Mystery and cozy mystery author V.M. Burns sits down for an interview today. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I always read a lot. When I was younger, if a book or movie didn’t end the way I though it should, I would imagine a new ending. Eventually, I started to question why there wasn’t a book or movie about X. At some point, it dawned on me that perhaps, I could write that book.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
I finished my first book in 2007. However, my debut novel, The Plot is Murder wasn’t published until November 2017. That wasn’t the first book I wrote, but it was the first book I sold.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I am traditionally published.
Where do you write?
I have turned a spare bedroom into an office. I do most of my writing there. However, I usually keep a notebook (or an old envelope) and pen handy and will often write longhand if I find I have unexpected free time.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I like to listen to music when I write. My favorite type of music is jazz. However, I find that I get more writing done when I listen to classical (baroque) music. So, I often alternate between the two.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
Most of what I write is purely fiction. However, I do get ideas from events in real life. For instance, my protagonist’s dream in The Plot is Murder is to own a mystery bookstore and to write British historical cozy mysteries. That also happens to be my dream. My protagonist has two poodles, and I have two poodles. Coincidence? Perhaps not.
The British historical cozy that my protagonist is writing takes place in 1938. There are a number of events that are mentioned in the books that are pulled from historical incidents at the start of World War II.
Describe your process for naming your character?
In the British Historical cozy sections, I often surf the Internet for names that were common in 1938 in the United Kingdom. For the contemporary portions of my book, I do a character sketch and then try different names on to see what fits.
Real settings or fictional towns?
The Mystery Bookshop Mystery series takes place in the fictional town of North Harbor, Michigan. North Harbor is based on the real town of Benton Harbor, Michigan, which is located in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline where I used to live.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Irma, one of the seniors who assists Samantha and her grandmother Nana Jo in solving mysteries, swears like a sailor.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I’m a planner in practically every area of my life, except writing. In general I always have a plan, a backup plan, and a backup to my backup plan. When it comes to writing, I am a pantser. I find that if I spend time plotting a book, then I don’t want to write it. I’m trying to change this, but so far, I have not been successful.
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
The Murder of Roger Akroyd by Agatha Christie has to be one of my favorite books. I was thoroughly surprised by the ending and the clever way the clues were presented.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I think if I could do anything over, I would have gotten my Bachelor’s degree in English or Creative Writing. For two years I majored in Electrical Engineering because I believed I needed that degree to get a decent job. Needless to say, I was miserable for two years. Once I changed my major (to Political Science/Urban Studies), life was better. I enjoyed Political Science and Urban Studies, but I wish I had more of a solid background in English.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve is being micromanaged.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Books, chocolate and coffee. Did I mention chocolate? Lots of chocolate.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
A job where I was micromanaged (see above under biggest pet peeves). My philosophy is to hire the most qualified candidates, give them six months to learn the job, then leave them alone and let them do their job.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. A book that was written over two hundred years ago, but can still capture your attention and emotions is a work of art.
Ocean or mountains?
I’m going to say ocean. Even though I can’t swim, I enjoy looking at the water. Plus, I never realized I had a problem with heights until I moved to Tennessee.
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
I am a city girl through and through. I find, all that open space and quiet of the country unnerving.
What’s on the horizon for you?
In addition to writing more books in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series, I have two other series that will publish this year. The first book in the RJ Franklin Mystery series will release July 1st and the first book in the Dog Club Mystery series will release in August.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
Readers can find more information about upcoming releases by checking out my website at vmburns.com or on my Facebook page.
The Plot is Murder, Book One of the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series
Samantha Washington has dreamed of owning her own mystery bookstore for as long as she can remember. And as she prepares for the store’s grand opening, she’s also realizing another dream—penning a cozy mystery set in England between the wars. Each book in the series will feature a contemporary mystery which Samantha, along with her grandmother, Nana Jo and her friends must solve. In addition, there is a story-within-a-story, set in England, featuring the Marsh family. Readers will have a chance to solve two mysteries in each book.