Thursday, January 14, 2016
An Interview with Dean James aka Miranda James
INTERVIEW WITH COZY SERIES AUTHOR: DEAN JAMES
By Pamela James
MM: Dean, let's begin with your backstory. When and how did you become an author? Tell us about your series?
I wanted to write from an early age, but it wasn’t until I was in my twenties and in graduate school that I wrote my first adult mystery. I was first published, however, in non-fiction, a book I co-wrote with a librarian friend, Jean Swanson. That was By a Woman’s Hand (Berkley, 1994). My first novel, Cruel as the Grave (Silver Dagger Mysteries) was published in 2000. Miranda James was born in 2009, when my editor at Berkley suggested I consider writing a series about a librarian with a cat. Since I was a librarian with cats, I thought that was a good idea. The first in the series, Murder Past Due, came out in 2010, and there have been five more in the series since. I also started a second series, a spinoff, with Bless Her Dead Little Heart last year.
MM: Why is writing mysteries important to you?
I have loved mysteries since I discovered Nancy Drew over forty years ago. I never thought much about writing anything else, because I love mysteries.
MM: What would your characters tell us about you?
That I’m good about bringing them into contact with dead bodies on a regular basis.
MM: Give us an example of your usual writing schedule?
Do nothing for weeks except think about how I should be writing, and then get in a panic over a looming deadline and start writing every day until the book is done.
MM: Where is your favorite place to write?
In my home office. Occasionally in the recliner in the living room. I’m not one of those people who can write in a public place.
MM: Tell us why your books are fun to write?
For me they are fun because I enjoy spending time with the characters. I also enjoy figuring out the victims and the solution to the crimes. Sometimes the solutions surprise me a bit.
MM: As a reader what do you expect from the author to provide for an entertaining story?
Characters that I can enjoy spending time with, a good mystery, an interesting setting – those are the most important points.
MM: Today if there were two of you. What would you have the other you doing while you are writing great mysteries?
The other “me” would be a famous musician or singer (classical or opera, not rock).
MM: Dead or alive what five mystery authors would you like to sit down with and interview?
Margery Allingham, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, Mildred Wirt Benson (aka the first Carolyn Keene), and Julie Campbell Tatham (creator of Trixie Belden).
MM: What has writing taught you about life?
To examine things more carefully. You can be surprised by what’s going on under the surface of any situation or relationship.
I hope to attend Bouchercon in New Orleans. I’d love to make it back to Malice Domestic, but I don’t know whether the budget and time will allow. With a full-time job, I have only a certain amount of vacation, and I’d like to spend some of it next year on a real vacation. I haven’t been to England since 2012, and I’d love to go and visit friends there. I’ll be writing the next Charlie and Diesel book in 2016, and hopefully another Southern Ladies book, if there’s a new contract.
MM: Now for some fun questions. What is your favorite song, meal, dessert, television binge watching series, place to vacation, movie/s and tell us a favorite book title that has stuck with you thru the years?
Favorite song: Over the Rainbow. Meal: scrambled eggs, grits, bacon, and homemade biscuits. Dessert: sometimes cheesecake, sometimes ice cream. Television binge watching series: I have several: Bewitched, As Time Goes By, To the Manor Born, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Place to vacation: England, though I’d love to go back to Istanbul. Movies: The Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby, The Parent Trap (the original), The Awful Truth. Favorite Book title: A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters. One of the best-ever titles for a mystery novel.
MM: Do you collect anything besides books? Do you or did you have any other hobbies besides reading books?
I really don’t have space left for anything besides books. Other hobbies: used to enjoy going to movies, going to the opera, playing in a community concert band. These days I don’t have time for much besides work and writing.
MM: What would you like to say to your readers? How about a mentor or teacher that might deserve a mention?
I want to thank my readers for the support they have given me. I couldn’t do it without them and their unending encouragement … and insatiable appetite for the books! I was lucky to have a number of teachers through the years who made a difference in my life: Charlene Leverette, my freshman and sophomore English teacher in high school, Penny Sisson, my Spanish and geometry teacher, and college professors Katherine Coward, Maria Butler, Martha Biles, and William Cash. Every student should be so lucky as to have amazing teachers like them.
MM: Lastly leave us with an original Dean James quote?
Life is too short to read bad books.
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