ALW: I didn’t have a writing career until recently. I have degrees in biology and library science. (I’ve even worked with sea lions and monkeys.) Although I dabbled at writing short stories when I was a kid and had a few poems published in my college literary magazine, I made my first attempt to write a novel only when my job was cut from full-time to part-time a few years ago. That attempt was published as the first book in the Hattie Davish Mystery Series, A Lack of Temperance. I’ve been writing full time ever since.
MM: Where do you like to write?
ALW: Years ago, we converted an extra bedroom in our house into a library with floor to ceiling bookshelves and Bradbury & Bradbury wallpaper on the ceiling. We furnished it with an antique card table, an overstuffed leather chair and a bust of Louis Agassiz. We call it my office now!
MM: Give us details on how you write your books. Plot, setting, character, keep track of series. Tell us your writing schedule?
ALW: Each book in the series is set in a different historic town. I choose the locations based on my personal interest, geographic location, size, and, most importantly, historic significance. Then, having chosen a location, I often draw the plots and the characters from the history of the town itself. For example, A Lack of Temperance, the first book in the series, features a hatchet-wielding temperance fanatic who goes missing. I drew both character and plot from the fact that the setting, Eureka Springs, Arkansas, was once the residence of Carrie Nation, the famous temperance leader. As to my writing schedule, I write whenever my young daughter is in school.
MM: Is there an author whose books that maybe you like to or used to like to binge read?
ALW: I don’t tend to binge read except when I discover a new-to-me series that I love. After picking up the first of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael mysteries, I read all twenty books in a row.
MM: 2016 is here, tell us what is in store for you over the next year. I mean both personally and professionally?
ALW: I am currently working on several proposals for new series and trying to figure out how to write more than one book a year. I’m also looking forward to attending the Malice DomesticConvention in April.
MM: Authors who have passed away always leave their book impressions, leave their personality and mark on our own work. With this in mind and suspend disbelief give us five authors you would like to sit down with over meal and what would you ask them?
ALW: Only five? Wow-that’s tough. There are so many authors I’d love to visit with. But if I had to choose only five, I would love to sit down to a meal with Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, George Eliot, James Michener and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. If there were room at the table, I’d definitely invite Theodore Geisel as well. If I had to ask anything it would be about plot development and research techniques. But truly I’d love to just listen to these amazing people converse.
IF the authors predate the internet. Tell us how you would explain cell phones and internet to them?
ALW: I wouldn’t try. I love to write (and read) historical mysteries because the sleuth has to rely on her own ingenuity, not on technology.
MM: Now for fun get to know you questions. What is your favorite place to vacation, fruit, dessert, movies, shows to binge watch, favorite writing moment?
ALW: I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite place to vacation- I simply love to travel- anywhere! I like most fruits but I’d have to say the berries are my favorite. Cookies are definitely my favorite type of dessert. For movies, I love watching period dramas in general- Somewhere in Time is definitely an all-time favorite. I love to binge watch mystery shows of all kinds-particularly anything from the BBC from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Midsomer Murders to Inspector Morse and Broadchurch.
MM: Is there someone you want to thank for their help along the way of your publishing career? Maybe a mentor, teacher an author?
ALW: Actually if I were to thank anyone, it would be my husband. He encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing and has been my first and best beta-reader. I wouldn’t have a publishing career if it weren’t for his support.
MM: Tell us about your latest book?
ALW: My latest book is A Deceptive Homecoming, the 4th in my Hattie Davish Mystery series. My amateur sleuth, Miss Hattie Davish, is a traveling private secretary in 1890’s America who solves crimes in each historic town she visits. In the latest book, she returns to her hometown of St. Joseph, Mo. (known as the birthplace of the Pony Express and where the assassination of Jesse James took place) for a funeral but when she arrives the body in the casket is not who she expected.
MM: If your book was made into a television series or movie who do you see playing your main character?
ALW: I’ve always envisioned Keri Russell as Hattie. Although she is about ten years old than Hattie, she’d still be perfect.
MM: Do you have a favorite artist, person in history and song who really speaks to your soul?
ALW: No. I take inspiration from a wide range of people, places, books, art, music, food, architecture, etc., both historically and in the present. It is one reason why I love to travel.
MM: Last but never least what would your characters tell us about you? Also what is your secret passion?
ALW: Hopefully my characters reveal my attention to detail, my desire to entertain, my love of a good puzzle, and my sense of justice. As to a secret passion, like Hattie who has never met a cake she didn’t like, I haven’t met a form of dark chocolate I didn’t like. I’ve loved it since I was a child (when it wasn’t as readily available as it is now) and can’t remember the last time I ate any other type of chocolate.