[from author's own website]
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: This is a series, right? Which book should I start with?
Good question. Most people like to start with the first book, which would be ORANGE AS MARMALADE. That book is a light, simple introduction to the townspeople and the town of Martinsville. The stripe at the top of each book gives the color of the next book in the series.
ORANGE was my first novel, however, and if I had to write it over again, I'd do things differently. First of all, I wouldn't start with that long section in italics. Instead, I would intersperse Marmalade's comments with those of her human, Biscuit McKee.
So, I'd suggest starting with YELLOW AS LEGAL PADS. That will give you the flavor of Martinsville and the characters, and will introduce you to the more complex style of writing that has evolved as I've found my "true voice" as a writer. Go back and read ORANGE for the fun of it, then on to GREEN AS A GARDEN HOSE and BLUE AS BLUE JEANS.
Another good way to start reading my books is to read my latest book, INDIGO AS AN IRIS, but be forewarned that over the course of the series, the characters change, learn, shift, and maybe even die.
Q: How did you get started writing?
One day I attended a meeting of the Georgia Writers Association. The main speaker was Harriette Austin, who has taught creative writing for years at the University of Georgia in Athens. Her lists of former students sound like a who’s-who of American authors. She asked if anyone wanted to write a mystery, but had always gotten bogged down in trying to outline it first. I raised my hand, of course. "Just start writing," she said. "If your characters begin to surprise you, you’ll know you have a live one." She also said, "For a murder mystery, you really should have a body somewhere within the first five pages."
So, I went home and wrote the first couple of pages of Orange as Marmalade. And I put the body in the first sentence, so I wouldn’t forget about it.
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
Getting the idea is the simplest part. I have notebooks full of ideas. The trick is to pick one and make it come alive.
Q: How long did it take to write Orange as Marmalade?
Nine months from start to publication, just like birthing a baby, but each of the others has taken me longer-at least a year per book.
Q: How did you end up with so many cats?
The first one must have put up a sign that said, "Sucker lives here." What was I supposed to say —- "Go bleed in someone else’s garage?"
I belong to a book discussion club. We’ve chosen Yellow as Legal Pads as one of our selections. Would you be willing to come to a meeting so we can meet-the-author?
First - thank you for picking Yellow. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it. And yes, I’d be delighted to be your guest author. Of course, it would depend on time, place, and so on. Please email me specifics. If I’m available on that date, I’ll let you know. If you live too far for me to travel, we an arrange a telephone meeting. Just have a speaker phone set-up, and I'll be there in good voice.
Q: Are your characters real? Are YOU the real Biscuit McKee?
Yes and no. No and yes. Writers write from their own experiences - or from what they can imagine. I tend to collect body parts — Hmmm, let me see, I could use that person’s ear shape for Sadie and I could use the way that man pinches his mouth for Barry (in Yellow as Legal Pads) and I could use this woman’s slouch for so-and-so . . .
I also collect stories — the story of Biscuit’s grandmother dragging her to the funeral home when she was ten was a direct memory from my childhood, except that it was my mother who dragged me there; my dad’s death will come up in a future book. I change around the details, but one who’s been there might be able to see the source of my inspiration.
In an early chapter of INDIGO AS AN IRIS, I show the death of Sadie's h
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