Meow! My guest this weekend is Mike Befeler, author of the Geezer-Lit mysteries.
Mike Befeler’s geezer-lit mysteries include Nursing Homes Are Murder, Care Homes Are Murder; Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder, a finalist for The Lefty Award for best humorous mystery of 2012; Senior Moments Are Murder; Living with Your Kids Is Murder; and Retirement Homes Are Murder. His other published mysteries are Court Trouble, The V V Agency, The Back Wing, Mystery of the Dinner Playhouse and Murder on the Switzerland Trail. He grew up in Hawaii and lives in Lakewood, CA, with his wife Wendy. http://www.mikebefeler.com
- Welcome Mike! Tell us a little about your background
Thanks, ROCCO! layed competitive tennis as a kid and in college. After graduate school I followed a business career for 39 years until I retired into writing—I didn’t begin writing until 2001 when I was 56.
- Tell us a bit about your Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series
There are six books in the series: Retirement Homes Are Murder, Living with Your Kids Is Murder, Senior Moments Are Murder, Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder, Care Homes Are Murder and Nursing Homes Are Murder. Paul is in his mid-eighties and has short term memory loss. Even though he can’t remember the day before, he becomes an amateur sleuth and even has a romance with a young chick in her seventies. The first book in the series was inspired by active older people with good senses of humor I met when my mom and stepdad moved into a retirement community.
- What is your latest release?
Released in July, 2016: Court Trouble, A Platform Tennis Mystery. Having played platform tennis for the last 20 years I set a mystery in a sport I love.
In Court Trouble Mark Yeager is retired from his stressful career as an entrepreneur and now gets his adrenaline fix from games of platform tennis with a motley crew of equally middle-aged buddies. But when one of his good friends is bludgeoned to death in the dark on one of the platform tennis courts, Mark takes it personally: Manny Grimes had likely saved Mark’s life by
insisting he see a doctor for what turned out to be prostate cancer. Mark decides he must identify the killer, even if it means another close encounter of the Grim Reaper kind.
“This solid series launch from Befeler introduces an unlikely amateur sleuth, platform tennis buff Mark Yeager. . . . Readers will look forward to seeing more of this determined tennis enthusiast and cancer survivor.” —Publishers Weekly
- How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
My characters may have snippets of people I know but always have their own characteristics that seem right for them. I do some character sheet listing of qualities but then it always evolves from there as I write
- How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I have tried various amounts of outlining but have never been a complete seat of the pants writer. I typically write a basic outline and then see how the plot develops, and it always surprises me by going in a direction I didn’t expect. This is one of the joys of writing—I can’t wait to see what happens. Often when writing mystery novels, I don’t know who the murderer is when I start. I have a number of suspects, set up clues and red herrings and then eventually I discover who the murderer is. Then during revision I go back and tune the clues and red herrings.
- Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Character although plot is a close second. Modern mystery readers consistently say they fall in love with the characters not the plot.
- What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
The biggest challenge is overcoming the rejections and lack of response from editors and agents. I sold my first short story on my 112th submission. Perseverance is a must in this industry. I have my emotional ups and downs but don’t wallow in self pity. After a downer, I get up and tell myself to keep going.
- What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
Right now I’m in editing mode. I have a number of completed manuscripts that I am tuning and considering whether to pursue traditional publishing or self-publishing.
- What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I’m a morning person and do my best work early in the day. Before we moved from Colorado to California a year ago, I wrote every morning for several hours. We moved to Southern California because our daughter was having a baby, so now more of my morning time is enjoyably consumed with my grandson, now 11 months old.
- What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Keep writing, no matter what. When you finish a manuscript, edit it and also start on the next one. It’s important to build a portfolio of manuscripts. Realize that you need to stick to it. Writing and publishing are not easy, so you have to suck it up and keep going.
- What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
When in college I spent 6 months in Europe. At the Alhambra in Spain we raised an American flag on the flagpole at the top of the Alhambra. Then we skedaddled before Franco’s police caught us
- What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
Until my most recent book came out, that I had a background in tennis. I had some measure of success—I was ranked number 30 in the country as a boy, played collegiate tennis at Stanford and at the age of 19 was the second ranked men’s tennis player in the state of Hawaii. I peaked at 19 and never made it to the next level.
- What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
What’s your biggest peeve with the publishing establishment?
Answer: I’ve listened to many panels of agents and editors at writers and mystery conferences, and they often say that they’d like to see authors be more responsive. My experience is that most writers are responsive and follow through on their commitments but that the agent and editor world could show improvement.
- Where can we learn more about you and your books?
All the usual places such as Amazon and barnesandnoble.com as well as my website http://www.mikebefeler.com
Just for Fun:
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. I love the quirky characters. This inspired me to write my own quirky characters
Favorite TV Series?
America’s Funniest Home Videos
First released Star Wars movie
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Athanasius Kirker (I have a completed manuscript in which he becomes an amateur sleuth; he was known as the last man to know everything)
If I had just one wish, it would be a cure for cancer
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be me
Thanks, Mike! You can find out more about Mike at:
Send Mike an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to enter a drawing for a character name in his next book!