As part of Mystery Thriller Week (#MTW_2017) – The Blithering Bibliomaniacs were proud to be able to host a wide variety of interviews with several authors. We hope you enjoy the following interview
Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for us for MTW.
Being an official reviewer for MTW is one of the most exciting things we can do as a blog site and as is our primary goal we love to READ! REVIEW! PROMOTE! That being said; I am also excited to interview authors whether I have read their books or not because it is an excellent opportunity to get to know the person behind the book and to get a lot of information about writing.
Now I haven’t had the opportunity to read your books yet but while researching about you I came across an interesting looking one called Smugglers & Scones. This seems to be the start of a really interesting series that brings to mind another set of books Murder, She Wrote.
What was your inspiration to start this series?
I grew up watching Murder, She Wrote with my mom. We loved that show! I always felt a little removed from the excitement, though, since Cabot Cove, Maine, was on the opposite coast from where I lived. I also highly enjoyed watching Castle, which showcased another published author (played by Nathan Fillion of Firefly fame) solving crimes. But again, New York City is nowhere near me.
I decided to combine my love of professional writers-slash-amateur sleuths with my love of the Oregon Coast, which I visited regularly all throughout my formative years. But I didn’t want to create a main character who was an author. So I gave her a B&B to run and invited mystery and thriller authors of all sorts to come stay with her and bombard her with their plot ideas. Over the years, she soaks it all in, and the rest, as they say, is mystery.
Following on from that; Pippa seems like a very interesting character from the blurb of the book. With her bed and breakfast hosting so many writers she must surely be an avid reader; would you say that she was based on anyone you know?
I have a confession: the only characters I base off of real people are horrible ones. So no, Pippa isn’t based on anyone I know. She’s not much like me, either—except for the avid reading!—which made her a challenge to create. I freely admit that I’m one of the least practical people I know. I deliberately made Pippa the opposite. She has to be the person who keeps her head on straight even in a room full of overexcited creative thinkers. I suppose, in that way, she’s my best self on my best day. She’s who I would be every day if I didn’t have all these story ideas gushing out of my ears. Or so I tell myself!
Looking at the series as a whole; how often would you like to release a new book for the series and what is your secret to make sure you hit the deadline you have set yourself?
I don’t think a book every year is unreasonable, all things being equal. I love to plan, but the writing can be a slog. Luckily, I have a small critique group that helps me stay motivated to keep writing once I start. Knowing I have friends who are eager to know what happens in the next chapter keeps my fingers on the keyboard.
In your biography it states that you are a member of the Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Can you tell us a little about this group and their objectives? Why did you decide to join them?
Sisters in Crime supports female authors in the mystery genre. Women supporting women is always important. It’s a great feeling to know you’re not alone in such a large endeavour as publishing a book and working to become a successful author, especially when you face a different set of obstacles than some.
Raising a family; finding personal time and time for writing cannot be easy. What advice would you offer other aspiring writers about time management and balance of life?
Everyone has the same amount of time every day. We eat, we sleep, we live our lives. The simple—not easy, just simple—key to “finding” time to write is to make time to write. You have to force it into your daily life. You have to give up other things, like doing the dishes one day, and skipping that binge session on Netflix another day. You have to skip events, maybe miss a few sessions on the treadmill, even eat cold leftovers instead of fixing or ordering nice hot food. Your kids learn to cook and feed themselves early in life—not entirely a downside. Your life has to suffer, just a little but in a lot of ways, for the sake of your writing. The ache in your heart needs to be stronger than the little aches and pains life gives you when you try to muscle writing time your daily schedule.
From the first book you published to Smugglers & Scones; how have you grown as a writer?
My writing skills have grown immensely, thanks to my editors and their kindly guidance. I’m also much better at outlining and plotting—my first book ran about 140k words over target and became a duology by mistake. I’ve picked up a couple of programs that help me craft and keep track of my characters and plots. I’ve tried a few others, but over time I drifted away from them because they didn’t suit my writing style. Everyone needs tools that suit them and their style. I’ve had a longer road with marketing and networking due to my natural introversion and my anxiety, but I’m comfortable with where I am, and I’m always open to learning new things as my career progresses.
Going back to the book; how hard it is to come up with the perfect mystery that keeps the reader gripped while not giving away too much so that they figure it out too quickly?
Any story can be gripping if it has great characters and internal logic. If you care about the characters’ fates, and everything that happens feels believable, you can entice just about anyone to read a story. But a mystery story has to move forward at a certain kind of pace: the killer is ahead of the game at the beginning, and by the end, the sleuth has figured everything out and caught them. I plan my killers’ timelines first. They get the first move, and after that they begin to react to the sleuth’s moves. I try to make sure both sides are reacting to the plot developments in ways that make sense. And there’s always that aha moment for the sleuth. If readers can figure things out before that moment, they feel pretty clever, and deservedly so.
What would you say was the most enjoyable part about writing your latest book?
I found my humor! In previous books, I always felt like I didn’t know how to make my characters sound humorous without overdoing it. With Smugglers & Scones, though, the characters just started talking inside my head with their own humor. I wrote it down as their dialogue, and I loved how they sounded, so I kept it. It seems to be well received. According to an early critical reader, Smugglers & Scones was “funnier and smarter than Janet Evanovich.”
With your release date coming up; what advice would you give others in terms of building up hype and getting your book out into the market pre-release day?
The more potential readers see your book cover, name, etc., before release day, the more likely they are to buy the book when it’s available. I love doing author interviews, cover reveals, spotlights, and the like, which some bloggers love to help with.
Reviews are critical. I started building up a list of book bloggers and reviewers months ago. Once my publisher released my review copies, I started querying several bloggers/reviewers a day. A steady pace with noticeable progress each day makes the task of getting reviews much more manageable for me, and I can keep doing this even after the book is released.
We would just like to take a moment to thank Morgan C. Talbot for taking the time to answer the questions to our interviews and we wish her the absolute best in her writing.