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10 February 2012

Welcome special guest: author Amy Corwin ( #FF @amycorwin @GoddessFish )

Today we have author Amy Corwin visiting. She is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America and recently joined Mystery Writers of America. She has been writing for the last ten years. She writes romance, historical and cozy mysteries. To be truthful, most of her books include a bit of murder and mayhem since she discovered that killing off at least one character is a highly effective way to make the remaining ones toe the plot line.
   Amy’s books include the three Regency romantic mysteries, I BID ONE AMERICAN, THE BRICKLAYER’S HELPER, and THE NECKLACE; Regency mysteries, THE VITAL PRINCIPLE, and A ROSE BEFORE DYING; and her first cozy mystery, WHACKED!, will come in in 2012 from Five Star.
   Join her and discover that every good romance has a touch of mystery.

So, Amy, what inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer as far back as I can remember. In fact, in first grade we were given an assignment to create our own book, complete with cloth-covered cardboard covers and pages sewn to the spine. I wrote about the adventures of a germ traveling through a little girl’s stomach, thereby showing what would be two lifelong loves: biology and writing.
   So I’m not sure what genetic kink I inherited that made me want to write, but it’s definitely there.
   I played around with writing during school, but when I realized how difficult it would be to earn a living as a writer, I got a job in the computer industry. One day while on a business trip, I was sitting in my motel room and thought: this is it. If I’m ever going to write, I need to do it.
   So I did.

When did you attempt your first story? What length was it? What's become of it?
Well, I have many “first stories.” There’s that one about the germ… I wrote a terrible fantasy in college and actually subbed it to several agents (who thankfully rejected it). After I graduated, I wrote a romance that I subbed to Silhouette. They actually liked my writing, even though they rejected that story, and asked me to work on something else.
   Having no sense whatsoever, I did not do as Silhouette asked. In fact, I didn’t try another manuscript for about ten years until I was sitting in that motel room…
   That manuscript was awful, unfortunately. And so were the two that followed. But along the way, I found several critique groups and was finally able to write something that two agents fought over. That manuscript became I Bid One American, a Regency romantic mystery.
   The other manuscripts have long since been deleted and/or burned.

How many stories did you complete before you sold your first?
I’m not sure how far back to go with this. :)
   If I count everything, it was probably four or five. That includes the terrible fantasy I wrote in college, because I actually did submit it to agents.

What genre(s) do you write in? What drew you to write in it/them? What’s your favorite genre of all to write in?
I write Regencies, Regency mysteries, contemporary mysteries, and paranormal romance. My favorite genre is mystery, whether it is historical or contemporary.
   Each of the genres I write in was inspired both by my love of mysteries and various writers like Georgette Heyer, Barbara Michaels, Sue Grafton, P.G. Wodehouse, and Jonathan Gash.

What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?
The best is: just write. If you want to be a writer, then you need to write and that’s really all there is to it.
   I’ve received so much bad advice that it’s hard to pick just a few items. Most bad advice consisted of silly strictures or rules that are simply untrue or ridiculous. Like the brilliant statement that “every sentence containing the word ‘was’ is passive and must be eradicated.” Not only does it show a complete lack of comprehension about what is or is not passive, but it shows a mindless inability to evaluate when you might, really, want to use passive voice. Sorry. That’s a pet peeve of mine. But it’s just one piece of terrible advice I’ve received over the years.

How do you celebrate/deal with acceptance/rejection letters?
This sounds terrible, but I neither celebrate acceptances nor weep over rejections. When I get a rejection, I check my list to see where to submit the manuscript next and I go over it again to see if there’s something that can be improved. Then I punch holes in the rejection and put it into my 3” binder. There are a lot of letters in there.
   If I get an acceptance, I start the work of figuring out what this publisher wants, needs, desires, and demands so I (hopefully) don’t make any egregious errors in dealing with them.
   Sigh. Maybe I’ just a little too business-oriented. :)

In regard to the book you’re promoting, which actor and actress do you envision playing the roles of your hero and heroine? If there’s a villain or other characters who are pertinent to the story, who would play those parts?
Wow. That’s tough because I don’t envision any actor or actress portraying any of my characters. I always have very specific images for my characters and they don’t look like anyone I’ve run into. In fact, I toyed with the idea of getting one of those police ID kits to help me build pictures of my characters (but it was too expensive).
   If someone held a gun to my head (and I didn’t take it away from them, first, because I mean…really. Really? You want to go there?) I might select someone like Sam Elliot for Knighton Gaunt in The Vital Principle if he could do a British/English accent. (You see the problem?) He’d also need to be a little taller and darker. But he sort of has the right attitude. Tom Selleck is too handsome. Selleck could play Nathaniel Archer, though, in I Bid One American, but only if he can do a British accent. Orlando Bloom is a possibility, too, for Nathaniel. It’s hard to come up with British actors who are tall, dark-haired, and dark-eyed, who would fit. (Most are short with really bad teeth-sorry.)
  However, there’s one big exception. Oriana Archer looks like Gene Tierney, except a little plumper. And English. That’s the problem with doing Regencies set in England, you sort of need British actors and actresses. :)
   A younger Clint Eastwood could have done the hero, John, in Vampire Protector.

*** Now for some fun info… ***
What’s your favorite color?

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Vanilla (I’m boring) but it has to be homemade.

Are you a cat, dog or both kind of person?
Both, although more dog than cat. But both, really. We have two dogs and two cats, right now.

Would you/have you own(ed) a snake or some other exotic pet?
No. Definitely not.

Which do you prefer: rain or sun & warm weather or cold weather?
Rain. And cold. In fact, if it’s rainy and cold I love it.

Are you a morning person or night owl?
Morning when I can get my fanny out of bed. :)

*** About Amy’s book… ***
The Vital Principle
An inquiry agent seeks to expose a spiritualist as a fraud only to uncover a murder.
   In 1815, inquiry agent, Knighton Gaunt, is asked by Lord Crowley to attend a séance with the express purpose of revealing the spiritualist as a fraud. When the séance ends abruptly, an unseen killer poisons Lord Crowley, leaving Gaunt to investigate not fraud, but murder.
  Suspicion turns first to the spiritualist, Miss Prudence Barnard. But as Gaunt digs deeper into the twisted history of the guests at Rosecrest, he discovers a series of deadly secrets. Long-time friends soon turn against one another as the tension mounts, and Gaunt is challenged to separate fact from fiction before another death at Rosecrest.
   The Vital Principle is the first mystery in the Second Sons Inquiry Agency series and features coolly intellectual Mr. Knighton Gaunt, the agency’s founder. This witty, historical whodunit in the tradition of Bruce Alexander’s Blind Justice will keep you guessing until the unexpected end.
   “Murder, mystery, and a dash of romance combined with witty dialogue and unforgettable characters make The Vital Principle a book that will definitely go on my keeper shelf!” —Lilly Gayle, author of Into the Darkness and Slightly Tarnished.

~ Excerpt ~
***In this scene, Pru Barnard is accused of murdering their host, Lord Crowley during the séance she conducted. Inquiry agent, Knighton Gaunt, is not so sure, however, that she’s the guilty party, but he does think she lied about being able to speak with the spirit world.***
   “So you lied—” Mr. Gaunt said.
   Pru interrupted, shaking her head. “No, I merely—”
   “It was not the truth!” His lips thinned and anger ignited a slow burning fire in his eyes. “Her husband did not speak through you. Admit it.”
   She tilted her head to one side, examining him. “Do you believe her husband did not love her?”
   “I have no idea. That’s not the point.”
   “Then you don’t know if it was the truth or not.” She offered, instinctively knowing the men would tear her apart like a pack of hungry dogs if she reacted emotionally. Her mind raced ahead, abnormally clear, encased in the fragile ice of logic that could shatter at any moment and leave her raging at their accusations. “And it eased the dowager’s mind. So I fail to see I did anything wrong.”
   Mr. Gaunt said, “You mislead—”
   “No. I told a desperately lonely woman what she needed to hear. That’s the sum of it. There are many truths. You have yours. I have mine.”
   “There is only one truth.”
   “Nonsense.” She folded her hands at her waist and turned partially away, unable to bear the intense scrutiny of his hard eyes. Her fingers felt stiff and icy with fear. “I refuse to discuss this any further. It’s futile. You’ll believe what you wish. If you chose not to trust me, then so be it. But regardless of what you think, I did not kill Lord Crowley.”

Buy The Vital Principle at Amazon

***Find Amy here***

Thank you for joining us here today, Amy! It was a pleasure getting to know you and your work.

Amy will be giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Visit Goddess Fish Promotions to see a list of her tour locations. The more places you visit and comment at, the more chances you have of winning.


marybelle said...

It would be very cool to see your book played out on a movie screen. A great interview.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Amy today.

MomJane said...

I love regency and yours, along with mystery, sounds especially good.

Karen H in NC said...

Last day of the tour...sad to see it end, it has been fun.

Well, you went through the gambit of actors but you didn't mention my favorite UK actor...Pierce Brosnan. He's English (sort of), tall, dark and very handsome with a touch of grey at the temples. He gets my vote for any character you can throw at him! LOL

But I can't let you go without a question: What characters are the hardest/easiest for you to write: The alpha hero, the alpha heroine, the villain (or villainess), the secondary male & female characters? What are the most fun to write?

Catherine Lee said...

Hi Amy! What makes a mystery a "cozy mystery"? Is that a sub-genre? I haven't heard of it before.

I much prefer cold, SUNNY days to cold, rainy days. However, cold, rainy days are the perfect setting for curling up with a good book (or two) and a cup of tea and reading away the day.

catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Renald said...

Thanks for a great tour. Deb P

Amy said...

What great comments and questions!
You're right, Pierce Brosnan is very good and would work for the "tall, dark and handsome" type. :) Good suggestion. Now if you could just get them interested in actually making a movie.... LOL

The hardest characters to write are the villians. Because you want them to be evil swines because it is difficult to think of a nice person doing such heinous things. It's what makes it so shocking when you find out that the nice, quiet man next door who has always been so nice to you and takes in your mail when you're gone, has twelve bodies buried in the basement.

Yep. It's hard to write a villian because you instinctively want to make him Snidley Whiplash and not Dudley Dooright with a strange, after-hours habit of strangling nuns in dark alleys.

The most fun to write are those characters who don't take themselves too seriously and have a sense of humor. I love them.

For cozy mystery - that's a good question. Mostly, they're mysteries like Agatha Christie's Miss Marple series. Typically, they are set in a quaint village, the murder takes place "off camera" so it's not all blood and gruesomeness, and there's no excessive violence, sex, gore, or swearing. Obviously, there is a lot of variation in the genre and it ranges from television's Monk and Psyche to Jessica Fletcher and Miss Marple.

My mysteries sort of stretch the genre because there are serious themes like the difficult position women historically occupied up until quite recently. For some reason, it intrigues me to portray a woman like Pru who is caught in a difficult position because of her sex--she has very few ways of supporting herself while maintaining social status. And it is interesting to me to contrast her predicament to Knighton's, since he made a deliberate decision to give up his social position to pursue a line of work that he finds personally rewarding. I've always been fascinated by the intricacies of Social acceptance: being part of the "in crowd" versus being on the outside, looking in. Social positions are never static, although some folks (Byron leaps to mind) seem to be able to remain in the "in crowd" despite what they do while others never seem to be able to break the barriers no matter how much they try or how deserving they are.

Sorry, I could babble on forever.

Thank you all for your comments and thoughts!
Enjoy the weekend!

Stuart Whitmore said...

I really enjoyed reading The Vital Principle. I was a little hesitant because I don't normally read mysteries (even though I generally enjoy it when I do). It really caught my interest and kept me reading, and I found myself thinking about it several days after I read it. It's interesting to learn more personal details about Amy; several times while reading this interview I thought that sounds just like me. :)

(Sorry if this is posted as a duplicate, Blogger is acting a bit strange...)

Amy said...

Thank you so much, Stuart! I'm always so pleased to find a kindred soul.

Happy Valentine's day to everyone!