Interview: Jamie Agnew

Recently Jamie was asked a few questions about mysteries by a reporter at The Michigan Daily, Rebecca Lerner. She agreed that we could publish the questions & original answers here. (An edited version was published in her column.) He gets to the heart of why mysteries are so great & why we love them so much.

Q: Why did you open/run a bookstore specifically devoted to mystery? 

A: Most of all because we love mysteries.  Of course, we also thought it would be economically feasible. Mystery readers are very loyal, and mystery books have only grown in popularity. Many authors write in series with a continuing character, and specializing allows us to carry their backlist as well as the current bestseller. We’ve been here twenty-four years now, so we must be doing something right. read more

Author Interview: Carrie Smith

Carrie SmithI was delighted to be able to interview Carrie Smith, a real discovery. I loved her first book and loved her answers to my questions.

Q; Let me say up front I’m a big fan of police procedurals, especially police procedurals written by women.  I’ve loved books by Lillian O’Donnell, Lee Martin, Margaret Maron, Barbara D’Amato, Leslie Glass and more recently Theresa Schwegel and Karin Slaughter (the excellent Cop Town) and ALL of them deal with the way women are treated in the workforce and how they must adapt to deal with it. Sadly, I think your book published in 2015 is dealing with some of the same issues that Lillian O’Donnell was writing about in 1972.  All that being said, was this something on the top of your list when you started your novel? read more

Author Interview: Steve Miller

Steve MillerSteve Miller is a highly regarded journalist who has lately turned his hand to true crime; he’s now written four and this one sparked my interest so much I wanted to hear what he had to say about it. He graciously agreed to answer a few questions.

Q: True Crime as a genre is kind of looked down on—but to me it shows a real true side of human behavior; maybe not a nice one, but a true one.  What motivates you personally to write true crime?

A: True crime is the pornography of non-fiction. Literary agents steer you away from it and publishers treat it like a place for castoffs. Yet you see how many titles come out every year, and you see these TV shows in Investigation Discovery and truTV and the other networks. Someone’s digging it. And someone’s making money. read more

Author Interview: Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Philippi RyanHank Phillippi Ryan has been a part of the mystery community for several years now, racking up awards and praise for her Jane Ryland novels. Like Ryan herself, Jane is a reporter, and the real life edge the details of a reporter’s life bring to Ryan’s books really sets them apart. Hank herself is one of the nicest and most generous people in the mystery community, universally beloved for good reason! Hank graciously agreed to answer a few questions.

Q: What do you think you have learned as a writer through now eight books, four with Jane, and four with Charlotte? read more

Author Interview: Ruth Ware

Ruth Ware is an exciting new talent and I was delighted to have the opportunity to ask her a few questions.

Ruth WareQ: I heard Ngaio Marsh say in an interview that she liked to create a group of characters and then impose the mystery on them to see how they reacted to a crisis. Were you working in a similar way, or did you come up with your story premise first?

A:  I came up with the “murder on a hen night” idea first, chiefly because a friend said to me that she had never read one and it instantly seemed like such a perfect idea that I couldn’t resist writing it. The characters were sort of secondary in that sense—they grew outward from me wanting a disparate group of people shoved together somewhat against their will. They’re also partly each an archetype of women I’ve met at bachelorette parties over the years—the one who doesn’t really want to be there, the one from the bride’s past who is completely different to all her current friends, the one who would prefer to be at home with her kids, the one who organised it and is totally stressed about the whole thing—I think they are all recognisable types to people who’ve attended a fair number of these things, and I’ve certainly been most of them over the years, in different settings! Of course, I chose to carry the roles to extreme because it made for better drama. read more

Author Interview: Sam Thomas

267667_251594441524816_3284565_nSam Thomas is the author of now three mysteries featuring Bridget Hodgson in 1640’s York.  An historian and teacher, he brings expertise to his novels, but he’s also a wonderful storyteller and his latest book, The Witch Hunter’s Tale, is also his strongest.  He was nice enough to answer a few questions.

Q: Have you come to your historical series as an historian, or as someone who wanted primarily to be a storyteller?

A: In truth, I don’t see a significant difference between the two. Whether I’m writing history or fiction, I have the same goal: I want to talk about the past in a way that readers will find engaging and informative. read more

Author Interview: Tim O’Mara

Tim O’Mara is a favorite new voice of both Jamie’s and mine—we love his Ray Donne, a teacher/private eye. O’Mara’s vigorous storytelling, great characters and setting make this series a real stand-out.

Tim O'MaraQ: First of all, why a P.I. novel? Are those the kind of books you always liked to read? If so, who are your favorites?

A: I’ve always been interested in crime fiction, from Encyclopedia Brown to Michael Connelly. My faves now include Don Winslow, Marcus Sakey, George Pelecanos, Lyndsay Faye. I’ve also just discovered some British writers and the couple who make up Nicci French really know what they’re doing. read more

Author Interview: Lauren Willig

Lauren WilligLauren Willig is the bestselling author of the popular “Pink Carnation” series, which is drawing to a close.  Drawn to the cover of her latest novel, The Ashford Affair, I discovered a new author to love as I inhaled this story of London and Africa in the 20’s and a young Manhattan lawyer in the present day.  Ms. Willig will be joining us in September at the Kerrytown BookFest and she graciously agreed to be interviewed.  Welcome, Lauren!

Q: This is the first book of yours I’ve read, though of course I’ve sold MANY of them thanks in part to Tasha Alexander, who told me years back you were one of her favorite authors.  I think my first question is about the time period – have you always wanted to set a novel in this time frame? read more

Interview: Janet Rudolph

Janet RudolphIn the mystery community, Janet Rudolph is virtually everywhere.  A tireless proselytizer and devotee of mystery fiction, she’s the editor of Mystery Reader’s Journal as well as the executrix of the annual Macavity Awards.  She runs a weekly—yes, I said weekly—book club and is, in short, one of the finest ambassadors mystery fiction has to offer.   I thought it was past time to ask her a few questions.

Q: Can you talk about how you started your book club?  What makes it unique?

A: I think our book group is unique because we are the longest running weekly mystery group in the U.S. We’ve been meeting for 35+ years, September-June, every Tuesday night. I began “the group” by teaching mystery fiction at UC Extension in the mid-70s as a way of supplementing my meager grad school income (non-existent income, actually). I first started by teaching Women in Science Fiction, but quickly turned to something much closer to my heart—The Female Sleuth. Our original class wanted more, as did I, and I expanded the offerings to a class on Agatha Christie, Women Mystery Writers, Religious Mystery Fiction, Art Mysteries and more. I also expanded locations to UC Santa Cruz, St. Mary’s College, the Graduate Theological Union, SF State and some other institutions and organizations. We always met weekly, so when I decided to have a more informal setting—my home—it seemed only natural to continue to meet weekly. Back then we read and discussed two books a week. Now we only read one. Still that’s a lot of reading. I’m thematic in my thinking, so the first 20+ years I ran 10 weekly sessions on themes, mostly, such as New York Mysteries, medical mysteries, food mysteries (a favorite), religious mysteries, etc. Over the years we’ve had people drop out and people join, people die and people move, but we still have many in the group who have been in it for over 25 years. read more

Author Interview: Steve Hamilton

Steve Hamilton has visited the store since his first novel, A Cold Day in Paradise, was published in 1998.  Since then he’s been loyal, kind, and funny, and he’s long been a favorite with our customers. He is our bestselling author. We love his Michigan-centric series and look forward to every novel – I was happy to have the chance to ask him a few questions.

steve-hamiltonQ: One of the things I like best about your books is the way you use dialogue to tell the story.  Do you kind of think in dialogue?  Is that the way storytelling comes to you?  read more