As a political scientist, I’ve previously written for an academic and congressional audience. One day, I took a walk in my neighborhood and contrived the plot of STABBING IN THE SENATE. I had never written fiction before, so one day I simply sat down and started to write the novel. I’ve been reading mysteries since I was a little. In my early days of fiction writing, I tried to imitate the various writing styles I’ve enjoyed over the years.
In the summer, I love writing outside on our backyard deck with my dog.
MM: What is your writing schedule?
Since I work full-time at the Library of Congress, I write in the evenings and on the weekends, usually for about an hour at a time. If done consistently, it works.
MM: Dead or alive what five authors would you like to interview? What would you ask them? What meal or desert would you have?
Walter Isaacson, Dan Brown, JK Rowling, Deborah Harkness, and Mildred Wirt Benson (aka Carolyn Keene). Quite an eclectic group! I’d ask them about how they come up with the creative ideas for their books. I’d probably like to chat with them over a nice cup of coffee.
MM: Tell us about your latest book?
The second book in the series, after STABBING IN THE SENATE, is HOMICIDE IN THE HOUSE. I finished it a few months ago and sent it to my publisher. I think it’s even better than STABBING because there are several subplots, and almost a mystery within a mystery. The same characters make an appearance – Kit, Doug, Meg, and even Trevor. Congress is still the backdrop, but there’s even more intrigue and political maneuvering!
MM: What comes first, your character, plot, setting or backstory of the situation?
The setting really helps dictate my plot. After I work on the action, then I develop the supporting characters, creating their strengths, weaknesses, and foibles. That’s always a lot of fun because you can be as creative as your mind allows.
MM: Be our tour guide. Tell us about where you live and what you love about living there?
I live in a beautiful neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, which is approximately four miles from Washington, D.C. I love living in my house. It’s not particularly large, but for almost 20 years, I lived in apartments, condos, and dorms. Finally, we bought a house, and it’s very enjoyable, particularly our backyard.
MM: I loved STABBING IN THE SENATE, where did you get your idea? Tell us about the fabulous cover and title?
I worked in the United States Senate for almost three years so the backstory comes from my experience as a staffer. Personally, I like alliterations. Once I decided upon the Senate as the setting, then of course it had to be a stabbing! My publisher designed the cover. We went through several versions, and I took many of the drafts into work at the Library of Congress and showed them to colleagues, who weighed in. They helped drastically with the cover’s evolution. But the best part of the cover is my dog, the inspiration for the beagle mutt “Clarence” character in the series. HOMICIDE IN THE HOUSE features Clarence prominently so don’t miss it.
MM: What would your characters tell us about you?
That I like writing dialogue a lot more than writing anything else! That’s why the dialogue is snappy. I think it’s my sharpest writing.
MM: Now for fun questions. What show/s do you binge watch? What is your favorite meal, place to vacation, movie/s, song and way to spend your spare time?
I have a guilty pleasure: “Grey’s Anatomy.” I also like “NCIS: Los Angeles” (I overlapped with Chris O’Donnell at Boston College), “Madame Secretary” and “Veep.”
My favorite meal is definitely pizza. I love vacationing in Duck, North Carolina, a town in the Outer Banks. One of my favorite movies is “This Is The End” starring James Franco and Seth Rogen. Those guys make me laugh out loud. I can’t get enough of them. I like the song “I’m Happy” because I try to stay optimistic. Between my regular job, writing, and teaching a course annually at Georgetown, I have very little spare time. When I do have time, I like to head out to Virginia wineries with my husband and dog, go to the movies, and of course, read.
MM: Lastly, what are you looking forward to in 2016?
I’m a political junkie so I am looking forward to the 2016 presidential election. The cast of characters thus far have proven especially entertaining.