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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

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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

Mystery Most Cozy Interviews LorraineBartlett/Lorna Barrett/LL Bartlett

Hello, Lorainne, author of many names and many delightful mysteriies.  Welcome to our MMC interviews.

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 like the camaraderie of both the readers and the authors. I’m always surprised and thrilled when someone reads my books.  Knowing there are crowds of people reading my work is gratifying and humbling.

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

My friend Leann Sweeney told me about it several (four or five) years ago.

How did you know you were meant to write?

I always had stories swirling around in my head, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I got brave enough to show anyone else my writing.  I was pretty much hooked when I started getting good feedback.  I had a mentor who took me by the writing hand and helped me learn to craft good sentences, pay attention to pacing, etc.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

I’m drawn to good characterization, so I guess I could be happy reading any genre.  I just seem to gravitate to mysteries, probably because they were my first “adult” reading.  I was 12 and bored one hot summer day and my mother handed me Ammie Come Home by Barbara Michaels.  Admittedly, it’s romantic suspense, but … I liked it, and my mom soon bought me every Barbara Michaels book she could find.

What inspired you to write mysteries?

I loved all of Barbara Michael’s romantic suspense novels because they had a paranormal thread.  I said to myself that when I wrote a book, I would write something similar.  Only when the time came, I chose to write about an unemployed male protagonist. It was suspense, but nothing romantic.  The first book was Murder On The Mind.  It’s currently free on all e platforms if any of the Mystery Most Cozy readers would like to give it a try:  http://www.backlistebooks.com/2008/10/murder-on-the-mind/

(It’s available as a trade paperback, too.  http://tinyurl.com/8mvhqfm )

What intrigues you about writing a series?

I like being able to take my characters on a ride that gives them opportunities to grow, and then I sit back and watch the changes.  Sometimes they just take over the story (which is what happened with Angelica in the Booktown Mysteries). Lots of times (and in each book) I’ll write something and say to myself, “Where did that come from?” only to find that it works perfectly with something I’ll write later in the story.  That is cool!

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

Getting off the Internet and putting my nose to the grindstone.

What do you enjoy reading?

As I said, anything with good characterization.  That said, I read a lot of non-fiction and have (what seems like) subscriptions to a lot of cooking and decorating magazines.

Which authors have influenced you?

Barbara Michaels, Dick Francis, Anne Rivers Siddons, Lawrence Block, John Mortimer . . . I could go on and on.

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

Not much.  I’m a punster.  (I write by the seat of my pants.)  I’m always surprised at what comes out of my fingers as the books evolve.  I find it very entertaining, and I sure hope my readers do, too.

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 most of my characters. I’m extremely fond of Jeff, Richard, and Brenda from the Jeff Resnick Mysteries.  Richard has been with me for nearly 30 years.  I knew he had a brother, but until I started coming up with a background for him, I had no idea how special he’d become to me.

You might be surprised to know that Katie Bonner and Victoria Square were percolating for more than 10 years on the back burner before they ever saw print.  I love Katie’s independence and how hard she works to make Artisans Alley a profitable business, all the while eyeing the Webster mansion at the other end of the Square with plans to make it into a first class inn.

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

Keep your favorite authors in print (or ebooks) by buying their books. If you can’t afford to buy them, please ask your library to order them, then not only can you enjoy the book(s), but so can many others.  When books don’t sell as well as the publisher wants, the author loses out on a new contract and often has to take a new name because booksellers tend to buy less of every new book in a series—even in a successful series.  Go figure!

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Write, write, write, and then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. After that, rewrite some more.  If you’re writing a mystery, join the Sisters In Crime Guppies chapter.  ( www.sinc-guppies.org ).  Without them, I never would have gotten published.

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

Yes.  My first professional sales were to romance oriented magazines.  I learned an awful lot of what I know about novel structure from romance authors—and they’re still teaching me things today about the business of writing.  I do like to have some mention of loving relationship in my stories, although poor Tricia doesn’t seem able to stay in a relationship.  Will that change in the near future?  I’m not telling!

What are your favorite “writing” clothes?

I live in sweats and my slippers.  Not just because they’re comfortable, but they’re also warmer.  My office is the room farthest from the furnace and by the time the air gets to my heat registers, it’s cold.  I do have a small space heater, but even with that, on a cold winter day it can take most of the day to get my office to 70 degrees.

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?

No, I don’t think I ever have.

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

I really don’t like true crime or thrillers because they’re usually about serial killers and filled with a lot of blood and guts.  I like suspense, and I write it (the Jeff Resnick Mysteries). I like cozy mysteries because the characters become your friends.  Each new book in a series is an opportunity for me to visit an old friend.

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

I rarely read a cozy mystery while writing one.  I don’t want to be influenced by them.

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

We’re contracted on a three-book basis.  It’s the nature of the beast.  A series that only has three books means not enough people found it to like it and it’s canceled. It doesn’t mean the series was bad, but that it wasn’t able to find an audience. Now, with indie publishing, many authors will have an opportunity to revisit their characters, and you might start seeing new books that will thrive in a series that the publisher gave up on too soon.

As a reader, I like the genre.  I like that the protagonists are usually strong women who aren’t afraid to seek out justice.

What are you writing now?

 Booktown #8, which currently has no name.  I’m not going to worry about it.  My publisher has rejected most of my titles anyway.  I’m going to let them come up with one. I’ll start Victoria Square #4 in March.  In between, I hope to work on some of my independent projects.  Will I finish any of those soon?  That’s debatable.  I have a timeline I have to stick with to get the contracted work done first.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

 I’ve just read the galley proof for the next Victoria Square book, One Hot Murder.  I really enjoyed writing that book, and I hope my readers will enjoy it.  It will be available on February 5th.  Here’s a description:

Katie Bonner, the reluctant manager of Artisans Alley in the quaint shopping district of Victoria Square, is no stranger to ambivalence. Things have been going hot and heavy with pizza maker Andy Rust—so much so that Katie has moved in over his pizza parlor. But now that summer’s ushered in a heat wave, an apartment above pizza ovens without an air conditioner is making Katie hot and bothered.

At the height of the heat wave, a tragic fire strikes Victoria Square. Wood U, a small store selling wooden gifts and small furniture, is destroyed. But the fire may just be a smokescreen—for murder. Because a body is found among the charred wreckage—and the victim didn’t die from smoke inhalation. He was shot. Now—despite making Detective Ray Davenport hot under the collar—Katie is determined to smoke out a cold-hearted killer…

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

You can find all my indie books here:  http://www.backlistebooks.com/?author=13&submit=view

Lust click on the book covers for descriptions and buy links.

My websites list all the other books:

LornaBarrett.com

LorraineBartlett.com

LLBartlett.com

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

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Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Carolyn Hart

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 towww.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.comBooks-a-MillionB&NIndieBound

MYSTERY MOST COZY links:

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

My links:

Next week we feature Sherry Lewis.