Cat-ching up with Miranda James aka Dean James! - Dark Streets
One of my favorite mystery series (and not just because I’m a cat lover) is the CAT IN THE STACKS mysteries, written by NYT bestselling author Miranda (aka Dean) James.
Dean is a medical librarian in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas. A seventh-generation Mississippian, he attended graduate school at Rice University and somehow never left Houston afterwards. He is an avid book collector, reader, and bridge player. He has two cats and way too many books.
We caught up with Dean to ask him a few questions!
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
I grew up on a farm, an only child who loved books and reading. I discovered mysteries when I was about 10 or 11, and I read a Nancy Drew book belonging to one of my cousins. There was no looking back after that; I was hooked on mysteries. I got the writing bug a couple of years later and actually wrote a mystery. The urge to write grew stronger while I was in graduate school, and I just kept at it.
The character of Diesel is so adorable. Did anything in particular inspire him?
When I decided to write a series about a librarian and his cat, I knew right away that I wanted the cat to be a Maine Coon. I had met one in real life, and that cat, named “The Diesel,” inspired my own Diesel. Maine Coons are large, loyal, loving, intelligent, and those characteristics are the basis for Diesel’s character.
Do you have a “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share? How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
I actually got my agent after a friend and I, who co-wrote a non-fiction book on mysteries, managed to sell the book ourselves. On the strength of that sale, we pitched ourselves to the agent of a friend of mine, and she took us on. That was in 1992 or 1993, I think, and I am still with the same agent.
I also “sold” my first novel without my agent. A friend was acquiring manuscripts of Southern mysteries for a small regional press in east Tennessee, and they accepted a book called Cruel as the Grave. They went on to publish two more of my books. The first novel that my agent sold for me was the first of four that I published with Kensington. It was called Posted to Death.
What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
Most of the time I listen to music when I write, and what I listen to varies by my mood. Sometimes classical, sometimes pop, sometimes opera. I particularly like listening to Baroque music when I write, because I think the carefully structured nature of Baroque music is a subconscious support for plotting.
I like to have a notebook and pen handy because I never know when I might get an idea for a plot twist, a character, or some event crucial to the book. I jot down all kinds of things, and being able to scribble helps when I’m working through a book.
What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
Maybe it’s that I have four college degrees: BA and MA in history, Ph.D. in medieval history, and MS in Library Science. I’ve spent roughly 23 years of my life in school.
What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
Move from a small town in Mississippi to the big city in Houston to attend graduate school. Talk about culture shock!
What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
That they have spent time with characters they enjoy reading about. That I have helped them forget about other things for a few hours while they read. I read fiction to escape from the everyday world, and if I can provide that to my readers, too, then I consider I’ve done my job.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A little of both, actually. I occasionally outline, if not the whole book, at least part of it. But I also like the looseness that comes from writing by the seat of my pants (some prefer to call it “organic” writing). I’m a strong believer in the subconscious, and letting it do its thing.
Tell us about Charlie and Diesel’s latest adventure!
The fifth book in the series, The Silence of the Library, will be out later this month. After that there is one more book under contract at present. The Silence of the Library revolves around a famous writer of juvenile mysteries and an exhibition of her life and work at the public library in Athena where Charlie volunteers.
Are there any writers in particular that have influenced your style of writing?
My favorites are Margery Allingham, Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels, Georgette Heyer, and Mildred Wirt Benson (who wrote the early Nancy Drew books). I think that the classic English and American detective stories in general have influenced me greatly.
I personally am a big fan of this series and I can’t wait to pick up SILENCE OF THE LIBRARY when it debuts January 28th. I hope you will too!
Everyone in Athena, Mississippi, knows Charlie Harris, the librarian with a rescued Maine coon cat named Diesel. He’s returned to his hometown to immerse himself in books, but a celebrated author’s visit draws an unruly swarm of fanatic mystery buffs?and one devious killer.
It’s National Library Week, and the Athena Public Library is planning an exhibit to honor the centenary of famous novelist Electra Barnes Cartwright?creator of the beloved Veronica Thane series.
Charlie has a soft spot for Cartwright’s girl detective stories (not to mention an extensive collection of her books!). When the author agrees to make a rare public appearance, the news of her whereabouts goes viral overnight, and series devotees and book collectors converge on Athena.
After all, it’s rumored that Cartwright penned Veronica Thane stories that remain under wraps, and one rabid fan will stop at nothing?not even murder?to get hold of the rare books
Toni LoTempio – By Toni LoTempio – admin by day, writer by night, Toni is the author of several paperback and e-books of paranormal suspense – her latest, SOAPSUDS, SEX AND SILVER BULLETS, will be released from Entangled Publishing July 2014. As T. C. Lotempio, she pens cozy mysteries, debuting with the upcoming Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkeley Prime Crime. (MEOW IF IT’S MURDER, Fall 2014). She and her cat ROCCO do fundraising for Nathan Fillion’s charity, KIDS NEED TO READ, when they aren’t interviewing authors on ROCCO’s blog! You can keep up with all the latest interviews and news (including her 2014 releases!) at www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com