The Next Big Thing Blog Hop seemed like such a fun idea when Elaine Viets tagged me to do it last week. Unfortunately, I seem to be the caboose on the train that’s already left the station; most of the authors I contacted had already been tagged! Happily, Claire O’Donohue, author of the Kate Conway mysteries had managed to escape so, Claire, tag! You’re it!
WHAT IS THE TITLE OF YOUR NEXT BOOK?
WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM FOR THE BOOK?
I have three sisters, and we’re strung out along the eastern seaboard from Maine to Maryland. At a recent family funeral, we decided that getting together only at weddings and funerals didn’t really give us time to visit, do some sisterly bonding. We talked about getting away for a long weekend, just us girls – a spa, perhaps – and then it hit us. A cruise! After the Costa Concordia disaster last January, cruise lines were practically giving away tickets, so we settled on a 5-day cruise from Baltimore to Bermuda and back. What a great setting for a mystery, I thought, as I relaxed in the hot tub aboard the luxury liner. A really closed circle of suspects, and where was the villain to escape other than overboard?
WHAT GENRE DOES YOUR BOOK FALL UNDER:
My Hannah Ives mysteries are traditional whodunits featuring a strong, brave and upbeat female protagonist. Although Hannah is an amateur detective, she’s been compared to Sue Grafton’s character, Kinsey Milhone. I’ll take that!
WHAT ACTORS WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY YOUR CHARACTERS IN A MOVIE RENDITION:
For Hannah Ives, I’d like to bring someone out of retirement, Tracy Nelson. Tracy is the daughter of the late singer and teen heartthrob, Ricky Nelson, and is probably best known for her role as Sister Stephanie "Steve" Oskowski in the Father Dowling Mysteries series.
I had thought Tracy had retired from show business in order to raise a family, but I recently learned that she’s been battling cancer, facing it with the same kind of forthright, in-your-face honesty and good humor that my fictional character, Hannah, does.
I'd like to see Ann Margaret play Hannah's younger sister, Georgina,
WHAT IS THE ONE-SENTENCE SYNOPSIS OF YOUR BOOK?
The famous “elevator speech,” huh? So hard! How about this? A vacation cruise turns deadly when Hannah’s 14-year-old niece disappears from the teen center, leaving Hannah to sweep aside the smoke and mirrors to reveal the truth, putting an end to the work of a dangerous sea-going predator.
WILL YOUR BOOK BE SELF-PUBLISHED OR REPRESENTED BY AN AGENCY?
I have a wonderful agent. This is the 12th book in my series, and it will be published in 2013 in hardback, trade paper and e-book formats by Severn House.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT?
About six months. I spend several months doing research before I start writing, then a month or so revising. Throughout the process, I rely heavily on my writers’ group to read each chapter as it emerges and give me “tough love” feedback.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS WOULD YOU COMPARE THIS STORY TO WITHIN YOUR GENRE?
Gosh, this is a hard question! Since mine are traditional mysteries featuring an amateur detective, readers who like Agatha Christie or more modern writers like Carolyn Hart, Dorothy Cannell, Margaret Maron, Kate Charles or Charlotte MacLeod might enjoy my novels, too. Even better, may I refer you to this wonderful Wikipedia article that mentions Hannah and hundreds of other amateur female sleuths.
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THE BOOK?
My sisters! (See Question One.) Hannah has two sisters, and all of them badly needed a vacation, so I sent them off on an eight-day cruise to Bermuda. When a young woman disappears -- Has she gone overboard? Is she hiding somewhere on the enormous ship? – Hannah is on the case. In my research I learned that a person goes overboard from a cruise ship every two weeks, and that – with some exceptions – the cruise lines are more interested in covering up shipboard crime when it occurs rather than getting to the bottom of it, all in an effort to protect their bottom line. For a chilling look behind the scenes of the multi-billion dollar cruise ship industry, check out this 60 Minutes video, Ships of Shame.
That having been said, I’ve taken three cruises and have never had anything but a fabulous time! Can't wait for the next one.
WHAT ELSE ABOUT YOUR BOOK MIGHT PIQUE THE READER’S INTEREST?
One of my characters, Pia, works aboard ship as a magician’s assistant. An illusion goes awry, and she narrowly escapes injury. I had to learn about magic to write those scenes. Author Dan Stashower, who – in addition to writing award-winning histories -- is also an amateur magician, was a tremendous help. Dan steered me in the direction of such books as Hiding the Elephant by Jim Steinmeyer, which is a fascinating history of stage magic and the illusionists who invented it. Yes, dear readers, it really is all smoke and mirrors, with a generous helping of showmanship!
And as we say in Annapolis,
"Fair winds and following seas!"