Sunday, September 21, 2014
Volunteer zinnias, July 2014, Judy's flower garden.
Note: You can learn more about the September Sinc-Up Blog at www.sistersincrime.org
We, as members of Sisters in Crime, were asked to answer all or any of the following questions. I answered them all. Then we were to tag another mystery writer, and I chose Carolyn Mulford, also a SinC member.
SINC-UP BLOG for September 21, 2014
1. Which authors have inspired you?
I learned to write mysteries from reading the Golden Age authors like Josephine Tey, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie, Michael Innes, Marjorie Allingham, and others. I especially loved Tey and Sayers, and I’ve read them at least twice. Contemporary mystery authors I learned from and who especially inspired me by their books as well as by their treatment of me have been Julia Spencer-Fleming and Louise Penny. I have also enjoyed and learned from Margaret Maron, Sara Paretsky, Susan Hill, and Sue Grafton.
I read mysteries regularly as a way to relax and let other problems go to the less conscious parts of my brain. Some authors say they can’t read other mystery authors while writing a book, but I do and I can. The plot and character work goes on at a deep level, while I go off into another world and enjoy other characters. Published so far are Killer Frost (www.MainlyMurderPress.com, 2012) and Farm Fresh and Fatal (2013). I have already written another 12 mysteries.
2. Which male authors write great women characters? Which female authors write great male characters?
I probably read more women authors than men, but I think Peter Robinson writes great female characters and also Michael Connelly, Stephen Booth, Alexander McCall Smith, and Reginald Hill.
Women who write great male characters? Definitely Louise Penny and Julia Spencer-Fleming. Tey, Sayers, Marsh do, too, and Susan Hill, Cora Harrison, and Barbara Hambly. Charles Todd, of course, but there you have a man and woman team.
3. If someone said, “Nothing against women writers but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men,” how would you respond?
I’d say, “You don’t know what you’re missing. My very favorites over the years have been woman crime writers.”
4. What’s the best part of the writing process for you? What’s the most challenging?
The best part is the actual writing, though it’s work, too. I like it when unexpected things come up, or the characters reveal things that I didn’t consciously know about them. I always learn things I knew but didn’t know I knew about other people and myself when I write a novel. The most challenging part is plotting it, which I do by following Elizabeth George’s plan in her book Write Away.
Once I get an idea, I work on the characters and make sure I have lots of conflict between them, then figure out who gets murdered and who the murderer is, and then I sketch out all the scenes. That’s the hardest part for me, getting it planned. The plan is adaptable, but it guides me. That way, I don’t get stuck.
5. Do you listen to music while writing? What’s on your play list?
I listen to my local classical music station all the time, at home and in the car: WCPE-FM or www.theclassicalstation.org (it also streams online). My favorite composer is Bach. That’s a plus, when there’s Bach, and if WCPE is fund-raising, I get out my Bach CDs and have a J.S. Bach feast.
6. What books are on your night stand right now?
I’ve begun reading Frankie Y. Bailey’s The Red Queen Dies. I loved the character Lizzie in Bailey’s first five novels. I have three books I’ll be reading soon and then reviewing on my blog and on DorothyL mystery fan listserve: Two by K.M. Rockwood: Sendoff for a Snitch and Brothers in Crime. I’ve reviewed three by her on my blogs for June 8 (Steeled for Murder), July 13 (Fostering Death), and August 17, 2014 (Buried Biker). She’s a treasure, and I love her Jesse Damon novels. I also have Maya Corrigan’s By Cook or by Crook, which I’ll review in early November when it appears. Last Sunday, September 14, I reviewed Sara Hoklotubbe’s third novel in her Cherokee series, Sinking Suspicions. I’m also looking forward to getting copies to review of her third novel from Carolyn Mulford (Show Me the Gold) and from Gloria Alden, her fourth garden novel that includes a re-enactment. I would note that I have met all of these authors through Sisters in Crime org and at Malice Domestic convention, most through the Guppy subgroup of SINC.
7. If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?
I would say that you shouldn’t expect to make much money, but the joy of writing and the excitement of getting published is very worth the trouble. Also I would urge you to write what you wish to write, stick close to what is important to you. Be prepared to use and share your own emotional experiences. I myself love books best which explore the emotions of their characters and also let me into their inner lives. Our characters reflect back on us, and we are the creators out of our own mysterious inner life. I like to get to know the inner lives of other people. Fiction is a great way to do that.
I would like to link my blog to Carolyn Mulford, whose mysteries set in Missouri I enjoy: Show Me the Murder; Show Me the Deadly Deer, and soon to come: Show Me the Gold. Check out her blog at carolynmulford.com/mysteries. Carolyn is also a Guppy and SINC member. Judy Hogan, SinC member since 2007.