Pam: Mary how many books have you written? Tell us about your writing schedule?
Mary: I've written four complete novels in the "Rhodes to Murder" series, two novellas featuring Caroline Rhodes from the series, and multiple short stories, two of which also featured Caroline and her pals from the little university town of Rhineburg, Illinois. I built the other short stories around vastly different characters. Those stories have appeared in the anthologies Chicago Blues; Blondes in Trouble and Other Tangled Tales; Mayhem in the Midlands; and most recently, Dark Things II: Cat Crimes.
Due to my work schedule, I used to be a night owl, writing late at night and into the wee hours of the morning. Since retiring, I hit the pillow a lot earlier. Now I write in the afternoons and early evening.
Pam: Do you have some favorite minor characters?
Mary: Caroline's main sleuthing buddy is Carl Atwater, a professor of history at Rhineburg's Bruck University. He's really a major character, though, as is antique dealer Maddy "Mad" Moeller, Caroline's closest female friend in Rhineburg. I think my favorite minor characters are the half dozen or so ladies who live at the Rhineburg Boarding House and Home for Gentle Women. They first showed up in The Rune Stone Murders, the second book in the series, where they were engaged in a somewhat nefarious practice aimed at augmenting their Social Security income. These fine ladies made a return appearance in The Scarecrow Murders where they led the town's women in a protest march that ended in a battle with their elderly male counterparts. They will certainly appear again in upcoming stories.
Pam: Are you currently writing a new book? When will your next mystery be released?
Mary: I recently finished writing Haunted Hearts, the second Caroline Rhodes novella and a Halloween mystery. It was published in late October as a follow-up to the novella Framed, which appeared as one of three stories by different authors in the book Hearts & Daggers, released this past Valentine's Day. In Framed, Caroline falls for Paul-Henri Girard, a dark eyed handsome gambler who's made his fortune playing poker at tournaments in the U.S. and Europe. Haunted Hearts continues the story of their growing romance while also telling the story of Caroline's first murder case years earlier. Next up for publication is a Christmas short story and a spring anthology of short stories. Right now, though, I'm happy to announce the December 2012 release of the mass market paperback edition of A Merry Little Murder by Harlequin/Worldwide. A Merry Little Murder is a Christmas holiday mystery and the first book in the "Rhodes to Murder" series. Harlequin will be publishing the other three books in the series as mass market paperbacks in 2013-2014.
Pam: Since you have been an author for a while, I bet you have some really great writing advice to share with us?
Mary: My best advice is to edit, edit, edit before you send out your work to be read. Make a list of words you frequently use without even realizing it, words like "just", "always", "really", "that", etc. Do a word search for those kinds of words and replace them. Eliminate "that" and "was" as often as possible. Use strong active verbs to describe action. Instead of saying "She went out of the house", write "She hurried/ran/stumbled/tip-toed/etc. out of the house". Keep the action moving to avoid dead space in the story. And do your research. For example. if your character goes camping in Minnesota, make sure you don't describe the forest as full of palm trees. Find out what kind of trees grow in Minnesota forests and use the correct names for them.
Pam: Now for some fun questions. What is your favorite movie, dessert and if you can narrow it down your favorite book?
Mary: I have several favorite movies, some old, some newer. I'd have to say Steel Magnolias and Fried Green Tomatoes are two of my all time favorites along with that oldie but goodie Arsenic and Old Lace. My favorite dessert is cherry pie and peppermint ice cream. As for my favorite books, almost anything by Fannie Flagg. I absolutely loved her books Welcome to the World, Baby Girl and A Redbird Christmas. Flagg is a true storyteller who writes with an honest and sympathetic voice, which makes her characters as true to ordinary life as possible. My second favorite author is Terry Pratchett. I adore his Discworld series.
Pam: Mary do you ever get the chance to read books by your favorite authors?
Mary: Oh, yes. I'm currently reading Hogfather by Terry Pratchett and just bought his book The Last Hero.
Pam: What would you like to say to your readers?
Mary: I hope readers will try the "Rhodes to Murder" series. I write inter-generational mysteries, meaning I have characters ranging from their mid-twenties (Caroline's three grown children) to middle age (Caroline and Maddy) to senior citizen (Carl Atwater). I love the interplay between people of various ages, and I enjoy writing mysteries that show their various abilities. To see all my books and shorts stories, please visit my website at www.marywelk.com or my Amazon page at www.amazon.com/author/marywelk. Thank you!
Pam: Since it's the holiday season...this year what do you want for Christmas?
Mary: That's easy! I'm hoping to get a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas. I'm been hinting about one for weeks, so hopefully my kids heard me.
Pam: In parting as an author what are you looking forward to in 2013?
Mary: More time to write! It's been a very busy year in our household. Hopefully, 2013 will be a less hectic and more peaceful year. Thanks for asking such great questions. I've enjoyed being interviewed by you, Pam.
The "Rhodes to Murder" mystery series
The "Rhodes to Murder" mystery series