Why do you write cozy mysteries?
For my canine cozy series — the King Harald Mysteries — I simply get a kick out of playing god to the eccentric denizens of Beaver Tail County. It’s been a blast creating this little world in a locale very much like north central Minnesota. This is a place where I would love to live, and these are people I would like to have as friends. Of course, if I really lived in New Bergen, I would prefer there not be any murders. My historical mystery series — the Mary MacDougall Mysteries — reflects my interest in the era of Teddy Roosevelt and the possibilities of a young female detective during those years. I realize that an heiress sleuth of 1902 would have been very unlikely. But if Mary is to be interesting to modern readers, she has to be a real maverick.
Please tell us about your book. What ideas or images inspired this novel?
I wrote the first Mary MacDougall novel back in the ’90s. The character was a mash-up of Lucy Honeychurch (from E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View) and Sherlock Holmes. I think it was a good story, but Mary was too cold and intellectual to be sympathetic, and it was too much in the actual literary style of a century ago. I rebooted the character three years ago as a more sympathetic and appealing young woman, along with a more modern voice. There have been two novellas, A Pretty Little Plot and The Stolen Star. Now the first full novel, A Daughter’s Doubt, is out.
Do you have an ideal reader in mind when you write? If so, please describe that reader.
I write in three genres, so I imagine different readers for each. For the Mary MacDougall stories, I visualize someone who enjoys a good mystery set at the turn of the last century, but doesn’t need the deep historical detail that a reader of straight historical fiction might. For my canine cozies, I see a reader who loves dogs and small towns and truly colorful characters.
Please describe your writing routine.
I have two desks and two computers. When I’m writing a first draft, I’ll be at my standing desk several hours a day, cranking out at least 1,000 words per day. When I’m outlining a book or doing revisions or working on promotion and social media, I’m at my sitting desk. I don’t work eight hours a day; my brain works better if I have time to look out the window or take a walk.
What advice do you give new writers just starting out?
If you’re interested in writing genre fiction (mystery, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, suspense, etc.) and your goal is to eventually make a living at it, the current wisdom that I’ve gleaned is this: Pick your genre very carefully. It should be a genre that produces lots of big sellers on Amazon and other sites. Then buckle down and knock out at least five or six books of good quality in the same series as quickly as you can. Readers like to know there are more than one or two books in a series to read before they’ll buy that first book. Unfortunately, I didn’t know all this four years ago. If your goal is simply to write the stories you have inside you and have some fun along the way — rather than make money — just ignore the preceding advice and go for it.
More about A Daughter’s Doubt:
Mary MacDougall’s first case of 1902 seems simple enough.
Just before the 19-year-old heiress leaves for a summer holiday on Mackinac Island with her Aunt Christena, she’s hired to stop in a little town along the way and make inquiries. Did Agnes Olcott really die there of cholera? Or were there darker doings in Dillmont?
Mary’s mentor, Detective Sauer, thinks it’s merely a case of bad luck for the dead woman. But Mrs. Olcott’s daughter suspects her detested stepfather played a hand in her mother’s untimely death.
With the reluctant help of her aunt and her dear friend Edmond Roy, the young detective struggles to reveal the true fate of Agnes Olcott. As she digs ever deeper, the enemy Mary provokes could spell disaster for herself and the people she loves. But in the end, it’s the only way to banish a daughter’s doubt.
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How to connect with Richard:
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prefer a paperback copy? http://www.amazon.com/Daughters-Doubt-Mary-MacDougall-Mysteries/dp/0985019662/