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Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

A WRITER MUST BE A READER FIRST

Why do I write?bookworm

Because I fell in love with reading as a child.  Spending hours escaping into different worlds full of amazing people and places far beyond my simple childhood.  As I grew older and my reading expanded so did my enchantment.  A spark kindled inside me to not only read but to create, to allow my own imagination to catch fire.tdragon books

Characters whispered to me, at times they screamed for me to pay attention. Secret passages, distant galaxies, mysterious shadows and imaginary creatures battled with messages I felt compelled to voice.  So  many things to write. Yet, one link threaded through it always. I wanted to share my words with others. To allow them to see, feel, hear, taste and understand.

An old poem of mine from my poetry art collection expresses what I hoped to offer my readers.

TELL ME A STORY

Fly me away on the wings of dreams
Weave me sounds of laughter or screams

Scorch me with fire of dragon breath
Haunt me with tales of impending death

Introduce me to people I’ll never meet
Transport me to a distant or imaginary street

Thrill me with legends of brave young souls
Frighten me by evil spells, witches and ghouls

Entice me with magic of a lover’s kiss
Excite me with blaze from a laser gun miss

Enchant me with myths of lost jewels, genies and gold
Challenge me by ancient mysteries; puzzles of old

Tease me with shadows flickering in candleglow
Intoxicate me with joy, passion or woe

Whirl me toward heaven in a tornado high
Blow me like stardust across violet sky

Whisk me away to worlds, future or past
‘til my eyelids drift closed and I sleep at last.

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Delayed return

scenic view of mountain road against cloudy sky

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Time zooms and life gets in the way and I’ve neglected my blog for far too long.  I apologize to all of you who sent me comments without me responding.  Your remarks really touched me. I appreciate each of you.

This morning when I finally logged back into my blog thanks to a very thoughtful reader who prodded me back I realized I missed you guys.  Very much.

Thank you for your patience and encouragement.  I’m back — so watch out!

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Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

BLOG HOP: WHAT’S FUN ABOUT WRITING?

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A top organization for mystery writers, SISTERS IN CRIME, tossed us an array of topics for their September SinC-Up blog hop. One captured me: “What’s the best part of writing for you?”

I’m tempted to reply, “Typing THE END.”
Or receiving the check.  (Not frequent enough)

Yet, the most fun & exciting part is when the seed of an idea begins to blossom into a story. Characters & storytlines burst forth, sometimes in rapidfire.

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It’s thrilling as characters pop out to demand their roles and the story spills in spurts, trickles or a flood.  The questions entice me.   Who? What happened? Where? Why?

It’s fun to weave threads in the tapestry of a mystery.  Playing with action/reaction, suspects and motives, red herrings and foreshadowing, artful confusion with a touch of slight of hand.  We are the masters– the creators, yet the story takes on a life of its own.

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Midbook complications, hidden clues revealed, who gets knocked off next?  Challenges just keep rolling.

Causing trouble, playing havoc with our characters and allowing good to triumph over evil at the end is satisfying.  In our books we can do that — real life, not so much.

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Yay, it’s done!

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MY link:
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Now hop over to another blog:
SINC:

WHISPER of MAGIC

magical-sunset-marina-likholat by Karen Elizabeth Rigley

Magic exists. It’s not just in the pages of story in once upon a time or happily ever after, sparking imagination of riding upon wings of a dragon, finding leprechaun gold or chasing a unicorn.

Every day magic surrounds us. Hear it in the whisper of butterfly wings, the snick of a door at midnight or the sigh of a baby dreaming. Discover magic in communications at your fingertips, the glory of a sunset or music that lifts your heart. Revel in the magic of a kiss, the purr of a kitten, or the timely call of a friend when you’re feeling blue. Savor a pine-scented breeze or ocean waves swishing your toes, or share wonder through a child’s eyes.

Our world teems with magic – we only must look for it. I wish you magic!

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My book links:

 
 

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Leann Sweeney

Leann, I was a fan even before you began your Cats in Trouble series, so this is special to interview you for MMC.

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 believe Mystery Most Cozy has always been so wonderful for reader interaction and fan support.

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

I searched for groups a long time ago that brought together those who love the cozy genre and I joined as soon as I found this group. I’ll be a member as long as the group continues!

How did you know you were meant to write?

I started writing mysteries when I was in the 4th grade so I believe I was always meant to write. It just took me a long time to get up the courage to learn what I needed to know to create a coherent story and to get published. It’s tough putting your work out for criticism and rejection, but I survived and persisted.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

I love puzzles and I love human motivation. What makes a person a killer? What puts a person in harm’s way? I always look at mysteries from both sides of that equation. I do like a juicy secret.

What inspired you to write your mysteries?

First it was Dame Agatha. But then, I think the first truly awful mystery I read was the final motivation, as strange as that may sound. I thought, “If this can get published, then I can do better.” Of course I was quickly humbled by the gigantic learning curve involved in becoming a published writer. It took eleven years from the time I finished my first book to its publication. That’s persistence!

What intrigues you about writing a series?

I love making sure that my characters grow from each crime they become involved in. In reality, no ordinary person would find he or she stumbling over one murder victim after another, but oh, the fun. But I have to bring a touch of reality and that means, character evolution.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

For me, unfortunately, it is the challenge of the several “invisible” illnesses I deal with on a daily basis. That means I need to manage my time and energy. Who knew the complexities of creating something out of nothing? That a “what if?” question would consume so much energy? But it does.

What do you enjoy reading?

At this stage, I only read mysteries and an occasionally true crime. I don’t have time for anything else.

Which authors have influenced you?

Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Earl Stanley Gardner, Dorothy Sayers, Gillian Roberts, Carolyn Hart, P.D. James, Elizabeth George, Ruth Rendell—but there are more. I could go on and on!

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

I begin a new book with a synopsis—I am an outliner—so the start of a synopsis is always a “what if” question. For example, I began the synopsis of my first Cats in Trouble mystery with the “what if?” question “What if a cat was allergic to people?” I like to turn things on their head and that was something I hadn’t seen done in any cat cozies before.

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 Abby Rose in my Yellow Rose Mysteries. She is completely fearless, confident and fun. I love Jillian Hart in the Cats in Trouble Mysteries because she is so kind, forgiving and curious—rather like a cat in many ways. Speaking of secondary characters, I loved Ritaestelle in The Cat, The Lady and The Liar. She is such a strong lady. I also admire teenager Finn in The Cat, The Wife and The Weapon. He chose to remove himself from a difficult life at a young age. I can relate to that and it was the first time I consciously dealt with family dysfunction in a book. I’d done it before on a smaller scale, but in that book, my goal was to confront it head on. It was very cathartic.

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

I cannot thank my readers enough for their support and for helping me make that coveted NY Times list. Never in a million years when I first started writing did I ever think that would happen. And twice? Wow! Thank you so so much!

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Learn your craft. Read. Take classes. Enter contests. Submit. Learn to accept criticism and change what you’re doing that’s NOT working—listen to what is being said. Find a writer’s group with like-minded people who are writing what you like to read. Know your goals. Do you want to write for pleasure? Or do you want to be published? Neither goal is better than the other. Persist!

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

I enjoy creating characters others can relate to. DEADLINES drive me crazy.

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

I would choose Agatha Chistie because she was brilliant, but I doubt she’d talk about her process. I would choose Rex Stout because I absolutely loved the fact he created a main character who was NOT the narrator (Archie Goodwin was the narrator) and I want to ask him why he did that. Third would be Daphne DuMaurier. I’d ask her what the main character’s name was in Rebecca. It’s a secret we will never know. J

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

 

Yes. But the mystery has to be paramount. I do add romance. It’s part of life, after all!

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

Jeans and a t-shirt.

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 submerge, I observe. I ask myself, what does s/he look like? Sound like? What secret is s/he keeping? What’s his/her greatest strength and greatest weakness? What does s/he want? What’s stopping him/her?I never dream about scenes, but right before I go to sleep or right when I wake up, I often work through plot issues. The shower seems to be another hotbed of creativity! J

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

It was what I wrote best, probably because it’s the genre I grew up reading.

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

I cannot read cozies while writing. They influence me too much. I read much darker stuff, but still mystery or thrillers.

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

 Yes, because cozies need the luxury of time. The books are shorter than say a thriller or literary mystery. In cozies, characterization develops over time as I mentioned earlier. My story people are affected by the crimes in their small town. (Although my Yellow Rose Mysteries were set in an urban environment, which I thought made them a little different).

What are you writing now?

I just finished the 5th Cats in Trouble book. I am thinking about the 6th book in the series.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

 The Cat, The Mill and The Murder comes out in May. I can tell you that it the most researched book I have ever written, it involves a cold case and it also involves an element that is very different than anything I have ever written before.

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

 I’m on Facebook as Leann Sweeney and Author Leann Sweeney, on twitter @leannsweeney, on Author Central on Amazon and my website is www.leannsweeney.com

There are bios on each book you pull up on B&N.com and Amazon.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

My links:

 

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Cathy Ace

Cathy, I’m so pleased we could squeeze you into our interview schedule before the celebration ends next week.

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Hello there Fellow MMC-ers…it’s great to have this chance to talk to you all, but I have to admit it’s a bit scary too. Here goes anyway!

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’ve really enjoyed reading the comments and input that folks take the time to put up on the FB page: I like finding out what it is that readers take to and, sometimes, what they don’t care for so much. For example, it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in being bugged by un-resolved red-herrings!

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

I’m a newbie! I only discovered MMC last year, but I’m so glad I did. I found it on one of my wanders through the online universe…somehow!

How did you know you were meant to write?

To be honest, I think I was born to talk…but writing allows me to chat with others in a different way, even if the people I’m talking to, or through, are those I’ve created myself! That said (you see?!), I was always a child who enjoyed journeying in the worlds made real for me by writers. I suppose I wanted to try to do what they had done. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to study English at University, and did so for a year, but then decided that instead of studying how others had described the human condition, I’d rather gain a better understanding of it for myself, so I switched my studies to psychology.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

I’m naturally very solution-orientated: give me a problem or a puzzle and my instinct is to come up with the answer. Whatever the sub-genre, all mysteries are about puzzles…solving them is what draws me in.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

I wish I could type as fast as the words come into my head. I’m the classic three-fingered typist: I never had lessons, I just hammered away at the keyboard and got faster as time passed. I can’t touch-type: I have to look at the keys as I go, so the screen isn’t a part of my writing experience, until I look up to see the typing mistakes I’ve made. Maybe that’s a good thing: it means I have to read what I’ve written straight away, put the punctuation right as I go along, and I have the chance to reflect on sentences as I build them.

What do you enjoy reading?

I’m a very mood-driven reader: I read widely, but often have two or three books on the go at once, so I can pick up something light or dark, factual or fiction, as the mood takes me. I have a room full of books, which is where I write, and every other room in the house also has a bookshelf, or three! If you looked at what’s on my shelves you’d find pretty much every subject and genre covered, but what would really stand out would be my dozens of red and gold, leather-bound volumes of Agatha Christie’s complete works, into which I enjoy dipping – whatever my mood.

Which authors have influenced you?

Agatha Christie’s works have been a part of my life since I was ten years old, so her structure and plots, as well as her ability to mould our expectations of what a traditional murder mystery should be, are engrained in my psyche. I admire the way she made the rules, then went on to give us what we expected, in unexpected ways. I try to do the same. In my chosen genre, amongst living authors, I would say that PD James inspires me the most, and I always look forward to a new Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson, Tamar Myers or Louise Penny. I’m especially sad that there won’t be any new books from Reginald Hill, Robert B Parker or Tony Hillerman, but am glad I can re-read their work at will.

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

I’m not just one of life’s problem-solvers, I’m also highly goal-oriented and process driven (okay then, I’m a bit of a control freak!), so I know pretty much all my story before I begin writing.

I prepare very detailed notes about my characters – their entire life-history, my chosen, or imagined, locations, and about the method/s and means of murder I have chosen. Even though Cait isn’t a forensics person, and I certainly don’t write about forensics, I need to know how a body would present under certain circumstances, or how the means of murder work/s in minute detail. I’ll spend time talking to medical specialists, coroners or cops, amongst others, to make sure I get this right.

I also have the outline of what needs to happen within each chapter. Quite often a character will say or do something I’m not expecting – yes, I know that sounds nuts but, honestly, it’s how it happens. So, sometimes, I achieve what I need to happen in a chapter, but in an unexpected way.

When I’m writing, so long as I feel the characters are acting in a way that would be right for them, and the book, I let it play out. That means I update my outline notes as I go along, so that I remember all the clues and red-herrings I have to tie up!

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

My protagonist, criminology professor Cait Morgan, is very much like me: she’s my height, my weight (or thereabouts – there are some things you really don’t need to know about me!) is Welsh-Canadian, had the education I had, where I had it, and, up to a point, she followed a similar career path to myself. Do I like her? Absolutely. Is she perfect? Oh, good heavens, no! But that’s why I like her. Brilliant, judgmental, sharp-tongued and over-indulgent, she’s still quite insecure. In other words, she’s very human. Bearing in mind that the series is called the “Cait Morgan Mysteries” you can bet she’ll be in each one. Truthfully, I enjoy all my characters, however small their role, or rotten they might be. But as for “memorable”? Well, that’s something that only those who’ve read my books can comment upon.

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

“Thank You for choosing to include my books, and Cait Morgan, in your life. I hope you enjoy her company as much as I do!”

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

This is a tough one. Other than the general advice that, in order to be a writer you have to actually write, rather than just thinking or talking about writing, I’m not sure I’m well placed to give much advice. I’ve had a bizarre path to being published, and I’ve been fortunate, I know.

There are lots of platitudes about “The harder you work, the luckier you get”, but I honestly believe that, with the work under your belt, there is a certain amount of luck involved in things. Maybe it’s about being prepared to step up and take a risk, which then becomes an opportunity. If you’re working on your writing skills, reading as widely as possible (and I don’t just mean reading books about writing, but books that challenge you and help you understand the way that words work well on the page) then you are better prepared when the opportunities come along.

So: write lots, read even more, and good luck!

I’m sorry if that’s not very constructive or original, but I suspect it’s the best advice I’ve got.

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

I’m delighted to say that I haven’t (yet) found anything about being an author that drives me crazy, in fact, just saying or writing the words “I’m an author” makes me glow with joy. There – I’m glowing right now!

As for what I enjoy the most? When I’ve been weeding or planting in the garden all day, aided and abetted by the dogs of course, and I’ve been plotting: multi-tasking at its best!

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

1)   Agatha Christie – I’m not sure I’d have the guts to discuss mysteries with her, but I’d enjoy listening to her talking about her time with her second husband, Max Mallowan, on his archeological digs. I enjoy ancient cultures, history, art, gardening and family, as did she, so I might find something I could contribute to the conversation.

2)   Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – again, it’s a bit of an alarming prospect to discuss plotting and deductive reasoning with the man who made these elements his byword, but I’d take a chance! I’d be fascinated to get his take on the technology that now surrounds us in our daily lives.

3)   PD James – I adore her books: the places and people she creates are real to me, and will live with me forever. That’s magic! Over the years she’s generously given many interviews and written a great deal about her writing process, so I think I’d take the chance to talk to her about what she’s read and how it’s touched her, find out what her private passions might be, walk through London with her discussing art and architecture, and find out more about what makes her the person she is, which, of course, is what makes her the writer she is.

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

Oh dear, this is a bit weird, but I’ll confess all: I wrote my first novel wearing a silk dressing gown that’s heavily embroidered with dragons. I know. How pretentious, right!? But it was fun! I also had a chocolate Labrador on each foot – puppy slippers. That was “winter writing”. For “summer writing” I tend to wear light, comfy clothes, and the dogs lay on the tile in the hallway outside my study to keep cool.

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?

When writing, I am each of my characters in turn, in situ. Total immersion. I move, turn, “look” about at my surroundings, make gestures…the lot. I dare say that, if anyone could see me, they’d think it a bit peculiar. Before I start writing I’ve “seen” the entire movie of the book. When I’m writing, I’m in that movie, trying my best to get onto paper everything that Cait sees, feels, hears, touches, smells, says, thinks and, yes, senses or suspects. The Cait Morgan Mysteries are written from Cait’s point of view, so that’s who I am when I write. I haven’t dreamed any scenes yet, but, in that fog between sleeping and wakefulness, I’ll often be visualizing the movie in my head and something will shift or come into focus…a detail, a clue or an extra complication will present itself to me: that’s when I have to get up and write it down. So long as I don’t disturb the dog on the bed when I get up, I can creep back when I’m done and get off to sleep. If the dog wakes up, then that’s quite a different matter!

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

I can’t read any books at all when I’m writing. Even if I’m watching TV, I know that what’s on the screen is pretty much just washing over me. I’m totally zoned out – or zoned in, depending on your point of view.

What are you writing now?

I’m on the cusp between finished style sheets and outlines, and starting to write my third novel. It will be published in Spring 2014. It’s set in Mexico. I’m not allowed to say more than that right now, but I can tell you that it will pick up where my second novel finishes…oh, and I’ve really enjoyed the research!

Tell us about your newest mystery:

My second Cait Morgan Mystery, “The Corpse with the Golden Nose”, will be launched in March 2013. It picks up Cait’s life a few months after the end of my first novel, “The Corpse with the Silver Tongue”. Here are the jacket notes for the book:

“A world-famous vintner is dead. And when a heartfelt plea to look into the matter is paired with an exclusive gourmet event in British Columbia’s stunning wine country, overindulgent foodie and criminologist Cait Morgan cannot resist. Cait is sure the owner of a family-run vineyard was murdered. Bud Anderson, Cait’s companion for the weekend, is convinced the woman took her own life. That is, until death strikes once again, between the neat rows of grapevines on the banks of magnificent Lake Okanagan. Uncovering obsessions and murderous thoughts among the victim’s wacky neighbors is a start. But, Cait soon realizes that more lives are at stake. Can she think, and act, quickly enough to prevent another death?

The second book in the Cait Morgan Mysteries, The Corpse with the Golden Nose is a classic whodunit featuring the eccentric Professor Cait Morgan.

Praise for The Corpse with the Silver Tongue

 

“[A] smooth debut . . . Cait’s enjoyable first outing should earn

her a well-deserved encore.” —Publishers Weekly

“In the finest tradition of Agatha Christie, debut author Ace

brings us the closed-room drama, with a dollop of romantic

suspense and historical intrigue.” —Library Journal

“[Ace is] a writer to watch.” —The Globe and Mail

“A sharply paced cozy.” —The Hamilton Spectator”

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

You can find out more about my books, click-through to read from/buy them, read some interviews I’ve given in the past, learn about events I’ll be attending, and find my e-mail address, at: www.cathyace.com

The Cait Morgan Mysteries are available in paperback through your local bookstore or library, and are offered in every major e-reader format.

Please consider being my Friend on Facebook? You’ll find me here: Cathy Ace (Cait Morgan Mysteries)

Alternatively, you could Follow me on Twitter: @AceCathy

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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

My links:

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Esri Allbritten

Hello, Esri!  It’s so nice to have you join our MMC interviews.

Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating its 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?

Reader interaction. Some of the best recommendations on what to read next have come from this group. It also has a mellow yet polite vibe, which I credit to its creator, Jenny Hanahan. She has just the right amount of housemother.

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

Oh, gosh. Two or three years ago. It may be longer. I’m no good with time.

How did you know you were meant to write?

[Fellow author] Steve Hockensmith and I discussed this, and agreed it was because we’re “slightly crazy, very spoiled, and terrible at all other jobs.” This is only slightly exaggerated.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

Crime almost always stems from strong emotions. Fear, anger, protectiveness. People dealing with that kind of pressure behave in extraordinary ways, and nothing is more interesting than the extraordinary.

What inspired you to write your mysteries?

It’s funny…even though mysteries are almost the only fiction I read, I wrote and published other things first because the form intimidated me. Eventually I realized that while mysteries are rigorous when it comes to plot, there is actually more freedom than in a lot of other genres. You can have romance or not, you can explore any theme and set your story in any time period. Your characters don’t even have to be particularly likeable. Sherlock Holmes is a riveting character, but you wouldn’t invite him to your wedding.

What intrigues you about writing a series?

I love layering my characters’ personalities and including subtle references to past stories. It’s like on TV, when a fleeting reference to something in the past elicits a pained expression on a character’s face. It won’t mean anything to a first-time viewer, but those of us in the know howl with laughter or wince with sympathy.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

Writing fast. I have trouble writing anything if I’m not excited about what comes next. This is a stupid mental block, because I love revising. My number one goal is to learn to be okay with writing crap. Crap can always be improved. Or deleted.

What do you enjoy reading?

Humor, historical mysteries, biographies (Thomas Edison, Houdini, Louis Armstrong, Josephine Baker), neuroscience, stories of scams and con men, and those books that go into the surprising history of everyday objects, like salt or eggbeaters.

Which authors have influenced you?

Betty MacDonald, Dave Barry, Terry Pratchett, M.C. Beaton.

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

I have a complete story arc when I begin, but 50 to 100 pages in, I discover that I need more to carry a whole book, or the action happens mostly in the backstory, and I have to rework the whole thing. This happens with every book. Every. Book.

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 my three sleuths in the Tripping series. Having an ensemble of protagonists gives me more options with dialogue and plotting, and I hope it gives readers more of a chance to find a character they love. Angus MacGregor has the perspective of age when it comes to dealing with people, but age hasn’t stopped him from dreaming big. He wants to achieve fame by finding proof of the supernatural. Michael Abernathy is young and manages to be both a cynic and idealist. That’s not a comfortable mindset, and he uses sarcasm and humor to deal with his discomfort. Then there’s Suki Oota, my half-Japanese photographer. Suki is very female in that she just wants to get whatever it is done and move forward. Some of this urgency comes from knowing that youth and beauty are temporary assets, and they’re burning a hole in her pocket. No one would call Suki a “good girl.” Not if they wanted to keep their teeth.

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

Thank you so much!

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Write because you enjoy it (or because you can’t help yourself, which is more often the case). If you want to be a career writer, ask yourself, “Can I tolerate uncertainty about my success?” Writing is full of uncertainty. It’s hard to tell when you’re writing well. Financial validation is elusive, and you’ll get bad reviews even on your best stuff. The best overall advice I can give is to approach writing as a really involving hobby. You’ll dodge a lot of mental bullets that way.

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

The best moments are when I look at something I’ve written and know that it illustrates something funny and true about being human. When that’s confirmed through fan email, I’m overjoyed. I also like that I get to finish things. With so many jobs, you don’t get to say, “Done!” Finally, I have a lot of creative control over what I do, there’s no dress code, and I can put up all the inappropriate cartoons I want.

Things that drive me crazy: The aforementioned uncertainty. Did I tell this story in the most interesting way possible? Have I found the sweet spot where my work is different enough to be appealing, but not so different that only a few people like it? How do I get the attention of those readers who will enjoy me the most? The isolation of working at home can also make you a little odd. My office mates are a Chihuahua and a cat. I love them, but they don’t like to eat out and they suck at discussing the latest episode of The Good Wife.

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

I don’t include romance in my stories, and that’s primarily because I approach life from a very irreverent place. My stories aren’t hospitable to romance in the same way that a Seinfeld episode or an Oscar Wilde play isn’t hospitable to romance. Putting romance in that setting is like tying a pink ribbon around a rubber chicken. It’s jarring. As for romance in other people’s mysteries, I can take it or leave it. Romance is very hard to write well. It’s rare that I really feel it in a book.

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

Whatever I pick up off the floor that’s loose and doesn’t smell. Sad, I know.

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?

Dreams would be a great resource if I wanted to write about overflowing toilets and missed planes, but I think Seth Rogen has that market sewn up. As for how deeply I get into my own fictional worlds, it’s pretty deep. When writing is going well, stopping is like coming out of a movie theater in the middle of the day. Another thing that makes my stories feel real to me is that I set each one in a different tourist town. My husband and I visit, take a ton of pictures and chat up the locals, then I go home and send my sleuths there on assignment. In a way, each book is a record of the emails and phone calls my characters might send from the road. “Interviews going well. Got a picture of a flying saucer, which turned out to be a water tower. Mayor has a crush on Suki. We think he might be a murderer.”

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

I’m not sure what qualifies as intrigue. It sounds intriguing. I write cozies because they study the subtleties of human interaction. That’s something women are good at, and doubtless it’s why so many cozies incorporate other feminine interests, such as cooking, crafts, and tiny, adorable dogs. I currently have an idea for a series that feels like it needs a harder edge, maybe sort of a noir thing. I think noir is how men see the subtleties of human interaction – murky, confusing, full of traps and unexpected weapons. As a writer, I’m kind of in the middle. Chihuahua noir, that’s me.

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

As long as the subject matter is different, I’m good. My own voice is so ingrained these days, I’m not influenced.

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

I think series are far more satisfying. Readers go to a fair amount of trouble to find books with characters and settings that they like. Once you’ve spent the time and money to find this new set of friends, you want to get some mileage out of them.

What are you writing now?

Critter from the Black Lagoon, book three in the Tripping Magazine mystery series. It involves the possibility of a prehistoric pig beast rampaging through Florida’s Ocala National Forest. It’s basically black-market paleontology meets extreme bacon.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

My most recently published is The Portrait of Doreene Gray. Portrait is about twin sisters in their fifties: one a painter, one a dissolute jet setter. The jet setter doesn’t appear to age, but the portrait her sister painted of her does. The story takes place in Port Townsend, Washington, on Puget Sound. The town’s frozen-in-time Victorian character lends itself to a nice gothic feel. It could have been a very dark book, but my three sleuths come barreling in like the Marx Brothers if the Marx Brothers were an aging Scot, a half-Asian sexpot, and a skeptic, working for a crappy travel magazine.

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

EsriAllbritten.com has big ol’ excerpts of all my current books, so you can try before you buy. If you want an ongoing look at the life of a writer, mostly involving pets and procrastination, then look me up on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/Esri.Allbritten