The International Guy of Mystery interviewed Marilyn Meredith after he had failed to find gold in a stream near her home in the Sierra Nevada foothills (the 150-year-old map he'd bought from a genuine gold prospector had the word Walmart written on its back--ancestor of the modern businessman?) Marilyn is a prolific author! She's published more than 35 mystery novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest River Spirits from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is Violent Departures, from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of two chapters of
Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com
IGM: If you had to give a quick, one-sentence description of your novel (or series) to a Hollywood mogul, what would you say?
MM: Two violent departures and a haunted house baffle members of the Rocky Bluff P.D.
IGM: What inspired you to write this series (personal experience, books you love, real people and events, etc.)?
MM: First, yes, I did enjoy reading police procedurals, but never thought about writing one until my son-in-law became a police officer. My daughter didn’t like to hear his stories, so he told them to me. He took me on my first police ride-along. We also lived in a neighborhood with many law enforcement families, so I observed a lot about how what was going on with the job affected the family, and what happened at home affected the job. A theme that flows through all the books in the series. Yes, I do use some real events, but they are greatly fictionalized.
IGM: What gives you the most joy as a writer?
MM: There’s nothing better than having a reader tell me how much they liked a book I wrote. I do have some fans who are really great about sharing what they enjoyed most about a book.
IGM: What is the hardest thing about writing?
MM: Writing is the best and most satisfying part of the whole process—but it
doesn’t stop here. Next comes the rewriting and the editing, and I enjoy
both. But what takes the most time and effort is promoting the book and
I’m usually doing that while writing a book in my other series.
IGM: How did you come up with the titles?
MM: Some titles are easy and come about from something that jumps right out of the plot. The title, Murder in the Worst Degree, was given to me before I ever wrote the book. Towards the end, I was scrambling to figure out how to tie the tile in with what I’d written. A few times I’ve asked my critique group (who hear all my books chapter by chapter) for suggestions.
IGM: Tell a little about your process. Do you know how your novels should end before you start?
MM: The short answer to the question is “No.” I often begin thinking I know—but more times than not, I even change who I think the murderer is as I’m writing.
As to the process, because I write series—I have ongoing situations with characters that must progress—and actually, that is helpful because it gives me minor plot threads to weave into the main story. Next, I need to come up with a murder: how it happened, motives for more than one person, who those suspects are, and other crimes to occupy the police department.
IGM: Pretend you are fielding a baseball team with your favorite writers. List them by position.
MM: The only baseball I ever watch is when kids are playing so really don’t have a good answer for this one. I have many favorite authors—really too many to list. I enjoy reading new writers’ books too.
IGM: Pretend your book is being made into a movie. What actors would play the lead characters? (Note: if your book is being optioned for a movie, you may wish to send several thousand dollars to the International Guy of Mystery Foundation as a tax write-off).
MM: I’ve been asked this question before, and because I already see my characters as individuals, I have no idea who would play the leads in a movie. I know some authors, especially those who write romance, who pick out specific actors and base their characters on them. I’ve never done that. What I have done is pick particular characteristics and appearance of people I’ve met and give them to the people in my books. Fortunately no one has ever recognized him or herself.
Here's a blurb for Violent Departures:
College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges.