E. B. Davis's "The Pearl Necklace" will appear in the new SinC Guppy anthology The Fish That Got Away to be released in July by Wildside Press. The anthology was edited by Linda Rodriguez.
Paula Gail Benson's monologue "Beloved Husband," from the perspective of Norton Baskin the second husband of Marjorie Kinan Rawlings (who wrote The Yearling and Cross Creek), appears in the Red Penguin Collection's An Empty Stage (released March 28, 2021).
Martha Reed's "Death by GPS" will appear in the Spring 2021 issue of Suspense Magazine, which will be released in the second week of April. Congratulations, Martha!
Susan Van Kirk has a new audiobook, A Death at Tippitt Pond, that will be released this month. Marry in Haste will be released in May by Harlequin Worldwide Mystery, as will Death Takes No Bribes in September. Congratulations, Susan.
Congratulations to Martha Reed. Her short story, "The Honor Thief" was chosen for the 2021 Bouchercon Anthology, This Time For Sure. Hank Phillippi Ryan will edit the volume, which will be released in August at the time of the convention.
Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Killer Weeds," appears in the January 20 edition of Texas Gardener's Seeds: From Our Garden to Yours. Congratulations, Margaret, who, if you follow Facebook know, is a superb gardener herself!
Congratulations to Jennifer J. Chow for garnering a 2021 Lefty Nomination for Best Humorous Mystery Novel. We're crossing our fingers for Jennifer!
Congratulations to Paula Gail Benson whose "Reputation or Soul" has been chosen for Malice Domestic 16: Mystery Most Diabolical anthology to be released this spring.
KM Rockwood's "Stay Safe--Very Safe" appears in this year's 2020 BOULD anthology. Congratulations, KM!
Annette Dashofy signed with agent Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Congratulations, Annette!-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Author Marja McGraw
EBD: I read The Bogey Man, which is told through your main character Sandi Webster. Do you find writing in first person the best POV for your books?
MM: I’m a storyteller. In fact, I probably drive my friends crazy because I have a story for every occasion. (It’s been an interesting life.) Consequently, I created Sandi to be a storyteller. Instead of an overview of what everyone is doing as in third person, she has to depend on people telling her things, seeing things for herself, or finding information the hard way. I don’t know if first person is the best point of view (POV), but it is the easiest for me.
EBD: I liked Sandi very much and was interested in her relationship with her mother. Did personal history contribute to this character and their relationship?
MM: Maybe a little bit; although, it would be based on my daughter and me rather than my mother and me. We barely knew that my mother was going through the change of life. I, on the other hand, went through it starting at age forty and it really was a very bumpy ride for all of those around me. As for the other parts of their relationship, Sandi’s overbearing mother is based on many people I’ve known throughout my life, both female and male. I generally try to keep my real family out of my characters, but I suppose once in a while traits can’t be avoided. You know the old thought that says, Write What You Know About.
EBD: The setting is in L.A. in the Hollywood milieu. Have you lived there? Have you worked in the industry there?
MM: The Bogey Man is the only story based on the Hollywood crowd. I’m originally from Southern California and my family goes back several generations there, although I didn’t work in the movie industry. The setting is based on personal observations, pure fiction, and people watching. I used to be extremely shy, and consequently I watched people and tried to figure out what made them tick. That habit has carried over into my writing life. Other stories require a lot of research, but this one didn’t to any great extent.
EBD: I understand that you’ve worked in criminal law enforcement, which I take to mean that you were a police officer in CA. Have I understood you correctly? What is civil law enforcement?
MM: Civil law enforcement deals with everything from serving legal papers to enforcing court judgments to evictions, and a lot in between. No, I wasn’t a police officer. I was a Deputy Clerk with the Los Angeles County Marshal’s Office (which is now part of the Sheriff’s Office). However, in the day, there weren’t any female deputies, so when I worked in the smaller courthouses, I found myself sometimes doing deputies’ tasks out of necessity when it involved a female.
Have I got stories! The Clerks were in on most situations from beginning to end. We started the process, typed up reports, and even served civil process in the office. I worked in criminal law enforcement in the same capacity, meaning clerical. I learned a lot over the years, and continue to learn through friends and relatives who are still working in law enforcement, and they are officers and detectives.
EBD: Your secondary characters are interesting, Felicity DuBois -a hand model and Sandi’s best friend, her boyfriend Stanley-the techie in Sandi’s office, and of course Chris Cross-the Bogey look-alike who meets Pamela-a single mother and waitress. Any advice on developing secondary characters since you are adept at creating them?
MM: Thank you for the compliment. My advice is simply to observe the people around you; on television, in the grocery store and everywhere you go. No two individuals are really alike, and I think a writer needs to remember that when creating characters. If they’re all similar, then the story becomes boring. Keep the characters fresh, allow them to grow and change, and remember that the reader needs to be able to relate to some of them.
EBD: Your next book, Bogey Nights, in this series confuses me. It is told (I’m assuming first person POV) through Chris Cross’s wife Pamela’s POV. What happened to Sandi Webster?
MM: Readers liked The Bogey Man, Chris Cross, so much that I decided to give him his own series, which Oak Tree Press has picked up. Bogey Nights is the first in the new series and a spinoff from the Sandi Webster mysteries. The stories are told from Pamela’s POV because I believe I can represent a woman’s POV much better than a man’s perspective.
Sandi hasn’t disappeared. In fact, I’ve just started a new Sandi Webster mystery.
MM: Sandi is here to stay, as long as people enjoy reading about her experiences and adventures. However, Chris and Pamela Cross have been a wonderful diversion. Some stories are “right” for Sandi, and others wouldn’t fit into her life style. I think working on two series does keep the writing fresh, and it opens doors leading to different types of stories that can be related to different characters in the two series.
EBD: Can you give us a short synopsis of Bogey Nights?
MM: The tagline is, “You know your day has taken a turn for the worse when you buy a vintage house to convert into a restaurant, and you find a vintage body buried in the basement.” Chris and Pamela discover a murder that stems from the 1940s, and they find that the house they’ve bought to convert into a forties-themed restaurant used to be a boarding house. At the request of the victim’s family, they begin to investigate the old murder and find that seniors can be just as dangerous as younger people.
There is a second Bogey mystery sitting in the wings, waiting for discovery, and it’s about four Church Ladies who give Bogey headaches on a daily basis, along with a mystery to solve. The title is BOGEY'S ACE IN THE HOLE.
EBD: What’s the hook of the new Sandi Webster novel?
MM: The working title for Sandi’s latest mystery is Old Murders Never Die. The hook is that Sandi and her partner, Pete, become stranded in a ghost town while on a camping trip, and discover a mystery that’s been waiting to be solved for many years. Why did the residents of this small town pick up and leave without bothering to take their belongings with them?
Oh, there’s also a cowboy on horseback who complicates the issues.
EBD: Wings ePress, Inc. has published your novels. Did you submit your manuscript to them or do you have an agent who placed it?
MM: I submitted my manuscript to Wings, and thankfully they liked it. They’ve been good to work with, and I appreciate them very much. As I said, the new series is being published by Oak Tree Press. I don’t have an agent, and I also submitted directly to Oak Tree. I believe both small publishers are right for me and my books.
EBD: The name of your publisher is ironic since my copy is a trade paperback. Are your books available in other formats?
MM: Wings ePress, Inc. offers both ebooks and trade paperbacks, which makes me very happy. The books are also available through Amazon.com, including the Kindle format, and of course through ebook distributors.
EBD: Are you satisfied by Wing ePress, Inc.? Will you continue to publish with them?
MM: I’ve been very satisfied with Wings and at this time I’m planning on offering them Old Murders Never Die. They’ve been good to work with, and I think they really care about their authors. I believe I’ll have the same experience with Oak Tree Press.
EBD: Do you have any upcoming events promoting your books that you can tell us about?
MM: At present, with the economy in its slump, I have no plans for personal appearances. (I’m one of the many who got laid off from my day job.) Of course, that could change in a heartbeat. At this point in time, I’m doing most of my promoting on the Internet. I’ve done many appearances at libraries, and have enjoyed that immensely. I hope to continue those appearances in the not-too-distant future.
EBD: How do you feel about the life of a mystery writer?
MM: Don’t let anyone kid you, writing is a job. But I have to admit that writing mysteries is the most fun I’ve ever had on a job. It’s not only fun, but very fulfilling. I’m just sorry I didn’t start writing when I was younger. Although, come to think of it, I wouldn’t have had as many of life’s experiences to draw on, so my stories would have been very different.
Thank you, Elaine, for a terrific interview, and for taking the time to read The Bogey Man. I hope that someday you’ll invite me back. This is a lovely place to visit.
Thanks Marja. Let’s visit again when your next book comes out. Check Marja’s web/blog site for the release dates of Bogey Nights and the new Sandi Webster novel Old Murders Never Die at http://www.marjamcgraw.com/.