My guest today is author Maureen Fisher. Maureen writes romance novels and cozy mysteries from her home in Ottawa, Canada. Today is release day for her latest novel, Horsing Around with Murder.
Linda Covella: Welcome, Maureen. Thank you for joining us today and answering “10 Questions” about your writing. And congratulations on your new release!
When and why did you decide to become a writer?
Maureen Fisher: For many years, I was a management consultant. The profession was good to me, yet something was missing. Fun perhaps? Over time, I grew tired of wearing little business suits, struggling with panty hose, and fighting rush hour traffic. I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I was certain of one thing—it wasn’t a consultant. One sunny day in June 2003, a good friend and primo energy healer called up our spiritual guides, guardians, and gatekeepers to channel an unforgettable session during which I made a life-changing decision. I walked out of her house knowing that I wanted to write books. Not dry, boring, technical treatises, but fresh, funny romance and mystery novels.
LC: That’s certainly a unique way to discover your calling!
What is your writing process: where do you write, how often do you write, are you a full-time or part-time writer, do you outline or do you plot as you go, etc.?
MF: I’m fortunate to have my own home office. There’s a good-sized desk, lots of bookshelves, a bay window overlooking the front yard, and a door I can close when I need to concentrate.
I confess I’m a part-time writer. My intentions are good, but now that I’m retired, I find myself busier than ever. Each book takes me three years to write.
I’m a plotter, not a pantster. I couldn’t write a book without an outline. I tried ‘pantsing’ a couple of times, and the results weren’t pretty. Of course, the outline changes as I learn more about the characters and the plot, but I know the key plot points and the ending before I start writing. The one exception was Fur Ball Fever. I had a vision for a funny scene, and wrote it before I had the outline. It gave me a better idea of the conflict and characters, helping me flesh out my outline.
LC: Where do you find your inspiration for your stories? Do you draw from your own experiences?
MF: I have a difficult time getting started. I find plotting to be extremely difficult, hence the length of time it takes for me to start a new novel. For the senior sleuth series, I came up with a number of ideas for a series of cozy murder mysteries. One of them involved a dude ranch. And Horsing Around with Murder, set on a dude ranch, was born.
LC: Who is one of your favorite characters from your story(ies), one that you enjoyed creating and writing about, and why?
MF: I loved writing Auntie Beth, a secondary character in Fur Ball Fever. She is sixty-something, outrageous, lippy, and up for just about anything. I liked Beth Donnelly so much in fact, I decided to write an entire series of cozy mysteries featuring a similar character as the protagonist. Once I got started, however, I discovered I needed my zany character to be the foil to my more serious protagonist. Hence in Horsing Around with Murder, the first book of my Senior Sleuth Mystery series, my protagonist, Abby Foster, is a former accountant with strong analytical skills, and her sister, Dodie Foster is my quirky secondary character.
LC: Do you incorporate (or inadvertently find) any of your own personality traits into your characters?
MF: I confess to having an inappropriate sense of humor. This trait migrates into my main characters, particularly the quirky ones. Here’s an example from Horsing around with Murder:
Bending over to scrutinize the plate, Dodie presented me with a disturbing view. She’d encased her plump legs in black leggings, a feat as miraculous as stuffing a bucking heifer down a drainpipe. Her queen-sized butt-cheeks bulged, straining the wafer-thin fabric in an alarming manner.
LC: You definitely paint quite a picture with your descriptions!
Do you find your stories are more plot driven or character driven? Please explain.
MF: Mine, even my romance novels, which are romantic suspense, are a combination of both. Since romance novels are about emotions, my main characters are often influenced by (and must overcome) past emotional traumas. The growth and change is known as the Character Arc.
All my novels, even my romances, have plots involving suspense, intrigue, and mystery. For that reason, I’m a big believer in Goal, Motive, and Conflict (GMC). Each of my main characters must have an urgent NEED for something (not just a WANT), a strong motive for needing it, and obstacles to overcome in order to obtain the goal.
For example, in Horsing Around with Murder, my protagonist needs to attract more guests to Grizzly Gulch (her goal) or the ranch will fold and she and her sisters will be penniless. The obstacle to her success is a suspected murder in the barn.
LC: Some great advice for aspiring writers. I think “GMC” is important in any fiction writing.
Did you read much as a child?
MF: Reading was my refuge, my escape, my haven from a tumultuous childhood. At age seven, my mother re-married (not happily), and we moved to Canada, away from extended family, especially my beloved grandfather, away from Scotland, away from my friends and home and everything familiar. Shy to begin with, I became paralyzed with the shock of the change, and immersed myself in books. The Enid Blyton Adventure series was my favorite. I read each of those books over twenty times.
LC: How important do you think reading is for writers?
MF: I can’t imagine anything more important than reading for a writer. A writer who doesn’t enjoy reading would be like a kindergarten teacher who dislikes children.
LC: Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books? What draws you to them?
MF: That’s a tough one as there are so many. My favorite romance authors are Jill Shalvis, Kristan Higgins, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache novels. Barbara Erskine has time travel books. Steven King and Dean Koontz are my favorite horror authors. Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovitch (someone compared my heroine in Fur Ball Fever to Stephanie Plum) are fun reads. And so, so many more.
LC: Anything new in the works?
MF: I’m so glad you asked. Today (February 1, 2019) is the day Horsing Around with Murder goes live. Here is the back cover blurb:
With horses, and goats, and a llama, oh, my!
There’s secrets, and intrigue, and someone must die.
Abby, Dodie, and Clara Foster, three 60-something sisters, are astonished to find they’ve inherited a dude ranch in the Alberta Foothills. Facing financial ruin due to extensive property upgrades, the sisters decide to host a week-long horse breeding symposium to attract more guests during the off-season.
Hours into the symposium, a sudden death appears accidental. When the Mounties dismiss Abby’s suspicion of murder, she convinces Dodie and a hot cowboy to help conduct a covert investigation without alerting their quirky guests.
Problem is, the guests are their main suspects.
Chaos ensues when the senior sleuths tangle with a runaway stud, a hands-on artificial insemination demo, one seriously amorous gelding (yes, it does happen), a llama on the lam, dwarf goats in the swimming pool, a cranky stallion, drug abuse, sabotage, animal rights activism, and more attempted murders. A late-life romance adds to the complications.
Warning: This book may contain inappropriate boomer humor.
Kindle Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MDB73P9
LC: It was a pleasure having you with us today, Maureen. I wish you much success with Horsing Around with Murder, and all your writing.
After spending eons in the I.T. consulting world, I live with my husband in Ottawa, Canada’s beautiful capital city, where I write fresh and funny novels featuring romance, mystery, suspense, and always an animal or two. I’m also a besotted grandma, a voracious reader, the Gardening & Landscaping Coordinator for our community, an avid bridge player, yoga enthusiast, seeker of personal and spiritual growth, pickleball player, and infrequent but avid gourmet cook. My husband and I love to hike, bicycle, and travel. I’ve swum with sharks in the Galapagos, walked with Bushmen in the Serengeti, sampled lamb criadillas (don’t ask!!!) in Iguazu Falls, snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef, ridden an elephant in Thailand, watched the sun rise over Machu Picchu, and bounced from Johannesburg to Cape Town on a bus named Marula.
Connect with Maureen:
Maureen’s books are available on Amazon in Canada, Australia, the UK and the US.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Maureen-Fisher/e/B005EOLB1Y
Cold Feet Fever (The Fever Series, Book 2): ‘One for the Money’ with steamy romance meets ‘The Sopranos’. A bad boy gambler and a mortician-turned-event-planner find romance while overcoming obstacles such as a goofy dog, ruthless thugs, exploding trucks, an eccentric granddaddy, disappearing corpses, an unfortunate synchronized swimming episode, and the threat of live cremation.
“An exciting novel that left me doubled over in laughter”
“a wonderful hilarious comedy … a warm and enjoyable read”
Fur Ball Fever (The Fever Series, Book 1): This romantic crime mystery features romance (sizzling hot), a second chance at love (hope and heart), crime (dastardly), an aging aunt (bawdy), dogs with personality (many), and humor (may cause mascara to run).
“It entertains, it heals, it delivers a message.”
“… hilarious, moving, and sexy.”
The Jaguar Legacy: Romance, suspense, and adventure explode in the steamy Mexican jungle. A secretive archaeologist guards his discovery, the ruins of a hidden Olmec city, while a journalist on the trail of an ancient Olmec curse experiences flashbacks to her past life where shapeshifting is a reality.
“…magnificent characters and scenarios.”
“An intricately woven tale of mystery, romance and occult. Definitely a keeper.”