Right now, I have four mysteries in the Ivy Meadows mystery series: Macdeath, The Sound of Murder, Oliver Twisted, and Ivy Get Your Gun. The fifth book, The Phantom of Oz, will be out in late January, and I’m working on the sixth book, Kill-a-lot, set at a Renaissance faire. I’m also a ghostwriter and have written two nonfiction books for clients. I’d like to tell you what they are, but then I’d have to kill you.
How did you become interested in writing?
I’ve always been a big reader. I wrote a little bit growing up, but the bug really bit me when I was in my 30s. I was teaching theatre to kids and couldn’t find a play that had enough speaking parts for all my students, so I wrote my own. The kids loved it, the audience loved it, and I found that I really loved writing.
What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening, etc?
My days change a lot, with one constant: I always write. If I’m in first draft phase, I like to write in the mornings when the evil editor that lurks in my brain is not quite awake. I’m a bit sharper in the afternoons, so I like to do my editing and revisions then.
One thing I learned along the way (and something I have to remind myself of often) is that writing is not just sitting at the computer. It’s also researching and reading and daydreaming and allowing my subconscious a little bit of time to work on the book, too. I also really like to talk issues through out loud. Luckily, I have a great writers group, plus a group of writer girlfriends who get together for Think & Drink sessions.
Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
Places, definitely. Each of the theaters in the book is modeled on places where I worked, and readers familiar with Arizona will recognize real restaurants and parks, etc. Ivy lives and works in mostly in Phoenix, but The Sound of Murder is set in Sunnydale--a stand in for Sun City West; all of the places in Oliver Twisted (set aboard a cruise ship) are real; and Ivy Get Your Gun is set in a fictional Wild West theme town. I used Goldfield Ghost Town (in Apache Junction, just east of Phoenix) as my model, but set my town of Gold Bug Gulch on the west side near Wickenburg, partly so I could play around with the layout of the town, and partly because I didn’t want to kill anyone at Goldfield Ghost Town. I always fictionalize the place where someone is murdered. Just seems polite.
As far as characters: Each of them is a sort of amalgamation of people I have known or met. And there’s a little bit of me in a lot of the characters, especially Ivy and her uncle Bob.
Who is your favorite author?
That is such a tough question! If I were on a desert island with only one book, I would choose the complete works of Shakespeare. There’s so much there in terms of story and language and the understanding of human relationships. That said, on a regular basis I am more likely to read Tana French or Louise Penny or Elizabeth George.
How do you promote your books?
Anyway I can! Seriously, I think it’s hard to know what works, so I do a lot. I try to stay active on social media (though I fall offline from time to time when I’m deep in deadline land), I do a lot of in-person events (which I enjoy immensely), and I have a monthly email newsletter called Slightly Silly News (which you can check out here). And of course there are ads and giveaways and interviews, like this one. Thank you so much for having me!