Saturday, June 24, 2017

Interview: Connie De Marco author of All Signs Point to Murder


What genre do you write?

I write mysteries, traditional mysteries, but I also like to incorporate thriller elements, the kinds of things that hopefully will keep readers turning pages, and even better, on the edge of their seats.  Those are the kinds of books I enjoy reading, so I do my best to create those stories for my readers.  My amateur sleuth protagonist(s) always seem to get themselves into lots of trouble as they attempt to solve the crimes.  

My earlier series, the Soup Lovers’ Mysteries, written as Connie Archer, is set in a small village in Vermont where Lucky Jamieson runs the By the Spoonful Soup Shop.  Lucky has risked her life to save a criminal from suicide, rescued a woman from a fiery death, been kidnapped and barely escaped and saved a young girl from certain death and dismemberment.  

Julia Bonatti in the Zodiac Mysteries manages to get herself into hot water too.  In The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series, she speaks out against a religious cult and becomes the target of an evil preacher.  In the second book in the series, All Signs Point to Murder, well . . . you’ll just have to read the final scenes.  If I say more, it might be a spoiler.  

How did you come to write (said) genre?

Well, like a lot of crime writers, I fell in love with mysteries at an early age.  Of course, I read Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and the Hardy Boys, then graduated to meatier stuff like Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie.  It didn’t stop there.  I can’t imagine writing anything else.  I like every aspect of mysteries and thrillers -- plots that twist and turn, adventures, crimes, thrills and chills and characters that offer psychological depth.  It’s far more interesting to create a villain with gray areas to his or her psyche, or a murderer with a perfectly plausible reason for committing a crime, especially characters with whom a reader can identify, or even feel sympathy for.  Even people who do bad things have a logic to their reasoning.  

Who is your favorite character to write about?

Oh, it’s hard to pick just one, but I do have my favorites.  Jack, Lucky’s grandfather in the Soup Lover’s Mysteries, is very close to my heart.  First, because he’s the dearest man in the world and secondly, because he’s very eccentric.  He’s a Navy vet and insists upon telling time by the bells.  His granddaughter Lucky is the only one who can translate.  

In the Zodiac Mysteries, I guess I’d have to say Nikolai.  He’s a secondary character who appears in every book but he’s very unusual.  He speaks with a broad Russian accent, he’s very charming, and his work involves past life regression hypnosis and exorcizing demons.  Nikolai is larger than life, maybe over the top, but quite convinced the world is in great need of his talents.  Nikolai always makes me smile when I write about him.  

Who inspires your books?

If you mean, which writers do I admire, then I’d have to say many, perhaps too many to count.  I love to read Tana French’s mysteries.  They’re full of atmosphere with wonderful Irish turns of phrase, plots that are simple and chillingly elegant.  The Ann Cleeves’ books are fascinating.  Not just her stories, but the mood she’s able to create, especially in the Shetland series.  Dorothy Sayers’ books are wonderful classics and she was a master of plot in the sense of the traditional mystery.  I’ve fallen in love with a lot of the Danish and Scandinavian writers and when I’m in a bookstore, I always look for authors I’ve never heard of.  I’m always fascinated by other writers’ stories and the journeys they offer.  

The Zodiac Mysteries were inspired by the years I spent living in San Francisco.  Not only is it a beautiful place, but it’s a city of many faces.  Sunny and windy one moment, dank and foggy the next, full of dark alleyways and secret staircases.  There’s always something new to discover there, and the funny thing is, I’ve learned more about the city and its history writing this series, than I ever knew when I lived there.  Perhaps it takes distance or time to really appreciate certain things.

Most of all, I wanted an unusual protagonist to carry these stories.  Julia Bonatti is an astrologer whose life took an abrupt turn when her fiancĂ© was killed in a hit and run accident.  She wasn’t able to pick up the threads of her former life and astrology offered her solace and comfort at a terrible time.  It wasn’t a profession she had ever considered, but she did discover that she’s quite good at helping her clients.  She certainly never thought murder or solving crimes would be part of her practice, but somehow her clients bring their problems to her doorstep and inevitably, she’s pulled into the investigation.  

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I’m laughing at this question!  I guess I’d have to admit I spend my free time reading other authors.  There’s so much to learn and it’s a process that should never stop.  I think the best way to continue to develop is to take lessons from the books of other writers.  I also love to watch foreign crime dramas, in films or TV.  I love all the series on PBS, which are for the most part, British.  But I also love productions of the Scandinavian and Danish and Icelandic writers.  It’s a chance to view crime through the eyes of another culture.  

If you were stuck on a deserted island what three things would you take
Water.  Books.  More books.

Thanks for inviting me today, Paula ~ happy reading!


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