MLC: What did you do for a living before writing mysteries?
AUTHOR: I’ve worked in civil and criminal law enforcement, state transportation, and for a city building department, among other things. I also had my own business, an antique store/tea room. As a divorced mother, I worked multiple jobs at a time, including everything from a shoe store to working as an abuse counselor.
MLC: What's your average day like?
AUTHOR: Hectic. Between a full-time job, writing and trying to keep a family happy, my days are about as full as they can be.
MLC: Do you have pets?
AUTHOR: I’ve always had dogs. Right now we have an elderly Springer Spaniel who is an integral part of our family. We did have some Hermit Crabs, but one by one they bit the dust.
MLC: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
AUTHOR: I’d have to call myself a Middle of the Day woman, even though I’m up by 5:30. At this stage in my life, although I’d rather be sleeping in, I find that I don’t want to miss any part of the day.
MLC: What groups are you a member of that you feel are important for you as a writer?
AUTHOR: Sisters in Crime and Murder Must Advertise. I will be doing more as time allows.
MLC: When did you start writing?
AUTHOR: I’ve always written “little” things, but started writing in earnest in the late 80’s. After a break due to circumstances, I began writing again in the late 90’s.
MLC: Have you taught writing classes?
AUTHOR: I have never taught formal classes. However, along with two other authors I made presentations to a writers' group that were comparable.
MLC: Have you taken writing classes?
AUTHOR: No, I haven’t, although my favorite class in school was English. I have, however, done everything else I could think of to learn my trade.
MLC: What are your views on critique groups?
AUTHOR: I think they’re necessary as long as they retain a professionalism. I had one writer who critiqued my work by ripping it to shreds. However, there was always a Pearl of Wisdom in her comments. My writing is better, thanks to her. I hope I can always remain open to comments and critiquing.
MLC: What is your favorite subgenre of mysteries?
AUTHOR: I’m chuckling as I say that it would depend on what day of the week that you ask me this question. Right now I’m in the Cozy Stage. Not long ago I was in the Thriller Stage. I like almost all subgenres of mysteries. It all depends on the author and what they have to offer.
MLC: What has been your biggest challenge in being published?
AUTHOR: Learning patience. I have a difficult time reducing the stories to a few paragraphs in a query letter or synopsis, and then waiting for a reply. Somewhere in the back of my brain is a little voice that keeps telling me publishers should just pick up my manuscript and read it. What a silly little voice.
MLC: Why did you decide to write the mysteries you're writing?
AUTHOR: I found I was reading mysteries that depressed me. I wanted to write something that was a little lighter and had a bit of humor in it; something that would be entertaining in a different sort of way. I hope that’s the reaction I receive for these books.
MLC: How did you choose the setting for your mysteries?
AUTHOR: I chose Los Angeles because I wanted a big city where a person could get lost in a crowd. In a small town, everyone knows what’s going on. I chose a setting where some people could remain anonymous if they wanted.
MLC: What was the inspiration for your mysteries?
AUTHOR: This is actually a tough question. I can’t honestly say I know what inspires me. It just happens.
MLC: What writers have inspired you?
AUTHOR: Harper Lee inspired me more than any other author. From the moment I picked up To Kill a Mockingbird until I put it down, I knew that I wanted to write. I find the writing of Raymond Chandler, Dashell Hammett, Mary Higgins Clark and Tony Hillerman inspiring. Actually, I’d have to say that the author of any book I pick up and enjoy inspires me.
MLC: How do you come up with your plot ideas for your mysteries?
AUTHOR: I watch and listen. I remember stories. Sometimes an individual will inspire a story, such as Humphrey Bogart in his detective persona, or a woman who was constantly threatening to file lawsuits. And sometimes a real life situation will hand me a plot whether I want it or not.
MLC: How do you research for your mysteries? How long does it take?
AUTHOR: I research at the library, online and through interviews. There’s no time limit because you never know what you’ll need. You think you’re done researching and some aspect will come up that requires more. I never stop writing while I’m researching though.
MLC: Is the setting of your mysteries imaginary or real? Why?
AUTHOR: Both. I believe that readers like a setting they can relate to, so my stories are in Southern California. On the other hand, sometimes I need to make changes to fit the story. For example, I needed a street with historic houses that was close to Union Station. I spoke to several people who gave me the name of a street. Unfortunately, I’ve never actually seen this street. I had to mold it to be what I needed for the story.
MLC: Do you live where you set your mysteries?
AUTHOR: I was born and raised in Los Angeles County, but moved out of state several years ago. It was home and always will be, but no, I don’t live where my stories are set.
MLC: Tell us about your latest mystery.
AUTHOR: In A Well-Kept Family Secret, Sandi Webster’s extremely menopausal mother comes for a visit and wants Sandi to solve a family-related hundred year old murder. Since everyone involved is now dead and buried, this is not an easy task. Sandi’s mother tries to entice her with the story of hidden treasure. The treasure is based on fact, and to the best of my knowledge, it’s never been found. In the meantime, someone is following Sandi, and she can’t figure out why. It doesn’t seem reasonable that it could be related to this coldest of cases. Does it?
In July, 2008, Bubba’s Ghost will be released, and this one involves a huge half wolf, half Golden Retriever dog. Something in the attic is scaring this fearless mutt. In another part of the county, a Skid Row type bum is harassing a young, widowed mother and her daughter. Sandi Webster has her hands full this time.
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