DIANE A.S. STUCKART is the NYT bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries (writing as Ali Brandon) and the award-winning Leonardo da Vinci historical mysteries. Her new Tarot Cats Mystery series launched in 2018 with FOOL’S MOON. Her upcoming Georgia B&B Mystery series written as Anna Gerard will debut this July with PEACH CLOBBERED. Kirkus Reviews describes that book as “Filled with Southern charm and enough ditzy characters to keep readers guessing and laughing.”.
Welcome, Anna! Tell us a little about your background
I’m Anna Gerard a/k/a Ali Brandon (the Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries) and Diane A.S. Stuckart (the Tarot Cat Mystery Series and the Leonardo da Vinci Mystery series) and Alexa Smart (from back in my historical romance days!). I’ve been writing and publishing since the 1990s and am pretty much known as a Cozy Mystery writer these days.
Tell us a bit about your latest book
PEACH CLOBBERED is the first in my new Georgia B&B Mystery series from Crooked Lane Books. It’s set in the fictional town of Cymbeline, south and west of Savannah. My amateur sleuth, Nina Fleet (pronounced NINE-ah) is recently single and new to Cymbeline, where she impulsively purchased a 3-story Queen Anne home with the proceeds from her divorce. Life should be peachy for her, but things (like murder) are putting a crimp in her new Bed and Breakfast venture. And then there’s that actor, Harry Westcott. He’s the grand-nephew of Fleet House’s previous owner and claims the house was supposed to have been willed to him. And he’s not letting the place go without a fight.
How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I get to know them like I get to know any real-life people I meet, by hanging out with them over time and learning how they tick. I don’t create full-blown bios for my characters until I’ve been writing about them for a while.
How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I’m a pantser at the beginning of my book but in the last 1/3 to 1/4 I do start informally outlining to make sure I have hit all the plot points and wrapped up all the necessary details.
Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Depends on the genre of the book but, in general, strong characters can save a weak plot. A great plot is less great if the characters are cardboard.
What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m putting the final touches on PEACHY SCREAM, book 2 in the Georgia B&B series. I’m going to be self-publishing a couple of small projects and then it’s on to GBB book 3.
What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I work a full-time day job and have lots of other commitments, so I squeeze in writing on my lunch hour and after work and the weekends (I’ve tried getting up at 5AM to write but, nope!).
What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Be willing to put in the work. No great book was ever dashed off in one draft. And once you’re published, be smart about what you dig in your heels about as far as changing or cutting your manuscript. If you protest every comma that’s cut, it will be harder to keep the things that really mean something to you.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Both (I’m bi-petual!)
Beach or Pool? Beach
Steak or salad? Salad
Favorite Drink? Diet Coke
Favorite Book? Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels
Favorite TV Series? Currently, Ink Master
Favorite Movie? Bowfinger
Favorite Actor: Michael Caine
Favorite Actress: Helen Mirren
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Leonardo da Vinci
If I had just one wish, it would be World peace! Kidding…but, actually, it would be world tolerance and commonsense.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be one of my dogs or cats because they live great lives.