Interview with California Author Madeline Gornell/Book Giveaway

Sep 11, 2010 | Contributors, Every Other Book, Marilyn Meredith, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Marilyn Meredith

At the end of this interview is an opportunity to win a copy of one of Marilyn Meredith’s books!

I first met Madeline at a book fair in Hanford. Then again, at the Sisters in Crime/MWA (Mystery Writer’s of America) conference in Pasadena, and she came to last year’s PSWA (Public Safety Writers Association) conference. She also came to my booksigning at my family reunion in Barstow, and we were next to each other at a book fair in San Luis Obispo.

Marilyn: My first question is, when did you first become interested in writing?

Madeline Gornell

Madeline: Some of my earliest memories are of reading, and wanting to become a writer. Admittedly, there was probably some childhood fantasy type of thinking going on then, because I also remember wanting to be a firefighter, teacher, doctor, and magician. But for sure, the genuine desire to write started very early, and has remained throughout my life. But even with that lifelong desire, and having a couple short stories published “way back when,” I didn’t put all my efforts into writing novels full time until a few years back. I love writing and feel extremely lucky to now have the time to pursue my dream non-stop.

Marilyn: I know that you have two books published–I’ve read them both and enjoyed them. Please tell us about both of them and where they can be purchased.

Madeline: Thank you for the kind words! Every time I hear someone say they enjoyed reading my books, I’m simultaneously pleased, surprised, and so grateful.

My two novels are set in fictional communities located in real areas. My debut mystery is Uncle Si’s Secret. It is set in the Pacific Northwest, and focuses on the inhabitants of Cedar Valley Residence, which is a fictional establishment similar to a B&B, rooming house, or hotel— yet, none of them exactly. It’s a many character tale, with several story lines, and of course, several murders. My intent was to have complicated characters, a strong sense of place, back-stories upon back-stories, and several character agendas being played out. I was extremely honored when PSWA awarded Uncle Si’s Secret a 2009 Published Novel award.

Book Cover of Uncle Si's Secret

Death of a Perfect Man is set in California’s High Desert, my new home, and I think brings with it a strong sense of place—the Mojave desert. In my second effort the heroine is escaping Puget Sound and the publicity that surrounded her husband’s death. She nearly runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere, but finds the “Red Rock Inn & Café,” a lost, creepy old resort where a strange emerald-eyed woman materializes and convinces her to stay the night. Before she can leave, a not-so-perfect potter is murdered.

Both novels are published by Aberdeen Bay Publishing, and are available at Amazon: Death of a Perfect Man and Uncle Si’s Secret (paper and Kindle), Barnes and Nobel, Aberdeen Bay, my website, and at signing events.

Marilyn: How did you come up with the idea for these books?

Madeline: Places grab me. I lived in North Bend, WA for a long period of time, in a fairly rural area east of Seattle, WA. One of the activities I loved doing was walking my dogs on the local trails. One particular spot always caught my fancy, and the idea for Uncle Si’s Secret was born on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail.

Then when looking for a new home, my husband and I (and two dogs) lived in the Ridgecrest, CA area, and while house-hunting, there was a particular spot on Interstate 14 we would often pass by. It was an odd collection of rag-tag dwellings that just seemed to speak to me. That turned out to be the inspiration for Death of a Perfect Man. I’m also a potter, and finding a new home where I could have a studio was additionally very much on my mind. Not surprising, my heroine and the first murder victim are potters.

Marilyn: What are you working on now?

Madeline: I’m well into the editing/rewriting phase of Reticence of Ravens, my third completed standalone mystery. I’m so lucky to have three very good editors, and I’d be lost without them. Somehow they’re able to get ahead of grammar, spelling, and punctuation gremlins (which I think multiply overnight). All their help is invaluable in re-writing, which I actually like doing. It seems like my stories get “richer” in the rewrite phase. I sure hope Reticence of Ravens will be polished and published later this year. I’m also lucky enough to have a wonderful agent!

My protagonist in this book is male, a psychologist, rather morose, on the verge of a mental “something” himself, and has to confront murder, the daunting Mojave Desert, several villains (past and present), a possible desire for a relationship, and a haunting past failure. The inspiration for this tale was a semi-defunct mini-mart at an I-15 exit which I call Joey’s. I enjoyed writing it very much.

I’ve also started my next two novels, Do No Harm, another stand alone with roots in Chicago and the Mojave, and Deadly Amends, my first sequel to Uncle Si’s Secret. To me, novel beginnings are one of the best parts of writing.

Marilyn: What kind of promotion works best for you?

Madeline: So far, in-person Book Festivals and Art and Craft Fairs. I like talking to readers and fellow authors. I also think an Internet presence and getting my name out there is vital, but I’m not yet sure how to measure my Internet-time results.

Marilyn: Where are you going to be next?

Madeline: I keep my schedule on my website. This year I’ll be attending something new in November, Mystery on The High Seas-A Cruise to Die For, an event/conference out of LA on Carnival Cruise Line.

Marilyn: I’ll be going on that cruise too. It sounds like a lot of fun. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Madeline: I very much like hearing from readers and fellow authors, so please visit me at my website or on my blog. I wrote a recent blog regarding my new title Reticence of Ravens that included a review of Ruth Rendell’s wonderful An Unkindness of Ravens.

Marilyn: Thank you so much, Madeline, for telling us about yourself and your books. Hope I run into you again sometime soon.

To enter our drawing for a chance to win a copy of Marilyn Meredith’s mystery novel, Dispel The Mist simply email us here at KRL and put book contest in the subject line. A winner will be picked by the next Saturday. You can email us at to enter. To read a review of this book go to Lorie Lewis Ham’s blog

Marilyn Meredith is a Springville, CA mystery author and an ongoing contributor to our Local Literary section. Be sure to visit her website;


  1. Good to hear about you here, Madeline! I wonder how your Route 66 stories will be influenced by an ocean-going trip. Maybe… “66 leagues under the sea.”

  2. I enjoyed reading the interview. Your books sound really interesting.

  3. I can’t wait to cruise with both of you ladies! We’re going to rock Mexico. Right now I’m getting so many great promo items for the bookbags. They will be FULL!

  4. I’m so happy to learn about a new mystery author. The books sound good!

  5. I like your story ideas – very creative and they sound very mysterious. I also enjoyed the interview.

  6. Book sounds great and love love love the cover!!


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