Author Interrogations

Author Sandra Bretting

Welcome to Flash Bang Mysteries, Sandra! What can you tell us about MURDER AT MORNINGSIDE?

I’m happy to be here, B.J.! Thanks for the invite. Murder at Morningside takes place on the Great River Road in Louisiana. That area has a dozen or so antebellum mansions that somehow survived the Civil War. (Some in better shape than others.)

My main character opens a hat studio there to dress the brides who get married in the renovated mansions. But when a client disappears, she’s thrown headfirst into a murder investigation.

Being from southeast Louisiana, I couldn’t help but find this intriguing.

What inspired you to start writing fiction, and how long have you been at it?

I’ve always loved writing, and I moved across the country to attend journalism school at the University of Missouri when I was 19. But, I quickly found out I’d rather write stories than deliver the news. I did both for a decade, and then I focused on fiction when I entered my thirties. (Notice how nonchalantly I sidestepped the age question?)

I see that you’ve freelanced for the Los Angeles Times in the past and currently freelance for the Houston Chronicle. Do you find it difficult to switch from writing nonfiction to writing fiction on a day-to-day basis?

It’s easier than you’d think, mainly because I write feature stories for the Chronicle. I find writing fiction actually helps my nonfiction, because I’m more conscious of things like color and sentence flow. And writing for a newspaper has made me more disciplined. (Hemingway is my role model for that.)

What genre do you prefer reading, and who is/are your favorite author(s) in that genre?

I read a little bit of everything. In mainstream, I’ll read anything by Ann Patchett. In cozy mysteries, I like Margaret Maron and Alexander McCall Smith (if you consider The #1 Ladies Detective Agency series a cozy, which I do.)

Along that same line of questioning, have you ever read an author who has had a lasting and positive impact on your life?

I’d have to say Jack London, because he taught me about how to write vividly. And Hemingway, of course, because no one writes a cleaner sentence.

I loved Jack London’s book as a kid! I still have the hardcover copy of WHITE FANG and the trade paperback combo of THE CALL OF THE WILD/THE CRUISE OF THE ‘DAZZLER’, which I bought back in the late ’70s/early ’80s–long before you were born. (Notice how I paid attention to your age side-step?:-)

How many hours per day do you devote to writing fiction?

I write five to six days a week, usually for four hours in the morning. That’s about all the creative writing my tiny brain can handle. Then I’ll turn to nonfiction or editing in the afternoons.

Can you describe a typical day in the life of Sandra Bretting?

Spoiler alert: my characters have a lot more fun than I do. I’ll lock myself in the “writing cave” all morning, and then I’ll work out. (I want to live to see my books in print.) After that, I’ll focus on some nonfiction or book promotion, and then I’ll have dinner with my family. Eat, sleep, repeat. Hey…I warned you it was boring.

Ha! I was jogging with my wife the other day (I hate jogging, but I enjoy spending the time with her), and this old man who was walking his dog said to us, “Y’all are going to die real healthy.”

What has been the highlight of your novel-writing career thus far?

Seeing my books on the shelf of our local bookstore. Corny, but true.

If you could write from anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

By a beach—any beach—because the waves calm me.

What are some of your interests or hobbies outside of writing?

I love to travel. Despite my earlier spoiler alert, I took a break this summer and spent seven weeks with my family in Europe. Fortunately, we’re all still on speaking terms. I also do yoga, but I cheat and plot out scenes when I’m supposed to be meditating.

I read on your website that MURDER AT MORNINGSIDE is the first in a new series. Are you hard at work on the sequel, or taking a break to work on something else?

I’m way ahead of you. I’ve already sent book two to my publishers, and I’m working on book three.

Good job on that and best of luck to you!

original cover art

MURDER AT MORNINGSIDE blurb: When a bride is found dead in a mansion on Louisiana’s Great River Road, milliner Missy Dubois finds herself entangled in one unfashionable murder.

IMG_9183a_cdSandra Bretting works as a freelance feature writer under contract to the Houston Chronicle. She received a journalism degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and wrote for other publications (including the Los Angeles Times and Orange Coast Magazine) before moving to Texas.

Her Missy DuBois Mysteries series debuts from Kensington/Lyrical Underground in May 2016. Bretting’s previous mysteries include Unholy Lies (2012) and Bless the Dying (2014), both from Five Star Publishing. Readers can reach her online at www.sandrabretting.com and through Facebook at www.facebook.com/sandra.bretting.

For more about the author, visit: www.sandrabretting.com

25 thoughts on “Author Interrogations

  1. Glad to know you better, Jacqueline. You clearly have a long-established, good writing routine. Having read earlier works of yours, I’m eager to read THE BAD WIFE. Best of success on this one! Peter

  2. Fun interview…I, too, suffer from “bright, shiny things” syndrome! That being said, looking forward to reading your book, Allan!
    BTW, Robert B Parker has long been one of my favorites…other than Jesse Stone, I’ve loved all of his work, including non-fiction.

  3. Great interview, Allan. Enjoyed your sense of humor and happy-go-whatever attitude. And, yes, a boyhood idol of mine, Roy Rogers, was born Leonard Slye in Cincinnati, Ohio. When he was a youngster, his family moved upriver to Portsmouth, Ohio, where I also spent some of my early years. I met him in person many years later and even wrote about that day in a story called “White Hats and Happy Trails.” It’s still on my blogsite along with a picture to prove it’s all true. I’ll take your word for it that a macaw can live eighty years. Anyway, best wishes for continued success with your writing.

    1. That’s a great story about Roy Rogers!

      I didn’t get to meet him, like you did, but I was at the arena many moons ago when Roy and Dale Evans were performing at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. I remember how thrilled people were to see them and get Roy’s autograph. One lady showed me hers–it read “Roy Rogers and Trigger.”

  4. Fun interview! You didn’t accept my very first published story, Earl, but one of the first. BJ, you took some, too–two of my favorite guys here!

    I, too, watch a lot of Dateline, so I guess I’m in good company. The fictional cop shows start out well, then deteriorate. I’m still hooked on The Blacklist. O. Henry and Mark Twain are my writing idols. I keep re-reading them over and over, hoping to make it to their level some day.

    (Oh, and I saw Trigger on stage once, Roy and Dale at ball games a few times. They were all great.)

  5. I can’t wait for the sequel, Earl. I really enjoyed Memory of a Murder, and your short stories. Keep it up. Believe me when I say, this is no hobby for you. You’re too good to call it a hobby. : )

  6. Kaye, I watch Blacklist, too. Love the characters, the intrigue, and the fast pace. I was a bit disappointed when Roy didn’t have Dale and Trigger with him when I met him. Dusty was there, tho. Roy was great and even sang for us.

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