1. What drew you to the subject of (A Rose Before Dying)?
Several things drew me to write the book. I love the old Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt mysteries and wanted to evoke that same feeling of a mystery and romance. While I was mulling over ideas, I expanded my garden with Old Garden Roses. I grew fascinated with the history of roses and the difficulties experts have identifying the various hybrids (how many medium pink roses are there? Lots.) So I thought, what would happen if a murderer sent roses to an inquiry agent as a warning, seeking to taunt the agent about his inability to identify the murderer or save the victim? If the agent could figure out the name of the rose, he might have a chance at stopping the killer, but roses have a variety of names so how would he know which one was correct?
I did a lot of research for the book and enjoyed it immensely.
2. Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it?
Yes. I got terribly frustrated many times because I knew what I wanted to find, but had trouble locating it. The Internet has helped a lot, but some of my earlier books were written before there was so much available. It was very difficult to find out details about law enforcement in the 19th century, particularly because our local library is very tiny and it would takes weeks to get a book transferred to it.
Now, though, there is so much online that it has become a lot easier. My biggest challenge is the find the time to actually read the material available, understand it, and then make sure my books are as accurate as I can make them.
3. What was the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?
“The Red Shoe.” It was a mystery (I love mysteries) but it was really, really terrible. Talk about a sagging middle! I remember when I was writing it that I kept wondering what I should do in the middle, and it shows. That’s when I learned about plotting and developing a story.
That book will never, ever see the light of day, but it was a terrific learning experience. In fact, it was such a great learning experience that I wrote four more just like it before I wrote the one that ultimately sold (Smuggled Rose).
4. What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know pre-published that you wish you knew?
This is going to sound silly, but the long years of effort to improve my writing and get published pretty well shredded and then destroyed what remained of my self-confidence. In some ways, it’s not quite so brutal, now, but it’s still a hostile work environment in the sense that getting the help you need from editors and beta readers means dealing with a lot of criticism. It can be heartbreaking. Unfortunately, it’s the harshest criticism that is often the most helpful and that is what makes it so difficult.
These days, I just try to keep my ego out of the mix and look on negative comments as identification of potential improvements that I can make. Emphasis on “can make.” Because one of the hardest things is that feeling that you don’t know if you’re good enough to correct the problem. You just can’t let yourself think like way, although it can be difficult when you get entire swaths of negative comments from critique partners, etc.
Frankly, the best advice is: Stiff upper lip and keep on moving forward.
5. How many rejections have you received?
Hundreds. And I never got those “nice rejections” that authors talk about. I got those form rejections on half-sheets of paper, all addressed to: Dear Author. I felt really sorry for “Author”. Whoever she is.
6. What’s your favorite quote?
“Rules? There ain’t no rules around here, we’re trying to accomplish something!” by Thomas Edison. I think rules often stand in the way. Oh, I’m not saying that you don’t have to understand the rules, I’m saying that if you understand the rules and then break them for a specific reason, well… I’m good with that.
7. What authors do you admire?
Hundreds, but the list includes: Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart, Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, H.H. Munro, and P.G. Wodehouse.
8. What place that you haven’t visited would you like to go?
My dream trip would be to go to Antarctica to see the wildlife. My husband and I are both bird watchers (birders) and I’ve always wanted to see the penguins as well as the other wildlife in that region. I’m one of those odd people who prefer cold to heat, so it sounds like the perfect vacation to me. The Galapagos are another place I’d like to visit, for similar reasons.
9. What would you like to learn to do that you haven’t?
My husband and I often talk about taking university classes when we retire, with the first one being marine biology. There is so much to learn about this planet and its inhabitants that I’d need four or five lifetimes to do, see, and learn everything I’m interested in. My curiosity is far-ranging and includes: archeology, ornithology, botany, history, medicine, forensics, and a lot of other topics. Each one would take a full lifetime of devotion to even learn a fraction of it. Right now, I work with computers and even though I’ve been in the field for over 30 years, I still feel like there’s more to learn than I will ever have time to handle. I’m fascinated by gadgets, too, and wish I could get to more conferences. There’s just so much out there!
10. What was the hardest scene to write?
The hardest scenes for me to write are always those with conflicts, particularly emotional, but even physical fights are difficult. I want everyone to be happy. I can’t stand fights either in real life or in fiction, so they are incredibly difficult to write. Unfortunately, if there’s no conflict in a book, there’s no story.
Amy Corwin is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America and recently joined Mystery Writers of America. She has been writing for the last ten years and writes Regencies, Regency mysteries, and contemporary mysteries. To be truthful, most of her books include a bit of murder and mayhem since she discovered that killing off at least one character is a highly effective way to make the remaining ones toe the plot line.
Join her and discover that every good mystery has a touch of romance.
Only Sir Edward had the motive and the opportunity.
Charles Vance, the Earl of Castlemoor, is convinced his uncle, Sir Edward, is innocent and agrees to work with the renowned head of the Second Sons Inquiry Agency to flush out the murderer. But the investigation soon reveals more reasons why Sir Edward may be responsible and even the inquiry agent warns Charles not to let family loyalty stand in the way of the truth. Unfortunately, his actions put friends and family alike at risk, and he has no choice but to pursue the investigation, regardless of the costs.
Here is the link to the Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00557U2QU/