Friday, June 7, 2013

Today, I have a real treat--a "real" writer!

(Okay....please don't misunderstand me.  We are all "real" writers...but today's guest has had published two very successful series of mystery novels. Books!  With pages!  And covers!  That someone else paid to have printed!) 

Anyway, now that I have offended you folks, I would like to introduce today's interviewee, Margaret Maron.  She writes the Sigrid Harald and Deborah Knott books and has a list of awards as long as my (flabby upper) arm.  These awards include the Edgar, the namesake of last week's interviewee.  Coincidental, no?
If you like mysteries, I highly recommend you check out her books, because her characterization is great--I feel like I know these people.  But for some reason I always pictured Dwight bald...I have very specific ideas about how my pretend people should look.

Margaret (yes, I am being presumptuous calling her by her first name, but I don't think she'd mind) lives here in NC and uses many of our great locations in her Judge Knott books.  She was great about putting up with my silly questions and was very prompt in getting back to me and was an all-around good sport.

Here's how she answered my questions:

1.  Most of my readers are Home Decor/DIY bloggers.  So before we begin the interview in earnest, would you describe your house?

Let's see. . . eclectic? eccentric? idiosyncratic? Definitely one of a kind. Our house began as a 1200 sq.ft.  vacation home, a 3BR, 1B, featureless box with a back porch that ran the full 50' length. Over the years, it's sprouted wings, had walls knocked down, doors and windows moved. It's now about 2600 sq.ft with all sorts of odd spaces. It has 6 doors to the outside and 31 windows.  It should tell your readers something that we have three fuse boxes. I've never cared about luxury, but I do care about comfort. When I sit down, I want a place to set my coffee cup and I don't care if it's a piecrust antique or a wooden box. You can set a glass of iced tea down on any surface in our house without worrying about water marks or white rings. Polyurethane is my friend. (Yes, I can hear your readers shudder and gasp.)  I'm big on repurposing furniture and will always try to build it before I buy it.
2.  You write your series set in NC with characters that are familiar to those of us who live in the south: farmers, good ol' boys, folks
who drink too much and lose their tempers, people who will buy "brandy" off the back of a truck, old-fashioned church-going women.
Is there an underlying message in the fact that your protagonist is "Judge Knott?"

Not really.  Her first name, Deborah, comes from the Bible. ("And Deborah judged Israel at that time." Judges 4:4) I gave her Knott as a last name thinking I might use punning titles for the books. By the time I decided that was a dumb idea, she had already appeared in print in a short story that won the Agatha Award and it was too late to change her name.

3.  What is the writing process like for you?

Heaven when it's going well, hell when it isn't. Writers stare out of windows a lot, but you can't wait for the muse to drift in and inspire you. You have to wrestle her into your office and tie her to a chair. The only inspiration I get is from staring at the computer screen,

4.  How does it feel to be on the NY Times bestseller list, in twelve words or fewer.

 Incroyable! (and I don't speak French)

5.  If you could redecorate one room in your house, what would it be? 

My supposedly "formal" living room.  It may be time to rethink the ca. 1900 white wicker armchairs, the ca.1960 kitchen cabinet that serves as a lampstand, and the ca. 1930 oak dresser that serves as a sort of  a sideboard. (I cut the feet and mirror off of it and added shelves across the knee hole.
6. I have written a couple of blog posts on style and voice.
 How important do you think it is to keep those in mind as you write?
I don't know about style, but voice is key for me. Josephine Tey and Rumer Godden are my absolute idols. Their characters just rise up off the page, fully rounded and fully engaged.
7. Any words of wisdom for those of us who are interested in writing professionally?

Finish the article. Finish the story. Finish the book. Treat it as a job and work at it every day. I myself do not believe in "writers's block." Dentists don't get up in the morning and say, "I'm blocked on filling cavities." English teachers don't say, "I'm blocked on teaching punctuation." They go to work and they do their jobs. If you want to be a professional writer, you have to treat writing like a profession.

Kirby here: I want to thank Margaret for taking the time to correspond with me and for her graciousness.  She was very patient with my silliness!  (And those of you who know me, know I can be silly.)  I have a few other interviews with writers waiting in the wings, and of course I have some other blogger interviews.   I think.  Laura?  Linda?  Anyone?


  1. Fabulous !!!!
    I love the bit about writers block LOL - EXCEPT if I were a dentist I'd probably have days when I couldn't face a filling either -
    What a great inspiring interview

  2. Great interview! I can't believe she mentioned Rumer Godden! I never meet anyone who has read her....they always say "who?".....I confess....I have not read any of these books....searching the library web page now.......

  3. Great interview. Margaret sounds very down to earth. I will have to get her books. The south is always one of my favorite settings for a novel. I can't get enough of it.

  4. What a fun interview, Kirby! I've not read any of her books, so I'm delighted to discover a new author to enjoy. Have a great weekend!
    xo Heidi

  5. Well what a fun surprise! I'm going to grab one of her latest books and take it on vacation with me next month!

  6. So if I would of stuck with writing back when I started at age 10 and my mystery "play" for the neighborhood, my Mrs. Knotta Live, could of been Judge Knotta!

  7. So are you headed out to help with her formal living room? Such a fun interview.

  8. Miss Margaret sounds like a fun lady- I'm going to find her books.
    Judge Knott! I love it.

  9. I've got to read her books! Love the interview Kirby :)