Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Authorsday - Diane Madsen

If you're looking for answers to healthcare reform, you've come to the wrong place.

Instead I have an interview with author Diane Madsen.

1. How did you pick the genre you write in?
I like to write what I like to read. Mystery, mystery -- murder, murder. That’s what interests me the most. Mystery readers are a discriminating lot, and it’s fun working the plot and the clues to try to mislead them while also entertaining.. Of course I like history and biography as well and tried to combine both these interests in writing my “DD McGil Literati Mystery Series.”

2. Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I’ve attended author talks where the guest of honor is very cavalier and he or she swears they never do outlines and don’t know what’s going to happen in the book. While this is amusing in a talk, and while it may very well be true for them, it’s not true for me. I don’t outline – too restrictive; but I do have a plot line worked out before I begin. It may have some holes in it, and that’s okay. While writing, things may change – let me rephrase that – things DO change and sometimes change again, but the path is there.
I like to amuse myself and the reader when I write. I like to get from here to there, but in doing so, I like to take the scenic route and look at all the interesting things along the way. To make the book interesting and entertaining is my goal.

3. What drew you to the subject of A Cadger’s Curse?
I read about a very interesting incident in Robert Burns life which led me to do further research and incorporate it into the plot of “A Cadger’s Curse.” It was August 25, 1787, when Robert Burns stopped in Stirling at the Golden Lion Inn on the way to Inverness. Burns wanted to see Stirling Castle, the ruined state of the former home of Scotland’s kings, and the sight greatly aroused his Jacobite feelings. The next day, Burns took a diamond-tipped pen and scrawled a verse on the window of his room at the Golden Lion Inn. The poem is called Written by Somebody on the window of an inn at Stirling On seeing the royal palace in ruins. Word of this verse spread quickly among travelers and was immediately attributed to Robert Burns. Burns had just published his first book of poems and was the “rock star” of his day, but this poem was considered treasonous by the current monarchy that had come to power after the overthrow of the Stuart kings. Burns was extremely concerned about the rumors and was worried about being charged with treason and executed – a very real possibility. The rumors kept growing, and a few months later in October of 1787, Burns returned to the Golden Lion Inn, and sometime during this visit he broke the windowpane with the butt end of his riding crop to eliminate the evidence.
Burns stayed on for a few days at nearby Harveston House because of bad weather and visited Mrs. Katherine Bruce of Clackmannan, a 95 year old woman descended from Robert the Bruce, the revered 14th century Scottish ruler. Burns’ traveling companion, Dr. Adair, wrote that during this visit, Katherine Bruce “knighted” Robert Burns with the sword of The Bruce during this visit. According to the present day Lord Bruce, the Bruce family maintains to this day a portrait of Katherine Bruce as well as Robert the Bruce’s sword she used that night.

4. Describe your book.
“A Cadger’s Curse” is the first in the DD McGil Literati Mysteries. It mixes modern day corporate treachery and murder with an incident in the life of Robert Burns. Lippy ex-academic DD McGil uncovers murky Chicago business ethics and priceless Robert Burns artifacts that lead to murder. She’s set to be blown to bits on New Years Eve unless her rare book dealer friend who’s passionate about puzzles and her quirky Aunt who’s passionate about Scotland can save her.
Thirty-something Chicago insurance investigator, DD McGil, had been a rising star in the academic world until the suicide of her fiancĂ©, Frank, altered the course of her life. Now she freelances, and she’s asked to vet some new employees for a high-tech company over the Christmas Holidays. Nothing goes well, and the first thing she runs into is the corpse of her dead fiancĂ©’s step-brother. Then her Aunt Elizabeth - just arrived from Scotland – wants her to authenticate a rare Robert Burns artifact. The plots converge when DD walks into a trap that could send her and the Burns artifact to smithereens along with the Consolidated Bank building at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.
The book is fast paced with plenty of wit and historical data about Robert Burns. A pet wolf and a real life Chicago rare book dealer add interest to what I call a “Slice of Life” mystery that mixes mystery and history in the first of the DD McGil Literati Mysteries. The next one in the series is “Hunting for Hemingway” which is due out in September 2010.

5. What’s your favorite quote?
Other than reading a good review for my book, I like the Ernest Hemingway quote, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

6. What authors do you admire?
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, John Dickson Carr and Josephine Tey have always been in my top tier.
I like Patricia Wentworth and every Dick Francis book. I really enjoy Stuart Kaminsky, especially his latest series set in Sarasota, FL, and I never miss reading a new Michael Connelly. I like John Dunning, Caroline Graham, Sharyn McCrumb, Thomas Cook, and Carolina Garcia-Aguilera. I’ve also just read Michael Gruber’s “Book of Air and Shadows” and Arthur Phillips’ “The Egyptologist.” And I enjoy Ann Rule’s true crime books. I could go on an on because I think there are so many good mystery and true crime writers out there today.

7. What other time period besides your own would you like to experience?
I’d love to step into the Restoration Period (1660), which John Dickson Carr did so very well in his historical novel, “The Devil in Velvet.”

8. What would you like to learn to do that you haven’t?
I wish I could play the piano.

9. Who is your favorite character in your book?
In “A Cadger’s Curse” that’s an easy choice. Aunt Elizabeth, aka The Scottish Dragon, was great fun to write. La Dragon is uninhibited and outspoken with a lot of foibles; but she’s got a lot of romance in her soul and she’s likable. She just kept saying amusing things as I typed the dialogue.

10. Where do you write?
I live in Twin Ponds, 5 acres located on Cape Haze in southwest Florida. It’s quite rural and my office window looks out over Sunrise Pond. I admit it is sometimes distracting, like the time I saw a Florida Panther skirting the edge of the pond and approaching my office window. He (or she) sat down for a minute, then went around the house to my garage apron where it sat down, rump against my garage door with paws extended out in front like a Landseer Lion at the base of Nelson’s Column in London. What a sight! I had three cameras in my house – none of which worked! But it was a wondrous sight - one I’ll always remember.


peigimccann said...

I've read this book and loved it,
perfect combination of intrigue, humor,
and action!

Barbara D'Amato said...

The book looks fascinating. And the interview gives a good look into a writer's way or working.

Msmstry said...

What a great interview with an outstanding debut author! Good job—to both of you!

Paula said...

This sounds like the beginning of a wonderful series. I am a big fan of the history/mystery mixture (a la Matthew Pearl), so I have a pretty good feeling I'll really enjoy DD McGil's adventures.

Anonymous said...

At a Bouchercon in Chicago, the Guest of Honor, Robert L. Fish, opin ed that Chicago was not a favorable setting for a detective novel. It was too flat and uninteresting, unlike the hills of San Francisco, the canyons of Manhattan, or the charms of Los Angeles, or the foggy streets of London. I think that Sara Paretsky and Diane Gilbert Madsen, among others, have disproved that notion. Chicago scenes and its suburban sites operate like another character in the novel. And the other characters are fresh and new too.

Joanna Aislinn said...

That comment will probably take top line of all my wips, Diane! My friend gave me a book of Hemingway quotes--hadn't made it to that one yet!

Good luck with all your endeavors,
Joanna Aislinn
The Wild Rose Press

Unknown said...

Carol Redd

I thought the book was most intriging, kept you guessing.The pages kept me glued with lots of action and humor. I enjoyed the interview was great and am looking forward to the next book to be on the shelves