one wish for your books, what would you wish for?
AUTHOR: Great question! Naturally, I’d love a fan base the size of Sue Grafton’s! But honestly, I’d want to be a better writer. Since there is no genie, all I can do is continue to learn and try. I want to be the best I can be.
MMLC: Please give us your website url and your email 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.