Wednesday Author Interview: Mystery Writer Evelyn Cullet
It’s Wednesday again, and today I have the pleasure of talking to mystery writer, Evelyn Cullet. Evelyn, Welcome to Bookin’ It. It’s great to have you here. Tell us a bit about how you became a writer. When did you decide that’s what you wanted to be, and what steps did you take to prepare for a writing career?
Evelyn: I loved to write short stories in high school. It was then I decided I wanted to be a writer. After graduation, life got more complex, but over the years I always jotted down ideas for stories, or character traits, or settings, or dialog, in spiral-bound note books. One day, my husband was cleaning out our desk and wanted to throw them all out, but when I protested, he suggested I put all the information on my word processor. When I finished, I found that I had nearly an entire novel written. But there were so many things I still had to learn about writing, so I began taking courses, first at college and then online.
BI: I wish I had been smart enough both to save all my earlier stories, and to take those college courses. It’s lucky for us that you did, as we now get to reap the benefits of your hard work. Were you inspired by any particular authors, past or present, and what is it about their work that impresses you, or moves you?
Evelyn: Being a life-long mystery buff, the Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Arthur Conan Doyle mysteries are what inspired me to be a writer. Each of their writing styles, in its own way, has influenced my love of writing. I always feel inspired to write after reading one of their classics.
BI: I’ve read a lot of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries over the years, but I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read Christie. I’m making a note to myself to rectify that. What genres do you read most often for pleasure…those books that you gravitate toward the minute you walk into a bookstore?
Evelyn: I love to read mysteries, as you might have guessed, so I’ll always gravitate to the mystery section of a bookstore. I’ll usually go right to the mystery authors I know, or the ones I’ve met at writers conferences, to find their latest novel.
BI: I might have guessed! 🙂 Let’s talk a bit about your writing process. Do you have a dedicated workspace, and are you consistent with the amount of time you spend writing each day?
Evelyn: I have my own little office, complete with a writing desk, a computer with accompanying mouse, a small desk lamp, and at least a dozen yellow post-it notes stuck around the desk reminding me of things that need to be done, which I completely ignore.
My writing time is often limited to how many things I have to do on any given day. But I try to get at least two to three hours of writing time in, if I can. Some days, that’s not possible.
BI: I know exactly what you mean. Real Life calls, often just when you most want to be left alone to write. Do you use visual aids, like Inspiration Boards/Photos or maps of your book’s setting? What reference books or other material do you consult most frequently as you write?
Evelyn: I don’t use visual aids, but before I begin writing a manuscript with a setting like Bariloche, Argentina, as I did in Masterpiece of Murder, numerous hours of research goes into to the places where I set the scenes, so I can explore them for dramatic possibilities to add plausible touches to my story.
Research these days is easily done on the computer. I just Google the location, and put the information that I want into a folder on my computer so I can refer back to the information as I’m writing.
BI: It’s a wonderful age for a writer to be living in, isn’t it? We have the world’s largest library at our fingertips, 24/7. When you have an idea for a new book, do you sit down and start typing, or do you start with an outline, and figure out all the major plot points first? In other words, is your working style structured and organized, or more organic and free flowing?
Evelyn: I sometimes get great ideas in the wee, small hours of the morning when my mind is in Alpha state, the time just before I’m fully awake. Early morning is when I write some of my best material. I’m probably coining a new word here, but I’m what you might call a “pants-outliner.” I do most of my pantsing at the beginning of each manuscript. But once I have the first couple of chapters written, outlining or fleshing out the rest of the story has its advantages by giving me some direction.
BI: Ha! I totally get that approach. I call myself a “plantster.” Can you tell us about your books, Evelyn, and where we can buy them?
Evelyn: My two novels are both light mysteries with romance and a little humor.
Love, Lies and Murder
Charlotte Ross sees her world about to crumble when the man she’s in love with–her mysterious boss, John Trent, announces his engagement to someone else.
Dubious globe-trotter and mystery author Jane Marshall, arrives back in town only to stumble across the gruesome body of the town’s millionaire industrialist. Charlotte joins forces with Jane, hoping to ease her heartbreak while helping to find the old man’s killer.
Charlotte is endearingly impractical as her impulsive choices lead her into and out of peril, with only the wry and often-misguided advice of the capricious Jane to guide her. Eldridge Corners is rich with quirky, small-town personalities who both aid and thwart Charlotte’s quests as the young woman discovers that people are not always who they seem–and a single error in judgment can prove fatal.
Masterpiece of Murder
In this sequel to Love, Lies and Murder, heartbroken American art student, Charlotte Ross, is so intent on locating her errant fiancé that she submits someone else’s painting as her own in order to gain access to a Master art class being held in Bariloche, Argentina—the place her lost love was last seen. When the painting gets her accepted into the class given by a world-famous artist and womanizer, being a novice makes keeping up with the others nearly impossible as she struggles to fake her way though, while trying to win back the man she loves. But her fiancé has his own reasons for being in Bariloche – he’s after a stolen art masterpiece. They complicate Charlotte’s life and threaten her very existence as she stumbles into a downward spiral of deceit, art forgery, and murder.
Love, Lies and Murder, and Masterpiece of Murder are published by Wings ePress and are available in ebook and print versions directly from the publisher, and from Amazon.com. They are also available for the Nook from Barnes & Noble: Love, Lies and Murder Masterpiece of Murder
BI: Thanks for that info, Evelyn. I’ve linked to amazon at the bottom of this interview, as well. Are you currently working on a new book? Can you tell us when it will be available?
Evelyn: I’m currently working on the next mystery in the Charlotte Ross series, Once Upon a Crime, which should be released some time this summer.
BI: Good to know. Everyone can mark their calendars. I’m always curious to learn more about how people read. Do you prefer eBooks, or print? Why?
Evelyn: While I love eBook prices, and have purchased many for my two eBook readers, I really enjoy the feel of a print book in my hands, and always will. I guess I’m old fashioned in that respect.
BI: A lot of people feel that way. For myself, it’s never been an either/or thing. I want it all! The beauty and pleasure of library shelves filled with great books (and great covers), and the convenience and comfort of having hundreds of books with me everywhere I go. Last question for today, Evelyn. In your opinion, what is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
Evelyn: Creation is what I enjoy most about being a writer. New ideas for mysteries, the romance, the humor, new characters, new settings, all of it. Choosing the protagonist, the hero, the victim(s) and the villain(s). Bringing my subconscious manifestations to life and spending time with them.
The characters don’t actually exist – but for me, they do and being able to shape their world with my thoughts is one of the greatest joys of being a fiction writer. It’s knowing the “whys and hows” of everything. Why an event happens, how it happens; why the character(s) take a certain course of action, how they go about solving a crime; and making the reader care. The fun of it is working out a storyline, and having the characters say and do things I would never have the guts to say or do.
The worst part about being a writer is marketing. I could elaborate, but I think that one word says it all for me.
Thanks for inviting me to be a guest author on your blog, Marcia. I’ve really enjoyed it.
BI: Thanks for being here, Evelyn. It’s been great finding out a bit more about you, your books, and your writing process. Folks, be sure to check out Evelyn’s mysteries at the links above, or on amazon.com:
Evelyn Cullet has been an aspiring author since high school when she wrote short stories. She began her first novel while attending college later in life, and while working in the offices of a major soft drink company. After taking early retirement, she finally has the chance to do what she loves best: write full time. As a life-long mystery buff, she was a former member of the Agatha Christie Society, and is a current member of Sisters In Crime. When she’s not writing mysteries, reading them or reviewing them, she enjoys hosting other authors and their works on her writers blog. She also plays the piano, is an amateur Lapidary, and an organic gardener. Evelyn and her husband live in a suburb of Chicago.