Friday, March 7, 2014

Guest Post: Author Carola Dunn (mystery/Regency)

My recently released book, HEIRS OF THE BODY, is the 21st in my Daisy Dalrymple mystery series. Daisy's cousin Edgar, Lord Dalrymple, is approaching his 50th birthday when he realizes he has no idea who his heir is. He himself inherited the title from Daisy's father, because her brother was killed in WWI. His lawyer advertises worldwide, and four possible heirs are found, from all over the British Empire, and in all walks of life. Edgar—or rather his managing wife—asks Daisy to work with the lawyer to eliminate all but the rightful heir. All four are invited to his home, Fairacres, for his birthday, along with Daisy and her family. When one of the heirs dies unexpectedly, it begins to look as if someone plans to eliminate his rivals—permanently.

Available in US and UK hardcover and ebook. And in Canada from Amazon Canada.

How/why did you start to write?

I started writing as a ploy to avoid looking for a "proper job." The first few years I was married, we moved a lot and I had a lot of part time and temp jobs. Then we bought a house and settled down. No more excuses.

How did you become an author?

I sat down at the kitchen table with a pad of paper and a ballpoint pen and wrote, without any great expectation of actually producing an entire book. When I reached the end, it seemed an awful waste not to try to get it published, so I typed it and sent it off. And an editor bought it.

What was your first published piece?

A Regency, Toblethorpe Manor.

 Where was it published?

USA—New York publisher (Warner Books)

How long ago?

32 years

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

I got a degree in French and Russian. If I'd known I'd end up on the West Coast of the US I'd have taken Spanish instead. At various times I worked in market research, child care, office jobs, in-store demonstration, construction, bookkeeping, data entry (more complicated than it sounds as some of the people whose data I was entering were barely literate!),  proof-reading/copy-editing, and writing definitions for a dictionary of science and technology. French and Russian have come in handy when I've created French or Russian characters. The proof-reading and copy-editing obviously had their uses. The rest, not much.

What inspires you?

It varies. Sometimes it's a place I want to write about—Cotehele is a prime example: a fifteenth century fortified manor house that I've used as the setting for two books, a Regency (Smugglers' Summer) and a mystery (Mistletoe and Murder). Sometimes it's an issue—slavery and racism, war, PTSD, snobbery, chimney-sweeps, and so on. An idea for a character or a pair of characters in conflict can spark a story. Sometimes I simply think of a brilliant title and then have to write a book to go with it (eg. Styx and Stones). My time-travel Regency came about because I wanted to tell the story of Ada Byron Lovelace, often called the first computer programmer, but she was a baby at the end of the period!

Please share one of your successful author platform building technique

To tell the truth, I'm not sure what an author platform is. I don't think they existed in 1979, when I started writing. If I have one, it's thanks to my publisher.

Parting words

34 years and 60 books later, I'm kind of glad I picked up that ballpoint...