Norma, what may I get you to drink?
NORMA: I take my coffee decaffeinated with a half spoonful of sugar. But, more often I drink hot tea, with slightly less sugar. Oh, and one bite of dark chocolate would hit the spot. (I just read how dark chocolate replenishes something good in the stomach—good excuse, right?)
Ally: Lol. It sounds like chocolate is the important part, and I always keep that around the blog.
While I get our drinks, please tell readers about yourself and reveal something not in your regular bio.
I call myself the Grandma Moses of Mystery. (The original Grandma Moses was an artist who switched from embroidery to primitive or folk art when arthritis stopped the needle work. She became famous at 80 and continued painting until she was 101.) I grew up on a farm, and honed my fiction-writing-skills by telling my younger sister stories after we went to bed—to keep her from kicking me. I worked as a secretary when manual typewriters were the latest innovation. One thing that inspired my writing was boating. My husband and I sailed on Chesapeake Bay and beyond. (My two mysteries for adults are both set on Chesapeake Bay.) I love to cook creative meals, and doing Zumba. I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, and, for something not previously in my bio, am about to become a great-grandmother.
Ally: What a bio, Norma! You're an inspiration. Congratulations on the pending great-grandbaby!
My soon-to-be published young adult mystery is a Halloween ghost story. YA was my first love, but, along with my kids, I grew up—I thought. I’ve fallen in love again with my new story, a mega-update from one I first wrote a generation ago. I began rewriting, wanting to finish the book before my grandchildren were too old to be interested. Found out I needed a lot of help from the younger generation to write about text messaging and other mysteries of the current teenage years. In return, those teens will discover a few oddities from the teenagers of 1946. Is this a mother-daughter read? Nope, this is a grandmother-granddaughter read.
Ally: How long have you been writing fiction? Were you an overnight wonder in the publishing world or a persistence pays off? Tell us a little more about your journey to publication.
NORMA: File me under persistence. I wrote my first story in grade school. Then, skip a generation or two for motherhood, etc. before I took the Famous Writers’ Course. I placed articles and stories in children’s magazines, some of them major markets, while my youngest two (now in their 40s) were still in school. I switched to full length manuscripts, got a ton of rejections, and eventually sold my first mystery that was published a month before my 80th birthday.
Ally: If you could be any living mystery author (besides yourself), who would it be and why?
NORMA: Living? Hm. Got to tell you I’d like to be a clone of Rhys Bowen. I don’t want to be her because I adore every one of her books in all three of her series, and I want to keep reading her books. But a clone? Yes! I want her fantastic imagination, speed of writing, and her wonderful way with words. (Okay, and maybe her age—I’m sure she’s younger than me.)
Ally: Which comes first plot or characters? How do you pick your characters? Which character out of the book you brought today was the most fun to write?
NORMA: I’m not always sure what comes first. Perhaps a situation, perhaps a character. I seem to mull it all over until I don’t know which came first. A situation or location affects the character, and the character grows into the plot. I do remember the exact spark that led me to Cherish. Some years ago as my husband was driving and as I gazed out the window, we passed a road sign. Sandy Bottom Road. Yep, that name started it all. The story swirled, changed, died, was reborn, but that germ remained, and it remained important to the story.
Ally: I love quick answer questions, so let's try a few.
- Favorite accessory: My favorite fashion accessory is a wooden bead necklace on elastic string, a Christmas gift from my youngest granddaughter. I think she was three or four when she painted the beads with a mixture of colors.
- Best way to relax: Definitely, read a book. (Also the best way to keep me up late without adequate sleep, but let’s forget that.)
- Favorite movie, current or old: I go to almost no movies. I do, however, view them while visiting with our children. Our oldest daughter especially loves to save a supply on TV, so I’ve seen the likes of Ratatouie (which I don’t know how to spell but is a cartoon with cooking rats if I remember correctly) and Wally (which is also probably misspelled—another cartoon from a post-war-of-the-worlds life of mechanical remains).
- If they made a movie of your life, would it be a drama, comedy, or tragedy? Oh dear, how about an historical? You know, the kind one must sit through, or should I say, sleep through? Okay, we could throw in a bit of Travelogue, as my husband and I have been to such places as Antarctica, Galapagos Islands, South Africa, and Australia
- An item on your bucket list: Although I have been to England, Scotland, and Wales, I’ve never been to Europe. Europe, or, I would accept a paddlewheel trip on the Mississippi.
NORMA: This blog visit is the official start of my cover reveal campaign. I'll release a PDF of the first two chapters, then the final cover in August or before. My book will come out in September.
Ally: Perfect timing for a Halloween story...