Name – Frances Powell
Age – They say the new 60 is 40, if that’s true that would make me 47.
Where are you from
I live in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland with my British husband, Russell, and our Goldendoodle, Winston
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I am just wrapping up a fantasy/mystery entitled, ‘Mystery of White Horse Lake’, inspired by our recent research trip to Ireland. Drawing on the legends and myths of Ireland, it tells the story of a curse placed on those that inhabit a castle build on sacred land of the Sidhe, the fairies inhabiting the Connemara Mountains.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing at a very young age but didn’t become a full time mystery writer until Jan. 2016. I guess you might say that life got in the way. Like many new authors, it’s often necessary to hold a full time paid position with health care benefits.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always been a writer but until January 2016, I think I lacked the confidence to let anyone, other than my daughter read my stories. It was around that time that I ventured onto writeon.com, and began posting chapter by chapter of my first book, ‘The O’Brien’. Thanks to the encouragement of other authors and their mentoring, I finally decided to self-publish.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My love of Ireland and the magnificent Irish Wolfhounds inspired my first book, ‘The O’Brien: A Ballysea Mystery’. The response was so positive to this first book that two addition books in the series followed the same year with a special Christmas mystery to be launched late October 2017.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’ve been told by many readers that I am a story teller and I would agree with that. Not unlike the story tellers of old who would create their stories on the ‘fly’, I simply just sit down at my laptop and write what the voices in my head tell me, without the aid of outlines.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title, ‘The O’Brien: A Ballysea Mystery’ refers to the four legged hero of the book and the Irish seaside village where the mysteries take place. A stray Irish Wolfhound that rescues the main character, Cat Murphy, from drowning after she takes a bad fall on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis, Maryland. When no one comes forward to claim the giant of a dog, Cat names him after her favorite restaurant/pub, O’Brien’s, a staple on Main Street, Annapolis.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
People should never underestimate the intelligence of dogs. Their instincts are much sharper than ours. So, if your dog reacts unnaturally to someone new…pay attention, they may not be all that they pretend to be.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Even with fiction, I believe that some of the author’s personal experience can’t help but come through in the story. I have been asked on numerous occasions if the female lead character was based on my life experiences. I feel complemented by this because it signals to me that the character is believable and someone the reader can relate to and visualize.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I’m a mystery buff, so of course, it has to be the Queen of Mystery, Agatha Christie.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
She’s not really a new author but she is new to me. Lately, I’ve had little time to read other authors, but when I need a break from writing and a bit of a giggle, I’ll pick-up an Agatha Raisin Mystery by M.C. Beaton. Her characters are very believable and have human flaws shared by many of us. Their adventures are well plotted and humorous.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I’m sorry but I can’t name just one. There are so many people that have freely given of their time and talents to support me that it wouldn’t be fair. I thank them all!
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely, I have been writing in one form or another for my entire working career.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I don’t think so.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As a child, I was very shy and spent a lot of time reading and this most likely prompted my desire to write.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Certainly, below is the preface to ‘Mystery of White Horse Lake’ due out this spring.
I stood silently at the window, watching and waiting.
After everyone else had gone to bed, I kept watch over the still waters of the lake, as I had every night this entire year. I worried about the small children upstairs snug in their beds, mindless of the danger. I knew he would come. I had been forewarned by the Sidhe, the fairies who called these mountains their home, that they had summoned their emissary of death. He appeared every seven years without fail. This year marked seven years since his last appearance and the horror left in his wake. But when would he come and who was he coming for?
It was on this moonlit night in early winter when the phantom white stallion arose from the dark waters of Pola Capall Lake. Shaking the water from his long, flowing mane, he cast his eyes upward towards the castle and stared with blazing eyes at the window where I stood. Raising his foreleg at the water’s edge, he pawed the earth three times. Then, rearing up on his hind legs, the majestic beast turned and raced across the mirror-like waters of the lake. His message was clear. Death would come to claim another soul within three days.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
When you self-publish, unless you have unlimited funds and can afford to hire a marketing firm specializing in book promotion, you must do your own marketing. You must be able to identify the readers most likely to be interested in your particular genre and then you need to get your book out in front of them. It’s a lot of work and can be very time consuming. That being said, my favorite part of the whole marketing process is getting to meet my readers.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Yes, I do travel for research. I feel the reader has a right to expect accurate descriptions of places and people and just one chance encounter can trigger an idea for a future book. This happened when we traveled to the west coast of Ireland in September to research the next book in the Ballysea Mystery Series and taking a wrong turn came upon Kylemore Abbey. I was so inspired by the setting that I put the next book in the series on the back burner and began writing ‘Mystery of White Horse Lake, a fantasy/mystery evoking the myths and legends of Ireland.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My covers are all designed by the very talented, Jo Stallings.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Without a doubt, the hardest part of the whole process is the editing and re-editing of the books.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned from my first couple books that I needed to spend more time on the editing and have others beta-read the work.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
I would like to see Nicole Kidman playing Cat Murphy in The O’Brien.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t become upset with a bad review and never, ever respond to a bad review. I got one particularly bad review on my first book. The reviewer commented on poor editing and when I actually had the print book in front of me, I could see obvious mistakes. Unfortunately, this reviewer also must have been extremely anti-smoking and she in no uncertain terms criticized me for including a character that smoked in my book. I couldn’t help but wonder if she would have attacked Sir Arthur Conan Doyle because Sherlock Holmes smoked a pipe.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I would like to thank all my readers for their support and tell them how much their wonderful reviews mean to me. They are what keep me sitting at my desk and writing every day.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The last book I read was actually ‘The Big Yank’ by fellow Irish writer, J. P. Sexton, who I met in November at the Maryland Irish Festival where we both were displaying our work. It’s a fantastic autobiography about growing up in the far northwest of Ireland. If you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend it.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not really, would have to have been some type of alphabet picture book with animals, knowing me.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I rarely cry but I do tend to laugh a lot and most of the time at quite inappropriate things. I’m afraid I’m one of those people who have no filter.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I have always admired the leadership skills of Winston Churchill and I would love to have been able to write his story from his perspective.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I probably won’t be buried but if I were, maybe ‘She tried her best’ because I did.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I love to travel and see new places and spend time with family and friends.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I probably shouldn’t admit to liking the ‘bad guy’, but I love the character, Raymond Reddington in Blacklist. My other favorite would be the British series, Midsomer Murders.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I’m from Maryland, so my favorite food would have to be steamed crabs! I like the colors blue and green. My favorite music groups are U2 and Queen. As for single artists, I really enjoy Lady gaga and Ed Sheeran.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
If I couldn’t be independently wealthy and spend all my time just traveling then I would probably like to run some type of animal rescue.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes, my website is http://www.booksbyfrancespowell.com
My USA Amazon Author Page is https://www.amazon.com/Frances-Powell/e/B01C67GJ0O/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1489173258&sr=8-1