I recently had an opportunity to catch up with a familiar face on this blog, Author MaryAnn Kempher! MaryAnn is extremely busy but was kind enough to take a few moments to answer some questions for us. Welcome Back MaryAnn!
I understand you’ve got a new book out…Play Dead: A Detective Jack Harney Murder Mystery (Under the Moonlight, Book Four) tell us a bit about it.
Jack Harney is a former police detective turned Private Detective. Jack was introduced in my first book, Mocha, Moonlight, and Murder, but became the main character in my second book—Forever Doomed—a murder mystery set aboard a cruise ship where two people have been murdered. In my third book, Sweet Mystery, he and an old Army buddy open up their own agency in Reno NV and investigate the murder of Jack’s ex-girlfriend. In Play Dead, business is slow and money is tight. Jack reluctantly agrees to find the missing dog of a very wealthy woman—and to investigate, unofficially, the murder of an elderly man, whose body was found at a local park and who also was friends with the elderly man who lives above the detective agency. Nene and Gaga Albright, two sisters who first appeared in book two, Forever Doomed, are back to provide comic relief. This book is another murder mystery and like the others, has an ending you won’t see coming.
Every great writer has critics. What has been the toughest criticism you’ve received about your writing? What was the best compliment? What did you learn from each?
I always feel a bit stabbed in the heart when they call my writing boring. Thankfully, that is rare. The best compliment I can ever get is when they say they did not see the ending coming and that they were totally taken by surprise. Also, one reader compared me to Agatha Christie. Now, that’s not me, I didn’t say this—she did—and I’ll take that compliment and relish it forever. I greatly admire Agatha Christie.
Which character do you most enjoy writing about?
I’m happiest when I’m writing from Jack’s perspective. When I’m writing the mystery, the twists and turns, that is a lot of fun for me. On the other hand, Nene and Gaga Albright are funny ladies, and fun to write too.
Your characters are very well developed; where do you start when creating your characters? Are they based on people you know or even yourself?
Thank you. I appreciate that compliment. Nene and Gaga Albright are loosely based on my mother and aunt; my mother’s nickname was Nene and my aunt’s nickname was Gaga—pronounced Guga. My personality comes through most in the character of Katherine. She’s the “star” of my first book, Mocha, Moonlight, and Murder. The characters of Jack and Curt are my idea of perfect men; handsome, strong, sexy, flirtatious—but always gentlemen, never vulgar.
What if you were to meet Jack and Curt in the “real world”, what would they think? Would they be friends with you, their creator or fear you (insert evil laugh)?
Let’s assume that they don’t know I’m their creator. Curt would be reserved, but courteous. Jack would flirt and charm me. I’d giggle, blush, and then we’d make mad passionate love. I don’t look at Jack as one of my children, trust me. 😉 He’s way too hot for that.
When writing a story, do you stop to consider how readers will react to certain plot twists and changes to characters?
Yes. Twice, a main character has died in my books—but the reader never knew—because I reconsidered and that character got to live.
You have a military background, how do you feel that lends to your writing and/or writing process?
I’d like to think that my background has made me very detail oriented. This is a good thing when writing mystery; sometimes it’s the little things that turn out to be the most important.
As far as your process, now that you have four books under your belt what changes (if any) have you made to the way you work? Any advice you could offer other writers just starting out?
I’m more organized and have more self-discipline. Some writers are called Plotters, they create a very detailed outline—they plot the book—from start to finish and all that’s left to do is actually write it. Other writers are called, Pantsers. They just sit down at the computer start writing. I am a little of both. I have a hard time writing a detailed outline. When I write, things just come to me. On the other hand, I brainstorm a lot before I start, and take a lot notes once I have started. It’s also important to set a daily word count goal. If you’re just starting, start low. For instance, say to yourself—today I’ll write 500 words. Gradually increase that number. I have a friend who can write 10,000 words a day. I’m lucky if I can do that in five days. The important thing to remember is that it takes dedication, determination, and self-discipline. It’s up to you to get it done, the book won’t write itself.
Are there any authors you would recommend to fans of your books, possibly that you love yourself?
I’m a big fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels. I’ve read them all, twice.
Are you working on your next book?
Yes. I’ve started brainstorming book five, another Jack Harney/Curt Noble murder mystery.
Thank you Belinda!
Under the Moonlight series #4
Play dead. It might just save your life.
When Jack Harney and Curt Noble opened their detective agency, they expected to investigate the occasional cheating husband or minor theft. Instead, they’ve somehow found themselves, once again, investigating not one, but two grisly murders.
Nene and Gaga Albright; one sweet, one sour, both suspicious of the new tenants above. Strange things are happening in the apartment across the hall. Are the new tenants eccentric, or just plain crazy?
Can Jack and Curt find the killer before he kills again? Will Nene find out what’s going on behind door number two, or die trying?
Purchase Link: Link to Amazon Page
MaryAnn Kempher writes mystery novels with a dash of humor.
She is the author of three other books in the Under the Moonlight series: Mocha, Moonlight, and Murder; a romantic mystery set in Reno NV. Forever Doomed, a mystery set aboard a cruise ship, and Sweet Mystery—another “I did not see that ending coming.” mystery. All three will make you giggle, and keep you guessing until the very end.
Her influences include Janet Evanovich and Agatha Christie.
If you’d like to connect with MaryAnn Kempher, that will be easy: