Marni Graff writes two award-winning mystery series: The Nora Tierney English Mysteries and The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries. She teaches writing workshops and mentors the Writers Read program, and is Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press.
Graff also writes the crime review blog Auntie M Writes, www.auntiemwrites.com.
Connect with the Author here:
American writer Nora Tierney is house hunting in Oxford to solidify her little family that includes her almost-year old son, Sean, and her partner, Det. Insp. Declan Barnes. But why does she feel like she's being followed?
When tracking devices confirm Nora has a stalker, it sets off a chain of events that connect to Declan's murder investigation of a young Oxford art restorer, and will bring bioterrorism and a psychopath into their lives, while Sean's hangs in the balance. The fourth Nora Tierney English mystery is the most tension-filled yet, a meditation on what is family and home, combined with art theft and an international conspiracy.
Find the links to the entire series here:
Q&A With the Author:
1. When did you start writing, and was there a specific event or person who influenced you to become an author?
I've written since grade school, with two teachers in high school, Mrs. Smith and Mr. Royston, telling me I had a gift for writing and should pursue it. I would have loved to show them my books but they are both gone. Agatha Christie, PD James and Colin Dexter were big influences in terms of writing mysteries, and Daphne Du Maurier has always been a favorite for creating suspense.
2. Are you currently working on a project, and if so, can you tell us anything about it?
I'm currently writing the second Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery. Trudy is a nurse who works for a NY movie studio as a medical consultant. It's titled Death of an Heiress, which is the name of the TV movie she's sent to. Her role is as the on set nurse, but in reality she's been sent there by the producers to watch over the star of the movie, who is hiding a pregnancy after several miscarriages--and suddenly disappears and a cast member is murdered soon after. The movie is being shot at The Dakota, a famed NY building that houses stars and millionaires--it was home of John Lennon before he died. In reality, The Dakota will not allow filming of any kind to protect it's residents' privacy, but in Trudy's world they do!
3. What is your favorite writing snack?
I usually have a large jug of iced green tea on my desk, and I'll snack on bits of fruit and the occasional Dutch pretzel!
4. If you could have dinner with any of your characters, which ones would you choose? Why?
What food would you serve? Boy, that's a tough one! When I was writing THE GOLDEN HOUR, I had a great time creating and writing the villain, so I'd say Viktor Garanin. He's a wealthy Russian psychopath who has a devious plan to destroy the British, whom he hates beyond reasons. His mother was British, but his Russian father raised him to a certain ugly standard, while giving him polish, manners, and epicurean tastes. He wears bespoke suits and shoes and if you don’t see the dead light in his eyes, comes across at first as charming and attractive, a large man with huge tastes for food, wine, women and murder. I'd probably have to serve him chilled vodka, goulash, and blinis with caviar!
5. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I always learn something about human nature when I write, and then through my research, I learn things specific to that novel. For instance, I learned what's in bloom in Russian gardens in early fall, and found that information by calling my NC Botanical Gardens. The head botanist would have looked up the answer to my question but instead put me in touch with one of their volunteers, who had lived outside Moscow for years! These little tidbits keep the fictional aspects of the book balanced to me, rooted in reality as they are. If I'd made up what was in bloom then, that same person reading my book would immediately know I'd gotten it wrong. So to allow for the height of reality, it's important to me that the majority of the fictional things happen within the storyline, not the setting.
6. How do you relax, or what do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
It's so cliched to say I love reading, but I do! I read three books a week on average to keep up the reviews for my crime review blog, and it's always been my solace and greatest pleasure. Before Kindles, my luggage on vacations was half books! I still prefer to read a hard copy, but use the Kindle for trips and it's much easier. We also have a 10 mos old Australian Labradoodle names Seamus, and I enjoy playing outside with him. He loves to run after a flying Frisbee!
7. What is your largest unfulfilled dream, and what are you doing to reach it?
That's a tough one to answer. I've met and become friends with my writing hero, PD James, for 15 yrs before her death. I've studied at Oxford and attended St Hilda's Mystery and Crime Conference, and hope to return next summer for the third time. These were all things on my bucket list after "becoming a published author." It would be nice to have a wider presence in England where the series is set. There's a pivotal scene in THE GOLDEN HOUR where my gal Nora is doing a reading of her children's book at Bath bookshop, a real store I visited a few years ago and obtained permission from the owner to use in the book. He's selling THE GOLDEN HOUR right now, so one bookshop at time!
8. What do you fear most?
I lost a good friend from nursing school to drowning as she tried to save her son who was caught in a riptide. The boy survived but my friend didn't. I'm not a strong swimmer and do go into our river, which is very shallow, but deep water tends to panic me to this day, 40 years later . . .
9. What advice would you give someone who wants to write a book some day?
First, read. It's the way you will learn best what makes a good story and draws other readers in. You'll learn from good writing and poor, so read everything and constantly. Second, learn yourself and your writing style. You can study conventions of a certain genre, grammar, plotting, etc, but to pull it all together, you need to find yourself as a writer and your voice. Some people write better in the morning but others in the afternoons (me) or evenings. Find your own place for comfort and carve out your own routine. Let your voice flow. Third, become part of a writing community. Writing alone facing that sea of white pages is daunting and lonely. It's good to be a part of a writing group, whether in person in your area or online, that allows you to share pages, get good critical feedback, and commiserate!
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