Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Three Authors, Three Questions: November 2012

Today is the last episode of 3A3Q, so I’m very pleased to have two RMFW members as part of our lineup. Chiseled in Rock welcomes fantasy romance author Robin Owens and mystery authors Margaret Maron and Mike Befeler.

Welcome to Three Authors, Three Questions.


Mike Befeler writes the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series including Senior Moments are Murder, Retirement Homes are Murder and Living with Your Kids is Murder, which was nominated for the Lefty Award for best humorous mystery of 2009. The fourth book in his series, Cruising in Your Eighties is Murder, will be released in December, 2012.

To learn more about Mike and his geezer lit series, visit his website and blog.  He can also be found on Facebook.

1. Mike, how and where did you come up with the idea for your first novel?

Inspired by people I met when my mom and stepdad lived in a retirement home, I started writing a relationship story about three men and three women in a retirement community. At the same time I was writing a collection of short mystery stories that had either the victim or the perpetrator being an older person. The two ideas merged, and my first published novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder was born.

2. How creative are you in other areas of your life, especially your hobbies?

I never thought I was that creative, but in 2001 I started making plans to retire. I thought over things I had really enjoyed doing over my life, and they were all creative, such as painting and writing. At that time, I made a conscious decision that I wanted to retire into fiction writing, and in 2007 I published my first novel and retired into writing. I’ve learned that we’re all creative. We only need to give ourselves permission to let the creativity flow.

3. If you could return to the beginning of your writing career, and if you knew everything you’ve learned along the way, what would you do differently?

Since I didn’t start seriously writing until I was fifty-six, in looking back I would have started younger. On the other hand, there is something to be said for timing. When younger, my time was dedicated to raising a family and my career in the hi-tech world. As I approached retirement, I was able to spend the time once occupied with choir concerts, plays and soccer games by writing. I also feel that I needed to have the life experiences under my belt to give me the foundation for my writing.


Margaret Maron is the author of twenty-eight novels and two collections of short stories. Winner of several major American awards for mysteries (Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, Macavity), her works are on the reading lists of various courses in contemporary Southern literature and have been translated into some 20 languages. She has served as national president of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

A native Tar Heel, she still lives on her family’s century farm a few miles southeast of Raleigh, the setting for Bootlegger’s Daughter, which is numbered among the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century as selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. In 2008, she received the North Carolina Award for Literature, the state’s highest civilian honor; and in 2010, an honorary doctorate from UNCG. Her mystery novels feature District Court Judge Deborah Knott. The latest book in the series, The Buzzard Table, is scheduled for release November 20th.

You’ll find lots more information about Margaret and her novels at her website/blog.  She can also be found on Facebook.

1. Margaret, how and where did you come up with the idea for your first novel, One Coffee With?

I had worked for the Chair of the Brooklyn College Design Dept. and noticed that there seemed to be a lot of toxic chemicals (etching acids, photo developers, etc) floating around. Also that tenure was discussed more often than art. It wasn't a great leap from thinking, "If Professor X retired, Mr. B would be promoted to an associate professorship" to thinking "Who else would benefit if Professor X were murdered?"

2. How creative are you in other areas of your life, especially your hobbies?

Fairly creative in a commonsense, practical way. I don't really have any hobbies. I sew, I garden, I can build, I can repurpose cast-offs, I'm good with a paintbrush, but I don't consider any of these hobbies. They all have utilitarian ends.

3. If you could return to the beginning of your writing career, and if you knew everything you’ve learned along the way, what would you do differently?

I might pay more attention to the business side of writing, but as for the writing itself, I don't know that I'd do much differently.


Robin D. Owens has been writing longer than she cares to recall. Her fantasy/futuristic romances found a home at Berkley with the issuance of HeartMate in December 2001. She credits the telepathic cat with attitude in selling that book. Since then, Heart Thief was a launch book for Berkley Sensation in June 2003, Heart Duel was published in April 2004, and Heart Choice in July 2005. Her Luna Books series includes shape-shifting fairies and average American women summoned into another world to fight monstrous evil. The first, Guardian of Honor, came out in February 2005 and Sorceress of Faith in February 2006. Her latest, Enchanted Ever After, will be released December 18th.

Robin's best writing moment was winning the Romance Writers of America RITA award! Her worst writing moment is every time a rejection hits.

To learn more about Robin and her books, visit her website and her blog On Writing and Publishing.  Find her also on Twitter and Facebook.

1. Robin, how and where did you come up with the idea for your first novel?

First novel? I started my first long story when I was about ten. It was about two gorgeous girls (one with long blonde hair and one with long, dark, curly black hair) on a spaceship...many attempts later I finished a manuscript (because a friend reading it was going out of the country and wanted to read the ending). Um, that one, The Token, started with a dream sequence, and moved to a car-trip (short), then into an inheritance scene with far too many characters. I think I just sat down and began writing after Kay Bergstrom (teacher of the class on women in jeopardy -- romantic suspense), said "bring five pages to the next class." Of course I didn't know I was supposed to double space...

First published book? Now, that I can answer. My historical Regency romances were going nowhere, I decided to write just for myself, had a bloodstone pendulum and thought "what would happen if there's a place -- say a CELTIC Pagan planet colonized by Earth people -- where a tough guy would actually throw Divination Dice and BELIEVE THEM: 'Today You Will Meet Your HeartMate.'" And, of course, the tough guy had an equally tough telepathic cat who sauntered onto page 3 complaining that the chef had served him fish again...

2. How creative are you in other areas of your life, especially your hobbies?

Other creativity: I used to do crewel embroidery, but not design the pattern. I was very good at that. I can draw stick men! I can make a lopsided pot even my mother won't have in the house! I can make jewelry even my mother won't wear!

3. If you could return to the beginning of your writing career, and if you knew everything you’ve learned along the way, what would you do differently?

Beginning of my career....hmm. Submit more often so it didn't take so long to get published? Write more? Develop a tougher skin at the start? All those would have been worthwhile. But, like, mostly. SAVE, SAVE, SAVE MONEY!


Mini-interviews were conducted via e-mail and compiled by Pat Stoltey. Chiseled in Rock thanks Mike Befeler, Margaret Maron, and Robin Owens for graciously agreeing to participate in this last installment of the Three Authors, Three Questions series.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - I am sorry to see this feature go. I've learned a lot from the authors you've interviewed. Thanks for doing this. As for this round of TATQ, I really like your question about going back and doing things differently. Lots to learn there. Thanks to all of the authors.

Anonymous said...

I love reading the author profiles. It was encouraging to read that Mike didn't start writing until 56. I panic that 47 may have been too late. I too am sad to see this feature leave but hope this means you're making room for new and different opportunities.

E.J. Wesley said...

Loved Robin's tip: "Develop a tougher skin at the start." Very important to let go of some of those vulnerabilities, I think.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Margot, I'm kind of sorry to see it go too, but the most time consuming part was tracking down authors (especially those with upcoming book releases) who weren't facing deadlines or on book tours. I'm hoping some other enthusiastic blogger will pick up the idea and run with it.

Julie, my first mystery was published when I was 65 and the second when I was 67. It's never too late.

You are so right, E.J. It's hard to take critiquing at first, and even harder to face rejections. We must toughen up.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Stick men! Funny.
Think I might've started sooner, but then, this might've been the right time after all.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Alex -- I think if I'd started sooner I would have starved to death...I knew nothing.

Monti said...

Enjoyed reading the interviews, Patricia.

Mary Montague Sikes

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks, Monti.