Talking Mysteries with Author Margot Kinberg

 

Margot Kinberg

 

 

 

Margot Kinberg is a mystery author and Associate Professor. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Kinberg graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, then moved to Philadelphia, which Kinberg still considers home.

 

 

 

*Who influenced you to read books?

 
My sister had a real influence on my love of books. She read to me when I was very young, and then taught me how to read when I was in preschool. And there were a lot of books in my home, too, as I was growing up. I was also fortunate to have helpful, friendly librarians in the schools I attended (our public library, too). All of them encouraged me to read, and talked to me about books. As you can see, I was truly lucky to have a lot of support for reading.

 

 

 

So Many Books, So Little Time.

 

 

 

*What are the benefits of supporting literacy?

 
Research supports a number of benefits for literacy. First, there are cognitive benefits. Reading and writing promote critical thinking skills, perseverance skills, creative skills, and communication skills. Literacy also gives children access to information that they wouldn’t otherwise have. There are also major advantages in terms of academic prospects. And there’s the worldwide economic divide between people who are literate and those who aren’t. Being able to read and write makes it far more likely that a child will find meaningful work and more economic security.

 

 
The fact is, though, that millions of people, even in wealthy countries, don’t have access to literacy. Poverty, politics, war, remote living, and other realities mean that literacy is out of reach for a lot of people. For this reason, I think it’s important to carefully choose and then support groups that provide books, literacy education, and other literacy resources for those who don’t have them.

 

 

 

 

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*What impresses you the most about Agatha Christie?

 
Ah, you’ve found out I’m a Christie fan! Well, that’s no big surprise… Many things impress me about Christie’s writing. For one thing, she was prolific; she wrote for fifty years. And she tried several different formats, too: novels, short stories, plays, and radio scripts, to name a few. I respect that willingness to venture into different territory. I also am impressed with her willingness to bend, or even break, the ‘rules’ of writing in service of a good story. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is just one example, but it’s perhaps the best known one.

For all that, though, Christie worked very hard at writing, and understood the need to keep at it. If she broke some rules, it was only after she knew what they were, and when it’s important to follow them. To me, it’s a bit like music. You can’t understand and use dissonance in a musical piece if you aren’t thoroughly familiar with how melody and harmony work.

 

 

 

 

“Work harder than you think you did yesterday.”

 

 

 

 

*Who was the first mystery novelist you were addicted and why?

 
The first mystery novelist I read was Arthur Conan Doyle. I started with his stories when I was a child, and never looked back. I think it was the intellectual puzzles that really appealed to me. I also liked learning about what life was like in Victorian London. At the same time, like many other children, I read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I loved trying to find the solution before the ‘star’ of the book did.

 

 

 

Arthur Conan Doyle

 

 

 

 

*What do you teach as an associate professor?

 
I’ve taught a number of different courses. Mostly, though, I teach in my university’s education program. Most of my students are working towards their master’s degrees in education. The classes I teach focus mostly on culture, language, and their impact on teaching and learning. I would love to teach writing and literature classes, but that hasn’t happened yet. I hope it will some time.

 

 

 

*You began writing fiction in 2007. How did you reach this point?

 
I’ve actually been writing since I was about eleven. That’s when I wrote my first short story. Over the years, I did mostly academic/non-fiction writing, especially when I was working on my doctoral degree. But I still wrote the occasional flash fiction piece, and a few short stories. Then, I decided to start writing novels, mostly at the encouragement of my family. That part of my writing career started with a dinner-table conversation. I told a work-related story, and my husband and daughter said I ought to write a mystery novel about it. And so I did. And I couldn’t be happier that they encouraged me; I love writing.

 

 

 

 

Writer

 

 

 

 

*What do you appreciate about crime fiction?

 
The diversity of the genre. Today’s crime fiction takes place all over the world, and features so many different sorts of plots and protagonists that it’s impossible to get bored. It’s diverse in other ways, too. Crime fiction can be fun and light, or the bleakest noir. It can be comic, tragic, and everything in between. There are long novels, short stories, and more. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. It really is a genre that offers something for just about every taste. And there are mystery stories written at all reading levels, too, from beginning readers to the most accomplished adult readers. What more could you want?

 

 

 

 

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*What makes a great mystery?

 
Everyone’s got a different response to that question, I think. People have different tastes, and look for different things in their books. But for me, a great mystery starts with well-defined characters. They don’t have to be sympathetic, but they do have to catch the reader’s interest. If you don’t care what happens to the characters, then why bother reading?

 
Great mysteries also need to be believable. It’s hard to be drawn into a story if you can’t imagine that it could really happen. Of course, fiction is fiction, so there’s always a bit of suspension of disbelief. But in real life, murders aren’t generally solved in just a few days, as they are on plenty of TV dramas. In real life, there aren’t that many credible motives for taking another person’s life. And in real life, police, attorneys, and other
professionals in the justice system do things in certain ways. The best crime fiction reflects that reality.

 

 

 

 

*What are your top pet peeves as a reader?

 
One thing that really bothers me as a reader is lack of careful editing. Skillful editing can tighten up a plot, so that the book moves along at a solid pace. It can also pinpoint inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and other problems, so that they can be corrected. And, of course, thorough editing calls attention to spelling and grammar issues, so that they can be fixed, too. When a book hasn’t been carefully edited, it leaves the impression
that the author didn’t care enough to make sure the book was well written. That may very well not be true, but that’s how it seems.

 
In a similar way, I dislike too many stretches of credibility. Everyone’s different about this, but I prefer to keep my disbelief close by. So, I get pulled out of a story rather quickly if something too unlikely happens. That includes too many coincidences, characters doing things they wouldn’t be able/allowed to do, and glaring inaccuracies.

 
I have to admit, too, that I’m not much of a one for extreme, brutal violence or other extreme explicitness in my crime fiction. Gratuitousness doesn’t serve a story. And adding something in just for ‘shock value’ takes away from the plot, in my opinion.

 

 

 

 

*What’s the hardest part about writing?

 
For me, the hardest part about writing is the perseverance it requires. Writing first drafts, revising, editing, and so on all take time. They don’t happen overnight, and it takes persistence to do those things. And then there’s the process of querying and sending manuscripts out to agents and publishers. Any writer can tell you that rejection happens a lot more often than acceptance, and it takes perseverance to keep going even after the fifth, or sixth, or tenth ‘no.’ Writing also takes a physical toll, and there are plenty of times when it’s tempting not to sit down in that chair and get to it. It takes determination to write when you’re least in the mood to do it.

 

 

 

 

Distracted businessman distracted

 

 

 

 

 

*Your favorite books of 2017?

 
That’s a difficult question to answer, because the year’s only a little past half over. There are lots more good books to be released. But here are a few 2017 releases that I’m especially excited about:

 
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books – Martin Edwards
The Dry – Jane Harper
Greenlight – Kalpana Swaminathan
Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz

 
There are also several other new entries in series I like – far too many to list here. I think 2017 is going to be a fine year for crime fiction.

 

 

 

 

 

recommended vintage orange seal isolated on white

 

 

 

 

 

*What are you currently working on?

 
Thanks for asking. I’m currently working on a few things. I’m finishing the revisions for my next Joel Williams novel, which will hopefully come out in the early spring of 2018. I’m also working on two standalones. One of them follows the story of one of the characters in my second Williams novel, B-Very Flat. The other is an expansion of a very short story I wrote a couple of years ago. We’ll see how these projects go, but I’m hoping they’ll turn out well.

 

 

Thanks again for hosting me, Benjamin!

 

 

 

CONNECT WITH MARGOT KINBERG!

Amazon | Goodreads | Website

 

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Forensic Lenses Series with Author Sherrie W. Frontz

 

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Welcome back to the Forensic Lenses Series!

An investigative and exploratory approach into the minds of voracious readers everywhere.

 

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Today we have an author of Romance, suspense and mystery novels, Sherrie W. Frontz. She’s the author of When the Morning Comes, and Don’t Look Back from the Land’s End series.  Sherrie is also one our many talented authors in this year’s Mystery Thriller Week event, beginning Feb.12-22nd! Don’t miss it!!

 

 

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Goodreads

 

 

 

 

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Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

What were your first memories of reading as a child?

My first memories of reading were my mom reading to me as a toddler.  She worked with me and I was reading by the age of four. I read Gone with the Wind when I was twelve.

Thank God for Moms! 

 

 

 

 

 

moms

 

 

 

 

What were your favorite sleuths as a youth?

My favorite sleuth as a child was Trixie Belden.  I had all the books in the series that were available in the 70’s.

Good ol’ Trixie Belden. I hear her name quite a bit. 

 

 

 

 

 

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What else do you enjoy in a story besides solving the crime?

Besides figuring out the “who did it” part of a story, I enjoy the interacting of the main characters.

YES. I love this too. The dynamics amongst characters brings out more depth, dialogue and conflict!

 

 

 

 

 

 

dialogue

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name your favorite classical and modern sleuths.

I have no classical favorite sleuths; as far as modern sleuths, Lucas Davenport from John Sanford’s prey series.

Eh, I don’t have a favorite classical sleuth either. I’ll have to check out this Lucas Davenport character and see what he’s about. 

 

 

 

How do they solve crimes and what makes them different from one another?

Both classical and modern solve cases by talking to witnesses and listening to their hunches.  Modern sleuths have the advantages of modern technology, dna bases, fbi profiles, gps tracking, cell phone records, etc.

I love seeing how things have progressed over the years. Of course, the main staples don’t change!

 

 

 

 

 

dna

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name some recent suspense books you’ve read. 

I recently read Triple Six by Erica Spindler and I re-read all of Tess Gerritson’s Rizzoli and Isle series of books over the past couple of months.

Thanks for the recommendations! Gotta love em’.

 

 

 

 

 

read-with-heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who are some of the best suspense writers?

Some of my favorite suspense authors are Erica Spindler, John Sanford, Lee Child, Tami Hoag

Lovely.  I’ve never heard of Spindler or Tami Hoag, but that’s never stopped me from finding great authors!

 

 

 

 

 

“The world belongs to those who read.”-Rick Holland

 

 

 

 

 

If you could pick a character as the director of the FBI, who would it be?

I think the best choice for director of the FBI would be Benton Wesley, Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s husband, written by Patricia Cornwell.

Awesome! Great choice. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fbi-seal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you could marry a fictional character who would it be? 

If I could marry a fictional character it would be Lucas Davenport from the prey series.

Hmm. This Davenport character must’ve really scored some points. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At the scene of the crime…

 

Name 3-5 pet peeves as a reader.

If the print isn’t right I won’t read it. I hate when a story drags too.

I can’t stand dragging stories either. Since I normally finish every book, I end up dragging right along with them. *Sigh*

 

 

 

 

 

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Connect with Sherrie W. Frontz!

 

Amazon | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by!!

 

 

 

 

“To a great mind, nothing is little.”-Sherlock Holmes.

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

mtw-email-logo

 

 

Talking Mystery & History with Author Ritter Ames

WELCOME BACK TO THE FORENSIC LENSES SERIES

 

 

An investigative and exploratory approach into the minds of voracious readers everywhere. Strap your seat belt and let’s take a ride into the wonderful world of mystery…

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s see through the eyes of yet another voracious reader…

 

 

 

 

 

 

ritter-ames

 

 

 

 

Ritter Ames is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Organized Mysteries series and Bodies of Art mysteries. She’s also a voracious reader and one of our participating authors in  this year’s Mystery Thriller Week





Welcome Ritter!

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*Who influenced your reading habits the most as a child?

 

Oh, so many people. Probably the earliest was my grandmother, but once I started school I was fortunate to have wonderful teachers. And once I discovered the public library and that librarians LOVED to help kids find new books about things they liked, I couldn’t be stopped.

 

Thank the Lord for grandmothers! That’s wonderful you had so many helpful people early in life. I remember two particular teachers in elementary that encouraged me a lot. We never forget the ones who truly cared for us.

 

 

 

 

 

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*Which were the first mysteries that drew you into the genre?

 

The first mystery I ever read was in third grade, and it was The Brownie Scout Mystery by Dorothy Sterling. I checked it out of my elementary school library and honestly only chose it because I was a Brownie at the time, so felt that connection. Then, for Christmas, my aunt (the daughter of the grandmother I mentioned in the earlier question) gave me my first Trixie Belden book. It was the fourth book in the series, and I was thrilled to realize there were so many more Trixie Belden books for me to read, since I think they were all written before I was born. That led on to Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, and I read a few Robin Kane mysteries that my cousin had, but none of them compared to Trixie and Honey’s mysteries and adventures. Later, I moved on to Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie.

 

I love hearing about the mysteries that shaped a writer early in life. 

 

 

 

 

 

A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket ~Chinese Proverb

 

 

 

 

*Name your top 5 favorite books and what affect they had on you.

 

1)    The Odessa File by Frederick Forsythe – I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it, but I still have that amazed feeling whenever I think about the answer the bad guy received when he asked why the main character continued trying so hard to pursue him. I’d read the whole book up until then wondering why, myself, and the answer surprised me so much—especially when I realized the clue had been there all along, but I’d missed it.

2)    Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams – I purchased the hardcover edition of this book in 1987 because I was already an Adams fan due to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. So, I knew this wasn’t going to be your standard mystery. The absolute creative genius behind this book makes it not only my all-time favorite by this author (though the addition of Thor in the sequel The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul makes that novel come a close second), but I’ve read and reread this book (and too short series) several times. I haven’t yet seen the BBC program featuring the novel, but it’s on my to-watch list when I get time for some British binging.

3)    Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy – This isn’t a mystery, but there were so many absolutely beautiful passages to fall into as I read the book. The first time I read it I probably took three times longer than usual to do so because I kept going back and rereading whole paragraphs and pages.

4)    Every Single Novel by Elizabeth Peters – Actually, I like a lot of her Barbara Michaels books, too, and I own several of her nonfiction books written under her real name of Barbara Mertz. But truly, I love everything penned as Elizabeth Peters and own every title she wrote under that name. Rather than list a novel, I’d have to say her Amelia Peabody Mystery Series would be my favorite because of the way she wove fascinating real facts within her historical mysteries, and had such standout characters throughout the titles. For almost the same reasons, I’d have to list the Vicky Bliss Mystery Series as a close second—with less books in the series it doesn’t have quite the depth of Peabody, but it does a great job of blending fact and mystery plot and characters. And, of course, there are the Jacqueline Kirby books, and the many wonderful standalones Peters wrote before all her series took off.

5)    The Harry Potter Series – I think every book in that series was wonderful, but together, seeing the complete series arc by the end, and all the pieces Rowling wove within the individual novels requires this whole series to be listed as one piece in my top five. But I’ve always been a series reader—as implied by my inclusion of all-things-Peters in the previous question—so this probably isn’t surprising.

 

I like these! Of course, I only recognize one of them, but I love to get book recommendations. There’s too  many good writers around to count. 

 

 

 

 

 

FAVORITE -Realistic Neon Sign on Brick Wall background

 

 

 

 

 

*Name your favorite classic sleuths and how are they different from one another?

 

I love Miss Marple and Columbo for the same reasons: they pay attention to so much more than just the visible clues and they want to solve the crime to truly give the victim justice—not for accolades or to improve their own position.

 

I also love to read Martha Grimes’s Inspector Richard Jury series, but primarily the ones where Melrose Plant is involved in the case with him—because I love Melrose. He’s kind of a contemporary Lord Peter Wimsey and I look forward to his arrival in the books each time and the way he impacts the case.

 

Equally, I especially enjoy unconventional sleuths. I often stay up late on weekends to watch the old Avengers shows with Diana Riggs as Mrs. Peel, to see what kind of off-beat crime she and Steed will solve—usually eminently quirky. And finally, I adore the new BBC Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman because they so perfectly play off one another and show not only Sherlock’s brilliance, but how his almost sociopathic tendency to not consider others is offset by Watson’s tempering humanity—which all comes together to better solve the case and understand the outcome.

 

I’ve yet to see the Sherlock Holmes series with Cumberbatch, although it’s cued and ready to go. 

 

 

 

 

 

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*How has reading affected your style of writing?

 

I think my writing has more often affected my reading style than the reverse. I’ve always been a voracious reader and read across all genres and literary and nonfiction standards. But while I used to be able to read through things that weren’t…shall we say…written as well as they could be, now that isn’t the case. I simply cannot read something filled with bad editing or—especially—are written with unbelievable plots, or if characters begin changing to suit a plot need rather than acting the way they always have. I just stop reading and move on to something else.

 

I find this very fascinating for some reason. The dynamic relationship between reading and writing is wonderful. I would say a voracious reader would develop a keen eye for the matters you mentioned above. Then developing the writing craft would only serve to sharpen those skills to a whole new level. 

 

 

 

 

 

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*If you could hire any fictional sleuth to solve a major crime who would it be? Who would be the sidekick?

 

I would love to see Columbo and Adrian Monk solve a crime together. I know that sounds mean because Columbo just standing next to Monk would probably give the OCD detective a mental breakdown, but to me it would be kind of an American Sherlock/Watson combo. I imagine Columbo would be the humanizing end of the team and Monk would be…well, Monk. But the crime solving could be the absolutely fastest on record with those two brilliant minds working on it at the same time.

 

 That sounds like a great combination!

 

 

 

 

 

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AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME

 

*Name 3-5 of your pet peeves as a reader

 

1)    Love triangles. Hate them. Just pick a guy or girl already and move on to the real story. Don’t let the “which guy will she choose” go on from book to book to book.

2)    Authors who don’t think readers are smart enough to figure things out and try to fill in every single dot or write mostly dialogue and skimp on narrative because it’s easier.

3)    Characters who change from the way they’ve been throughout the story to fit plot problems a writer stumbled into and couldn’t figure how else to get out of.

4)    Unnecessary sex, violence or language as a quick and cheap way to try to heighten the tension.

 

I always find this one interesting. Writers can learn so much by hearing these.

 

 

 

 

 

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*How have mysteries changed over the years?

 

It feels like they’ve become more real to life through the years, but that may just be that I’ve gotten older and read things more contemporary to my life. I still love the old standbys like Christie and Dick Francis and Forsythe, but there are so many new authors like Michael Connelly and Lee Child who write fabulous, exciting mysteries that truly are 21stcentury. I think more than anything, we’re getting more blending of genres, so while we can find straight mysteries still, we also have great combinations we likely wouldn’t have had decades ago. The aforementioned Dirk Gently series, for example, or the fabulous Spellman Files series by Lisa Lutz, both of which use humor and contemporary insight as much as they do elements of mystery. Another offbeat cross-genre example is the Bryant and May series by Christopher Fowler, or anything by Jasper Fforde.

 

Wow, great examples here. I’m very interested in this topic for some reason. So intriguing! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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*What makes a great mystery?

 

It must give me something to figure out, and provide good characters I want to spend time with. I’ve read so many mysteries that I’m seldom halfway through a book before I’ve figured out whodunit, and that’s okay, as long as there are still surprises for me to discover as the character(s) still look for clues. I don’t want to know everything about everyone from the beginning, I want that to unfold just like the mystery, so if I solve the mystery halfway along, there’s still something to keep me reading.

 

That’s wonderful. There’s something so cerebral about solving a good puzzle, especially a ‘whodunit’.  When you weave in great characters, the book is well worth the read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Unknown Puzzle Pieces Hole Uncharted Exploration Adven

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Connect with Ritter Ames

Ritterames.com | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THANK YOU FOR STOPPING BY!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Come back and see us on the train!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Up for a reading challenge? Join the Book Hoarders Bucket List Reading Challenge  (Join Goodreads group here)

 

 

A Challenge for Book Hoarders Like Me at SallyAllenBooks.com

 

 

Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!! Check out Mystery Thriller Week on my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com