Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Interview with Eileen Key

Today’s Wednesday Author Interview is with Avalon debut author Eileen Key.  Her mystery, Forget Me Not, sounds like my kind of book!  Here’s the cover blurb: 

Maggie Price, interior plant decorator and owner of Plants Alive! Interior Landscaping, discovers the body of her Aunt Della sprawled out on the front lawn of her rural Tennessee home. The ensuing murder investigation implicates her son, Brian. Convinced of his innocence and determined to find the real killer, Maggie and her brother Joshua Clark race to solve the case themselves. Joshua tells Maggie their aunt had alluded to the possibility of an oil and gas lease on her property, but how could that figure into a murder?

Clues point the finger at an unsavory vagrant, Carl Owens, who had once worked for Della; however, Maggie's relief is short-lived when they realize he has an alibi. Maggie's search soon has her researching the town's criminal past, where stories of unsolved bank robberies and corporate corruption reveal that murder and secrets go hand in hand.
 


So intriguing!  As is the title!  So my first question for Eileen was, where did the title Forget-Me-Not come from? 

From those characters who dance in your head at night!
 
What can you tell us about your protagonist, Maggie Price?  And is there a little Eileen Key in the character? 

Maggie Price has an insatiable curiosity and a desire to HELP others. However, she is quite impatient and can jump to conclusions rapidly. Hmm, yes, a great deal like me.
 
They say, “old secrets cast long shadows,” and that certainly seems to be the case here.  Can you tell us a little bit more about how this plays into the plot? 

Digging in the past fits Brian's journalistic mind. He's content to riffle through pages of data. But the past makes itself known in the flesh, frightening Maggie and coloring the sheriff's investigation!
 
Being a Texas gal, why did you choose Tennessee as the setting for this book? 

This Texan started out in Tennessee. As they say, I was born elsewhere but got to Texas as fast as I could. After a visit to my relatives in Jackson, I decided to use TN as a setting. It's such a beautiful area and evokes such wonderful memories for me.  
 
What is your favorite scene in the book? 

Marshall's disclosure of his secret.
 
Did you have a carefully crafted plot before beginning to write this novel or did the story tell itself once you began writing? 

While I'd love to plot and know every twist and turn, I'm afraid my brain isn't wired that way. I've even tried the famous Randy Ingermanson's snowflake method. So not me! I start with a vague outline of chapters. What's going to happen here and there. And then the characters appear. (If you're a writer, you understand this next sentence; if you're a "normal," maybe not.) My characters take on a life of their own and begin to dance across the page. I marvel at where they take me.  
 
Your protagonist Maggie is an Interior Landscaper, so is that a hobby of yours or did you have to do some field research for this character? 

You made me laugh--I can't grow air ferns. I did have to do some research. Fortunately there is an interior landscape firm nearby. I never stopped to think where the plant in my doctor's office or the bank came from. OR who cared for them. Landscape design is a booming business. One I doubt I'll ever be asked to join.
 
Is research a necessary evil for you or do you enjoy that aspect of the writing process? 

To be authentic in our work, I believe research is necessary. I've asked questions, traveled and Googled before every book. Thank goodness the Internet was born. I marvel at the authors who came before the computer age. What a difficult job they had.
 
Forget Me Not is your first mystery for Avalon, but not your first mystery you’ve had published.  Dog Gone from Barbour was released in 2008.  What draws you to writing mysteries?  

Mysteries take me outside my boring, hum-drum existence and transport me into a life of intrigue and adventure!
 
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Becoming thick-skinned. Between critiques from my fabulous crit group, edits and reviews, your heart can be ripped apart. "I wrote these amazing words and you don't LIKE them?" Wow. My first set of edits I felt as though I'd received a D minus on my thesis. A writer must develop a student's attitude to learn the craft. Crit partners and editors aren't slashing and burning your work to hurt you. They have no emotional investment in your story. That was difficult to learn.
 
Are you working on another mystery right now or something else entirely? 

Currently I'm finishing a contracted romance novella for Barbour: Cedar Creek Seasons. Then I will work on the novella Sundays in Fredericksburg.
 
According to your bio, you didn’t begin writing until you retired from a successful career as a middle-school teacher.  Is writing a full-time gig for you now or just something to do when you aren’t enjoying your grandchildren? 

Retirement. ha! Raise your hand if you are busier in retirement than you were when you were employed. Writing is a daily activity sandwiched in between family commitments. I don't want to waste a minute of life! I hope God "uses me up" until the end.
 
What other interests do you have?

I am an active member of Grace-San Antonio Community Church
 
You’ve been quoted as giving advice to aspiring writers to “Read, read, read, then write, write, write.”  What book(s) are you reading right now and what authors do you admire most?

I just finished Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer which is Christian historical fiction. She is an extremely gifted author.  I read The Help and admired Kathryn Stockett's writing. Earlene Fowler remains my favorite mystery author.
 
If readers want to learn more about you, do you have a website they can go to? 

www.eileenkey.com is my 'not updated" website.

Check out Eileen’s website, but also be sure and check out Forget Me Not. 

Thanks for your time Eileen! 

5 comments:

Shirley Marks said...

Yay! for a life of intrigue and adventure!

Nice interview of Eileen's new book, Jayne.

Beate Boeker said...

This sounds like such a great story! I love the cover, too! Thanks to both of you for doing this great interview! I also very much agree on the thick skin needed!

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Very nice meeting you, Eileen. Your book sounds intriguing.

Sarita said...

I love a good mystery, and this one sounds great. What a wonderful interview.

cwise said...

I just completed "Forget Me Not" and feel as though I just finished a time on "Maggies" front porch in a comfy rocking chair listening to all the details of Aunt Della and her untimely.... well you'll just have to read to know what I "heard" about that little town in Tennessee. Lots of great characters and delightful story.