I had the opportunity to sit down for chat with one of my favorite mystery writers, who’s turned out to be one of my favorite people. Emma Jameson is the New York Times Bestselling author of the Lord & Lady Hetheridge series and the delightful Benjamin Bones series. Besides enjoying watching TV, drinking coffee, and herding cats, we’re both comic and Sci-Fi nerds and suckers for all things British. We’ll talk about her fresh new mystery Blue Blooded and a potentially sinister reason that we’re so much alike.
This may or may not be an actual image of me preparing to interview Emma.
If you don’t know me yet, I’m Cyn Mackley, the soon-to-be bestselling author of the Goode-Grace Mysteries, Martha Garrett Mysteries, and Ballardville Mysteries.
Cyn: I’m just a little excited here. Normally, sentences that start with I met someone on the Internet don’t turn out so well. But it’s working for us.
Emma: You are legitimately one of the funniest people I know, on or off line.
Cyn: I want to talk about your new book Blue Blooded, which is a great book. I’m going to give you an exercise I used when teaching people to write promotions. Give me three words on what it’s about and three words why I should read it. I’m willing to take a sentence since you’re used to writing long-form.
Emma: I’m thinking…
Cyn: Surprise writing exercise!
Emma: Thanks for complimenting my book. Readers who read the dedication will see your name. I value your input, and on this book, you were a lifesaver.
What it’s about: Hetheridge’s toughest challenge
Why you should read it: Danger, wit, and romance
Cyn: Boom! You’re good at this. As you know, I’m a die-hard Anglophile but I had no idea that you weren’t English when I read the first three books. And I usually have an eagle eye for that stuff.
Emma: What got you started down that path?
Me: TV shows. Space 1999, Doctor Who, Brit comedies on PBS. Movies to some degree. But mostly TV shows. Later it was books. But TV was the start.
Emma: I am not sure what got me started. Various memories come back to me. I think perhaps I got the idea from certain favorite fairy tales and Disney movies, that everything interesting happened in England. Dr. Doolittle was English. Peter Pan had the kids flying past Big Ben. Robin Hood and King Arthur.
Then when I was a little older, the Brit TV shows on PBS had a big impact. Shows like Butterflies and All Creatures Great and Small. And my favorite book, The Once and Future King, is the quintessential King Arthur retelling. (Unless you want to argue that it’s The Mists of Avalon, which is in my top ten.)
Me: One particular Disney movie I remember is Thomasina. And Haley Mills movies.
Emma: We really are one person, though. I loved Thomasina and Haley Mills movies in general.
Cyn: You have to do so much research about every area of life. From what to call a bag of snacks to police procedure. It’s like the books I set in the Midwest are running on a treadmill and you added a bunch of weight to the workout.
Emma: Yeah, it’s a big challenge. But it also scratches that strange Anglophile itch by putting me smack in the place I love. Tony Hetheridge paid for my first two trips to England, and Dr. Bones covered the third. My detectives made my real-life dreams come true. Talk about something to be grateful for. When I really stop and think about it, I’m overwhelmed. I have to give a shout-out to indie publishing. Every legacy publisher, big and small, turned down ICE BLUE (Hetheridge #1) and it languished in a drawer for 4 years. Amazon Kindle and Nook come along (soon to be followed by iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play Books) and suddenly my book is going straight to the people, and they want more. This is the best time for emerging writers to reach for that brass ring.
I’ve ticked off readers by getting little English details wrong. I’ve been guilty of calling that carry-all ladies sling over their shoulder a “purse” instead of a handbag. And I referred to “tap pants,” which apparently are just satin boy shorts.
I remember after I published MARRIAGE CAN BE MURDER, I mentioned a stoplight in Birdswing. A very nice English lady, frequent visitor to Cornwall, said that couldn’t be right because they have so few stoplights NOW, much less in 1939.
Cyn: I once said in a book that Ohio was east of Pennsylvania. And I live in Ohio.
Emma: These days, what with software advances, it’s easy for me to take these corrections on board and update the books for the next crop of readers. So by and large, the error flags are improving my books bit by bit. And I will never forget roundabouts, having lived them.
Cyn: They are on this kick to add them to Ohio. They’ve put a bunch of them in here.
Emma: Lord, I don’t know. I foresee a steep learning curve.
Cyn: Sometimes, the drivers look like people who can’t get out of a revolving door. Speaking of driving problems — Fun Fact: We both wrote a book in which the main character gets mowed down in the first couple of pages. (Check out Emma’s book MARRIAGE CAN BE MURDER.)
Emma: I know! I am embarking on that book. (KILLER CLOWNS FROM OUT OF STATE.) I love how you named the sheriff after Andy Taylor of Mayberry. The Andy Griffith Show is still one of my all-time favorites.
Cyn: Aunt Bea’s pickles! Best. TV. Episode. Ever.
Emma: Yes! I think you’re right.
Cyn: Again, we’re the same person. We can’t be separated at birth because I’m three years older. Do you think it was some kind of Boys from Brazil type experiment to create mystery writers?
Emma: I may be your clone. One of these days, you should write an English murder mystery and I’ll write a Midwest (or perhaps Southern) small town mystery. And if the DNA holds, we’ll both do well.
Cyn: Since you’re probably feeling all happy and satisfied at completing Blue Blooded, let me remind you that there’s always more to do by asking, “What’s next?” Besides a nap and Netflix.
Emma: Well. Since you asked… I am in the planning stages of Bones #3, Friendship Can Be Fatal. But it seems like the Muse has something else she’d like me to attend to. I couldn’t sleep last night for thinking about it. No details can be shared yet, but the title is BLUE CHRISTMAS.
Cyn — well, I’m going to stop here because Emma and I got into a big long conversation where I tried to convince her that she needs to catch up on 55 years of Doctor Who for research purposes. Emma’s off to watch Blue Blooded climb the mystery charts and I actually have to put in work on that Killer Clowns From Out of State sequel.
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