Today author Marilyn Leach visits on her tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the cozy mystery novel, "Up From the Grave".
Marilyn will be awarding an e-Book copy of her first book, Candle For A Corpse to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop, plus a grand prize of a $20.00 gift card to the Pelican Book Group website to a randomly drawn comenter during the tour.
Marilyn was kind enough to answer all my prying questions. Thank you!
Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?
I wrote my first mystery when I was nine years old. It was a play and the neighborhood children came to the backyard performances. Five cents included popcorn. The first read-for-enjoyment books I really liked were mysteries. Then, when I met Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, well, the dye was cast. It was my travels in Europe and exploring England that made me go in the English mystery direction. I have good friends that live in Berkshire and they proof my manuscripts for language, police procedure, and other cultural corrections. I like a good brain-tickle where things end up as they should accompanied by humor, uplift, and quirky characters. Basically, there are many others who enjoy that combination as well.
What research is required?
Thinking through how to give clues and information without telegraphing the who-done-it takes some real crafting. In Candle for a Corpse, issues from World War II came into play that I needed to research. Every book calls for a certain amount of research depending on plot and direction. In one mystery I had to research English village history, English flora and fauna according to the season, British police structure, venomous animals, English church hymnody, and that’s just for starters.
Name one thing you learned from your heroine.
If I’m feeling overwhelmed, Berdie is still focused. If I’m struggling, Berdie is on top of it. If I’m ready for a party, Berdie is stuck in on her work. Character development is consistent, even when dirty dishes are waiting in my kitchen sink.
Do you have any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?
I subscribe to Country Homes and Interiors, British version. I read it almost every morning so that by the end of the month I’ve read it cover to cover. It really offers far more than home interior; it’s an English country life montage: gardening, seasonal food, events, upstart businesses. I find it extremely relaxing and informative all at once. It’s amazing how little tidbits of information end up in my writing and just add that extra flare to the story.
Are you a plotter or pantser?
I’m a plotter. I actually visually create a map of the story including red herrings, major clues, and twists. My nephew, with whom I’ve done writing projects, helps me to see the flaws, or how to heighten plot points. But then when I’m putting words down for the story itself, fun little flourishes happen that bring extra color. It’s having a strong plot line that gives me room to dance.
Look to your right – what’s sitting there?
Oh my goodness. My desk, (I’m at my computer which is just next), that is laden with writing notebooks, Conflict and Suspense by James Scott Bell, Harbrace College Handbook of Grammar, three scented candles, a Royal Stuart creamer and sugar that are stuffed with matches for the candles, paper clips, tacks and erasers, and a pen holder of modeled brass that sports a picture of my mother, older sister and myself from when I was a child. Oh yes, there’s also the toile-du-joule decorated letter file full of bills and a cold neglected cup of tea.
Anything new coming up from you? What?
I’m currently working on a Berdie Elliott Ascension Sunday Mystery called Into the Clouds. During an Ascension procession in the village of Aidan Kirkwood, a person has gone missing. Berdie is called upon by the missing person’s family to find the person and any malevolent who may be involved. It has a host of fun characters, as well as shadowed ones, that brings Berdie’s church work head on into her investigative work. And her vicar husband is not keen on it. It has been great fun to write.
Do you have a question for our readers?
Is it cover art or back page description that makes you choose to pick up a book for a look-see by an author unknown to you?
The constable bellowed forth making his rotund shape heave. “Everyone sit down, or I’ll arrest the lot of ya.”
The boom sent baby Katy Donovan into a great crying frenzy, which soon became a chorus when Dotty Butz and several other infants joined in. Few paid attention to Goodnight’s command.
Dr. Meredith bent close to the earth and pushed aside additional dirt revealing more remains.
Berdie’s curiosity got the better of her, and deftly she stepped to the sight the doctor examined.
“Human, a little one,” the pathologist said discreetly and stood.
“Well I never,” Berdie exhaled, “of all times and places.”
“Quite,” the animated voice of Mr. Webb sounded. “Surely, there’s been some mistake.”
Goodnight, standing next to Berdie, grunted, took a deep breath, and trumpeted across the crowd, “I’m declaring this a crime scene. You lot go home now.”
“Albert, is this really necessary?” Mr. Webb’s disgust was in sharp contrast to his smart dress.
“Do pigs grunt?”
“Reverend Elliott, Wilkie Gordon’s collapsed,” a voice cried out.
Berdie caught her breath as Hugh, quite fit for a man his age, nearly hurdled the chairs to get to Mr. Gordon. A small group had gathered round.
“I appreciate your concern, but please stand back, give him room to breathe,” Hugh ordered.
Edsel came next to Hugh and moved people along as Hugh attended to the old gentleman.
“I said go home!” Goodnight bellowed like an evening foghorn.
Whipped by the swirl of events and Goodnight’s volume, a mad migration of people took flight for the front road. Chairs tipped and children were swept up. Mr. Webb hurriedly escorted the contessa back to her limousine, and Dave Exton, who seemed to relish the action, went snap happy with his camera.
Dr. Meredith turned his attention to Hugh and Mr. Gordon. He took a step.
“Stay right here, Doctor. Vicar’s doin’ a fine job,” Goodnight growled.
“Are you mad, Goodnight?” Dr. Meredith frowned and moved quickly to Wilkie’s side.
Berdie took in the policeman. “Shouldn’t you be doing something to help Mr. Gordon, Constable Goodnight?”
“More important I keep an eye on this.” The law officer stabbed his thumb in the direction of the skeleton. “I shall be calling the Yard in on this.”