Looking back, it seems pretty obvious that I was destined to be a writer—even though my favorite subject in school was math. I was always making up stories. The first time I got paid for my writing was when I was eight years old. I came third in a poetry-writing contest. I think the prize money was five dollars.
I’ve been writing since I learned how to make letters into words, but I started writing fiction more seriously about 15 years ago.
MM2: Take us thru a typical writing day?
I’m a morning person so I’m usually at my desk by 8 o’clock and I write pretty steadily until lunchtime. I do try to get up every hour and move around. I tried working at a standing desk, but I don’t seem to have the co-ordination for that! I’m in awe of anyone who works at a treadmill desk. I stop for the day between three thirty and four.
Sometimes I’ll spend the morning doing research at the university library. And sometimes I’ll go write at Starbucks, partly for the vanilla lattes and partly for a change of scenery.
MM2: Let's talk about your latest book?
My latest Sofie Ryan book is BUY A WHISKER. It’s the second book in the Second Chance Cat series. Sarah Grayson runs Second Chance, a re-purpose store in North Harbor, Maine, with some help from jack-of-all trades Mac, and her cat, Elvis. The building is also home to the offices of Charlotte’s Angels. The Angels are a quartet of senior citizen sleuths: Charlotte, Liz, Rose and Alfred Peterson. (Mr. P. is the world’s oldest computer hacker.)
Of course Sarah keeps getting roped into the Angels’ cases, since the ladies are all friends of her grandmother. And that sometimes puts her at odds with her childhood friend, Nick, who is now an investigator for the medical examiner’s office.
In BUY A WHISKER the Angels are investigating the death of baker Lily Carter, which seems to be tied to a proposed development for downtown North Harbor.
MM2: When writing your books. What is the hardest complication that you face? Such as the blank first page? The middle of the book? Character complications?
I have this little quirk that I have to be completely happy with the first line of the book before I go on. I spend a ridiculous amount of time on that first sentence.
And I can’t start writing without a title. It often isn’t the final title, but I have to have one before I can begin. My writing friends have pointed out that there’s no logical reason for me to need a title before I start but I still have to have it.
MM2: What is the fun part of your book to write?
The cats. Elvis in the Second Chance books and Owen and Hercules in the Magical Cats Mysteries that I write as Sofie Kelly.
MM2: When it comes to your books. Do you like research?
I like knowing things—obscure facts, literary quotes, sentences in other languages. I was that weird little kid that liked to read the encyclopedia—back when libraries actually had them on the shelves. Research gives me the chance to learn new things. For instance, I learned a few words of Hungarian for one book. And I love thrift stores so I can justify prowling around them by calling it research!
MM2: Do you belong to a writer's group, circle or have specific readers who help along the way?
I belonged to a couple of different writers’ groups for many years. I can’t say enough good things about the Guppy chapter of Sisters in Crime. I met other writers through the Guppies who are still friends today.
I’ve also been blessed with wonderful readers who I can count on to answer any questions I might have, including a couple of librarians and a musician who knows way more about guitars than I ever will.
MM2: What writing advice do you have to give writers?
Read! I’m always meeting people who tell me they want to write and when I ask them what they’re reading they tell me they don’t have time to read. Read everything; novels, short stories, non-fiction, poetry. Read good books and terrible ones. Even if it’s only for 5 minutes a day, read.
MM2: Do you have favorite books that you reread?
I’ve read Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House many, many times. It’s the literary equivalent of comfort food for me.
MM2: Now for some fun questions.
What would your characters tell us about you?
That I like to collect names. If I meet you in the real world and I’m intrigued by your name it will probably show up in a book at some point. I also like to walk through graveyards to find interesting names.
(Between reading the encyclopedia and walking around cemeteries I realize that I’m starting to sound a little odd!)
Where is your favorite place to eat?
Anywhere that makes a good cup of coffee.
What is your favorite meal and movie?
My favorite meal is breakfast. My husband has been making bread and my favorite treat at the moment is one of his honey rolls still warm from the oven. He's a great cook!
My favorite movie is The Princess Bride. I’ve had a crush on Mandy Patinkin ever since I first watched it. And yes, I do walk around quoting lines from the movie.
Do you have a favorite place to vacation?
Anywhere I can swim and hike works for me.
MM2: In closing what would you like to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading. Thank you for recommending my books to your friends and family. And a special thank you to everyone who has emailed to share stories and photos of their own cats.