From all the
books you have written, do you have a favorite?
My favorite book is always the last book that
I've completed, and so it is
currently DEATH OF A PTA GODDESS, a
Molly Masters mystery scheduled to be
released in October
2002. Every time I write a book my writing improves,
although the effort of having to write a 320-manuscript-page
book is so great
that my LEAST favorite book is always the one
I'm currently writing.
At what point in time did you realize that writing was
"the thing for you"?
freshman year in college. I'd started out as an art major but
creative writing class from Cambel Black and got
advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a
Know what you're
getting into first--the dream of being a writer is just
that--the dream of the first sale, multi-figure contracts,
fame--but the reality is being willing to sit
alone a keyboard working for
two to four hours each and every
day. It's being able to withstand numerous
letters and harsh words from strangers. The key is to be able
put the countless hours into honing one's craft and being
able to perservere
in the face of disappointment.
What is the
name of your favorite mystery movie?
Do you normally do a lot of research when
writing a book?
therapist series requires a ton of research, yes. My Molly
series also requires research for characters'
occupations, hobbies, and so
forth. One thing that I
learned long ago is that research is a terrific
excuse not to do
the much-less enjoyable business of actually writing a book.
therefore, force myself to do research only outside of the hours
assign to myself as writing time.
What other types of jobs have you
Waitress, typist of
classified advertisements for the local newspaper,
repair for IBM, and technical writer.
Do you attend conventions and
Yes. I go
to Malice Domestic and Bouchercon every year. I've become more
aware of how precious few years I have left with my teens at
so I have cut down greatly on my out-of-town
there anyone, in particular, who influenced you?
My mother, through her immense love of
literature, was my first influence to
consider this, and then I
had a couple of college professors who greatly
me. More recently, I have wonderful, intelligent, helpful
whom I'm in critique groups with, and they've helped my
What led you to write mysteries?
I was always the obnoxious person who could
figure out whodunnit in movies
and TV shows. I'd written
my autobiographical first novel, which a lot of
with, then was at a conference in which Diane Mott Davidson
a presentation on how to write a mystery. I decided to make my
book a mystery, and a month later, coincidentally was
asked to join a
critique group in which Diane was a
you read reviews of your books?
Yes, though I must admit, I squint a lot of the
would you like to be remembered?
As a good mom of two wonderful human beings who outlive
you believe is the highlight of your writing career so
Wow. No one's
ever asked me that. I have a lot of really, really small
highlights, such as when an author I greatly admire has
complimented my work,
but if I have to pick one, it would have
to be something that happened very
recently, when ROMANTIC TIMES
reviewers selected WHEN THE FAX LADY
SINGS as one of the five
best contemporary mysteries published in 2001.
Do you write on a fixed schedule
or do you wait until thoughts come to you?
Fixed schedule, absolutely. If I waited
for "thoughts" to come to me,
they'd generally be: "Go play
How do you come up with plots?
I start with an inciting incident, which is
sometimes when someone does
something so annoying to me that I
decide to kill them in fiction, then I
write the first chapter,
create characters of interest to me, then
myself: What happens next?
Did you take any classes on how to
Yes, in college and
then I took a few adult-education classes when I decided
wanted to get serious about writing fiction.
Do you ever get writer's
What I get is the "Oh, @*&^*#^! This book is @#*&^!"
can become writer's block if you let your mind take
you there. The only way
I know to overcome that wall is to
keep going till the first draft is done
and have faith in your
own ability to rewrite...and then rewrite until the
Do you have a message you would like to give to all the
readers out there?
"Buy my books so I can stay in print" count???