Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Today's Mystery Author Guest: Beate Boeker
As promised yesterday, fellow mystery/thriller author Beate Boeker is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Also, Beate is running a contest for a free electronic copy of the first book in her Temptation in Florence series, Delayed Death, the cover art for which appears above. Beate will select the winner tomorrow evening from among those who leave a comment today or tomorrow and will announce the name in a comment on this post.
The book asks the question, "What do you do when you find your grandfather dead half an hour before your cousin's wedding?" The answer is that you hide him in his bed and tell everyone he didn't feel like coming. Delayed Death is an entertaining mystery set in Florence, Italy. When Carlina finds her grandfather dead on the day of her cousin's wedding, she decides to hide the corpse until after the ceremony. However, her grandfather was poisoned, and she becomes the attractive Inspector's prime suspect. On top of that, she has to manage her boisterous family and her luxurious lingerie store called Temptation, a juggling act that creates many hilarious situations.
Sounds like a "tempting" read! ;-) Below are Beate's answers to my interview questions.
1. Who or what inspired you to start writing and when did you start?
My first novel was written when I was a teenager, and as soon as it was done, I thought it was hugely embarrassing. I picked writing up again in my thirties and then, I quickly realized that I would not get the necessary help to learn the tools of the trade in Germany as I found no online writing communities like the ones in the US. So I started to write in English in spite of the fact that I'm German and have been living in Germany most of my life. My first romance novel was published by Avalon Books in 2008.
2. What tools and process do you use to “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
None. I just start to write, and then they unfold. From time to time, they behave in a very erratic way, and I have to change my original ideas in order to make them fit. Recently, for example, the rather eccentric mother of my heroine declared during a family meeting that she would create a “trap for the murderer”. I was aghast. That trap had not been planned, but once she had said it, I realized I had to create one. It took me several hours to come up with one that would fit into my plot.
3. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
It depends. I outline the mysteries because it wouldn't do to write one without knowing who's the murderer, but with my romances, I usually just have a hook at the beginning, and then I let it take over.
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?
Obviously, it's best if both go together, but for me, the emphasis is on characters. I don't need a cliff hanger and life-and-death questions at every corner. I prefer to be taken on a trip, to see things from a different perspective, to play with viewpoints and insights and feelings.
5. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
The biggest challenge is the marketing, though I'm a marketing professional in my day job, so it shouldn't daunt me. However, it feels more like a chore than an passion when it comes to promoting myself. The writing itself inspires me and makes me happy. It's part of what I have to do to keep my soul alive. Also, I love to read my stories out loud and hear people laugh at the places that I find funny. Hard to top that!
6. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I guess I write like six hours a week, only on the weekends. During the week, I do marketing stuff because I can only do it in the evenings, after both the day job and the family are dealt with. My best writing time is in the mornings, right after breakfast. Or after an afternoon nap! I need roughly nine months to write one full-length novel.
7. What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
I've got two bits of advice, actually! First, listen to the things that are shared in author loops, i.e. learn the trade. Second: Never give up.
8. Now here’s a zinger. Tell us something about yourself that you have not revealed in another interview yet. Something as simple as your favorite TV show or food will do.
My curls are natural. They took ages to come; in fact, I could already walk and didn't have any hair, and my mother was getting worried that this would have to be my permanent look. She was very relieved when they finally spiraled their way into freedom. :-)
9. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I'm editing the third novel in the series Temptation in Florence. It's called Banker's Death, and the stakes are high when the family realizes that they're in danger of losing their home. After that, I plan to translate my most popular romance, A New Life, into German. It's also set in Italy, and it's about a young woman who has to start from scratch in a new town and with a language she hardly knows. I've just started to translate my own novels and find it surprisingly difficult. It shouldn't be, as it's my mother tongue, but I keep having to look up expressions in the dictionary.
10. Is there anything else you would like to tell my blog readers?
I love cozy and funny mysteries like Murder with Peacocks by Donna Andrews. If they include a bit of romance, even better! If you have any recommendations for me, do tell me about it, so I can hunt them up and read them!
Also, you can find me on Facebook HERE and on Twitter HERE, as well as on my website.
Thanks, Beate! Now, who has a comment or question for Beate Boeker? Good luck in the contest!