Meet Mary Connealy
Candy: Welcome Mary! What makes you write suspense?
Mary: I write suspense into almost everything because that’s what I love to read.
Romance, Suspense, Comedy. I’ll take a book with any of those three but if they’re sassing each other and falling in love while they’re running for their life…then I’m really happy with a book. So that’s why I write it.
There is a strong suspense thread in my historical westerns, Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon but what I want to talk about today is the cozy mystery series I’m writing for Heartsong Presents Mysteries. It’s on my mind because it’s getting close, book #1 releases in November, Of Mice and Murder. And just this week I’m working on the galleys. Those are the final, all laid out pages of the book. Any changes that don’t get made now, stay in, so I’ve just finished with those and re-reading the book, after not seeing it for a while, was really fun. Lots of comedy, lots of suspense, lots of romance.
Candy: How do you create characters you love?
Mary: A lot of people say that for them, a book always starts with characters.
They’ve got a guy in mind or a heroine with an attitude and then they have to hunt up a story so they can deal with that character. It’s never like that for me. For me it always starts with story. I’ve got a story I want to tell and the characters come after that. Maybe because of that, creating characters is a kind of painful process for me. I love it, but it comes slow…and that’s mainly because I just start writing my story. The characters have to come along for the ride.
When I start writing the story, it takes me a while to really know the characters and I nearly always end up with an ah-ha moment when the guy especially finally fully becomes real to me. The guy, moreso than the girl for some reason, usually takes about the first hundred pages.
Then I need to go back and weave this guy into the book and have him react as he really is (now) and have other people react to HIM as he really is.
Like I said, I just finished doing galleys on my cozy mystery. Of Mice and Murder, the first of a three book series, is a different voice for me and God bless Barbour for letting me write in different genres. But I think the basic voice, the romantic comedy is still the same.
I just LOVE this hero who emerged from Of Mice and Murder. He's classic, tall dark handsome knight in shining armor, but inside he's this fat genius math geek who was five two and weighed 200 pounds in junior high and was bullied and his interior life is just chaotic.
He's always thinking things like, God make me cool. Please God make me smooth and suave and classy.
Then he just says something so stupid. And usually it's because he's just fraught with all these self doubts and daydreams that distract him from what's going on around him. I think it's a really fun, funny character.
And of course, everyone around him just sees Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome so they’re not getting any insecure vibes at all because it just doesn’t fit with their perception of him.
Giving a character flaws and doubts and weaknesses, especially when you're trying to make them act cool and making other people, like the love interest react to them like they're cool, can deepen characters.
Characters need these small flaws to be fully human, I think. Of course they need the deep, aching, broken hearted conflict that is so fundamental, but something lighter, brighter, silly even. Also in the cozy Of Mice and Murder, my heroine is terrified of mice. I make that a running joke through the whole book. And she thinks she's a complete idiot for being afraid but she can NOT control it and everybody knows and they tease her mercilessly, except for the hero, who is trapping her mice for her.
Candy: How is writing a cozy different than writing a western of a sweet romance?
Mary: I found writing the cozy mystery to be really complex. I thought it was about the hardest thing I’d ever done. The story and the characters were fun, I had a ball with them, but dropping clues and red herrings. Deciding ‘who done it’ and hinting about that, but also not giving it away, leaving false clues to lead the reader astray, but not cheating the reader either.
I had to go back several times and pick up threads I dropped and insert clues I’d failed to leave. Candice, you helped me so much. You caught so much. Thanks you for your invaluable input into the book. And thank you for keeping your patience with me while insisting I make sense.
I’m just now more focused on Calico Canyon which just came out in July so I’ll insert a little blurb here for it.
Schoolmarm Grace Calhoun has her work cut out for her with the Reeves boys—five malicious monsters of mayhem who are making her life miserable. Things couldn’t get any worse. . .or could they? When widower Daniel Reeves, happy in his all-male world, stops at the general store for supplies, he unwittingly totes home a wagonload of trouble. How did Grace—the one woman Daniel can’t stand—wind up unconscious and in his care? When, come daybreak, a wedding is forced upon these two unwilling participants, an avalanche isn’t the only danger facing them in Calico Canyon. How will these reluctant newlyweds ever survive to fall in love?
Plenty of suspense in Calico Canyon for suspense lovers, too.
You can find out more about my books at my website or my blog.
Thanks Mary, for joining us here at KMIS!
Leave a comment below for a chance to win one of Mary's books. You're choice! I'll draw a winner next Monday.