by Lorie Lewis Ham
Last week we reviewed Marcia Muller’s latest Sharon McCone mystery, The Night Searchers, and this week we had the privilege of interviewing her.
KRL: When did you first start writing?
Marcia: I’ve been writing all my life, since I first learned the alphabet.
KRL: When did your first novel Sharon McCone novel come out?
KRL: How many books are in the series now?
KRL: How did you go about creating this series?
Marcia:I loved private eye fiction, and I knew I had to write from my—a woman’s—viewpoint. Sharon just started talking to me, and she’s never given up.
KRL: How has Sharon changed through the years?
Marcia:Much as all of us have: she’s become less idealistic, moved around the city, gotten married, owns her own firm.
KRL: Did you have any of the things that have happened to Sharon planned out way ahead?
Marcia:No, she constantly surprises me.
KRL: Has it gotten harder to come up with plot ideas for this series?
Marcia:Oh, no! Just look at what’s happening in the world today.
KRL: Please tell us about this latest book?
Marcia:In The Night Searchers, Sharon is hired by a young, wealthy San Francisco couple to investigate the wife’s reports of devil-worshippers in their neighborhood. She discovers indication of an elaborate hoax and a group of pranksters who roam the streets at night playing dangerous games.
KRL: How long do you think you will continue writing this series?
Marcia:As long as possible.
KRL: Do you have plots or character development planned out past this book?
Marcia:I’m already working on the next Sharon, Someone Always Knows, which will be published next year.
KRL: Has the series surprised you at any point?
Marcia:Many times. Things that I’ve incorporated in the plot suggest different directions to go; characters just take over and insist of being themselves. In one of the books, the identity of the killer changed while I was writing the last chapter.
KRL: What is your favorite thing about Sharon and how she’s developed?
Marcia:That she’s developed, grown, and changed. And is still changing.
KRL: Any other books on the horizon?
Marcia:Another McCone and another Carpenter & Quincannon, co-authored with Bill.
KRL: Can you tell us a little about your series you write with your husband and what it’s like writing together?
Marcia:Writing together is great! We have the same approach to fiction, so there’s very little disagreement. The above-mentioned series features a pair of detectives in 1890s San Francisco. We’re both demon researchers, and that adds to the enjoyment.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Marcia:A schedule—very definitely. Writing’s a job like any other, and we have very demanding bosses (ourselves). We work in the mornings, take the early afternoon off, then start in again about 3 p.m. The number of hours vary, and include business details and correspondence
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Marcia:No outlines ever. It’s so much more interesting to watch the characters take over and the plot shape itself accordingly.
KRL: What is your ideal time of day to write?
Marcia:Both morning and late afternoon.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Marcia:I wrote two books before Edwin of the Iron Shoes, and they were soundly rejected. Then Edwin was accepted by the first publisher I submitted it to. So, difficult and easy.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
Marcia:My first editor, Michele Slung at David McKay Company, wrote me that she really wanted to buy Edwin, but she was going to Europe and would present it to the acquisitions panel when she returned. When I hadn’t heard for months, I wrote her a letter. She responded the next night with an offer.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Marcia:So many of them that I can’t single one out—both past and present.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Marcia:Internet, written sources, and on site.
KRL: What do you read?
Marcia:Absolutely anything. Right now, I’m reading one of the girls’ mysteries that I grew up on: Margaret Sutton’s Judy Bolton series. Favorites are also Larry McMurtry, Richard Russo, and—how could you guess?—Bill Pronzini. The list goes on and on.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Marcia:I’m afraid I’m a bit of a throwback. I love 70s and 80s shows: Rockford, Dallas, Maverick, The X Files. The new shows leave me cold: too much violence, too little emotional content.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Marcia:Plant butt on chair in front of whatever device you use. Face blank page. Stare at it until a word comes to you. Input it. The rest will follow.
KRL: How do you feel about the growing popularity of e-books?
Marcia:I love it! E books are bringing in a whole different type of reader who otherwise may not have enjoyed fiction.—or any other type of the written word.
KRL: Do you read e-books yourself?
Marcia:I have tried, but I love the feel and smell of traditional books much more. I grew up in a house full of books—many of which are still with me—and I’m too ancient to change
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Marcia:I’m very upset by the dispute between my publisher, Hachette, and Amazon. This is corporate game-playing at its worst, and I hold Amazon responsible. They’re toying with authors’ livelihoods, publishers’ ability to maintain a decent profit margin, and readers’ right to acquire the books they wish to have.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Marcia:I have really ugly looking feet.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
Marcia:Facebook—but it’s managed by the publishing house. www.marciamuller.com No Twitter or other social media. I’m at the computer too long every day as it is.
Check out KRL’s review of The Night Searchers: kingsriverlife.com/07/19/night-searchers-by-marcia-muller