Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi. I’m EM Kaplan or Emily. I’m 45 years old. I was going to say it in months, but that makes me sound older than a planet.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I currently live in the US outside of Chicago in the little town where they filmed the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day. I was born in Thailand, but I spent most of my childhood in Tucson, Arizona.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have two teenaged kids, a Golden Retriever, and an author-husband (JD Kaplan) who writes contemporary fantasy novels. During the day, I work at my job writing guides and brochures for the cell phone division of Motorola. My university degree is in English Lit and Philosophy. I also did a graduate program in Creative Writing and one year of an Architecture program. I’m a little bit over-educated for how much I actually think things through. I’m also a dance fitness instructor during the evenings at my local gym.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Full Slab Dead, the newest Josie Tucker mystery just came out. It’s the fourth mystery in this humorous series and I’m getting reports back that it’s the favorite book in the series for a few of my fans.
In this book, snarky food critic, Josie Tucker, heads to Austin to take a tour of local barbecue joints. While in Texas, she stumbles on to a decades’ old missing person case. With the help of a local reporter, a Goth ghost hunter, and a Bunco-playing transvestite, she tries to unravel the heart-tugging, hidden history before the whole place goes up in smoke.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
When I was little, I used to write stories for myself late at night with a flashlight and a notebook under the bedcovers. I had a lot of anxiety as a kid, so writing stories was probably the best way to take control of my surroundings. What better way to control things than to create your own world?
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In high school, I had a recurring humor column in the local newspaper. When I got my first fan mail, I thought maybe that made me a writer. In reality, I think the only thing that makes you a writer is if you write.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was a horrible mess about a woman struggling with identity issues after the death of her favorite uncle. She’s on this weird road trip… Well, never mind about that. Let’s just say the book was something that had to be done and destroyed. I’m much better now.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title forThe Bride Wore Dead (the first Josie Tucker Book) was a brainflash. I had a much more serious working title to begin with, but it wasn’t memorable or catchy, and it didn’t convey any humor. I’ve been sticking with “dead” in the titles so far. People tend to send me suggestions now.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
So far, I have the casual, snappy style that I use for the Josie Tucker books and the more romantic, flowing style for the Rise of the Masks fantasy series. Sometimes the styles leak into each other, but I think that’s natural. The Josie Tucker style is much easier to write because it’s closest to how I feel in my day-to-day brain.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
In the Josie Tucker books, there’s a healthy dollop of reality in each one. Definitely the locations—Arizona, California, Texas, and Boston—I’ve lived in each of those places, so I hope I’ve been able to bring a strong sense of place to each book. Sometimes I’ll add simple characterizations of minor characters in homage to friends. So, yes, there’s a little of that going on.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t have to travel, but it helps me to use a location that I already know well. I recently took a train ride across the Canadian Rockies with my mom. That setting has some potential, but the re-make of Murder on the Orient Express is coming out soon. It might be overkill, so to speak.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
They’re are all done by me.I’m not a graphic designer, but my sister is, and I get a lot of input from her.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I market Josie Tucker as being snarky and sarcastic, but the real message is her loyalty to her small group of friends and family.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I just finished reading Virginia Gray’s third book, The Golden Handcuffs. I think she’s categorized as a Women’s Fiction writer.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My chapter of the Sisters in Crime organization in Chicagoland has been wonderfully supportive, from guest speakers, field trips, and opportunities at the Printer’s Row book festival, they’ve helped me learn so much. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Ha! I’ve been a technical writer for about 20 years now, but I’m guessing you mean a fiction writer. Let’s just say, I’m working on it. That’s my goal.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I like how the latest book ended up. If I had to go back, I’m not sure if I would have branched out into fantasy so soon after publishing my first mystery. The marketing of two separate genres has been a challenge.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’d really like to pick an unknown actor. It’d have to be someone slightly pretty, somewhat brown-skinned, and scrappy. I’m digging these made-for-streaming series and movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
The only different between an aspiring author and an author is writing.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
From the bottom of my heart and soul, thank you for reading.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo. It’s the follow-up to Nobody’s Fool, which he wrote decades ago.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I read a lot of horrible school reading primers in the late 1970s before I realized that was not what reading was about. I couldn’t understand why my older sister loved to read so much. After I moved over to the adult section of the library, I caught on. One of the first authors I really liked was Agatha Christie.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Music usually gets me more than anything else. My husband makes fun of me for listening to pop music, but the truth is, if I listen to anything else, I get easily emotional. I’ve been known to get full-body chills or goosebumps from opera, the symphony, bagpipes, drum and bugle corps, and Britain’s Got Talent audition tapes.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d just like to talk with my father one more time.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I’m surrounded by the carcasses of my dead hobbies even as I answer this question. Painting, sewing, card-making, crocheting, gardening…I also still have my trombone from when I used to play. I don’t think anyone ever really gets rid of a trombone. I might have to be buried with it.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Right now, I’m watching The OA. I’m only on the third episode, but it’s really good. People have been telling me to watch Orphan Black, too, so that’s next on my list.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I like to cook. For a while, I was obsessed with roasting vegetables like parsnips, rutabaga, and fennel. My friend brought me a goat shoulder to cook and that turned out really nice. I also post excessive amounts of donut photos and videos on my Facebook fan page.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would probably go back to gardening and taking long walks. I was painting mandalas a little bit earlier this summer. Just using acrylics.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Played well with others.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Amazon author page: http://amazon.com/author/emkaplan
Link to my books: http://justtheemwords.com/index.php/books/