My guest today is author Connie Archer!
Connie Archer is the national bestselling author of the soup lover’s mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime: A Spoonful of Murder, A Broth of Betrayal, A Roux of Revenge and Ladle to the Grave. Connie was born and raised in New England and now lives on the other coast. You can visit her website at http://www.conniearchermysteries.com, connect with her on Facebook.com/ConnieArcherMysteries and Twitter: @SnowflakeVT.
R: Welcome Connie! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
Well, to be honest, writing was only a thought in the back of my mind for a long time. I wasn’t sure I’d ever write anything. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always devoured mysteries and thrillers and thought about writing. Then finally one day I decided to do it. Or at least try to do it. I gathered my courage and started. I must have re-written my first manuscript twenty-five times until I felt it was halfway decent.
R: What writers in your genre would you say have made the greatest influence on your writing?
So many! I’ve been reading mysteries ever since I can remember. I really enjoyed Georges Simenon’s Maigret series, Dorothy Sayers’ plot twists, Nicholas Freeling’s Inspector Van der Valk, and the Wahloo and Sjovall Beck books. Those are ones that come to mind right away, even though I’m going back a long way. In recent years, I’ve loved the Sue Grafton alphabet series, and Tana French’s books. I discovered Ann Cleeves through the Vera series on PBS, and was thrilled to actually meet her. I love her characters and her writing and the way her plots flow, never opting for the obvious. I’m reading
Harbour Street right now, and will
probably read it many more times!
R: What made you decide on a soup shop as the backdrop for your series?
I don’t think there’s anything cozier or more comforting than soup. And I do love to make soups. Plus I grew up in
England and I know just how long and dreadful the winters can
be. What could be better than a soup
shop as the center of a culinary cozy?
R: Tell us about your newest release, LADLE TO THE GRAVE.
Ladle to the Grave involves two separate murders – a local woman who dies at a pagan ritual in the woods and an unidentified man who’s found floating in a creek outside of town. My protagonist Lucky’s grandfather Jack comes under suspicion for the first death because he provided the herbs for the gathering. But Lucky discovers that her mother, before her death, was suspicious of a couple in town, and when Lucky finds the clues her mother left behind, she comes to believe that both deaths are intimately connected.
R: Which of (your character) adventures was the most fun for you to write? Were any of them the least amount of fun?
I think they were all fun to write. But I have to admit, writing the nasty or annoying characters, the ones who provide the most conflict or the most gritting of teeth for the reader, was the most fun of all. I’m not really sure why, maybe I enjoyed giving my main characters a tougher time! When I was working out the plot of A Roux of Revenge, the third book in this series, I really wanted a nail-biting chapter as a climactic scene. That’s when I discovered that farm equipment could be very useful. It’s amazing how many deadly machines exist on a farm. That was a lot of fun to write.
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?
When I started, I knew absolutely nothing about the business end of writing -- how one found an agent, how one got published. It was a totally new world for me. I made a list of fifty agents who handled mysteries, broke that down into groups of ten, learned how to write a query letter, and started sending out packages, depending on what each agent required. I received nine (very nicely written) rejections and was waiting for the tenth to come in before starting on my next list of ten. Instead, a letter arrived to say my agent was intrigued by my proposal and requested a full manuscript. The next thing I received was a contract. I certainly felt totally blessed.
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
Quiet and privacy, no music, no noise, no emails, no distractions. I really need to be able to concentrate. I can’t imagine how people write on laptops in coffee shops. That would drive me completely insane.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
I think I’d love the
café scene of the 1920’s. I adore the
fashions of the time, but it would be amazing to be a witness to the art scene
in that world and that time. Paris
R: If a movie were to be made of one of your books, which one would you want it to be and who would you pick for the lead roles?
I guess my choice would be the first book – A Spoonful of Murder – which takes place in winter. A body is discovered frozen in a snow bank after a blizzard. The snow and ice and cold make for great atmosphere. But casting is a tough call. I have an image in my mind as to how my characters appear, and every reader has his or her own images. I think it would be a hard job to choose actors who would make those images take on real form. I doubt even the most famous writers have a say in casting, but personally, I’d choose excellent actors who are not famous or connected in a viewer’s mind with other productions. Just very good at their jobs.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
I love antique furniture and one of my interests/hobbies is restoring old pieces. They don’t have to be valuable, just unique. I’ve picked up lots of things very cheaply in junk shops and yard sales over the years, stripped them and refinished them. It’s slow and messy work, but very satisfying when the project is done.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
Oh, do I have to say? I better not!
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
I hope my characters will come to life in readers’ mind, and be characters that readers connect to emotionally. The fascination in crime fiction for me, no matter the genre, is the opportunity to explore the dark side of human nature. I hope readers will think, ‘Yes, I’ve known people like that, in those situations, I can understand why they committed that crime.’ I’m more interested in the psychology and forces behind the crime than clever details of plot. But most of all, I hope each story will flow naturally and give readers an exciting ride.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? . Night
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Love both, but I have a much loved cat!
Beach or Pool? Beach
Steak or salad? Salad
Favorite Drink? Coffee
Favorite Book? Right now, it’s
Favorite TV Series? Beck (Swedish thriller)
Favorite Movie? Tootsie
Favorite Actor: No favorite, just one that surprises me
Favorite Actress: Same
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Neither – red wine
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be H.P. Lovecraft – he must have been so strange!
If I had just one wish, it would be -- to always stay close to my loved ones.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be – No one, everyone has their burdens.
Berkley Prime Crime will give away a copy of LADLE TO THE GRAVE to one lucky commenter!
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