My Guest this week – Barbara Ross!
Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries, Clammed Up, Boiled Over, and Musseled Out. Fogged Inn will be published on February 23, 2016. Barbara and her husband own the former Seafarer Inn at the head of the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. She blogs at Maine Crime Writers and Wicked Cozy Authors. Visit her website at www.maineclambakemysteries.com.
- Welcome Barbara! Tell us a little about your background
Thanks, ROCCO! I’m a former COO of three technology startups, but I’ve always written. I was published first in short stories. My first mystery novel, The Death of an Ambitious Woman was published in 2010.
- Tell us a bit about your maine clambake mysteries. How did that idea come about?
My agent was throwing out ideas for cozy mysteries and he said one word, “Clambake.” We have a summer home with a big front porch at the head of the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and I’d always wanted to use coastal Maine as a setting for a book. My friend, Maine author Lea Wait, had told me her daughter had her wedding reception on a private island where a family ran a clambake—and I was off and running!
- How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
Stephen King says that as you write, your characters get more depth and definition—like a photographic negative slowly forming an image. This is how I write. The character reveals him or herself in the first draft, and then I go back in the second draft and fill in the lean spots or fix the inconsistencies.
- How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
More “seat of the pants” than outlining. I use a method I call “scaffolding” which means I have a scene list that goes about ten scenes beyond the scene I am currently writing.
- Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Character, definitely, especially for a series. It’s what keeps readers coming back.
- What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
First drafts are my bête noire. I don’t enjoy writing them and have to drag myself from beginning to end. However, I love, love doing revisions, and I know I don’t get to do that unless I have something to revise.
- Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
My agent, John Talbot, wrote to author Sheila Connolly, who was then president of Sisters in Crime New England, to see if she knew of any members who wanted to write a spec proposal for a cozy series. Several of us did and several were sold. John was the one who said the word, “Clambake.”
- What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I just finished a Christmas novella for Kensington that will be published in the fall of 2016 and now I’m writing the first draft of Iced Under, the fifth Maine Clambake Mystery.
- What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I’m not a morning person, so in the morning I take care of what I call “the business of writing”—e-mails, blogs, social media, all that stuff. I write in the afternoon from after lunch until 5 p.m. or so. Then, when I’m in Key West, as I am now, I go for a swim.
- If you could take only three books with your for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
Ruth Rendell’s Simisola, Elizabeth George’s Playing for the Ashes, Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light.
- What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Two things. 1) Keep at it. It takes longer than you’d ever think possible, but it happens. (This is the same advice I would give an aspiring entrepreneur—since I’ve been both). 2) Writing is solitary, but getting published takes community. Get out and find your writing community.
- What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Worked in three startups and believed they would succeed. Wrote a first book and believed it would get published.
- What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I’m not, er, crazy about lobster.
- What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
Is the fish taco recipe in your latest book, Fogged Inn, as delicious as it sounds?
- Where can we learn more about you and your books?
Thanks so much for asking—at my website www.maineclambakemysteries.com
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? .Night
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Truthfully, dog, though I’ve had both and there’s a cat in the Maine Clambake Mysteries. We are petless now for the first time in decades, but I have a granddog and grandcat, named Monkey who is a certified maniac.
Beach or Pool? Hard, but I’m more consistently in a pool.
Steak or salad? Both, without hesitation.
Favorite Drink? Coffee
Favorite Book? Ruth Rendell’s Anna’s Book (Asta’s Book in the UK)
Favorite TV Series? Mad Men
Favorite Movie? About a Boy
Favorite Actor: Colin Firth
Favorite Actress: Emma Thompson
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada (I’m not a gin drinker)
Hawaii or Alaska? Have been to neither, but I’m suspecting Hawaii
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be—one of the Founding Fathers—Adams, Jefferson, Franklin.
If I had just one wish, it would be—for family and friends, near and far, to be safe, well and happy.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world--it would be dangerous. You don’t know what private agonies public people suffer. Though it seems unimaginative, I’ll stay who I am, thanks.
Thank you, Barbara!
Folks, you can find her at:
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