Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday's Interview -- Meg Mims

Now here's a writer I really admire. She does children's puzzle as well as writing stories. Puzzles puzzle me.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

I write historicals - mystery and romantic suspense. I also write non-fiction articles for a real estate agency and for a West Coast of Michigan on-line tourism website. I've also published children's puzzles, a rebus, poems and illustrations in the children's market.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you? I think so, because I tried hard to write straight romance, both historical and contemporary. All my attempts ended up with dead bodies in them, and far too much plot! LOL So I switched to mystery and suspense with a touch (or more) of romance.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't? I might try horror, although I hate being scared. But fear is as essential as love. I would love to write a comedic contemporary, whether mystery or suspense. I would not write erotica - I'm too much of a prude! ;-D

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure? Guilty pleasure - comic books, like Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, Zits, Luann, LOL. But I love mysteries - traditional, PI, cozies, you name it. And I do like a great suspense or thriller. I enjoy comedy romances, but with more story and less heat. Plus straight historicals if they're chock full of details and description!

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing, I started writing a novel in 1989, when my daughter was three. Off and on, I worked on several manuscripts until I joined RWA and learned "the craft" - which helped! But in '97, after a year's consideration, a romance publisher rejected a manuscript because it had "too much plot." By that time, I'd become interested in the children's market and published in magazines until 2004. I spent several years involved in volunteering at my daughter's high school, and once she was settled in college, I resumed writing. From 2008 until January of 2010, I earned an M.A. from Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction program - and spent all of last year revising my thesis manuscript, a mystery--which won RWA's Heart of the West contest in the Mystery/Suspense category, and Double Crossing, which finaled in several contests as well. I submitted DC to Astraea Press and less than a week later, I was thrilled when they offered me a contract!

6. Which of your characters is your favorite? That's a tough one! Hmm. I love Lily and Ace in Double Crossing, they both have such interesting backgrounds. In my Lighthouse Mystery series (still with an editor), I enjoyed fleshing out the lighthouse inspector, Captain Dean. But my favorite is Sydney Sinclair--because she's an artist, with a fascinating background and flaws, mistakes and triumphs. She's a bit narcissistic too--and rich. LOL

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created? Every story *must* have a villain equal to the hero/heroine! Not necessarily a Snidely Whiplash, of course, or the incredible super-villains--but someone worthy to make the hero/heroine grow and change over the story's journey. I enjoyed writing the villain for Double Crossing. One key thing I learned at SHU was knowing and understanding the villain's motives. Without that, they are flat and a mere caricature.

8. What are you working on now? I'm working on DOUBLE OR NOTHING, which picks up after Double Crossing ends. Lily's "story" isn't finished by a long shot! ;-D And I'm also working on a collaboration for a mystery with a close friend.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive? Double Crossing will be released from Astraea Press in August of this year, first as an e-book, with print copies coming out in September or October. The movie True Grit influenced me when I was a teen, of course, and I read Charles Portis' novel several times--but Double Crossing is a "twist" on that story, because the only similarity is Lily's father getting murdered. I "ran with" the idea in a whole new direction, and loved researching the transcontinental railroad!

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words. First, thank you so much for this interview opportunity! As for Double Crossing, see the question above for how it "arrived," LOL. Here's the opening:

Chapter One

Evanston, Illinois: 1869

I burst into the house. Keeping the flimsy telegram envelope, I dumped half a dozen packages into the maid’s waiting arms. “Where’s Father? I need to speak to him.”

“He’s in the library, Miss Lily. With Mr. Todaro.”

Oh, bother. I didn’t have time to deal with Emil Todaro, my father’s lawyer. He was the last person I wanted to see—but that couldn’t be helped. Thanking Etta, I raced down the hall. Father turned from his roll-top desk, spectacles perched on his thin nose and hands full of rustling papers. Todaro rose from an armchair with a courteous bow. His silver waistcoat buttons strained over his belly and his balding head shone in the sunlight. I forced myself to nod in his direction and then planted a quick kiss on Father’s leathery cheek. The familiar scents of pipe tobacco and bay rum soothed my nervous energy.

“I didn’t expect you back so early, Lily. What is it?”

With an uneasy glance at Todaro, I slipped him the envelope. “The telegraph messenger boy caught me on my way home.” My voice dropped. “It’s from Uncle Harrison.”

Father poked up his wire rims while he pored over the brief message. His shoulders slumped. “I’ll speak plainly, Lily, because Mr. Todaro and I were discussing this earlier. My brother sent word that George Hearst intends to claim the Early Bird mine in a Sacramento court. Harrison believes his partner never filed the deed. He needs to prove our ownership.”

“Hearst holds an interest in the Comstock Lode, Colonel.” Todaro had perked up, his long knobby fingers forming a steeple. The lawyer resembled an amphibian, along with his deep croak of a voice. “His lawyers are just as ambitious and ruthless in court.”

Father peered over his spectacles. “Yes, but I have the original deed. I didn’t plan to visit California until next month, but we’ll have to move up our trip.”

“Oh!” I clasped my hands, a thrill racing through me. “I’m dying to visit all the shops out there, especially in San Francisco. When do we leave?”

“We? I meant myself and Mr. Todaro.”

I stared at the lawyer, who didn’t conceal a sly smirk. “You cannot leave me behind, Father. I promised to visit Uncle Harrison, and what if I decide to go to China?”

“Lily, I refuse to discuss the matter. This trip is anything but a lark.”


Thank you so much for this interview! Let me know if you have any other questions.


Meg Mims
DOUBLE CROSSING, Astraea Press, August 2011
~Intriguing Mystery, Vivid History~


Anonymous said...

I love reading what makes writers tick-tick-tock. I'm still struggling over the phrase "too much plot," but okay. What was straight-up romance's loss is mystery's gain. Double Crossing is a GREAT mystery, and a wonderfully written story. If you haven't picked one up, don't wait! This is a must for every well-read reader of mysteries.

Meg said...

Thanks, Kay! One thing I never heard was "too much romance," LOL! So I try to put that in with more emotion too. Those dead bodies keep cropping up, though. ;-D