"All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality -- the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape."
--Author Christopher Benson



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

COZY WEDNESDAY - With Author Mary Moody (Giveaway too!)

I love Wednesdays. It's like having a group of friends, old and new, over for some cool beverages during this hot summer and talking about the good books we've read.  In this case Cozy Mysteries.  I have just recently "met" Mary Moody when I heard about her new book A Killing In Antiques and was so happy when she agreed to stop by and spend Cozy Wednesday with us.

Welcome Mary!!!

Characters get in the Way

Thank you for having me here today Lori. I've been reading your blog for some time and enjoy the wide range of mysteries that are recommended. I've always loved reading mysteries, but A Killing in Antiques is the first one I've written, and I'm old for a beginner – a late bloomer.

Before I began the actual writing of A Killing in Antiques I made some rough notes. I believed that I had thought it through, and had the plot, characters, and crime well in hand. I was ready, so I sat down and wrote. Wow! What happened with the characters astonished me.

Everyone was there, my characters were on the pages where they belonged, but they started doing things I hadn't planned. Two characters that I only meant to walk through the pages and impart some news to Lucy St. Elmo (my protagonist) took over larger parts of the story than I ever intended.

Which, of course, created problems. Since I liked what the characters were doing, I decided to change the plot to fit their growing personalities, rather than change their personalities to fit the plot. One of them has become a solid favorite among readers! Then, a character who I thought would be fun, turned out to be a dud. I had to dump him.

My killer was another one who caused grief for me, as well as for his victim. When I think about killers at all, I think of them as bad guys. Just plain bad. My killer was such a bad person that he/she didn't fit in with the rest of the characters. It was as if the characters in, say, Sleepless in Seattle, had one friend among them who was Caligula. Wrong, all wrong.

So I had to work the murder motive around in my mind until it better fit someone who belongs within my setting. When you think about it, there are no good motives for murder, and that's why most real murderers are caught so quickly. Every issue surrounding a real murder usually points to the culprit.

 I don't mind if readers guess WHO did it, I usually do, but I'd like them to stay because they enjoy my characters and want to see how the denouement works out for them. To my mind, the murderer should seem reasonable, given the story that's been built. It shouldn't come as shocking surprise. In looking back, the reader should feel that, - yes, now that I think of it, that does seem right.

In order to make the writing of my current book, Under the Hammer, come along smoothly, I made an extensive outline. I wrote out fully developed characters, including their backgrounds, - particularly about my killer. These will not end up in the book, but they will let me know how each character should act in certain situations, what emotions they'll feel, and who they really are.

But it's happening again. Jill is a character who was supposed to walk through the action, tell Lucy something about an auction, then leave. But it turns out that Jill is very angry at a pivotal character who Lucy loves. So, I'd better get back to my computer and straighten this out before it starts trouble. Or maybe I'll let her do her thing. I'd better do something, I have a deadline for this book!


Thanks Mary!!!
I love reading about the processes writers go through to get to the end product, the book we hold in our hands. Some authors just sit down and write, others like Mary make a mini outline and let the characters evolve. Every author has their own style that happens behind the scenes to give us a few hours of reading entertainment. I am so glad they do what they do and give us all wonderful stories to enjoy.

Mary is a Massachusetts native, and grew up in a collecting family where she learned the pleasures of the treasure hunt. She loves writing stories about the ingenious ways people find to participate in the antiques marketplace. Mary went to school in Worcester, and has an MBA from Clark University. 

An Obsidian Mystery
Published by The New American Library
A Division of The Penguin Group
A Brand New Series
A Lucy St. Elmo Antiques Mystery
ISBN-10: 0451234189
ISBN-13: 978-0451234186

Lucy St. Elmo owns St. Elmo's Fine Antiques in Cape Cod. Treasure hunting is the mainstay of any antiques business and Lucy excels beyond many when it comes to finding just the perfect piece.

This week the hunt takes Lucy to Brimfield, the largest outdoor antique show in all of New England.  She has her strategy all worked out, her custom made cart and money at the ready.  She is ready to make a killing at this show and bring back treasures she has been dreaming about. 

Lucy was not the only one with making a killing on their mind. Someone else did but they actually killed someone! Right there at Brimfield!! Worse Lucy knows the deceased. He was her long time friend, Monty Rondo. He was well known in the antique circuit as a supreme picker. 

All leads pointed at his partner but there is no way Silent Billy would have hurt Monty.  So Lucy has no choice, in addition to hunting for treasures, she also has to hunt down a killer. With less than a week before Brimfield closes for the season and all the suspects pack up and move on to the next big show she has to move fast to close the sale on the real killer, knowing he is truly no treasure.

First I have to tell you Brimfield is a real place.  Those of you not in the New England area may not realize this.
Knowing that makes the story even better because while Mary describes the place wonderfully with her words, seeing it makes the story itself so believable.

I was drawn into this story not only by the mystery but the education about the treasure hunting in the antique world.  The characters were real, eccentric and interesting.  You wanted to follow them through the maze of Brimfield, weighing each as a suspect, crossing them off the list, then thinking some more and returning them to the possible suspect category.  The story was like a mini treasure hunt for the reader making it very entertaining. 

This is a perfect summer read.  I am looking forward to learning more about antiques and Lucy and her wonderful friends and family. I can't wait to return to Cape Cod with Lucy!

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Berkley Prime Crime. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

Now thanks to the wonderful people at Penguin, 
I am able to give away 2 copies of this wonderful book!!
U.S. and Canadian Residents Only
Contest will end at 11:59 p.m. CST on August 10
Winners will be chosen using Random.org
Followers will receive an extra 2 entries!!
Leave a comment for Mary for an additional 5 entries!!
Just fill out the form below to enter.


Margaret said...

I must say Mary I enjoyed reading about your writing style and methods. I really like the title as well. Thank you for the giveaway and I wish you much success with the book!

holdenj said...

Welcome Mary! I enjoyed your comments today about the process of these characters and wish you continued success! I can't wait to meet Lucy and everyone else!

Book Lady said...

Hiya Mary! That was a cool peek into the process of developing your characters and the story! I really enjoyed that! Can't wait to read your book! :)

Melissa C.

Becky said...

Hi Mary, I enjoyed reading about your writing process and look forward to reading you new book.

Liz V. said...

Antiques are so much fun. Combined with mystery, great. Best wishes on success of A Killing In Antiques.

Maria said...

I mostly love it when the characters take off on their own--less thinking for me...at least initially. Until I figure out that they are ruining the plot...and I'm going to have to out-think...myself!

Thanks for sharing your writing experience!


samantha35 said...

HI Mary- this looks like a great new cozy series!

Sheila Deeth said...

Those characters sound great fun and it sounds like you're having fun writing them. This sounds like a great series.

Anonymous said...

Afternoon Mary! I enjoyed your blog on the creative process of your new cozy mystery. Watch out for the characters to change their minds..lol. It sounds so interesting. I love antiques even though I don't own any!! I suppose my old car would qualify as an antique. (If I can keep it running)

Excited to be here and thank you for being here too!

Oh before I forget glad your writing at any age! Looking forward to reading it. goole won't let me stay signed in darn it.

nblack at twcny dot rr dot com

Janelle said...

Mary, I wish you much success with A Killing In Antiques! Your interview was intriguing: seeing how characters,(Jill) can divert your original outline, meandering in directions unplanned.
Best wishes and thanks for a chance to win this wonderful title!

Marie said...

Mary, Thanks for telling us a little about your writing process. I wish you the best of luck with your books.

Anonymous said...

Mary, what a great telling of how you write. I do feel that the most important part of any book is the character developement and with you chaning the plot to suit the characters is great. I am looking forward to reading you book. It also helps tha tI love antiques so that is a big plus for me.

Victoria Zumbrum said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I can't wait to read your book. Tore923@aol.com

Darlene said...

Congratulations on the new series! It sounds great. Thanks for the giveaway!

ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ann said...

Sounds like a very good book. I have never had the opportunity to read any of your books but would like to. Thank

amhengst AT verizon DOT net

Stacie said...

Great interview Mary! Welcome to the wonderful world of cozies. You're never too old to start writing. It looks like a great start to a new series. I love the fact that it has some factual places included in the book. It makes the scenes come to life even more. I really like the theme of antiques & treasure hunting too. You just never know what you might find. Thanks for the giveaway :)


Better is Possible said...

Thanks Mary. I can't wait to get my hands on your book and have a lovely visit with some new and interesting characters.

mamabunny13 said...

Congratulations on the new series! It sounds like it's gonna be a good one!
mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

Carol N Wong said...

Loved what you said about writing this book, especially about the killer not fitting in!! You might be able to write a humerous book about writing a cozy!!!!


Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

It is interesting to see what an author goes through when developing characters and them fitting into the story. This series sounds interesting. I have gone treasure hunting at flea markets and antique shows with my sister so this is right up my alley. I'll have to keep this on my list of cozies to read.

Carol M said...

I really like antiques! I enjoy picking up things at flea markets. Right now I'm into green or blue glass vases, bowls and dishes. I'm sure I would enjoy this book!

mittens0831 at aol dot com

ann said...

this one sounds like a good one to me as I like antiques

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

Mary you've shared some intriguing writing insights! having it all thought out yet being diverted into new directions by your characters is probably unexpected by most beginning authors. i appreciate your candid sharing with us ~ THANK YOU!

frunchezzcuh said...

I love antiques! Hope I'll get the chance to win this one! :)

Luvdaylilies said...

Auctions, Antiques and a fun mystery; sounds like a perfect recipe for a must read story=) I'll be looking for this book!
Thanks for taking time for us~