Marja McGraw, Mystery Writer
Good morning, everyone! It’s the second week in our exciting Mystery We Write Blog Tour! Today’s guest is mystery writer Marja McGraw, who has worked in both civil and criminal law enforcement, so she knows her stuff. In our interview, I’m going to grill her like a cheese burger to learn the facts about her life and work. (smile)
Jackie: Would you tell us a little about your latest mystery and how it came about?
Marja: Bogey Nights – A Bogey Man Mystery, is the story of Chris Cross (the Bogey Man) and his wife, Pamela. After their forties-themed restaurant burns down, they convert an old brick home into the new restaurant, and find a dead body buried in the basement in the process.
Jackie: Cool! Sounds like a fun setup, sort of like the Mr. and Mrs. North series from the forties.
Question: Do you have any WIP? If so, anything you can tell us about?
Marja: I’m just putting the finishing touches on Old Murders Never Die, which is a Sandi Webster mystery. It has to do with being stranded in an old ghost town and finding all the makings needed to solve a series of crimes that happened over a hundred years ago. Oh, and there’s a cowboy who seems to be in the thick of things in current time.
Jackie: Another winner in the works, me thinks. I’ll be sure and check it out in July when it’s available.
Question: Who designed your book cover? Did you have any say in the final result?
Marja: Andy Kohut and his wife, Patti, are friends who live near us. Andy was an artist before he retired, and he agreed to create the book cover for Bogey Nights. He’s done a wonderful job, and I believe he’ll create the covers for future books, too. He’s a very talented man.
Jackie: You’re lucky to have input, most writers don’t and have to accept whatever their publisher decides on.
Question: Do you have a personal quirk that you have given to one of your characters?
Marja: Actually, I have a few. In the Sandi Webster stories, she brings sighing to a new level. In the Bogey Man stories, Pamela is constantly rolling her eyes and vaguely remembers her mother telling her, as a little girl, not to do that because they might get stuck that way. And both women have an affinity for chocolate, just like me.
Jackie: I like both characters already! Can’t stand a protagonist who is too perfect. Not my cup of tea.
Question: Ever find yourself zoning into the world you have created when you’re supposed to be listening to something else such as church services, friends talking, or during a class of some sort?
Marja: Absolutely. When I least expect it, and when I should be thinking about other things, I’ll suddenly think of a plot line, a scene, or even one line of dialogue that I don’t want to forget. My husband says that if he could read my mind, he’d see, “Book, book, book, book, book.” He’s right.
Jackie: He sounds like a guy with a sense of humor, you lucky girl. And I suspect he’s pretty good at reading your mind. Hmmm?
Question: Do you have a pet? If so, tell us about this special relationship.
Marja: We have two yellow Labrador retrievers, Sugar and Murphy. I’ve added two yellow Labs (Sherlock and Watson) to the Bogey Man mysteries because they’re so much fun, so loyal, so unexpectedly intelligent, and they’re full of surprises.
Jackie: Animals add lot to a story, I think. Makes me like the hero/heroine even more.
Question: If you could choose another time in history to live, when would that be?
Marja: Definitely the 1940s. There’s something about the music, the styles, and the lifestyles that had an air of romance about it. And even considering World War II, there was still a kind of innocence about the era.
Jackie: I was a child (very young, of course J) in the forties, and it was an exciting time to live. I fell in love with every serviceman I saw. I only hated that I was too young to go out jitterbugging.
Question: Suppose you could invite any three people, living or dead, to lunch; who would you pick and why?
Marja: Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) because I have questions about her book.
Katharine Hepburn because I admire her so much, and enjoyed her movies.
My grandfather, Joseph, because he knew how to enjoy life to the fullest.
Jackie: Excellent choices! Wish I could have met your grandfather.
Question: How do you celebrate special times: finishing a novel, signing a book contract, or solving a tough plotting problem?
Marja: I have two friends, also authors, and we have a special email that we send each other. It says, “EEEEKKKKK!!!!!” That says it all. After that, my husband and I go out to dinner and I start breathing again.
Spoken like a true writer!
Thanks Marja, for this peek into your life. We have a lot in common, and I’ll bet other readers feel the same. Your love of chocolate and pets, to start with.
Readers, here are a few places where you can out more about Marja and her mysteries.
Blog site: http://blog.marjamcgraw.com/
If you have any questions for Marja or remarks about her answers, I know she’d love to hear from you and so would I.