Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An Interview with author Mary Logue

Mary Logue, an award-winning poet and crime fiction writer agreed recently to an interview. She is the author of the fine series starring Deputy Sheriff, Clair Watkins. The most recent book in that series is “Point No Point.” It was recently published in hardcover by Bleak House Press. Here are her responses to some of my impertinent questions.


When someone asks you what kind of book do you write? What’s your answer?
(The famous elevator speech)

I say I write mysteries and poetry and kid's books. If they push a little harder about the mystery, I might say I write a hybrid of a cozy and a hard-boiled set in a small town in Wisconsin, featuring a female deputy sheriff.

When did you know you were going to be a mystery writer?

Not until I was in my early thirties, but I wrote my first mystery in sixth grade.

Tell us a little bit about your family background.

Oldest of five children, mom was a social worker and dad worked for 3M. Lived in the country outside of St. Paul. Bucolic childhood.

What is your educational background?

French and English degree.

Talk a bit about your present family situation.

I'm shacked up with the wonderful Pete Hautman and we are raising two intense toy poodles.

What did you read as a child?

Anything I could get my hands on. Some faves: Wrinkle in Time, all of Dickens, of course Trixie Belden.

What’s your daily routine when you aren’t touring?

Try to write most days, no real routine. When I'm cranking hard on a book I aim to get 3 pages done.

How much touring do you do?

As little as possible. Actually I'm starting to enjoy it again. But I like to stay relatively close to home. Traveling in Wisconsin and Minnesota suits me fine.

What surprised you most about the writing community once you became a part of it?

I think I grew up with this writing community. I taught at the Loft when I was a pumpkin and it was just starting.

What’s the hardest thing about being an author?

Getting paid twice a year and not knowing in advance what you will get.

Lets talk about promotion and marketing.

Do you blog? How frequently? Is your blog a group or single effort?

I lean toward being a Luddite. I have little to do with blogging--either looking at others or contemplating my own.

How frequently do you organize or participate in book tours?

Only when I'm asked and paid.

What kind of events or signings do you do?

I love to go to local bookstores and to do bookclubs.

In a typical year, how many times did you appear for your book?

Between twenty and thirty?

How many fan conferences such as Bouchercon will you typically attend in a year?

Maybe one.

Do you have a web site and/ or other Internet places you routinely participate in, such as Good Books or FaceBook or Twitter?

I have a website.

Do you like to travel?

Sometimes. Not in winter.

What surprised you the most when you became a published author?

That I still had to keep working.

Do you think you’ll change direction or spread out a bit? Write a different kind of crime novel? If so, what kind.?

I don't see such definite divisions between what I write. I'm working on a more mainstream romance that has a strong suspense element.

Especially since 9/11, how do you respond to the accusation that you are trying to make money on a phenomenon in society we call murder? Or heinous crime?

I've never been accused of that. If I was, I might say so do cops.

If you could be anything else in the world, have any other career, what would it be?

I think, at this moment in my life, a textile artist.

What career would you least like to do, if writing was to become impossible?
Not sure.

Have you ever collaborated on a novel? Would you consider it?

Yup. Pete Hautman and I wrote three books together in the Bloodwater series. Might do it again.

Who are the authors who you feel have had the most influence on your writing career.

Early influences are definitely: Ross Thomas, Ross Macdonald, Raymond Chandler, Dorothy Sayers.

Tell us one or two authors or books you absolutely universally recommend.

Winnie the Pooh. “Leaving Cheyenne,” by Larry McMurtry. All of Rumi's poetry.

Who is your favorite mystery author?
I'm very fond of Frances Fyfield's mysteries.

Where do you want your career to go?

I like it the way it is working with a well-respected small press, having a modicum of say in what happens to my books, and enjoying my writing every day.

To what organizations related to your writing career do you belong?

MWA and the Loft.

Who is your publisher? What’s your current book?
Bleak House Books. They just published POINT NO POINT and have agreed to publish both the next Claire Watkins book, plus go back and reprint my first three titles in the series.

Are you agented?

Not currently, except for my children's books.

What’s your take on the rise of electronic publishing?

Not sure yet. I don't think anyone knows what's going to happen, even if they think they do.

What’s your favorite word?

It's a French word: semblable. I love the way it sounds. I'm also especially fond of made-up words.

What’s your least favorite word?

Can't think of one I don't like.

If you could change one thing about the world what would that be?

My mother always warned me not to want to change something about someone, for in so doing you might change the very thing you love the most.

Do you have any pithy (or other) words of advice for aspiring authors?

Tell us about your upcoming book(s) or other project.

It's set in the depths of winter.

Thank you for a most illuminating interview.

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