Monday, March 31, 2008

Q&A: DARLENE FRANKLIN (Gunfight at Grace Gulch)

Today we check in with award-winning author and speaker Darlene Franklin, another author with cozy mystery imprint Heartsong Presents: Mysteries! Her first book for HPM is Gunfight at Grace Gulch, first in the "Dressed for Death" series. Darlene loves music, reading and writing. She has published one books previously (Romanian Rhapsody, Barbour, 2005), plus numerous devotions, magazine articles, and children’s curriculum.

Visit Darlene’s website at darlenehfranklin.com. She recently lost a daughter, and started the daily blog darlenefranklinwrites.blogspot.com to work through her grief.

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HOW DID YOU GET YOUR BIG BREAK?
I don’t know if I’ve had a “big” break. Does that sound awful? I’ve been writing seriously for 15 years, and I’ve had cracks in the editorial dam that have grown wider over the years.

Regarding my books (Gunfight at Grace Gulch is my second), I met Tracie and Jim Peterson at Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Tracie liked my story, Romanian Rhapsody, and bought it. As an established Heartsong author, perhaps I had an advantage when it came to proposing a series for the new cozy mystery book club. Even so, it took three proposals to get the feel right.

HOW MUCH DO YOU WRITE FOR AN "AUDIENCE" VS. WRITING FOR YOURSELF?
I’m a professional writer. That means I have to write for an audience in order to support myself with income from my writing.

That doesn’t mean I don’t also write for myself. I write stories and articles about things that interest me.

I also write just for me. Chris, you know that my daughter died a couple of weeks ago. I have been writing daily: remembrances, emails, obituary. I started a daily blog (darlenefranklinwrites.blogspot.com) to work through the pain and the process of grief.

WHAT FIVE (give or take) CLASSIC AUTHORS DO YOU CONSIDER ESSENTIAL MYSTERY READING?
These next two questions are about a subject near and dear to my heart. I read more mysteries/suspense than I do anything else.

Classic authors have to start with Arthur Conan Doyle (and the amazing job that contemporary author Laura King has done in creating a series centered about Holmes’ wife Mary, in the 1920s.)

Next comes the golden age of British mystery: the incomparable Agatha Christie, as well as Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh.

For classic American mystery authors, I recommend Rex Stout and John McDonald. I have read some of Mickey Spillane; I confess that I don’t enjoy the hard-boilers nearly as much as their British contemporaries.

WHAT FIVE (give or take) MODERN AUTHORS DO YOU CONSIDER ESSENTIAL MYSTERY READING?
This is much harder. How to choose, how to choose. There are a lot of great mystery authors writing today.

I’ll cheat and give you a few different lists:

I recommend the following authors for complex, compelling characters and amazing settings:
Dick Francis (now writing with his son Felix); I own every one of his books.
James Lee Burke (David Robicheaux)
Nancy Pickard, especially the Jenny Cain series

I also highly recommend Faye Kellerman for the way she interweaves her Jewish faith into mysteries without preaching. We can all learn from her.

Among cozy mystery authors, I recommend:
1. Diane Mott Davidson, for the way she makes every mystery important to the sleuth
2. Carolyn Hart (in the "Death on Demand" series), for her knowledge of the mystery genre. I think I know mystery authors until I try to solve her puzzles.
3. Elizabeth Peters, for creating the most romantic hero in cozy mystery fiction, Ramses Emerson.
4. Alexander McCall Smith, who brings Africa to life in the "#1 Ladies Detective Agency" series. My mother also loves his series set in Scotland.

Honorable mention goes to:
1. Daniel Silva, suspense writer—creator of Mossad assassin/art restorer Gabriel Allon.
2. Marcia Mueller – the Sharon McCone mysteries.
3. Sue Grafton – whom I started reading with D is for Deadbeat.
4. Robert Crais – I keep looking for more books by him!
5. Jeffrey Deaver – creator of forensic detective Lincoln Rhymes.

BEFORE BEING PUBLISHED, WHAT'S THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION YOU HAD ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR?
I started writing with the belief that if I could just write well enough, I would automatically sell. Now I know better. Yes, I have to write well, but I also have to understand my audience, make connections, and promote myself.

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Thanks so much to our guest, Darlene Franklin. We appreciate her time. Find her online at darlenehfranklin.com, and her blog, darlenefranklinwrites.blogspot.com. She is also a contributor to Spyglass Lane, the group blog for Heartsong Mystery authors.

Subscribe to Heartsong Presents: Mysteries!

More interviews:
Q&A: DANA MENTINK (Trouble Up Finny's Nose)
Q&A: CECIL MURPHEY (Everybody Loved Roger Harden)
Q&A: NANCY MEHL (In the Dead of Winter)
Q&A: JANICE A. THOMPSON (Gone With The Groom)
Q&A: SUSAN PAGE DAVIS (Homicide at Blue Heron Lake)
Q&A: LISA HARRIS (Recipe For Murder)
Heartsong Presents Mysteries: The Authors!
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Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction

SHE'S THE SHERIFF!

A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at StudioWell.com. Watch the trailer on YouTube.