Meow! My guest this week is author Molly MacRae!
The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” Molly is the author of the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries from NAL/Penguin. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990 and she is a winner of the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction. She spent twenty years in upper east Tennessee, the setting for her stories, short and long. She lives in Champaign, Illinois.
· Welcome Molly! Tell us a little about your background. Thanks ROCCO! I have degrees in anthropology and education. I’m a former museum director and also managed an independent bookstore. I love short stories, and have had seven published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. I work in the children’s department at the public library. I love everything about stories and books – reading them, sharing them, and writing them.
· Tell us a bit about your Haunted Yarn Shop series! Where did that idea come from? The short answer is that it came about when an editor asked if I could write something with a ghost in it. I’d never thought of doing that before, but of course I said sure. The yarn shop part was easy. My grandmother had a yarn shop called The Little Wool Shop. I never saw it, but I loved the idea of it. She was a great knitter, and so was my mother, and so are my sisters. The yarn shop is a tribute to all of them. And the ghost – she showed up and stuck around and we’ve become good friends.
· How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books? I eavesdrop. They chatter away and listen in and take notes. If I don’t get enough from them that way, then I sit down and interview them.
· How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”? There are plotters and there are pantsers. I’m a hybrid – a plantser. I outline, because I like to know where I’m going, but the outline is organic. It changes and takes unplanned twists and turns.
· Which do you consider more important, plot or character? Character – if you do it right, if they’re real enough, plots will follow them through all their days.
· What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated? Having a deadline is the biggest challenge, what inspires me and keeps me motivated is fear of not meeting that deadline. It’s amazing how much I can get done when I’m terrified.
· Do you have a “How I got my agent” story you want to share? How did I get my agent? She fell into my lap. I had my lap in the right place at the right time, but there was an awful lot of luck involved. The agent was looking for a writer to work on a specific project. She asked an editor if she could recommend someone. The editor suggested me. The agent called and although it’s a cliché, you could have knocked me over with a feather. We’ve been working together ever since.
· What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans? I’m working on something new, but I can’t say what it is just yet. I’m excited about it and terrified (see answer to question about biggest challenge, above).
· What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing? Up at 5 a.m. and write until breakfast time. Walk to work. Work until lunch. Gobble lunch and write until lunch hour is over. Return to work. Walk home, make and eat supper. Write until bedtime (anywhere between 10 and 11:30 p.m.) I probably write between three and five hours a day during the week. On weekends, when I don’t work at my day job, I might write between five and ten hours a day.
· If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take? Les Miserables (because it’s good and its really long) The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain, and The Most of P.G. Wodehouse.
· What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author? Read, write, revise, and keep trying
· What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Write five books in less than four years while working full time.
· What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you? I love haggis.
· What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?) Why do you write cozy mysteries? Because planting bodies and clues in books is more socially acceptable than burying them in my backyard.
· Where can we learn more about you and your books? On my website, www.mollymacrae.com
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Cat (Big grin from R)
Beach or Pool? Beach
Steak or salad? Salad
Favorite Drink? Scottish breakfast tea with a bit of milk
Favorite Book? Sorry, lots of favorites, no one favorite
Favorite TV Series? See favorite book, above
Favorite Movie? See favorite book, above
Favorite Actor? Not sure this is entirely true, but I’ll say Cary Grant
Favorite Actress? Same hedge as above, but I’ll say Katharine Hepburn
Dirty Martini or Piña Colada? Probably piña colada, but I’ve never had either.
Hawaii or Alaska? New Zealand
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be P.G. Wodehouse.
If I had just one wish, it would be for the strength to do what is good and right.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be a twin I never knew I had who knows how to play piano, harp, guitar, and bagpipes and who also knows how to knit argyle socks.
You can find her at:
Vintage Cookbooks and Crafts (on the 1st Monday of each month): www.amyalessio.com
Killer Characters (on the 23rd of each month): www.killercharacers.com
Molly will give one lucky commenter their choice of one of the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries!
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)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)
Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Contest ends midnight, January 9. Good luck!