Saturday, April 14, 2007

Interview with Rhys Bowen
one of three exciting mystery authors you can meet on April 20

Please tell us how you started writing, who influenced you?
I've been writing all my life. My first influence must have been my great aunt Sarah who told me wonderful stories, all from her head. Once I was in school I read everything I could get my hands on, but particularly mysteries and fantasy. I loved the Lord of the Rings.

You’ve written books for children, teens and adults any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
My advice is two fold--first if you want to write, read. Know what is out there in your field. Know what the competition is writing. And second, if you want to write, write. Don't talk about doing it one day. Writing is like any other discipline, you get better the more you practice. And don't write anything because you think it might be popular or make you a million dollars. It won't, and it won't be good unless your heart is in it.

Evan Evans is such a lovely character, how did he come about?
It was the place that drew me to it first. I knew and loved that area as a child. It was so beautiful and there were such quirkly characters that it was an obvious setting for a mystery series. After I had decided that, Evan Evans walked in, fully formed so to speak. I never had to create him. He said, Hello, here I am. Want to come down to the Red Dragon pub for a pint?

Evan and Llanfair have changed over time in the series. Did you want to go outside the traditional cozy?
I never thought I was writing the cozy in the first place but all the reviews called me a cozy writer. I just thought of myself as writing the traditional mystery. And the stories have become naturally darker as I got to know my characters better and could make the stories meatier. Some of the last books have been quite dark, but I still get called Cozy (although Evan's Gate surprised everyone by getting an Edgar nomination!)

What is next for Evan? I see on your website that the series is on hiatus.
I've put the series on hold because the publisher has started to take the backlist out of print. It makes no sense to me to write new books in the series if the whole series isn't available. Maybe I'll return to Llanfair some day, but in the meantime I have an exciting new project starting this year.

The Molly Murphy series is the first that I read by you and I loved Molly. She is a woman of her time but someone whom contemporary women can identify with.
I started writing Molly for two reasons: I wanted to write a strong, first person female and I wanted to set a book on Ellis Island. That was Murphy's Law, first in the series and it won several awards. I feel that I know Molly very well and I feel that she is typical for a lot of women of her time: society expects them to conform, to be dainty little creatures who faint and obey men, but their brains and their hearts tell them to strike out and make their own mark in the world, even though they couldn't vote. Don't forget that Vassar, Smith etc were turning out graduates who travelled across Europe and did all sorts of daring things. Molly has some great role models.

Is it challenging to write from a male point of view versus a female point of view?
I have to say that Molly's voice comes more easily to me than Evans, although I feel that I know him well now. I always have to watch that I don't internalize too much when I'm writing the Evan books. Men don't toss things around in their heads as much as women. They are more creatures of action. But my husband reads the manuscripts and always vets places where I make Evan too sensitive (although I tell my husband that Evan is a sensitive guy, unlike him!)

How has the writing field evolved with the invention of the internet?
Strangely enough, it hasn't made as much of an impression as I thought it would. I had expected e-books to have taken over by now and they haven't. Likewise, research through websites is useful but is spotty and not always accurate, resulting in trips to the local library, historical society etc.
But it is great to find odd images, letters and get the feel of a time and place. And from the writer's point of view, I get emails from fans every day, which are much easier to answer than in the days of pen and paper.

You are starting a new series this summer. Can you tell us about it?
I certainly can: It's about the royal family in the 1930s, it's fun and spicy and I want all my readers to laugh and have a good time reading it. The first book is called Her Royal Spyness and features a minor royal called Lady Georgiana who finds a body in her bathtub.
It's been touted as Bridget Jones meets Maisie Dobbs with a touch of royal flair!

thanks so much for answering my questions. I'm looking forward to seeing you on April 20.

A Night of Mystery--Maidu Library 7 - 9 pm 774-5900 if you have questions.

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