Friday, December 21, 2012

An Interview with Monica Mary Pulver

Pam: Mary how many books have you penned? How many series do you write and of course how many independent books have you written?


Monica: I am currently writing just one series, the Betsy Devonshire needlework mysteries.  I am in awe of authors who write two or even more series at a time – because I don't seem able to do that. I started by writing short stories, and still occasionally will write one.  I've sold something over two dozen short stories.  Some use characters from my books, others don't.  My first series was written as Mary Monica Pulver, about a police detective, Sergeant Peter Brichter, who married a horse breeder; then Gail Frazer and I, as Margaret Frazer, wrote six novels in the Dame Frevisse “Tales” together (she continued the series alone).  It's set in a nunnery in fifteenth-century England.  I've been extremely fortunate in that only two books I've written haven't been published – both badly flawed.


Pam: Tell us about your writing schedule?


Monica: I get to my desk first thing, boot up, and look at the national news.  I'll read a couple of blogs.  I open the story I'm working on and go back and forth between the Internet and the story until the story engages my full attention – which happens pretty quickly.  At noon I stop to make a salad for lunch, then go back to work until I am out of writing or it's suppertime, whichever comes first.  If there's a deadline looming, I'll go back to work in the evening.  All this happens around the usual stuff of life: grocery shopping, cleaning house, writers group meetings, book signings, meeting people who give me research information, getting the car serviced, Christmas shopping, etc., etc.


Pam: Are you currently working on a book?


Monica: Yes, the seventeenth in the Betsy Devonshire series.  Currently titled The Drowning Spool, it is about a night watchman falsely suspected of drowning a young woman in the therapy pool of the senior complex he works at.


Pam: Terri wanted me to ask you about your hats you wear to Malice every year and do you have any favorite one?


Monica:  Oh, gosh, choosing a favorite hat!  That's impossible!  LOL  I like large, elaborate hats, felt for winter and straw for summer, with feathers and ribbon and sometimes sequins or rhinestones on them.  I have some antique hats and some new ones, and one really outrageous one I bought this fall at a mystery convention, Magna cum Murder, held in Muncie, Indiana.  You can see it on my Facebook site.  Impossible to describe, really.  My web site has some pictures of me in some of my hats – I own around forty.


Pam:  It is the holiday season so what makes your holiday special?


Monica:  Gatherings with family and friends.  Baking a double batch of Austrian Vanocka, a sweet yeast bread with nutmeg, orange zest, almond splinters and two colors of raisins.  The smell of it baking really evokes Christmas emotions in me.  I had a really enormous collection of Fontanini Christmas Creche figures (not just the stable, but all of Bethlehem!) that was too big to display in the apartment we moved into, so I donated it to my church.  They put me in charge of setting it up and taking it down during the Christmas season, so I still get to play with it, and continue to add new figures.  Last year I bought the blacksmith, this year the brickmaker.  They are very beautiful and I tell myself stories about them as I arrange them on the tables in the narthex.

Pam: Okay now for some fun questions. Do you have a favorite place to vacation, book, meal, movie, song and dessert?


I have a sister and two nieces who live in Florida, so there's a great place to visit for a winter get-away.  I have not-strongly-formulated plans to go to England if the skeleton found in Leicester, England, proves to be the bones of King Richard III – I'm a huge, huge fan of Richard.  I love re-reading my collection of Terry Pratchett and Donald E. Westlake novels.  There's an Asian restaurant right in my neighborhood I go to and bring friends to.  Favorite movie?  This season I'm very fond of watching the old version of “A Christmas Carol” starring Alistair Sim.  I like J.S. Bach, especially “The B Minor Mass.”  I'm on a diet and not supposed to think about desserts, so we won't talk about cheesecake or anything to do with chocolate.


Pam: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?


Monica:  Sit down and write.  All the wishing, all the plotting, all the classes mean nothing if you don't sit down and write.  A writers group can be extremely helpful if you can find (or found!) a good one.  The goal of the group must be to get every member published.


Pam: What is your favorite part of the writing process?


Monica:  Oh, getting a great idea!  No, coming up with a couple of really clever plot twists.  No, wait, discovering a character who you love spending time with.  I actually like editing a manuscript than writing it.  Better than that, finishing the doggone thing, very gratifying.  Best is signing a contract with a publisher.  Even better, getting that advance copy, holding it in your hands, opening it and finding your words right there on the page.  No, I've got it: getting invited to a signing and having someone come up and gush, “I just love your book!”  Especially if she stays to gossip about the characters as if they are real people.  Now I think about it, those royalty checks are terrific, too.  I guess my favorite part is being a writer.


Pam: Do you have favorite minor characters?


Monica:  Gosh, yes.  I like Irene, a skilled needleworker who looks at the world from a little off to one side.  Sergeant Mike Malloy, the long-suffering police detective in Betsy's home town is fun to write about.  Jill Cross Larson, despite her Scandinavian cool reticence, has all kinds of hidden quirks.  I haven't brought Joe Mickels out for an appearance lately; he's overdue.  (I'll tell you a secret about him: he's based on the classic comic book character, Scrooge McDuck.)


Pam: What are you looking forward to in 2013?


Monica:  Well, the world didn't end as scheduled, so it's onward and upward with The Drowning Spool.  I bought a beautiful counted cross stitch pattern from White Willow Stitching, “Tribal Cat,” designed by Jamie Larson.  I've been putting off working on it so my New Year's Resolution Number One has to be to get started.  I'm also going to rediscover punch needle – research for TDS.


Pam: Lastly would you leave us with words of wisdom from one of your characters?


Monica:  Jill, who has a darker view of life than Betsy, likes to point out, “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.”



  1. Really enjoyed the interview!

    Have to say - I absolutely love Jill - great way to close!

    thanks Monica for a series I continue to enjoy that celebrates my love of sttiching as well. Good luck on the BAP!


  2. Monica,
    Thank you for the interview. I cross stitch and love it when I find the perfect pattern to stitch. My favorite characters are Betsy and Goddy. LOL. Your series is my go to comfort read.



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