Today we sit down with cozy mystery and inspirational romance author Allie Pleiter who also writes writing craft nonfiction. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I have always been a storyteller and started life as an actor. When a friend dared me in my thirties to try writing a novel, I discovered the knack for how a story should go was within me and ready to come out. All the instincts I had as an actor, but never really had the acting talent to realize, now play into my novels and characters.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
I am very prolific now (I have more than fifty titles published), but that first book took me more than three years to write. It was about five years from that first dare until I saw my name on a book cover.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
All my fiction—with the exception of the Sweet City Hearts series—is traditionally published. My nonfiction is both traditionally and indie published. I continue to pursue both and love the myriad of options available to authors today.
Where do you write?
HA! Just about everywhere. In my office I have a traditional desk and a treadmill desk, but I can also be found on the couch or my kitchen counter or on nice days my deck. I also travel frequently for my speaking career, so I’m fortunate that I can write on airplanes, in coffeeshops, and lots of other places.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I prefer to work with music, but not with lyrics. Spotify’s “Deep Focus” channel is a personal favorite. Movie soundtracks are great for that, too.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
I get asked this ALL THE TIME. Of course, now that I’m writing murder mysteries, I feel like the answer is a bit more complicated :) Mostly, I just pick out bits and pieces of real life—what someone said, a story I heard, an object I saw, or in the case of the Riverbank Knitting Mysteries, an aspect of fiber arts that I want to explore. The same is true of characters. It’s never someone from my real life, but a combination of all sorts of people in my life.
Describe your process for naming your character?
Usually, they just come to me. Although with a series, you’ve got to be more scientific about it—you can’t have six Peters or four Carols or even a dozen people whose name all starts with “T.” So I keep track. Scrivener (a writing software program) has a name generator, and I’ll often wander through baby name websites if I’m stuck. And I try never to murder anyone with the same name as someone I know (and like….).
Real settings or fictional towns?
I create fictional towns based on real settings. Collinstown is a combination of a handful of Maryland towns—and no, I won’t tell you which.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Oh, that’s a great question. I think my favorite quirk—not sure if it’s the quirkiest—is how Rhonda views her memory hiccups as just “how things were meant to be.” If she forgot her lunch date was on Tuesday and shows up on Monday, it must be lunch was supposed to happened on Monday. Pretty good way to look at life, if you ask me.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I talk…a lot. And I take notes handwritten with a very specific notebook and pens. It’s also important what I’m drinking my coffee out of—I like pretty mugs and cups that mean something to me…not just tableware from the department store.
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
I’d have to say Outlander. I love the series, am so pleased that it’s found such success, and have great respect for how Diana Gabaldon has followed the characters through such a huge story arc. I’m often asked what my favorite novel is, and my answer is always Outlander. A close second, however, is The Night Circusby Erin Morgenstern. A stunner of a debut!
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I’d have been more confident taking my own path in high school and college. I did, to some respect, but I let the expectations of others color some choices I would have made differently in hindsight.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
As a writing productivity expert (my other side from my novelist self), it drives me absolutely nuts when people don’t deliver on their promises.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Yarn, of course! And very good coffee, and my husband. He’s an engineer, so between the two of us I feel like we could solve most of the problems we’d encounter.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
I worked in high school for a dry cleaner. Mercy, the fumes could knock you over. And it was beyond boring. But it did teach me that I wanted a career, not just a job.
Ocean or mountains?
I grew up on the water in Connecticut, so most definitely beach and ocean.
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
I’m happy just about anywhere except a very rural situation. As long as there’s a Target or a Starbucks within a 15-minute drive, I’m good. So, maybe “suburb” would be the happy medium option?
What’s on the horizon for you?
I hope to run with the Riverbank Knitting Mysteries for a good long while. The third book, It Came Upon a Midnight Shear, will hit the shelves in November. And I still have two more inspirational romance works coming out in 2022 as well. I don’t like to do just one thing, so I’ll be continuing my writing as well as my speaking and coaching practices. I love having a diversified career.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
Knit or Dye Trying is about knitting, yes, but it’s not all about knitting. It’s simply a good mystery with a fair amount of yarn involved. So you don’t need to be a knitter to enjoy it. But if I inspire you to start, I wouldn’t mind.
Knit or Dye Trying
A Riverbank Knitting Mystery, Book 2
Business is booming for Libby Beckett and her fabulous Maryland shop, aptly named Y.A.R.N., but when a town festival brings a fatality with it, Libby gets all tangled up in murder.
As spring comes to Collinstown, the village launches a food festival to draw a new group of tourists. Libby, proud owner of Y.A.R.N., has planned a yarn event to provide an alternative option to a foodie weekend. Artisan fiber dyer Julie Wilson—known for her work with animal-friendly, plant-based knitting fibers such as bamboo and hemp as well as her brilliant use of color—will hopefully draw a crowd with a special dyeing workshop.
The festival begins, but it draws more than crowds. First a flock of sheep parades down the street, herded by farmers protesting Julie’s antiwool stance. Then Julie’s celebrity chef sister appears, and the siblings resume a long-standing rivalry. Despite all this, Julie’s workshop has sold out. Libby is thrilled, and they’re preparing for a full house. But the night before the event, Julie is found alone in the warehouse event space—dead. The witty “Watch Julie Wilson Dye” workshop title now has a terrible new meaning—and it’s up to Libby to catch a crafty killer.