Meow! This week my guest is author Mary Angela!
Mary Angela is the author of An Act of Murder, the debut novel in the Professor Prather mystery series, and an English teacher at the University of Sioux Falls. When she’s not grading papers (when is she not grading papers?), she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. An avid mystery fan, she is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Visit www.maryangelabooks.com for more information about Mary or her work.
R: Welcome to the blog, Mary Angela! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
Thanks ROCCO! I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing, even at a young age. Choose Your Own Adventures were some of my favorite mysteries. I would flip through every possible ending until I found the right one. At this time, I wrote mostly poems and short stories. My mom wrote poems, and watching her, I naturally gravitated toward creative writing as a way to interact with words. Later I would write longer works: a romance novel, a literary novel for my master’s thesis, and finally the first novel in the Professor Prather series, An Act of Murder.
R: Tell us about the Professor Prather mysteries. How did the idea for that come about?
Although I teach English at a liberal arts college in South Dakota, I actually got the idea for the series when I was a graduate student. The people and professors on campus were unlike anybody I had ever met; they made a strong impression on me. They lived in a world within a world, and I thought that idea would be neat to integrate into a series.
R: As an English professor, do you have a particular literary favorite?
I have so many authors I admire, but one of my favorite authors is F. Scott Fitzgerald and his novel The Great Gatsby. I’m drawn to the theme of the American Dream, and a poor North Dakota farm boy becoming a bootlegging millionaire obviously fits into that category. But it’s Gatsby’s capacity for hope that has fascinated me for years. I often wonder if it is his saving grace—or his undoing. I still haven’t made up my mind. I could read the book many more times and still discover nuances in his character.
R: How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
When Camel Press told me they would like to publish An Act of Murder, I was going through a rough period in my life. My dad had just passed away a few weeks prior, and the book was far from my mind. Its publication was an incredibly bright spot during a dark time. It gave my family and me something to look forward to.
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
I need my MacBook computer and a cup of coffee … well, several cups of coffee. (I write in the morning!) I do all my drafting and revising on my computer, making notes on a notepad. A full night’s sleep helps, too.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
I would love to travel to the Roaring Twenties, probably because of my interest in the Fitzgeralds. But so many other authors were active during this time period, such as Dorothy Parker and Agatha Christie, whom I would like to meet. I would love to tour Christie’s English home one day. I’ve read that guests can even stay overnight in one of the rooms.
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 love Hallmark and can imagine them making a movie of An Act of Murder. The town of Copper Bluff and its college campus would be the perfect setting for one of their mysteries.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
I have two very special daughters who are eight and eleven. They love giving me wacky ideas for book titles.
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
I hope they will take away a love of Copper Bluff and its characters as well as an appreciation for the plot. I pride myself on creating hard-to-crack whodunits.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a pantser. When I begin, I know who gets killed and why. All the scenes, though, are generated spontaneously.
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
You can go to www.maryangelabooks.com to find out more about me or my work. Passport to Murder, book two in the Professor Prather series, will come out in October of 2017. You can also view my upcoming events and giveaways as well as read my monthly blog.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Write from your heart. “What your heart thinks is great, is great. The soul’s emphasis is always right.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Night
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Cat
Beach or Pool? Pool
Steak or salad? I’m from South Dakota—steak!
Favorite Drink? Coffee
Favorite Book? The Great Gatsby
Favorite TV Series? Bones
Favorite Movie? Moonstruck
Favorite Actor: Johnny Depp
Favorite Actress: Angelina Jolie
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Dirty Martini
Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Zelda Fitzgerald.
If I had just one wish, it would be for the end of child hunger.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, I wouldn’t. I like being me.
Thanks Mary Angela!
Folks, Mary Angela will give away 1 signed copy of An Act of Murder to one lucky commenter!
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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, January 30!