Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Today's Mystery Author Guest: Sparkle Abbey
As promised yesterday, fellow mystery author duo Sparkle Abbey is visiting my blog today. To read the duo's bio and see their photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Also, Sparkle is running a contest for a free autographed book, with THREE winners. Each one will win a copy of one of the first three mysteries in the Pampered Pets mystery series, their choice. Sparkle will choose the winners from among those who leave a comment.
The cover art above is from their latest release, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang, the third book in the series. In the book, Caro Lamont, Laguna Beach’s most sought after pet therapist, is back with more coddled cats and pampered pooches. Unfortunately, her human neighbor, Kitty Bardot, has apparently used up her nine lives and Caro’s nose for trouble lands her in the middle of a murder investigation. Will Caro claw her way out of this one? Or – well – you know what they say about curiosity and the cat…
Sounds like a very fun read! Below are Sparkle's answers to my interview questions. Please leave a comment, and if you have a question of your own for Sparkle, ask it!
1. Who or what inspired you to start writing and when did you start?
Thanks so much, Beth, for inviting us to visit your blog! We enjoy your books and hope your blog readers will enjoy hearing a little bit about us. Like many writers, we started out as mystery readers before we decided to try our hand (or is that hands) at writing mysteries. We enjoy the same types of books and had belonged to the same critique group for many years.
2. What tools and process do you use to “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
We use character sketches, interviews, and pictures. Because we work together on the series, we talk quite a bit about the characters and their motivations before we start on a book.
3. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
We are both very definitely “plotters.” We outline using the idea of a skeleton of the story. We lay out the three-act structure and turning points of the storyline. But then when we begin to write, we’re very open to the growth of the story in an organic way.
4. In the age-old question of character versus plot, which one do you think is most important in a murder mystery and which one do you emphasize in your writing? Why?
Both are important but for us the plot is driven by the characters. When you have strong developed characters, the choices they make must be true for them and, of course, that will impact all your story decisions.
5. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
The biggest challenge is time! We have more stories in our heads than we can possibly find the time to write. What inspires us the most is hearing from readers. We’ve been so lucky to have heard from some wonderful readers.
This post came via email:
“I’ve got to say - you had me at woof! Your book had everything I love – 1) animals, 2) comedy, 3) people and animals you care about, 4) murder and mystery! I also love the setting - the wacky, strange, beachy, Paris Hilton kind of California! I also LOVE that "Sparkle Abbey" is actually a friend/team! What fun you must have! I can't wait to read your next book - and while reading it I will be imagining the two of you sitting on a beach, drinking your margaritas, laughing.”
Wow. As a writer, this is why you write.
6. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
Because we each work full-time in addition to writing, we write, out of necessity, in the evenings and on weekends. We also plan at least two writing retreats each year. Sometimes we plot new stories at these retreats and other times they are set aside for intensive writing.
7. What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
It’s a very hard trail and you should know that going in. You need to frequently remind yourself that if you’re going to do this, you’re in for the long haul and so you’ve got to stay strong. That means finding encouragement in others on the same path (other writers), staying toned (keep honing your craft) and keeping yourself hydrated (refill your creative well). This is a wonderful time to be a writer and though it’s a constantly shifting topography (market) – it’s by far the most rewarding journey you’ll take.
8. Now here’s a zinger. Tell us something about yourself that you have not revealed in another interview yet.
Okay, Beth, how’s this for obscure? LOL
Abbey (Anita) likes to quote lines from the movie, The Princess Bride. Some of her favorites:
Miracle Max: Get back, witch.
Valerie: I'm not a witch, I'm your wife.
Miracle Max: Have fun stormin' da castle.
Valerie: Think it'll work?
Miracle Max: It would take a miracle.
Sparkle (Mary Lee) is a long time Monkees fan (the musical group, not the primate group). So much so that she received a personal birthday card from Monkee Davy Jones on her 40th birthday!
9. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
Yip/Tuck will be out this year and we’ve sold two more books in our pet-themed mystery series. Book 5 will be Fifty Shades of Greyhound and Book 6 will be The Girl with the Dachshund Tattoo.
10. Is there anything else you would like to tell my blog readers?
We truly love to hear from readers and we also love to see pictures of your pets. Please stop by our website or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads or wherever you hang out. We’d like to get to know you all better!
Thanks, Sparkle! Now, who has a comment or question for Sparkle Abbey? Good luck in the contest!