Meow! My guest today is mystery author Annie Knox!
While Annie Knox does not commit--or solve--murders in real life, her love of animals is 100% real. She's also passionately devoted to 80s music, Asian horror films, and reality TV. Annie, her husband, and their spoiled cats (Todd, Iphy, and Squeak-a-doodle) make their home in a small town in north Texas, just blocks from the town’s courthouse square.
R: Welcome, Annie! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
My path to writing has been a long and winding one. When I was in high school, I started writing really bad poetry, and I thought “this is what I want to do.” Then my parents convinced me that medicine was a better alternative. Alas, that didn’t take, so I took a creative writing class in college, and I thought “this is what I want to do.” Again, my parents intervened and suggested law school. After law school and a Ph.D. program in political science, I happened to take a community creative writing class, and I thought “this is what I want to do.”
That time, I actually started doing it.
R: What drew you to the MYSTERY genre?
I started writing romances, but my lovers kept tripping over dead bodies. I guess I’m just the tiniest bit morbid, but I love the inherent conflict in unnatural death and I love the puzzle of figuring out who did it (and why).
R: Tell us about your new series, PAWS FOR MURDER.
Paws for Murder is the first in the Pet Boutique Mysteries. Izzy McHale, my sleuth, studied hard to be a fashion designer for people, but her life takes a series of unfortunate turns and she creates a new nich for herself designing and selling clothes for critters. She lives in a small tourist town in north central Minnesota. The town may be small, but the trouble is big, and it always seems to land on the doorstop of her shop, Trendy Tails.
R: You also write under another name. Can you tell us something about those books?
Yes! I write under the name Wendy Lyn Watson. As Wendy, I wrote a cozy series called the Mysteries a la Mode (I Scream, You Scream; Scoop to Kill; and A Parfait Murder). Tally Jones owns and ice cream parlor in a small Texas town, and she’s dishing up clues almost as often as she’s dishing up her small-batch high-end ice cream. There’s a great romance thread in these books, so if you like a little “awww” with your mystery, I highly recommend them.
I’ve also written a historical romance called “Once Upon a Wallflower,” and I’m working on two more projects as Wendy. In fact, one is an edgy, comedic mystery that I simply cannot wait to get back to (deadlines!).
R: Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share? How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
Why yes. Yes I do. Before I’d ever heard of a cozy mystery, I was starting that edgy, comedic mystery mentioned above. I was a member of Romance Writers of America, so I submitted it to a chapter contest. The final round judge was Kim Lionetti, at the time an editor for Berkley. She asked to see the whole thing . . . which I didn’t have. A few months later she called to say she was joining Bookends Literary Agency, but she hoped I would consider her for representation.
It took me a couple of years to finish that book (what with moving, starting a tenure-track job, etc.), but when I was done I happened to run into her at another RWA conference and ended up sending her that edgy mystery. And that’s all she wrote!
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
I’m pretty low maintenance. I need caffeine (diet coke or tea). And it helps if I’m working with someone else. It keeps me accountable and focused to be sitting next to someone who is working.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
I’m just visiting, right? Because I love having my rights and indoor plumbing … But if it’s just for a visit, I’d love to travel to Regency England to experience what it was really like. Not the sanitized version we get in romance novels, but the real deal.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
Despite the PG13 nature of my cozy mysteries and my professional decorum when I teach, I actually swear like a drunken sailor when I’m “off duty.” Okay, maybe not a drunken sailor … but a tipsy tugboat captain.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
Gone skinny dipping in Lake Superior. At night. In November. It was foolish, but exhilarating
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
First, I hope they laugh. Second, I hope they pick up on the themes that run through all of my books: the importance of family, whether by birth or by choice, and the things we’ll do to protect them.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Right now I have a lot of balls in the air. I’m finishing up the second Pet Boutique Mystery (Groomed for Murder), I have edits on that edgy mystery that I love so much, and I’m putting together a new series which remains—for the moment—top secret.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Used to be a plotter, but deadlines are turning me into a pantser.
R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
Ha! I’m kind of a homebody. I love watching movies (especially scary ones), hanging out with my friends, spending time with my cats. I do like to indulge in other creative pursuits. I used to quilt a lot, and in the last couple of months I’ve taken classes in painting furniture and making stained glass.
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
I have two websites: wendylynwatson.com and annieknoxauthor.com. I also spend a fair amount of time on Facebook (/wendylynwatson and /annieknoxauthor).
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Write, write, write. Don’t try to recreate what someone else has done, but do free-writing exercises and experiment with genres until you find your own natural, unique voice.
R: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
I actually love my day job teaching political science and advising pre-law students … so that’s what I’d be doing if I weren’t writing.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? - Day .
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) – both, but I have cats
Beach or Pool? - beach
Steak or salad? - salad
Favorite Drink? - Diet Coke
Favorite Book? - Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn
Favorite TV Series? - right now, The Americans
Favorite Movie? - A Room with a View
Favorite Actor: - Robert Downey Jr.
Favorite Actress: - Glenn Close
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? – Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska? - Hawaii
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Mother Teresa (I’d hope some of her love and charity would rub off
If I had just one wish, it would be to have the time to write as much as I want.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be No one. My live is great and I can’t imagine living another one.
Thank you, Annie for a great interview!
Here are all the places you connect with Annie (and Wendy too)
annieknoxauthor.com (in development but will be running by the time this posts)
FB: /annieknoxauthor and /wendylynwatson
Annie will give away a signed copy of Paws for Murder and a Packer stressball (Packer is Izzy’s pug bulldog mix)to one lucky commenter!
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:
* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
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* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)
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Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest ends Midnight, Jan 26!