Here are my answers to the set of questions I was instructed to answer. I hope at least some of you find them interesting.
What is the title of your new book?
And Then You Dye. It will appear December 5.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I saw a cross-stitch pattern that was a shortened parody of the saying, “Life’s A Bitch, and Then You Die” that read, “Life’s a Stitch.” Naturally I mentally added the second part, and changed the spelling to dye. Then I had to begin researching dyeing.
What genre does your book fall under?
Cozy or Traditional mystery. It’s the sixteenth entry in a series, following the adventures of amateur sleuth Betsy Devonshire, who owns a needlework shop in the small town of Excelsior, Minnesota.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I haven’t really thought too much about it. The man who played Niles Crane on “Frazier” looks a lot like Godwin. Maybe Tyne Daley as Betsy? I’d be interested to hear suggestions for Jill Cross and Mike Malloy.
What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A talented spinner and maker/user of natural dyes is found shot in the basement workshop of her home and Betsy is asked for help by the owner of a garden center when suspicion falls on her.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I am represented by the Nancy Yost Literary Agency and the book will be published by Berkley/Prime Crime.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
A little under a year, but I kept going back and revising as I went along, so the final draft was just a few months longer.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
It’s what I call a “mystery-and.” There are lots of them out there, mysteries and quilting, mysteries and chocolate, mysteries and dog sitting, mysteries and crocheting, mysteries and scrapbooking . . . They’re all fun, and several are represented by this Killer Hobbies web log.
Who or What inspired you to write this series?
I owe it all to my previous editor at Berkley, Gail Fortune. I had been writing a medieval series, The Dame Frevisse mysteries, in collaboration with a friend, Gail Frazer. But we began to disagree about the growing darknes of the series and I disengaged to allow her to go on alone. I notified my editor at Berkley that Gail would be continuing the series alone and starting casting about for a new idea. I was considering an auctioneer sleuth when I got a call from my agent. My publisher wanted to know if I would consider writing a needleworking mystery (my editor did needlework). Wow, I was so flattered that they were coming to me that I immediately said Yes, of course! This despite the fact that I knew very little about needlework. I knew lots of people who did, including my own mother, and they all assured me that it was an easy skill to pick up. Well, it proved not to be, at least to me. I had to invent a sleuth who knew as little as I did about needlework and even less about owning her own small business. As I learn things, so does Betsy, and so far it’s working out, though she’s getting ahead of me on counted cross stitch and knitting.
And why the Traditional sub-genre of mystery fiction? Mostly because I like that kind of mystery. But also because I think the world needs more examples of ordinary people behaving bravely and morally. They crave stories about justice that doesn’t come with a fist or a gun. And the occasional happy ending can be very well-received when living in a real world of senseless violence and terrifying problems that seem to have no end or solution.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I like odd facts and esoteric information, and usually include bits of them in my books. (I’m trying to figure out how to include the recent discovery of the bones of England’s King Richard III in a book.) I also give hints to stitchers on how to improve their work or ease a problem they may be having with it – I know I need all the help I can get.
Links to sites I find interesting or helpful: