What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?
The Timber Creek K-9 series by Margaret Mitzushima.
Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?
I recently read Agatha Christie’s The Man in the Brown Suit and her Mr. Parker Pyne Investigates, which is a collection of short stories about Mr. Pyne—both for the first time. I’d read many Christie books as a teen, but have had the pleasure of re-reading many of them, as well as diving into ones I missed, as I research for the Phyllida Bright series.
Do you re-read books? And if yes, what was your last re-read?
I have a few books that I consider my “comfort reads” and they are definitely re-reads; most of them I’ve read more than a dozen times. My latest actual comfort re-read was Crocodile on the Sandback by Elizabeth Peters, but I usually also re-read the Harry Potter series about once every two years around the holidays as an end-of-the-year relaxation read.
What are your go-to genres?
Historical mystery, hands-down, is my current favorite. I also read some contemporary mystery as well as historical romance, contemporary romance, and occasionally some quirky non-fiction books like The Poisoner’s Handbook—not purely for research. 😉
What is your favorite childhood book?
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. I loved reading about a young boy who lived on his own in the wilderness for a year, and re-read it countless times. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a close second….along with all of the Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew books.
What books are on your bedside table right now?
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston, Forgotten in Death by JD Robb, Striking Range by Margaret Mitzushima, and A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Murder by Dianne Freeman (I have a big bedside table!)
Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?
I use a bookmark.
What is your ideal reading setting?
In the bathtub with a cup of tea or a cocktail, or by the fire—also with a cup of tea or a cocktail, and maybe something yummy to eat.
Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?
2 Dandelions Bookshop is a relatively new store, and it’s so incredibly charming and welcoming. It’s owned and run by two best friends who were kindergarten teachers and had a lifelong dream of opening a bookstore—which they did in November 2019…yes. Just before the pandemic! But not only have they survived, they moved to a larger location barely eighteen months after opening. The store is heavy on children’s books because of the partners’ backgrounds, but also has a lot of books about nature and the local area (and mysteries as well, of course!). Dogs are welcome in their shop as well! And everything is yellow and bright and dandelion-themed. They have a lovely patio off the back of the shop, with seating and a shade tree…it’s really an enchanting place.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When I started to write stories for my friends in middle school, and every day they would bug me for more pages!
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I’ve visited England for research for several books, which included seeing many of the locations in Jane Austen novels as well as Sherlock Holmes stories.
Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?
I do 90% of my writing at my treadmill desk, which is set up in my home office. It’s a loft with large windows and lots of light (but, unfortunately, no door!) and ceiling to floor bookshelves on two walls. When I’m reviewing page proofs in hardcopy, I sit in the chair in my office or at a sitting desk to review them; otherwise, my work is done at my treadmill desk.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
A good writing day is completely and utterly energizing! I love the process of writing and I love having written. The difficult days are when the story just doesn’t want to unfold for me…
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
One unpublished book, and countless half-finished (or one-fifth finished!) books. Some of those will never see the light of day. ☹
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do not read my book reviews. If someone shares a review with me, that’s fine, but I don’t seek them out. I’m a very opinionated person in general, and so I can relate to people having opinions about my work…I just let them have their opinions and go on my way.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Keep at it. Keep writing. Keep those muscles moving. And always speak up for yourself.
When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?
I love to cook, and so I’m often exercising other creative muscles in the kitchen. I also have a garden in which I like to putter around in, and in the summer I have a lot of potted flowers on my deck—making a deck garden. I live on a small lake, and we often tool around on our pontoon boat in the evenings for a relaxing cruise.
What are your three favorite things right now?
1) A Vieux-Carré cocktail (which features prominently in the second Phyllida Bright book)
2) Warm fires on a dreary autumn day
3) Indian food.
Your favorite travel destination and why?
Paris. I love Paris and have only been there twice. I adore wine and cheese and the old streets…I keep trying to come up with ideas to justify going back!
What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?
Anything Italian (I’m vegetarian, but I occasionally eat shellfish) or Mexican—margherita pizza is a staple for me. So is pasta with garlic and oil. My go-to drink order is very weak unsweetened iced tea (no ice), or, if I’m having an adult beverage, a good glass of Spanish red or white wine.
What six people, living or dead, would you invite to dinner a party?
Agatha Christie, Jesus Christ, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Abraham Lincoln, Leonardo da Vinci, and Elizebeth Smith Friedman. Oh, you said living or dead? Well, I’ll stick with the dead list for now. That’ll be one heck of a dinner! ☺
If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, who would play you?
Oh, heavens. That would be a very boring movie…hmmm. It would be just plain, old realistic fiction about a gal raising a family while trying to write books. I would love to have Drew Barrymore play me. We’re about the same age….
What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?
Only Murders in the Building is fantastic, and also I loved the first season of Why Women Kill. (Hmmm…do you see a pattern here?)
You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?
Express Yourself by Madonna.
If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?
Noooooo!!!! I hate this question. Only one book? Probably The Count of Monte Cristo because it’s looooonnnnnng (not to mention fabulous).