Mystery Most Cozy Interview With Nancy Lynn Jarvis 11/5/2012

BACK IN 2012, A MEMBER OF MYSTERY MOST COZY, AUTHOR KAREN E. RIGLEY, INTERVIEWED SOME OF OUR AUTHOR MEMBERS FOR OUR 10th year CELEBRATION.  HOPE YOU ENJOY READING THEM.  TODAY MYSTERY MOST COZY REVISTS our 2012 interview with nancy lynn Jarvis.


Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Nancy Lynn Jarvis

November 5, 2012
by Karen E. Rigley

Nancy, it’s a delight to have you join our author interviews to celebrate the MMC 10th anniversary.

When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

It’s been so long ago, I can’t remember. I think it was through Jenny or Karen.

How did you know you were meant to write?

I didn’t. I was bored and started writing as a game to see if I could.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

I love the logic and structure of mysteries. Except for “Backyard Bones,” where I wanted the reader to figure out who the murderer was one chapter before my protagonist did and be yelling, “No, no, Regan, he’s the one who did it,” I think anyone paying attention should be able to solve the mystery. The fun and the challenge for me is to see if I can drop clues without giving away the murderer’s identity too soon.

What inspired you to write mysteries?

It’s not a what, but who in my case. I grew up reading Agatha Christie and loved her style and I read all of Tony Hillerman’s books just before I started writing.

What intrigues you about writing a series?

I enjoy watching the relationships between returning characters develop, and in my protagonist Regan McHenry’s case, seeing how she gets better at being an amateur sleuth as she gains experience. She didn’t trust her instincts at the beginning of “The Death Contingency.” By the time she is in “The Widow’s Walk League,” she knows what she’s doing, although she still sometimes jumps to the wrong conclusion for a time.

I’ve always thought she isn’t quite as good at solving mysteries as she thinks she is, and her ego in regard to that is fun to play with in a series, too.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

Even though I’ve written four mysteries and one other book― so I know I can create a book―and have an outline, a psychological profile and a life story for all characters so I know who they are, sitting at the computer staring at a blank screen is a challenge. I have to know in great detail how the book opens, because at that moment, I have no idea how to write.

What do you enjoy reading?

Pretty much everything, but more non-fiction than fiction; history is a favorite.

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

I know the story line and have an outline which varies in detail from chapter to chapter. In “Buying Murder” there was one chapter where all that my outline said was, “Regan knocks on Isabelle’s door.” I sat back and watched what the characters did and said after that and let them write the chapter.

Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?

Dave, the police ombudsman who is Regan’s best friend, is my favorite recurring character because he and Regan are constantly trying to one-up one another and it’s fun to write their bickering.

Mrs. Rosemont from “The Death Contingency” remains my favorite character, however, followed closely by Olive from “The Widow’s Walk League.” Both are older women who look at the world a little differently than most people do; I enjoy that about them. In fact I enjoyed writing those characters so much I took a break from mysteries to write “Mags and the AARP Gang” which is about a group of octogenarians living in an about-to-be-foreclosed mobile home park who decide to rob the bank that holds their mortgage and pay it off with their heisted money.

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Do it! You’ll have such a great time and so many adventures as a writer.

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

Surprisingly I love to get up in front of an audience and tell them about my books. As Nancy Lynn Jarvis, which is my pen name, I’m told I’m an entertaining speaker. If I try to speak in public as myself, however, I do a terrible job.

Even though I tell myself I shouldn’t let it, what irritates me the most about being an author is reviews given by people who haven’t read the book they are critiquing. It especially astounds me when they begin their review by announcing, “I didn’t read past page four, but…”

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

Hey, I have to write the books. Thrillers and violence scare me.

Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much? (tone, voice, etc.)

I can’t read any non-fiction when I’m writing which is why I have a growing stack of books I want to read soon.

What are you writing now?

I’m just finishing up a book called “Mags and the AARP Gang” which is a complete departure from the mysteries I’ve written. As a mystery writer, I’m a fly-on-the-wall type who writes in third person because I’m more comfortable observing than being in the midst of things, but Mags is written in first person from the perspective of an eighty-three year old woman. It was a challenge for me to write. I did use the same structure to unfold what happens as I use to unfold a mystery, though, so that helped.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

I’m working on the outline for the next book in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series tentatively titled, “The Murder House.” I visualize people I know as I start writing many of the characters in my books. I’ve already told the real Realtor who gets murdered in chapter two that she’s doomed.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

You can go to my website: www.goodreadmysteries.com or to my Amazon author’s page:

http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Lynn-Jarvis/e/B002CWX7IQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1350796873&sr=1-2-ent

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her novels.

Mystery Most Cozy links:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/188620978695/?fref=ts

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MysteryMostCozy/?yguid=482689562

 

Mystery Most Cozy Interview With Beth Groundwater 11/8/2012

BACK IN 2012, A MEMBER OF MYSTERY MOST COZY, AUTHOR KAREN E. RIGLEY INTERVIEWED SOME OF OUR AUTHOR MEMBERS FOR OUR CELEBRATION.  HOPE YOU ENJOY READING THEM.  TODAY MYSTERY MOST COZY REVISTS THE fourth INTERVIEW IN OUR 10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION BACK IN 2012, AUTHOR beth groundwater. 

 

by Karen E. Rigley

Beth, we appreciate you joining our MMC interviews.  I am enchanted by the title of your new mystery,To Hell in a Hand Basket. Very clever.

Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary.  What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?

My favorite thing about the group is reader interaction, both because I can connect with readers interested in my own series and because I can gather information on great mysteries I want to read myself.

When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

I discovered the Mystery Most Cozy group when it was a yahoogroup, not yet a Facebook group, and I think I joined in January of 2008.

How did you know you were meant to write?

I am a voracious reader as well as a writer, and I still try to read at least a book a week. I wrote stories as a child, and I always knew that I would return to writing fiction someday, though I had to wait until I’d retired from my career as a software engineer to have the time to tackle a novel-length manuscript.

What fascinates you about mysteries and what inspired you to write mysteries?

I’ve had a lifelong interest in solving puzzles—Sudoku, jigsaw, crossword, manipulative, you name it. I’ve applied that interest to software algorithms, understanding what makes a person tick, and designing (when I’m writing) and solving (when I’m reading) a mystery novel’s “what if?” My undergraduate degree was in computer science and psychology and my master’s degree was in software engineering. I like to think that I’m putting the psychology component of my education to use in my mystery novels, especially abnormal psychology for my killers. In mystery novels, the murders are premeditated for the most part, and people need a really good reason to plan to kill someone. Also, someone who’s willing to plan to take a life is not “normal” and should have some underlying psychological pathology.

What intrigues you about writing a series?

I’m intrigued by how my characters grow and change over time and how the events in each book influence their personalities, relationships and outlook on life. This is especially true for my two series protagonists, gift basket designer Claire Hanover and whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner. Writing two series also challenges me to come up with new and interesting situations to drop each protagonist in, situations that will test them by challenging their fears and weaknesses, while at the same time allowing them to use their strengths to solve problems.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

The amount of non-writing work involved! There’s the contracting process, research, promotion, networking and all of the other ancillary activities that are part of having a writing career, but that take precious time away from the writing itself. Promotion is something that is ongoing, and which ramps up around the time of each release. I try to focus on the writing and editing I need to get done each week first, then work on promotion later in the day or later in the week after I’ve finished the writing I need to do to meet my deadlines. I have to be very organized and give myself weekly goals to stay on track.

What do you enjoy reading?

Some of my favorite mystery authors are western and/or outdoor-oriented writers who I’ve gotten to know at conferences and through their wonderful books. Examples include William Kent Krueger, Dana Stabenow, Craig Johnson, Kathy Brandt, C.J Box, Christine Goff, and Margaret Coel. All of the books by these authors have a strong sense of place, and the authors obviously love those places. Their books also have very realistic characters who face both the challenges presented by their outdoor environments as well as the challenge of solving whodunnit.

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

If you’ve heard of the distinction between “plotters” and “pantsers” (those who write by the seat of their pants), as a former software engineer, I’m squarely on the plotting side. I profile my characters and prepare a detailed scene outline before I start writing. For each scene, along with describing what the characters in the scene do, I describe what’s happening “off-camera” to other important characters (particularly the killer) not in the scene. I also list the date, day of the week, and time of day of each scene. As I write the book, I add the scene’s page numbers to the outline to help me find scenes later.

Each book has a directory of its own on my computer with files for the scene outline, character profiles, interviews with experts, research notes, the current manuscript, discarded bits that I don’t want to throw away yet, backups of older versions, the acknowledgements page, change requests from the editor, etc., etc. Then there’s the cardboard magazine file holder stuffed full of paper research materials.

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

I have four pieces of advice for aspiring authors. 1) Join a critique group and listen very closely to what other writers are telling you about your work. If you need to go back and study some aspect of the craft, do it. I spent a year focusing on my weak spot, character development, and now readers tell me that’s what they like best about my writing. 2) Set measurable goals, make out a weekly plan for how to meet those goals and report to someone weekly on your progress. 3) Remember that your words are not golden and that your critique partners and editors have the same goal you do—to improve your writing until it’s publishable. Be willing to change anything to make a story work. 4) Network, network, network! I met my first editor and both my first and second literary agents through networking with other writers. I continue to make contacts with librarians, booksellers, media personnel and others the same way.

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

I enjoy the process of developing characters, plotting out a story, researching the elements I need, cranking out the rough draft, then molding the book into a final polished product through editing. At first, it was a challenge I set for myself—to publish a book. Now, I’m hooked, not only on the creative process, but on the public accolades I receive. 🙂 Being a writer to me means crafting stories that entertain readers, allowing them to escape from their day-to-day lives and have some fun. Bringing pleasure to others is a great pleasure to me. As for what drives me crazy, see my answer to the question about the most challenging facet of writing.

Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries?  Do you add it into your own stories?

I try to weave at least three subplots into each book that interact with the main plot of figuring out whodunnit. One subplot is usually some issue in the protagonist’s life that is a thorn in her side, another is usually a political/environmental/social issue, and another is usually a romantic subplot. So yes, I do like a touch of romance in my mysteries, though all the “plumbing details,” as I like to call them, remain behind closed doors.

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

Sweats! And not because I’m sweating out the words, just because they’re comfy. 🙂

As author you create magic offering readers an escape into your story.  As you write how deeply do you submerge into your own characters, setting and plot? Do you dream any of your scenes?

I like to say that scene ideas creep up on me in the middle of the night and say “Boo!” This is why I keep paper and pen by my bed when I sleep. Seriously, though, I think sufficient sleep is very important to those working in the creative arts, because that’s when the subconscious brain goes to work solving plot issues and coming up with new ideas. And when I’m writing the rough draft of a mystery novel, I’m very deeply submerged. Thats why I don’t play music when I write, because I have to be able to hear what the characters are saying to each other in my head.

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

Because I don’t like what I call the “icky stuff,” which includes rape, torture, child abuse, gore and gratuitous violence. So, I don’t write that stuff, either, though I do explore adult-oriented themes in my novels. I read true crime, but I prefer telling my own stories rather than researching and telling about a factual case.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

My next release on November 8th is a re-release in trade paperback and ebook ofTo Hell in a Handbasket, the second book in my Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series, that was released in hardcover in 2009. Here’s the blurb and a couple of review quotes:

An icy demise snowballs in book 2 of this Agatha Award-nominated series. Gift basket designer Claire Hanover is reluctantly enjoying a spring ski vacation with her family in Breckenridge, Colorado, when a bloodcurdling scream cuts the frigid air. Claire is appalled to find the sister of her daughter’s boyfriend dead on the slopes. Others assume the girl’s death was an accident, but Claire notices another pair of ski tracks veering dangerously into the victim’s path. To protect her daughter as incriminating clues surface, Claire unravels a chilling conspiracy.

“Groundwater’s second leaves the bunny slope behind, offering some genuine black-diamond thrills.”
— Kirkus Review, April 1, 2009

“Tightly plotted and very current, the story manages to keep you on the edge of your seat.”
— Gayle Surrette, Gumshoe Review, May 1, 2009

What would you like to say to your readers & fans?

I love chatting with readers in person at my signings, on social networks or via email. You can email me at my website or befriend me on Facebook or Goodreads. I will do Skype or speakerphone visits to book clubs who want to discuss my books, if you don’t live near me. I’ve also participated in on-line chats about my books. Please don’t be shy about contacting me, and if you haven’t read one of my books, I hope you’ll give them a try!

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

My website is: http://bethgroundwater.com/

My blog is: http://bethgroundwater.blogspot.com/

My Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/beth.groundwater

My Goodreads page is:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/471598.Beth_Groundwater

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her mysteries.

Mystery Most Cozy links:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/188620978695/?fref=ts

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MysteryMostCozy/?yguid=482689562

 

Mystery Most Cozy Interview With Nicola Slade 11/3/2012

BACK IN 2012, A MEMBER OF MYSTERY MOST COZY, AUTHOR KAREN E. RIGLEY INTERVIEWED SOME OF OUR AUTHOR MEMBERS FOR OUR CELEBRATION.  HOPE YOU ENJOY READING THEM.  TODAY MYSTERY MOST COZY REVISTS THE third iNTERVIEW IN OUR 10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION BACK IN 2012, AUTHOR nicola slade.

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews nicola SLADE 11/3/2012

By Karen E. Rigley

Nicola, thank you for joining our Mystery Most Cozy author interviews.  It’s a such pleasure to interview you.

Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary.  What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?

I’m a new member and am still discovering things about the group but so far the best thing is finding myself among kindred spirits!

When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

Fellow author Anya Wylde told me about the group

How did you know you were meant to write?

I was about six years old when I realized books came out of people’s heads and decided that was what I wanted to do. My first short story was accepted when I was 23.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

Partly it’s the puzzle element but there’s a tidiness about a cozy; evil is always punished, right always triumphs. (Almost always!)

What inspired you to write your mysteries?

My mother and grandmother adored the greats: Christie, Allingham, Wentworth, Sayers, so I was brought up in a house full of cozy mysteries!

What intrigues you about writing a series?

I like the continuity, the familiarity with my protagonist; I know how she thinks and that sends me off in different directions. I have two series, a Victorian one and a contemporary one, and it’s fun to ring the changes.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

Making myself actually sit down to write!

What do you enjoy reading?

Well, mysteries, of course! I also love historical novels and again, I was brought up by two women who believed reading was the most important key you can give a child, so I read what they read – and they read mystery and history!

Which authors have influenced you?

Dozens, ranging from Victorian bestseller, Charlotte Yonge, to contemporaries, Lindsey Davis & Terry Pratchett, via all the 20th century schoolgirl series (Elinor Brent-Dyer, Elsie J Oxenham et al)

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

Not a lot, usually! My second Victorian cozy (Death is the Cure) began with two scribbled notes: ‘woman with wooden leg’ & ‘man who loves funerals’.

Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?

I love both of my protagonists, Charlotte Richmond who is my Victorian heroine(Murder Most Welcome & Death is the Cure), and Harriet Quigley, my contemporary sleuth (Murder Fortissimo & A Crowded Coffin). Why? Because they’re feisty and wimpy, clever and silly, brave and terrified and very funny – in other words, they’re human beings!

What would you like to say to your readers & fans?

Thank you for reading my books,’ would be the first thing!

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Just write. Keep submitting your work and take notice of criticism and advice.

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

The best bit of all is when a reader tells me she has fallen in love with my book! The most irritating is when someone says: ‘How much did you have to pay to get published?’ I smile sweetly and say, ‘They paid me.’

If you could meet three people (living or dead) and chat mysteries with them, who would you select?  What would you discuss?

King Richard III (I’m a big fan) – I’d ask about his life; Prince Rupert of the Rhine (English Civil War) – I’d probably just goggle at him – he was a very handsome, charming hero! And author Charlotte Macleod whose books showed me that mysteries can be funny.

 Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries?  Do you add it into your own stories?

I do like to find some romance in mysteries and I certainly include it in mine. Love and hate, life and death are all intertwined.

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

Comfortable, scruffy jeans.

As author you create magic offering readers an escape into your story.  As you write how deeply do you submerge into your own characters, setting and plot? Do you dream any of your scenes?

Charlotte, my Victorian heroine is Australian and earlier this year I was in Tasmania and felt her very near me. I was so aware of her I could almost see her crinoline twitch out of sight – just out of the corner of my eye. It was fabulous, I’ve never been that close.

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

Because that’s what I like to read. I don’t want too much gore and grime, I want to enjoy myself.

Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much? (tone, voice, etc.)

I don’t think I’m influenced by them, but I prefer to read my old favourites, my comfort reads while I’m writing – at the moment I’m working my way through all 30 Miss Silver novels.

Do you feel you must write your cozies in a series? If so,why?

It just happened that way. I love to read a series and it seems natural to write one.

Do you enjoy “stand alone” cozies that are not part of a series if written well?

If I’ve enjoyed a ‘stand alone’ I’ll always wish I could read more.

What are you writing now?

I’m at the thinking-it-over stage with my third contemporary cozy, featuring former headmistress, Harriet Quigley & her clergyman cousin, Sam Hathaway. It’ll be set among amateur artists.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

A Crowded Coffin’, out January 2013. It’s contemporary, featuring Harriet Quigley. She gets involved in a treasure hunt that turns nasty. Lots and lots of history in this one.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

Blog: www.nicolaslade.wordpress.com (would love people to Follow me!)

Website: www.nicolaslade.com

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her mysteries.

MYSTERY MOST COZY links:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/188620978695/?fref=ts

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MysteryMostCozy/?yguid=482689562

Mystery Most Cozy interview with Sherry Lewis 10/28/12

Back in 2012, a member of Mystery Most Cozy, author Karen E. Rigley interviewed some of our author members for our celebration.  Hope you enjoy reading them.  Today Mystery Most Cozy revists the second interview in our 10th anniversary celebration back in 2012, author Sherry lewis.

 

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Sherry Lewis/Jacklyn Brady

October 28, 2012

by Karen E. Rigley

Welcome, Sherry.  You and I go way back to before your first mystery, so it’s such a treat to interview you on behalf of  Mystery Most Cozy.

Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary.  What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?

I think my favorite thing about the group is the reader interaction. I like hearing how other readers react to the books I read, what they liked that I didn’t, what they didn’t like that I did. As part of that, I also learn about authors and books I may not have heard about from any other source.

When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

Oh, goodness! I joined about a year after Jenny started the group, and I’m pretty sure I heard about this group on some other mystery-related yahoo group or on DOROTHYL. It’s been nearly 10 years, though, and the details have escaped me.

How did you know you were meant to write?

I always knew I was meant to write. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t thinking about writing – and it was always books. I never wanted to write short stories or magazine articles. I just wanted to write books. I devoured the Bobbsey Twins books, tore through Nancy Drew, and then moved on to Victoria Holt when I was very young. I have a clear memory of saying to my mother, “Someday, when I’m a world-famous novelist…” while standing in the sandbox in the backyard of our Billings, Montana home. I moved from there when I was 11, so I must have known what I wanted to do well before then.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

I love the variety of books available in the mystery genre. I love pitting myself against the author and trying to puzzle out the mystery before s/he reveals the answers to me. I love the way a gifted author can put all the clues in plain sight and still misdirect my attention and send me racing off in the wrong direction.

What inspired you to write your mysteries?

Well, like I said before, I loved mysteries when I was young, and at one point in my life I wanted to be Carolyn Keene. Then for a while, the romance genre and family sagas claimed my attention. When I started writing seriously, the only writing group I could find in my local area was a chapter of Romance Writers of America. I joined, just wanting the interaction with other writers and tried to write a romance, but soon discovered that if I put a man and a woman in the same room, one of them would kill the other, and I was right back to my original love of the cozy mystery genre. I later wrote romances, too, but I started with mysteries.

What intrigues you about writing a series?

When I sold my first mystery novel 20 years ago, I had no intention of making it into a series. I loved reading other writers’ series but I didn’t think I was smart enough to write one of my own. I submitted that first mystery and got a 3-book contract offer from Berkley Prime Crime and freaked out. I wasn’t about to say no but I didn’t know what to do after I said yes.

At about the same time, my book club was reading Bootlegger’s Daughter by Margaret Maron. I was supposed to lead the discussion, so I got very bold and wrote to ask about her experience of writing the book. She was very gracious and wrote about character arcs and other terms I understood instinctively after many years of nursing a reading addiction, but didn’t understand from a writer’s perspective. Her letter prompted me to think about things I hadn’t even considered before then, and now it’s the character arc for the entire series that fascinates me most when I work on a mystery series.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

Oh, goodness! What isn’t challenging? I’ve had many jobs in my lifetime, but this is hands’ down the hardest of them all. It’s also the most rewarding. I think the most challenging facet is overcoming self-doubt. Even after 30-something published books, I’m still convinced that this book is the one that will expose me as a fraud.

What do you enjoy reading?

Just about anything and everything. There are some genres I like better than others, but if a book is well-written, I’ll bury myself in it and keep turning the pages. I love cozy mysteries, of course. I love hard-boiled mysteries. I love spy thrillers. I love a good romance novel. I love romantic suspense. I love family sagas. I love historical novels. I still have a dream of writing The Great American Novel set around the American Revolution. One of these days …

Which authors have influenced you?

How much time do you have??? Of course Margaret Maron was a huge influence, as was every person who ever put on the Carolyn Keene hat. Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney were very strong early influences. I can still recall images I created in my head as I read some of their books. I loved Dorothy Cannell’s Ellie Haskell series and Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone books. I think that Susan Howatch is brilliant, and I’ve been itching to read Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers again. Anne Rivers Siddons’ Colony is an all-time favorite book. Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr series were a great influence on me, as were Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series.

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

That depends on the book. Very often, I have what I think is a big chunk of an idea, only to find out that my protagonist has absolutely no interest in the perfectly good mystery I’ve thought up for him or her. There are a few books on my backlist (including my current work-in-progress) that I’ve started over at least half a dozen times trying to find something my protagonist will actually care about.

Other times, I have one tiny thing – the sound of a gunshot, perhaps, or a character I see standing on the side of the road – and then I write to find out what or who it is.

Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?

I still have a soft spot for the characters in my very first mystery series, especially Fred Vickery, my 70-something protagonist. He appeared on page one of my very first serious work-in-progress, and at that time I thought he was going to be a walk-on character who found a dead body and then got shot later in the book. But Fred came to life and demanded a starring role, and I’ve never regretted giving it to him.

What would you like to say to your readers & fans?

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your reactions to my books and your support of my career.

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Learn discipline. Don’t wait for the muse to strike, just write. Write when you want to write. Write when you don’t want to write. Write when the words are flowing and write when the voices in your head are silent. Write when life is going well, and write when it’s not. This is much easier said than done, but there will be times in years to come when the ability to write in spite of it all will save your career.

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

I enjoy being my own boss, for the most part, and the incredible freedom that comes from doing what I love to do most and getting paid for it. What drives me crazy? Probably the number of people who, when they find out what I do for a living, say, “You ought to write about my life. It would be a bestseller for sure, and we could split the money.”

Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries?  Do you add it into your own stories?

I don’t mind a touch of romance in my mysteries, but seriously just a touch. That might sound strange coming from someone who has also written romance novels for a living, but there you have it. I do add a touch to my own stories, but only just a touch.

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

My pajamas. Unfortunately, I’m not nearly as productive if I spend all day in my PJs, so I have to make myself get dressed, usually in jeans and a T-shirt, and go to work.

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

Mostly because I’m not a spy or a police officer, so I think that I can probably write an amateur sleuth with more authority than I could a police detective or an FBI agent. I find that I’m quite uncomfortable with true crime thanks to several brushes with violence in my own life. Cozy mysteries offer me the fun of the puzzle without the gore and graphic violence.

Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much? (tone, voice, etc.)

Yes, I can and I do. In fact, what I find I have to avoid reading is romance since the language and rhythm that makes a good romance is so different from what I need in my head when I’m writing a mystery.

Do you enjoy “stand alone” cozies that are not part of a series if written well?

Absolutely!

What are you writing now?

I’m currently working on the fourth book in the Piece of Cake Mystery series which I write as Jacklyn Brady.  

Tell us about your newest mystery:

Business is going stale at Zydeco Cakes and Rita Lucero has plenty to worry about. But when the blind trumpet player Old Dog Leg Magee asks for a favor, she can’t say no. His brother Monroe disappeared forty years ago, and now someone has shown up claiming to be him. Old Dog Leg needs Rita to be his eyes—and see if it’s really his brother. Old Dog Leg asks Rita and the sexy Cajun bartender, Gabriel Broussard, to check into the Love Nest Bed and Breakfast and pose as newlyweds to check out the man who calls himself Monroe. Then another guest at the Love Nest turns up dead and it seems that the mystery man might also be a mysteryer…

Arsenic and Old Cake will be released on November 6.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

If you’re looking for Sherry Lewis:

website: http://www.sherrylewisbooks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sherry.lewis.393

Twitter: @SherryLewis

If you’re looking for Jacklyn Brady:

website: http://www.jacklynbrady.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jacklyn.brady.author

Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jacklyn-Brady/180151502006968

Twitter: @jacklynbrady

 

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her mysteries.

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Mystery Most Cozy Interview with Carolyn Hart 10/22/2012

Back in 2012, a member of Mystery Most Cozy, author Karen E. Rigley interviewed some of our author members for our celebration.  Hope you enjoy reading them.  Today we start with my friend, Carolyn Hart. 

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Carolyn Hart

October 22, 2012

by Karen E. Rigley

Carolyn and Loki

Welcome, Carolyn Hart.  We’re so delighted that you are our first author interview to launch the Mystery Most Cozy 10th Anniversary celebration. I admit that I have long been a fan of yours and it’s an honor and thrill to interview you.

How did you know you were meant to write?

I was a child during WWII. Headlines brought the war to us and very soon I realized the importance of information. I wanted to be a reporter. I wrote for my junior and senior high papers, majored in journalism in college, worked briefly as a reporter. It was only after I married and had a family that I turned to fiction, but I always knew I had to write.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

The exploration if what goes wrong in ordinary lives. Mysteries help us understand how good people and bad make decisions that warp not only their lives but the lives of those around them.

What do you enjoy reading?

Mysteries and history.

Which authors have influenced you?

Agatha Christie, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and Phoebe Atwood Taylor. For sheer beauty of writing style, Edith Hamilton’s prose and Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poetry.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

WHAT THE CAT SAW, Berkley Prime Crime. After the death of her fiance in Afghanistan, Nela Farley feels an eerie connection when she looks into the eyes of a cat. She dismisses the thoughts as irrational, her mind’s way of avoiding painful memories, until the night she looks into the eyes of a cat and sees more than is safe to know.

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

I am a what if . . . writer. Some occurrence suggests an idea for a book. The people involved slowly take shape in my mind. I know the protagonist, the victim (or in suspense the goal), the reason for the crime and who committed it. Those who surrounded the victim in life will be the ones involved in the death. When I start on Page 1, I have no idea how I will get to page 300.

Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?

My own favorite characters would be Annie and Max Darling in the Death on Demand series, Henrietta O’Dwyer Collins in the Henrie O series, the late Bailey Ruth Raeburn in the Bailey Ruth series, Nela Farley in WHAT THE CAT SAW, and Linda Rossier in ESCAPE FROM PARIS.

What would you like to say to your readers & fans?

Thank you for making it possible for me to be a writer.

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Care passionately about what you write. If you care, someday somewhere an editor will care.

What inspired you to write mysteries?

I have loved mysteries since my first Nancy Drew. It wasn’t until many years after I started writing mysteries that I understood why I adore them. Mysteries celebrate goodness and reaffirm a commitment to goodness.

When & how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

I met Jenny Hanahan at a writing event and ever since I have been a huge fan of MMC.

What intrigues you about writing a series?

The pleasure of returning to characters that intrigue me.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

Trusting in the process. As a what if . . . writer I am always terrified that a story won’t be there even though I know that if I keep on writing I will find out what happened.

Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary. What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what & why?

Mystery Most Cozy makes me feel welcome. I have the same feeling of belonging and contentment when I pick up one of Susan Wittig Albert’s Darling Dahlias series.

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

Having written is an exquisite pleasure. Electronic copyedits literally drive me crazy. I loathe and despise the new format and believe it is simply one more obstacle in the path of creating the best book possible.

If you could meet three people (living or dead) and chat mysteries with them, who would you select? What would you discuss?

Agatha Christie – Her adventurous spirit and her incredible gift for misleading readers. Mary Roberts Rinehart – Her wonderful creation of Tish Carberry and her delight in humor. Edith Hamilton – Did you read mysteries?

Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries? Do you add it into your own stories?

Definitely. There is always either romance, thwarted love, or hope for love in my books. Love or its lack are the mainspring of every life. When I wrote DEATH ON DEMAND, most mysteries featured women with no relationahip or a fractured relationship with a man. I believe in love and I chose to create a woman and man who love deeply, honorably, and forever.

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

I never gave that a thought. In summer a blouse and shorts, in winter a blouse and slacks, whatever I would wear that day.

As author you create magic offering readers an escape into your story. As you write how deeply do you submerge into your own characters, setting and plot? Do you dream any of your scenes?

They are with me constantly and I often work out scenes in my sleep. And as my husband observed, I spend a great deal of time physically present but staring into space, thinking.

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

My 50th novel will be out next spring., I have written primarily traditional mysteries for the last 30 years but earlier I wrote a number of suspense novels and WWI novels. SKULDUGGERY, an early suspense novel set in San Francisco’s Chinatown, will be published Nov. 13. Coming out in June will be a reissue of my WWII novel set in Occupied Paris, ESCAPE FROM PARIS. They are, again quoting my husband, a Carolyn Hart you’ve never known.

Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own?

We all write different kinds of book with our own style. That isn’t a problem.

Do you feel you must write your cozies in a series? If so, why?

I think that depends upon the interest of the publisher. I enjoy writing series but I have never felt that I was precluded from standalones. My most recent standalone was LETTER FROM HOME, which meant a lot to me as it recalled the WWII of my childhood.

What are you writing now?

I am halfway through FATAL CHOICE, which Berkley will publish in May 2014.DEAD,WHITE AND BLUE, also a Death on Demand mystery, will be out in May 2013. In FATAL CHOICE, a doctor looks across a room and recognizes evil. He makes a fatal choice. His sister calls on Annie and Max Darling because she believes her brother’s death was murder, not suicide.

Where can we find out more about you & your books?

www.CarolynHart.com

and please sign up for my newsletter

Here’s a sample of Carolyn Hart’s NL:

Today marks the return of The Hart Beat, a newsletter for readers. Many years ago, I sent out a newsletter on paper. What a difference 30 years makes! I am excited to once again be in contact with readers and I hope you will enjoy keeping up-to-date with me via the newsletter, on Facebook, and through blogs. My thanks to each and every one of you for the wonderful welcome you have given my books through the years.
And yes, there is a new book! In fact three of them: an ebook publication only, a traditional hardcover release, and a reprint of an early suspense novel.

I hope readers will be be intrigued by this trio. Please come to www.CarolynHart.com to say hello, see a blog, or (an author’s dream) buy a book.
All best wishes,
Carolyn Hart

Coming October 2, 2012

WHAT THE CAT SAW
Berkley Prime Crime
After the death of her fiance in Afghanistan, Nela Farley feels an eerie connection when she looks into the eyes of a cat. She dismisses the thoughts as irrational, her mind’s way of avoiding painful memories, until the night she looks into the eyes of a cat and sees more than is safe to know.
Available from your favorite booksellerWhat the Cat Saw by Carolyn Hart

Cats

Here’s a piece that originally appeared at Jungle Red Writers. I’m sure all of you cat-lovers will understand just what I’m talking about….

A funny thing happened when I started to write a book where the heroine knows what a cat is thinking. I had – famous last words – a great idea for a cute, fun, lighthearted series set in a cat hotel. Our three felines live the live of Riley when we travel. They stay at Aristocats Feline Suites and Spa, individual rooms (no cages for these tabbies), water fountains, heated cushions, window views, fake tree perches. Now we may be at a down-at-heels motel with rowdy kids in the next room, tepid air conditioning, and a mysterious clanking in the air vents, but hey–we aren’t cats.

My book would feature a young woman who had always hidden from everyone, including her family, the fact that when she looked at a cat, she knew what the cat was thinking. However, the imps of fate being what they are, her sister owned a feline hotel and had surgery and needed help while recuperating so the heroine was forced to deal with cats of all sorts, shapes, sizes, and thoughts. I foresaw possibly an imperious Persian boarding and the heroine learning that the owner was last seen on a misty morning after someone knocked at the door.
Fellow writers will understand what happened next. When I sat down to start – always a by-guess-and-by-God process with me – cute cats and a lively heroine refused to respond to my plaintive calls.
Instead, a young reporter who has lost her job on a small SoCal daily and is grieving the death of the fiancé in Afghanistan finds herself looking into cats’ eyes and seeing their thoughts. Nela Farley refuses to believe this is actually happening. She is a rational, smart, serious woman struggling with sorrow. She sees the transference of thoughts to the eyes of cats as a way of avoiding hard memories. Unsuccessful in her job search, Nela welcomes her sister Chloe’s request that she come to Oklahoma and take Chloe’s place at work for a couple of weeks. And therein lies a tale of suspense, danger, and possibly the ease of heartbreak.
Nothing funny. Nothing cute. No talking cats.

I think I turned away from my initial idea because I have such enormous respect for cats. They are – to me – God’s most elegant creatures, intelligent, perceptive, independent and incredibly attuned to their surroundings and the people in their lives.

It may rather be on the order of a proud young mother who thinks her kid is always the brightest one in the room, but I have no doubt that my brown tabby Sister always knows how I feel and whether there is safety or danger in our immediate surroundings. We don’t really need the tornado sirens. Sister will tell us. And yes, cats care for their very own people. If I get up to leave the room, Sister escorts me down the hall and back again to the sofa where she decrees that we sit while we watch baseball.
Sister knows if I’m happy or sad or upset. Sister knows if danger threatens.
And so does the cat in WHAT THE CAT SAW.

 

CRY IN THE NIGHT

September 12, 2012

Never before published, this suspense novel was released as an ebook only by Berkley.

Sheila Ramsay, a young museum curator, comes to Mexico City in 1982 on a romantic whim and soon finds herself involved in a life-and-death hunt for missing gold.

Available from
Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com

 

Skulduggery by Carolyn Hart
Skulduggery
November 13, 2012
Seventh Street Books has reprinted an early suspense novel set in Chinatown.
A desperate search for the missing Peking Man bones brings danger, death, and difficult choices for anthropologist Ellen Christie.
Available from your favorite bookseller
Amazon.com – Books-a-Million –B&N – IndieBound

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