Interview by Matthew G Moore
On behalf of the Facebook Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Group, thank you for giving us a little of your time today, answering questions fans of the genre really want to know.
Thank you for inviting me!
Can you share where do you live?
I live in Daytona Beach, Florida, on a barrier island that we call “the beachside,” two blocks from the ocean.
Without getting too personal, can you share a little about your home life?
There’s not much to tell! I’m contentedly single. I live with Wesley and Ace, two 17-pound boy cats, and I have a small vegetable garden.
Writers rarely like to toot their own horns; seriously! What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
A friend, who is himself a librarian and gay, said to me (after reading Psyched to Death), “How did you get into my head?” I’m delighted to know that Jamie is resonating with his real-life counterparts.
What inspires and challenges you most in writing? And can you describe your writing process?
Inspiration comes from my job. Most of Jamie’s experiences as a librarian have happened to me and my co-workers. My primary challenge is writing the mystery aspect of the books. Finding the right blend of believability and surprise is tricky. In terms of my writing process – each book begins with an idea. Sometimes it’s my idea, sometimes someone else suggests something. My archaeologist friend, Mary, said, “You should write a mystery about bog bodies.” That became Stoned to Death. I was watching Ancient Aliens one night, laughing hysterically, and thought, “I have to put this in a book.” That became Encountered to Death. Once I have the idea, I start figuring out the plot. Sometimes I know how I want that to unfold; sometimes I need to brainstorm with my writing group. Once I have the plot figured out and write the first draft, I present it in segments to the group and hammer out the changes that need to be made. I couldn’t do what I do without my group.
You’ve probably answered this question a hundred times, but please indulge our readers (and fellow writers): Do you fly by the seat of your pants when writing or plot out your storylines?
I’m a seat-of-the-pantser. Sometimes I know how the book will end when I start writing, but more often I don’t. There are times – especially for the longer books – when I get deep into a story then have to create a timeline for myself, to make sure I don’t lose any threads along the way.
You currently have The Jamie Brodie mysteries that you’ve been writing since Cited to Death in 2012 and you’re about to release book twelve. That’s a lot of books within four years; how do you sustain serialized, continuing characters?
The story of Jamie’s life has unfolded organically over the time I’ve been writing the books. He’s done things that I never expected him to do, and he’s changed by each of the experiences he’s had. It sounds a little crazy to say that Jamie tells me where he’s going, but that’s the way it feels sometimes.
What was your inspiration for the incredible Jamie Brodie?
Jamie and his family developed out of characters that I’d created in my head as a kid, when I amused myself by making up my own stories. (Some children have imaginary friends. I had a whole town.) When I decided to start writing about “a librarian who solves crimes using research,” Jamie was a good fit. He’s the librarian I’d like to be.
I’m also incredibly interested to know why you gave him such acute asthma? His co-workers and his boss are very understanding and agreeable when he seems to keep being rushed to the hospital. Books always paint academics as backstabbing, jealous, drama queens that always attempt to one up one another. Your characters seem to be nice and supportive of each other. Are people that understanding and as nice as you write them in your field?
Every hero needs a vulnerability. Jamie is an outstanding athlete, so I wanted to give him something that could bring him to full stop physically. His asthma is an aggravation that he can’t ignore, but it doesn’t hinder him when it’s not acute. It also helps to define his ambivalent relationship with Los Angeles, a place he never intended to live and which has made his asthma much worse. As far as backstabbing, drama queenish academics – that’s sometimes true for university professors, but not librarians! Academic librarians are the most congenial, collegiate group of people you’ll ever meet.
One of my favorite scenes from the books was when Jamie and Liz are at the Library conference and they begin to name off what kind of librarian people are based on their body type and clothing. How accurate is that?
That’s as accurate as a generalization ever gets. 😀 Talked to Death and the characters therein were totally inspired by the multiple Florida Library Association conferences I’ve attended over the years. The librarian hierarchy is a real thing, too.
Have you ever had to deal with homophobia when it comes to your books, and if so, what form has it taken?
No, other than from one reviewer who was shocked – shocked – that there was discussion of gay sex in that particular book. (Did she not read the blurb?) However, my right-wing relatives do not know what I do in my spare time, and would not be pleased if they did. (None of them are on Facebook.)
And a follow up, as a female writer writing a protagonist that is a gay man have you ever dealt with discrimination from the gay community for writing a gay protagonist?
No – although I’m not sure how much of a following I have within the gay community. My friends who are gay tell me that I’m getting it right, so I hope that helps.
What got you into reading and writing gay mysteries?
Initially, it was thanks to following Amazon’s recommendations. I’d been reading a lot of urban fantasy, and J.L. Langley’s With or Without books appeared on my recommendation list. Gay werewolves? Whaaaaat? 😀 But once I started buying those, gay mystery began popping up on my rec list. The first I ever read was The Hell You Say, the third of Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English series. I was hooked. In terms of writing – when I began the Jamie Brodie books, I already knew Jamie was gay, in the same way I already knew exactly what he looked like and that he was raised by his dad and grandfather.
Who have your role models as an author been? And what books are currently on your reading list?
One role model is Anthony Bidulka. I’m re-reading his Russell Quant mysteries now. Jamie’s large, close group of friends and family that grow and change along with him over the course of the series is similar to Russell’s. Another role model is Neil Plakcy, who showed me that it was possible to live in Florida but set your books in an exotic location thousands of miles away and make it work! (As he does SO well.) I also admire Richard Stevenson’s Donald Strachey series. Donald and Timmy’s long, happy relationship gives me hope for Pete and Jamie. 😀 Next on my TBR pile is Cheap as Beasts by Jon Wilson. He’ll be guest posting on my blog in May.
Last two questions; can you share with us a little about your current release, Filmed to Death, and/or Work In Progress?
Filmed to Death, which was released April 29, finds Jamie getting tangled up with Hollywood. A has-been actor, working on a TV pilot meant to be his big comeback, is found dead in his pool by Abby Glenn, Kevin Brodie’s ex-girlfriend. Kevin can’t work the case because Abby is involved, so Jon Eckhoff asks Jamie to help him sort out the motive, which may be related to the script of the TV pilot.
The work in progress is tentatively titled Landscaped to Death, although that might change. Jamie and Pete’s next-door neighbors haven’t been heard from in several weeks – then a body turns up in their house, sniffed out by Jamie and Pete’s dog. It’s hard to say more without giving too much away. This book will be released in November.
And where can readers buy your books?
Here, at my Amazon author page: http://goo.gl/D9VjhT
Here, at my Smashwords page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MegPerry2
Here, at the Createspace store (print books): https://www.createspace.com/
I also post free short stories on my blog: http://megperrybooks.wordpress.com/
And I create “soundtracks” for each book, imagining what songs would play in a particular scene if the book ever became a movie. The soundtracks appear on my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/JamieBrodieMysteries