Hello, Elysabeth. Welcome to our MMC interviews.
Karen, thank you for having me as a guest during the Mystery Most Cozy’s ten year anniversary. I’m not your typical mystery writer as I’m in the process of writing a geography (50-state) mystery series and have written a middle grade/young adult mystery similar to a Nancy Drew mystery. So without further ado, here you go – E
Since MMC 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?
Being a part of the group is multifaceted for me. I like the reader support, although I’m still a big unknown. I also like connecting with other cozy authors. Love to read them, have yet to really write them.
When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?
I don’t really remember. I think it was accidental about 5 or 6 years ago when I was exploring some yahoo groups to join.
How did you know you were meant to write?
I didn’t. I entered a contest in 2006 on a dare or challenge from an online friend and enjoyed it and decided I’d like to do the same thing long-term. I have to admit that I’m not a dedicated writer as some folks are. I don’t write every day nor do I put out tons of stories like others do. I write when I’m truly inspired and go from there.
What fascinates you about mysteries?
I’ve always loved puzzles and trying to figure out things. When I’m reading mysteries, I don’t want to know who did it until the very end – I want to be able to try to figure it out before being told.
What inspired you to write your mysteries?
I’ve only written one mystery and it was kind of a vision. I tried it several ways and my editors (two online writer friends) told me I needed to write it as a young adult mystery instead of the way I had written it. I put it aside and then in 2008 during National Novel Writing Month (November) I decided to pull it out and revamp it. Technically even though I accomplished the goal of writing the 50,000+ words in 30 days, I didn’t actually do it during the month of November. I started the middle of November and went through the middle of December to complete the novel, but I did write it in 30 days. I completed it with 56,000 words, give or take a few.
My first story was actually written for a fan mystery contest and that took second place in that particular contest (that was the challenge from my friend who happened to take first place) and I sent it to an editor with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators who gave me some advice on directions I could take the story so that each state would be the mystery as opposed to a mystery destination.
What intrigues you about writing a series?
Different things. Sometimes it’s the recurring characters and sometimes it could be the multitude of directions you can take a story. My geography series is really the same, each book is a mystery state and the characters are recurring in a sense that there will always be the one person who owns the game playing the game but I’m trying to make it more interesting by switching the characters every once in a while. One of my states actually has the whole class playing the game. I’ve written the boy and his mother playing the game and I think one will actually have his sister “borrowing” the game and playing it with her friend, so Matt won’t be in the story until near the end.
What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?
Actually sitting down and writing. I don’t outline my stories but I’ve completed most of my research for my state series. Most stories I write are short and have been written for contests. I just don’t write often enough.
What do you enjoy reading?
Mysteries, ghost stories, young adult, most anything but sci-fi and strict romance. I don’t mind a little romance or a hint of romance but I’m not a big romantic or have lost that idealism in myself so don’t really want to read it.
Which authors have influenced you?
None – I tend to march to the beat of a different drummer – lol.
How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?
Usually a few plot points – or at least an idea where I need to end up but I don’t plot out the full book before writing it, except my state series. I pretty much know which characters are in the story and where the story ends (the state reveal obviously) and kind of have an idea where and when the story takes place. My other stories have all been contest-written so for most of them I haven’t had time to develop the story.
Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?
I’d have to say Kelly Watson is kind of my favorite character at the moment as that is the only true mystery I’ve written so far. I’ve been told the story, FINALLY HOME, is written very much like a Nancy Drew mystery and that I should write more and make her a series. When I wrote FINALLY HOME, I intended it to be a standalone and not part of a series. I’m still debating about writing more of her stories, so for now, Kelly will remain a single mystery intended for the middle grade and up group.
What advice would you offer a beginning writer?
If you are passionate about writing, keep at it and remember once you have the first draft down, the really hard work begins but if you persevere you will accomplish your goal.
Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries? Do you add it into your own stories?
Since I’m writing children’s mysteries with my state series and middle grade/young adult novels, I have a touch – a hint of girl liking boy or boys liking same girl – but nothing heavy romance as it isn’t appropriate to my stories or my audience.
What are your favorite “writing” clothes?
Hahaha – you mean we have favorite clothes? I write in whatever I put on for that day. I’m never one who writes in my pajamas because I work at home and I also do virtual classroom visits and don’t feel right if I’m in my nightgown while working or visiting students, even though no one can see me. I don’t have a webcam for my class visits but I would still feel uncomfortable knowing I was showing up in my nightgown and robe and slippers.
As an 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?
Not necessarily dream of my scenes but have visions – usually the key point of a story. Such was the case for FINALLY HOME. I had a vision of an old house that was calling my character to it or drawing her in and that vision stayed with me for several years and many changes of the story to come out with what I did. The house was key in the story and it shows on my cover.
Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?
That’s a tough one. I enjoy reading cozies so would probably like to write them, if that were the direction I were going. Since I’ve only written one true mystery, not counting the six state mysteries I’ve written, which don’t really fall into a category of cozy, and it’s not really a cozy since there is no murder in it, I can’t really say that I’ve written a cozy. Children’s mysteries are different than adults’ are.
Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much?
I can read just about anything when I’m writing. The reason being is I’m trying to get ideas to make my characters from FINALLY HOME into a series like the Nancy Drew mystery series.
What are you writing now?
Kind of an intrigue/psychological thriller type of novel. I was visiting a website last year that had some photos and mini prompts for the photos and several of them jumped off the page into my mind and a story was born. Technically I started it last December but only wrote a couple of pages and have decided to revamp it and will be writing it during the month of November during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo as I call it). I hope to publish it sometime in the fall or early winter of 2013, maybe even the early part of 2014 – depends on how much I like the story when I finish writing it and revising and editing and polishing up, if I get that far.
Where can we find out more about you and your books?
Ms. Eldering is the award-winning author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series. Her stories “Train of Clues” (available in print and as an ebook on kindle), “The Proposal” (available as an ebook), “Tulip Kiss” (available as an ebook), and “Butterfly Halves”, all placed first, second, or runner up in various contests to include two for Armchair Interviews and two for Echelon Press (Fast and … themed type contests). Her story “Bride-and-Seek” (available as an ebook) was selected for the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop (SCWW) anthology, the Petigru Review. Ms. Eldering makes her home in upper state South Carolina and loves to travel, read, cross stitch and crochet. When she’s not busy with teenaged children still at home, working her full-time job as a medical transcriptionist or participating in virtual classroom visits, she can be found at various homeschool or book events promoting her writing.
Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her books.
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