Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Interview with V.M. Burns

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What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
I write three mystery series. There are two books out in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery Series. The Plot is Murder and Read Herring Hunt. The third book in this series, The Novel Art of Murder will release in November. On July 1st the first book in my RJ Franklin Mystery series, Travellin’ Shoes will release. I also have an eBook only Dog Club Mystery series. The first book in that series, In the Dog House, will release on August 21st.

How did you develop your character and choose your location?
The character and the location for this series came from my own life. At the time that I started writing the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series I was living on the shores of Lake Michigan in Southwestern Michigan. The protagonist in this series, Samantha Washington, dreams of one day owning a mystery bookstore and writing British historic cozy mysteries. That is also my dream. I don’t own a mystery bookstore (yet), but I can live out both of those dreams through my characters.

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?
I don’t know if my day is typical of most authors, because I still work a full-time job. Although I’ve heard most authors have a full-time job or a spouse to provide a steady income and insurance. I’m not a morning person so I don’t write in the mornings (even when I don’t have to go to work). My writing begins when I get home from work. I try to look at writing like a second job, because it is my second job. I set a weekly goal of writing 7,500-10,000 words per week. I’ve found looking at my word count from a weekly rather than daily view helps me not stress too much if I have a slow day or if I miss a day during the week. I know I can always make up missed days on the weekend. The weekly goal equates to 1,000-1,500 words per day so that’s the target. I write the first draft quickly and then go back and fix plot holes, add clues and red herrings during the revision process. When I write, I don’t worry about making it perfect. My goal is to get the words on the page. Everything can be fixed during edits and revisions, but you can’t edit a blank page. So I focus on getting the words onto the page and telling the story.

Do you belong to a writers group or are you in touch with other writers? How does that help your writing?
I got my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. One of the best things about that program was the fantastic community of writers I had the pleasure to meet. Through the wonders of social media I can have as much or as little contact as I want or need. Whether it’s participating in daily writing sprints or critique groups, I can choose the level of interaction I need at the time. Most times, my interactions are limited to posting or responding to questions. There are doctors, lawyers, police officers, martial arts gurus as well as military and FBI agents in the program. It’s wonderful to have access to experts who can help answer questions and provide information as needed. One of the alums from the program lives nearby, and we often get together for writing sessions. I’ve also been fortunate to have connected with other writers that I chat with on a regular basis.

Do you model your character after yourself or any one you know?
My characters share a lot of my same dreams, fears and aspirations. Samantha Washington dreamed of owning a mystery bookstore and writing British historic cozies. That’s also my dream. She has one older sister and her sister has two children. We share all of those things in common. RJ Franklin from my RJ Franklin Mystery series was born and raised in the church in northwestern Indiana, which is the same as my own background. Both, Samantha Washington from the Mystery Bookshop series and the protagonist from my Dog Club Mystery series, Lillie Echosby, own dogs, poodles to be specific. I own two poodles. So, there’s a lot of me in all of my protagonists.

If your books were made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead character?
I would love to see Tyler Perry or Will Smith as RJ Franklin. I would cast Halle Barry as Lillie Echosby because…well, its Halle Berry. Samantha Washington is harder for me to cast. I never describe her race because I want readers to imagine her however they want. However, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is the right age. Although, I’m guessing she’s a bit busy right now,

Who is your favorite author?
I have a lot of favorite authors, but if I had to limit to one, I’d say Agatha Christie. She is the reason that I fell in love with cozy mysteries in the first place and I have a great deal of respect for her books. If I can include more than one, I would include Rex Stout, Victoria Thompson, Patricia Wentworth, Dorothy Gilman and Jane Austen.

How do you keep track of character details from book to book so they are consistent?
One of the things my agent requires is a character list and a timeline. This has been invaluable and I keep a character list for each book which includes details about the characters.

If you could not be an author, what would like to do as a career?
If I couldn’t be an author, my dream job would be to work at a bookstore so I could be surrounded by books and hopefully get a discount.

Watch for a review of Read Herring Hunt on Thursday, July 12 on

1 comment:

Annette said...

V M Burns is my favorite new author. I have read three of her books so far and enjoyed them thoroughly.