by Jeff Reynolds
My victim ... er, interviewee this month is a familiar name to this blog. I have the honor of interviewing my fellow contributor Debbie Malone. The latest installment of her Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mysteries is hot off the presses, and we're giving away a copy -- see rules below.
Jeff Reynolds: Welcome to Sleuths and Suspects, Debbie. As if you need a welcome. Could you tell us about how you came to faith in Christ, and how that tied in with your writing journey?
Debbie Malone: Thank you for having me as a guest Jeff. I love your interviewing style. Now on to the question. I actually grew up in the church. My parents made sure we were there every time the doors were open so this gave me a good grounding. I have a little story about writing Christian fiction. I had always wanted to write it, but didn’t even know it existed until I came upon a Margaret Daley book. When I read it I knew that was what I was looking for. I’d already completed my first manuscript so I rewrote it as Christian fiction. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers and now I have three published books.
JR: I'm in complete suspense in how you'd answer this question: Would you be interested in telling us about the mystery series you've written and especially the newest installment?
DM: Does a duck like june bugs? Trixie Montgomery is the main character and her sidekick and best friend is Dee Dee Lamont. Trixie is a writer for a magazine and is sent on assignments to different towns. It seems everywhere they go a dead body turns up and Trixie and Dee Dee must find the person who committed the dastardly deed. Trixie’s eccentric great-aunt, Nana, joins in on the fun. With Nana around there’s never a dull moment. For instance she gets a tattoo in Terror on Tybee Island.
Terror on Tybee Island takes place on the beautiful Tybee Island off of Savannah. Trixie, Dee Dee, Nana and Trixie’s mother Betty Jo go for a relaxing vacation on the island. Betty Jo’s friend puts them up in her bed and breakfast. It turns out to be anything but relaxing when Trixie finds a body in the sand behind the house. Betty Jo’s friend, Laura, is accused of the murder. So of course Trixie and Dee Dee must come to the rescue when Betty Jo begs them to help Laura. They run into quite a few suspects as they attend a taping of Paula Deen’s cooking, a trip to the Mercer-Williams house, and a pirate festival.
During the festival Nana is kidnapped and you’ll have to read the book to see if Trixie and Dee Dee arrive in time to save her.
JR: You've always been a mystery lover. If you could have lunch with three fictional detectives (at the same time), who would you select and why?
DM: Oh, I love this question. Of course, the first one would be Jessica Fletcher. Hummm, I need to think a moment. Matlock is a lawyer, but he solves crimes so I think I’d like to meet him. Okay I’ve got the third one, well actually there are two of them, but I’d like to meet the guys from Psych. I guess this shows I like to watch TV mysteries.
JR: Writing is the fun and easy part of writing. Finding a publisher and marketing: Not as much, are they? How have you handled these challenges? Any tips? Any mistakes to avoid?
DM: Marketing is essential to have a successful book. You have to learn to put yourself out there and that’s hard for most people. Some of the places I’ve gone to are books clubs, libraries, writer’s groups, spoken at writer’s conferences, etc. The thing with marketing is you have to find a balance, because you’ve got to save time to write. A great book on marketing is Stress Free Marketing by Renea Winchester. It’s simple to read and chock full of good advice.
JR: Besides your fiction series, you've written and photographed for the historical magazine "Georgia Backroads." If someone asked you to pick one of your articles from this magazine to read, which would you select? Also, do your articles come out of your research for your novels? Or does your research for your articles give you ideas for your novel?
DM: Another great question Jeff. I guess my favorite article was “Chasing the General” and was my very first article to be published. The General was a train the Yankees came down and stoleright under our noses. But we did get it back and most of the villains were hung. Not that I’m happy they were hung.
My research from my articles over the years has been a tremendous help with my novels in giving me ideals and also history to include in my novels.
JR: You're a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Georgia Writer's Association. What are the strengths of these groups, and how have each contributed to your writing?
DM: I can’t say enough about ACFW. I stumbled upon it and I’m so glad I did. I don’t believe I’d be published today if it weren't for the support I got from fellow members. This is an on-line group and they give courses, have a critique group and have loops where you can ask any question about writing. I’ve met so many wonderful Christian writers. I could go on and on - but I won’t. :)
GWA has a lot going on too. They have a class every month on some form of writing. They also have a great conference every year called “Red Clay.” The only downfall to GWA is that you have to travel to the classes and I have to drive about an hour to get to them. But I’ve found them to be very informative.
JR: You mentioned in one of your previous interviews that you returned to college in your '40's and graduated at the age of 45. When you returned, was it to the same major? What was it like, and were there any lessons from that which applied to your writing?
DM: Well, I earned a degree in Human Services which is a mix of psychology and sociology. It was very different returning as an adult. I think I appreciated the opportunity to learn much more than as a young adult. I took a creative writing course and that sparked a flame in me to write. I’d always wanted to, but never took the time to sit down and do it. So I’m thankful that my writing came from that class I took.
JR: Thank you for your time. Before I let you go, where can we find you online (besides here, of course)? And could you give us a little description of each site?
DM: Thank you for having me as a guest Jeff it’s been fun talking with you.
You can find me at www.cozymysterymagazine.blogspot.com This is where several of us cozy writer’s get together and take turns posting on the blog every day. There are a variety of topics.
Also, www.deborahsbutterflyjorney.blogspot.com This is my personal blog where I post interviews, giveaways and articles about writing.
My website is www.deborah-malone.com
Last, but not least I’m on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com
Jeff Reynolds to the reader: Time for the giveaway of Terror On Tybee Island. Three steps to win the book:
- Leave a Comment
- Leave your e-mail (too many forget this step).
- I'll ask you a variation of a question I asked Debbie. If you had a choice of fictitious detectives to sit down and have a meal with (more than one would make the discussion more interesting, but one is fine), who would you select?