Friday, January 22, 2010

Diane Gilbert Madsen - Q and A with the Author! - Part 1

*From the Editor: Welcome to Diane Gilbert Madsen. Here is a brief 'About the Author' to whet your appetite! 'Chicagoan Diane Gilbert Madsen has an M.A. in 17th century English, was the State of Illinois Economic Development Director, and later ran her own consulting firm. She’s listed in Who’s Who in Finance & Industry and the World Who’s Who of Women. Fascinated by crime, history and business, her interest in writing murder mysteries was sparked when she met someone convicted of murder who was later exonerated. The encounter caused her to rethink how people form their first impressions of murder suspects. “A Cadger’s Curse,” is the first in the DD McGil Literati Mystery series, published by Midnight Ink. Diane and her husband Tom now live in Florida at Twin Ponds, a five-acre wildlife sanctuary.' Thank you to Diane for taking the time to do this.

*Note... today, coincidentally, is Robbie Burns Day (The Cadger's Curse involves Robbie Burns!) The Scot would be 251 today. Raise a glass of whatever you tipple!

Q&A with Diane Gi
lbert Madsen

CMM: First, tell us a little about your writing history… did you write before the DD McGil series?

DGM: I’m an English major and our curse as well as our blessing is that we all write -- or try to. I did write an early murder mystery called “Wild Life” centering around art forgery, but it never got picked up. Then I was interested in writing True Crime but got diverted when I started the DD McGil Literati Mystery series.

CMM: Now tell us about your DD McGil Literati Mystery Series; where did the idea for the series come from? What made you decide on a literature theme for your mysteries?

DGM: The Literati Mystery Series is a melding of my two interests, history and mystery. I like to read about famous authors. They all have some hidden mysteries in their own adventuresome lives. I like to take these incidents in authors lives and speculate on how the story might have continued after the final page. So I decided to combine my speculations about incidents in authors lives with my other passion – mysteries - and create the Literati Mystery Series. In the first book in the series, “A Cadger's Curse – The Robert Burns Affair,” the mystery revolves around an incident in Robert Burns’ life. The mystery took shape when I read that Burns had taken a diamond tip pen and boldly scratched a treasonous verse on the window of the Lion’s Head Inn in Stirling. It was a wild and crazy thing to do and could very well have cost him his life.

CMM: You have a book video for A Cadger’s Curse… how did that come about? Did you do the video yourself or did someone else do it for you?

DGM: I love all the book trailer videos. I had one done through COS productions. They worked closely with me and were excellent. I had a friend, Gary Reinstrom, who is a Jacobite piper from Sarasota Florida who teaches the bagpipes, and he did a special arrangement of Auld Lang Syne which we used as the music for the video. It turned out fantastic. I use the book trailer video at speaking engagements and book signings, and it’s been very enthusiastically received. I definitely plan on doing another one for my next DD McGil Literati Mystery, Hunting for Hemingway.

CMM: How do you create characters that can/will sustain a series of books? Do you know everything about them going in, or does that come bit by bit as you write the books?

DGM: Characters need to grow and develop and take on a life of their own during a book and from book to book in a series. In my case, I believe if I simply plot out a character, that character would turn out very wooden. Sometimes a character surprises you and takes over and you find yourself writing things in a rush, not really knowing where it’s all coming from. In A Cadger’s Curse, that happened with Aunt Elizabeth, or the Scottish Dragon, as she’s referred called.

CMM: Cozy mysteries generally take place in a small town, but you’ve set your DD McGil series in Chicago. Was that a conscious choice? Tell us about your decision making process?

DGM: Location, location, location! Maybe all cozy mysteries don’t have to take place in small towns. I would classify my mystery, A Cadger’s Curse, as “a slice of life” – a

“not-quite-cozy” rather than a “cozy.” I believe my story worked out very well in a large city where my heroine, DD McGil, can rely on a number of contacts offered in a large city. The larger venue also allows interactions which come out of “left-field” and keeps the mise en scene changing and unexpected. I don’t think I’m the only writer who’s done a “not-quite-cozy” in a big city. I wrote about Chicago because it’s my hometown, and I know it well and love it. I lived and worked there until I moved to Southwest Florida. I visit often and have many friends and family there and my visits keep me up to date on the city I love. Like politics, I think all stories are local, and if you have a feel for a city or town, I believe you can make the venue work - even in a cozy or a “not-quite-cozy.”

Check back here Wednesday for Part 2 of Diane Gilbert Madsen's Question and Answer with Cozy Murder Mysteries!

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