Welcome to today’s stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Much Ado About Murder by Elizabeth J. Duncan! Today I’m featuring an interview with Ms. Duncan and I’d like to say a big “thank you” to her for being willing to answer my questions! All of the pertinent information about the book, including Goodreads, purchase links, and a link to the Rafflecopter Giveaway.
Interview with Elizabeth J. Duncan
Q1: Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day? Do you enjoy your day job?
Ms. Duncan’s Answer: Not any more. I stepped down as a professor at Humber College, Toronto, in December, 2013, to write full time. I enjoyed teaching, but it felt like the right time to move on. I use the extra time to add a second book a year to my growing list of titles.
Q2: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?
Ms. Duncan’s Answer: I don’t have a specific time to write, and to be honest, I’m not as disciplined as I should be, or would like to be. I do set quotas. When I’m writing, it’s 1,000 words a day. When I’m editing, I’ll set a page count. I don’t often have radio or television playing while I work, but now that you suggested it, I’ve just tuned in to a music channel for some soft instrumental background music.
Q3: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reigns” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?
Ms. Duncan’s Answer: I know the basics of the story before I type the words Chapter 1. I know quite a bit about the victim, something about the killer, and a lot about the sleuth. I know why the murder was committed and have a pretty good idea how. I wish I could outline, but I just can’t see that far ahead. An author I admire (thriller writer Barry Lancet) described that part of the process as like driving from LA to San Francisco at night. You know your destination, but can’t see much beyond the headlights. A lot of my best ideas don’t surface until I’m at the point in the story where I need them. And I love when the characters take over and do the heavy lifting. Then the story starts to make sense in way that’s right for their world.
Q4: How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?
Ms. Duncan’s Answer: My path to publication was unusually, exceptionally smooth. In 2008 I won the St. Martin’s Press, Malice Domestic competition, with included a one-book contract with St. Martin’s. The Cold Light of Mourning, first in the Penny Brannigan mystery series set in North Wales, was published the following year. That was my first attempt at fiction writing so I had no rejections, and no reason to think about quitting. I was, and am, fortunate in the way my publishing journey began and has continued.
Q5: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?
Ms. Duncan’s Answer: It’s hard to say how many revisions, because I revise as I go. I don’t blaze through one draft, then start over at the beginning and revise everything. But a good guess would be five or six, including rewrites based on the editor’s and copy editor’s suggestions. There will always be words, sentences, and paragraphs to improve. I keep revising until I run out of time. Everything would be better if you had more time.
I have a few people who read early drafts and make helpful suggestions, and I’m grateful for their input and willingness to help.
Q6: A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?
Ms. Duncan’s Answer: I’m afraid if I answer the question I’ll give too much away! So I’ll just say I can’t think of anyone who was a real life inspiration for this particular villain.
Q7: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?
Ms. Duncan’s Answer: No one I know has ever ended up in one of my books as a fully developed, recognizable character, but I met someone this summer who very well might! However, bits and pieces of people I know show up all the time. Something I find interesting that someone said, or a situation they described, could very well end up in a book.
Q8: If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?
Ms. Duncan’s Answer: Lady Macbeth. She’s one of the most intriguing and least explored characters in literature. I’d love to have a chat with her over a nice cup of tea and a Scottish shortbread.
Q9: What are some great books you’ve read recently?
Ms. Duncan’s Answer: While I still love books, and have what I call ‘ book greed’ – I want to own them and read them — I don’t read as much as I used to. There just seem to be too many other demands on my time and my attention span seems shorter. And this at a time when there are more wonderful books available than ever before! I can’t remember the last book I read that I would describe as “great”. So may I tell you what’s coming up on my To Be Read list that I’m really excited about? The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, Japantown by Barry Lancet, and The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.
Q10: What books have influenced your life the most?
Ms. Duncan’s Answer: The summer I was 13 my father gave me a boxed set of three books that were an odd combination to be bundled together: Black Beauty, Anna Karenina, and a collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories. These were the first adult books I read, long days lying in a shaded hammock at the cottage … a horse, a married Russian aristocrat, and a detective. I chose the detective.
Q11: If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Ms. Duncan’s Answer: I would spend the day with Rupert the corgi, who lives with my amateur sleuth costume designer Charlotte Fairfax. Rupert and I would enjoy several long walks, and a short nap. And there would be treats! The best days are the ones you spend with a lovely dog.
Q12: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?
Ms. Duncan’s Answer: There are two kinds of reviews: reader reviews and professional reviews, like those that appear in Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and newspapers. Occasionally I brace myself to read a few. I appreciate and enjoy good reviews from readers but professional reviews tend to carry more weight. For some reason, a negative review, no matter the source, stings more than a positive review makes me feel good. I don’t respond to reviews, even when they are factually wrong. I have incorporated suggestions into future work. If someone tells me they like something, I try to deliver more of that. If they don’t like something, I’ll leave that out the next time.
Thank you again to Ms. Duncan for being willing to answer my questions today! Here’s other information about the book! Below that is a banner with a link to the main tour page if you wish to visit other sites on the tour!
Much Ado About Murder: A Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery
by Elizabeth J. Duncan
Much Ado About Murder: A Shakespeare in the Catskills Mystery
3rd in Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 7, 2017)
Hardcover 265 Pages
E-Book ASIN: B071RR32NZ
Costume designer Charlotte Fairfax has another murder on her hands as she prepares for the latest performance of the Catskills Shakespeare Theater Company, Much Ado About Nothing. The company’s steady growth enables them to cast star British actress Audrey Ashley, who arrives on scene to play the lead role of Beatrice. But things immediately get more complicated when Audrey insists the company replace the current director with new, up and coming British director Edmund Albright.
Edmund plans to change the popular romantic comedy, which alienates several people associated with the production. And the list of people he upsets only grows: the laid off former director, the hotel owner’s secretary, and even Audrey herself. Just as Edmund’s plans are about to come to fruition, his body is discovered on his sofa, holding a gun in his hand. His death is quickly ruled a suicide but Charlotte thinks otherwise. Why would Edmund, on the brink of greatness, kill himself? And in such an American way?
With a whole cast of characters to investigate, Charlotte is determined to unmask each one before it’s final curtain call on the whole production in award-winning author Elizabeth J. Duncan’s third Shakespeare in the Catskills mystery, Much Ado About Murder.