By Karen E. Rigley
Mary Ellen, it’s such a delight to interview you for MMC. Thank you for joining us.
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?
That’s a little like asking which is your favorite child! 😉 I love all those things about Mystery Most Cozy. The best thing about the group is our organizer – Jenny Hanahan. It’s obvious she loves cozy mysteries and loves sharing everything about them. It amazes me how generous she is with her time, because this is a very time-consuming project. Thanks, Jenny!
When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?
I stumbled on it a few years ago when I first signed onto Yahoo and was looking for discussion groups I might like. That was a definitely lucky day.
How did you know you were meant to write?
I suppose when I started getting positive reactions to things I wrote. That started way back in elementary school when I got a laugh from the class as I read something of mine aloud. Since I meant it to be funny, that was a great feeling. From then on I was hooked.
What fascinates you about mysteries?
I think it’s the psychology involved. What makes a person go to such an extreme as murder? That’s why I like cozies. They’re more involved with the why than the how.
What inspired you to write your mysteries?
Probably what inspired me was the simple fact that mysteries were what I loved to read. When I’d finish a really good mystery I’d savor it, then wonder if I could write something like that. Eventually, I tried and discovered I loved it, though it definitely my first few attempts were definitely forgettable.
What intrigues you about writing a series?
Series are great for giving an author the chance to develop a character much more than in a single book. A series could cover years in the character’s life. That can offer many interesting and challenging changes: love relationships, job changes, location – you name it. Plus, a long running series character can become like an old friend to readers – and to the author too!
What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?
The hardest thing for me to do is to be tough on my characters. I usually become very fond of them and want to have only good things happen to them. That, however, won’t make for an interesting story. I have to give them problems to solve, put them in dangerous situations and generally be very hard on them. The only thing that makes it easier is knowing that somehow they’ll come through it all right.
What do you enjoy reading?
Mysteries, of course, but I also enjoy a variety of books. I like historical fiction once in a while, biographies, or whatever I happen to be in the mood for.
Which authors have influenced you?
Oh, so many I wouldn’t know where to start – or stop. Growing up I enjoyed Louisa May Alcott and Nancy Drew. But any book that made me think, laugh, cry or shiver probably influenced me.
How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?
I have a general idea of what will happen and how it will be resolved. I work out the details, usually, as I write.
What would you like to say to your readers & fans?
Thank you! You don’t know how much I appreciate your encouragement!
What advice would you offer a beginning writer?
Write, write, write! Then join a good critique group to get thoughtful feedback on what you’ve written. You’ll learn a lot (and develop a tough skin about your writing), plus giving feedback on other members’ writing will help you understand more about what works and what doesn’t.
What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?
I love hearing that someone enjoyed one of my books. (Who wouldn’t?) 🙂 I’m not fond of getting the question, “where do you get your ideas?” because I have no good answer for that. I wish I did!
Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries? Do you add it into your own stories?
I do add it, and it’s usually just a touch. My main characters so far have been young, single women. Meeting an attractive man just seems natural and often adds tension.
What are your favorite “writing” clothes?
Hah! Anything comfortable, though I try to be presentable in case someone comes to the door!
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 don’t think I’ve dreamt of scenes, but when I’m working on a book my story is always in my head. I’ve been known to think something had happened to me once, then realize that no, it only happened to one of my characters. That can be a little weird! 😉
Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?
I just find it interesting and sometimes fun to have ordinary, every-day people run into something like murder and be able to deal with it. Also, I think you can get into the psychology of the murderers much more in a cozy – not in the clinical sense but it a “what made them decide to do that?” sense.
What are you writing now?
I’ve started a new cozy series: The Pickled and Preserved Mysteries. The first book, The Pickled Piper, might be out in a year or so.
Tell us about your newest mystery:
My most recent books are the Craft Corner Mysteries. Jo McAllister owns Jo’s Craft Corner and teaches craft classes in between solving murders – like that of the clown, hired for her grand opening, who she finds dead in her stock room.
Where can we find out more about you and your books?
Check out my website: http://www.maryellenhughes.com I’ve just started to put the Craft Corner mysteries up as new ebooks. I’ll add news on the new Pickled and Preserved mysteries as it becomes available in my newsletter, which anyone can sign up for on my website.
Wreath of Deception: http://tinyurl.com/9darfv4
Amazon author page: http://tinyurl.com/8percup
Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her mysteries.
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