ness talks about life, ness writes about writing

In Which I have a Guest

I have a guest. A guest on this blog. This is a very auspicious occasion. Ahem. With me, on this rain-drenched English morning, is Rachel Heffington, author of Anon, Sir, Anon – a cozy murder mystery set in foggy Northamptonshire. Join us as we talk of geckos, plotting and the Dreaded Writer’s Block (in no particular order).

A very warm welcome to of words & books, Rachel. First of all – congratulations on the second of your books being published! Now you are a veteran author, what is the main difference in the experience of publishing Anon, Sir, Anon as opposed to that of your first book – Fly Away Home?

Thank you, Ness! The main difference is that this time, I am employed as a nanny of two little girls and my brother is getting married ten days after the release of this mystery. Thus, I chose to hire out the editing and all of the formatting. Last time ‘round, I chose to only hire out the cover design. I have to say that, though expensive, letting other people do the work you are unfamiliar with is a good tactic to the schedule-ly challenged.

What’s your most memorable moment in the writing of Anon, Sir Anon? (And this can be anything – an eureka moment, a ‘that’s it I’m done’ minute, or ‘this. is. amazing’ etc)

Definitely the moment I wrote the Finding-the-Body scene. I wrote it out of order, but I still consider it one of the best scenes in the book. It was one of those, “This is not going to need terribly much editing…is it?”

Was there ever a moment in which the dreaded writer’s block hit? If so, how did you conquer it? Or did you escape unscathed?

Once I realized that I was writing a mystery and it had to make sense and not have plot-holes, I did have a momentary splinter of panic. I kept my head and planned, though, and that helped things a great deal. I was also blessed with wonderful beta-readers who could steer me when I’d gone off course.

Did your characters waltz into your head without so much as a ‘by-your-leave’ or did inspiration strike, and if so – where, when and how did that inspiration strike?

Inspiration stalked me in the form of a book plucked at random off a library shelf. It was a small, well-written history of detective fiction..and it caused Farnham to plummet into existence with a supercilious smile.

Did you plot? Or simply write and watch the story unfold? Or were you somewhere in-between the two?

I have to plot a mystery–you obviously can’t exactly run a good show with the author being just as confused as the characters–believe me, I’ve tried. But in general, I like to let the story unfold as it may.

Writing or editing?

Reading. Then polishing. Then reading. But honestly, I panic till the story is down, because plot is my Achille’s Heel. So I would say that, in a weird way, I prefer editing. At least I know there is a proper skeleton tacked down.

Are there any crime-writers which are just your cup of tea? And if so, who?

I have not extensively read mysteries, but I am very fond of Dorothy L. Sayers, though she can get a bit technical in setting. (Staring gruffly at Nine Tailors)

Do you have an absolute top-of-the top favourite fictional hero?

Mr. George Knightley. Or a certain character in Jennifer Freitag’s Plenilune. But truly, secondary men seem to be my cuppa.

… and heroine?

I’m with Mark Twain on this one: Anne Shirley

Have you another mystery just waiting to be written, or will you wait for a little while before continuing with Vivi and Farnham’s adventures?

I have begun sketchy work on the second Vivi & Farnham mystery: Scotch’d The Snakes. I do not, however, anticipate that I will be able to devote much concentrated time to it until after the holidays.

Whence do you go from here? Another mystery? A different genre?

You never can tell with bees.

Cats, dogs or geckos?

Cats. I have heard geckos bite. Dogs simply smell bad and lick one’s knuckles.

Ah, it wounds my soul to hear your description of dogs. But, nevertheless, thank you very much for popping in, Rachel! And all the very best for your brother’s wedding : )

Who is this Author?

Rachel Heffington is a novelist, a nanny, and a people-lover living in rural Virginia with her family and black cat, Cricket. Her first novel, Fly Away Home, was independently published in February of 2014, while her novella, The Windy Side of Care, was published by Rooglewood Press in the Five Glass Slippers anthology in June of 2014. Visit Rachel online at www.inkpenauthoress.blogspot.comAnon Sir Anon EBOOK and enter a giveaway to celebrate Anon‘s release here.

… and what is this cozy novel about?

The 12:55 out of Darlington brought more than Orville Farnham’s niece; murder was passenger. In coming to Whistlecreig, Genevieve Langley expected to find an ailing uncle in need of gentle care. In reality, her charge is a cantankerous Shakespearean actor with a penchant for fencing and an affinity for placing impossible bets. When a body shows up in a field near Whistlecreig Manor and Vivi is the only one to recognize the victim, she is unceremoniously baptized into the art of crime-solving: a field in which first impressions are seldom lasting and personal interest knocks at the front door. Set against the russet backdrop of a Northamptonshire fog, Anon, Sir, Anon cuts a cozy path to a chilling crime.

… and from whence can I find this intriguing book?