One of my favorite book genres is mystery, and I am thoroughly enjoying Marji’s mystery books. Her latest one, Grime Wave, is coming out on July 27th.
I also love her fun and good writing in the books she has co-authored—Romance through Write Integrity Press. She’s done five of these collaborations. The first two were Christmas stories and the last three make up a sweet romance series, Heart Seekers. You can find them on her Amazon Author page, or check out the most recent one, released on July 1, Unlikely Merger.
Q. Hi, Marji, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
A. I’m a home schooling mom, like you. Teaching is in my genes. I was an elementary public school teacher prior schooling my own, and I’ve directed various children choirs for about twelve years. In our large co-op, I coordinate the high school classes, and I’ve recently designed our new website. Usually, aside from teaching my own girls, those tasks run behind the scenes, except in the early fall (coming fast) when volleyball season and our co-op take over all of our time.
Q. What writers inspire you?
A. That’s a hard question because there are a lot of writers that I like. I aspire to write suspense and mystery like Dana Mentink and Dani Pettrey. They both have a talent for keeping their stories moving with unexpected twists. Elizabeth Goddard is another author I like to read, but she inspires me differently. What an amazing lady! I could couple Lynne Gentry with her as well. The personal stories of both of these ladies encourage me to keep reaching for the goal …
Q. Give us an insight into your main character(s). What are their passions or motivations?
A. Dani Foster, a professional crime scene cleaner, is a cop’s kid. She can’t help the way her background colors the way she looks at things. She has a strong sense of justice and an innate curiosity that drives her to ask just the right questions and dig a little deeper into the scenes she encounters. And all of that would be fine, if she were really Dani Foster.
However, as a witness under the protection of the US Marshalls, her subtle investigations make her a consistent visitor to the police department, and not in a good way. But that isn’t her only problem. She has a strong value of honesty that regularly distresses her. After all, she’s having to constantly live a lie that burns her conscience. Especially when the lies spread to people she cares about. Like Crime Scene Specialist, Jay Hunter from the Dallas Police Department.
Jay also values honesty and feels a sting of secrecy around Dani from time to time. But he’s beginning to care enough about her that he’s willing to ignore the worry that tickles the edges of his mind. Besides, his attempt to be promoted to the team lead position that’s opening up gives him enough concern. A perfectionist, he even revisits the scenes after the cleaners have finished to double check that he didn’t miss any evidence.
Q. Where do you get inspiration for your characters?
A. Dani has been a fun character. I got the idea for her while listening to a podcast of the daughter of a coroner who had become a screenwriter. She went through all of the different jobs of forensics today and mentioned the cleaning position. That would take a special person! The picture in my mind of her, and on my covers, is actually one of my oldest daughter’s best friend. Emily is a good sport and let me do a little photography on her.
Dani’s hero had to be a cop of some sort and a crime scene investigator was a perfect match for her. The man in my head for him is a young Jimmy Smits. Only Jay Hunter has a Native American background. I have to tell you, I’m loving working with these characters. They tend to surprise me from time to time. LOL!
Q. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
A. I actually have 2 pieces of advice. The first is what most authors will urge: KEEP WRITING! I’d like to say that I have a set word count that I reach every day. I’m working in that direction, but I’m not quite that consistent, yet. But making writing a habit – especially if it’s an activity that you love – is my first recommendation.
My second suggestion is to keep your eyes open for unexpected avenues. In my case, I had my heart set on publishing with one of the big houses. That wasn’t actually part of my purpose for writing, but it became a mindset. But when a contest came by through a small press, I joined in. I loved the book’s concept and thought it could get me some constructive feedback. Instead, I won the contest with Write Integrity Press and got to see my name on a book cover for the very first time. Not only did my involvement lead to new books with the group, but it showed me that I had skewed my focus into the wrong direction.
Sometimes, the things you seek are right in front of you, only they look different than you expected.
Thanks, Marji; I enjoyed interviewing you!!!
Check out her first book of her series, Grime Beat, and don’t forget to chat with her about the book! (Even before you read it!) Grime Beat Discussion.
Christa Upton Black Hills Picture Books PO Box 293 Custer, SD 57730