This was my first time reading a paranormal cozy mystery and I have to admit that initially I was a bit skeptical. However, the magic of Beaufort & Company quickly won me over. What would you say to other mystery lovers who might be hesitant to pick up a paranormal cozy?
I was skeptical about writing it! When the idea for Beaufort & Company began to come together in my head, I thought of it as urban fantasy, and not as a paranormal cozy at all. I love great fantasy; Charles de Lint, James Blaylock; Emma Bull; Dan Simmons--these are all marvelous writers working in a great tradition, and I tried to follow in their footsteps. I hope I succeeded a little bit. But there are readers for whom urban fantasy doesn't work, either. So I guess I'd say: "There's lots of great books out there! If you don't like fantasy, there are other genres that you will love."
The world you have created for this series is so unique -- an interesting blend of Dante, Paradise Lost and Law & Order. What was your inspiration for Beaufort & Company?
I'm tickled you recognized the Dante; and I hadn't thought about Law&Order, but I'm a fan of the series, so a bit of that certainly must have crept in.
I did approach the whole notion of the Celestial Spheres and the Company of Angels in the traditional way of fantasy writers. I did what fantasy writers call 'world-building' which means you create a whole back story for the universe. This back story has to be coherent, logical, and as authentic as possible. So it took a lot of work. And I'm still adding to it.
I enjoyed the relationship between Bree and her sister, Antonia. They are both very strong characters with a genuine sisterly affection for one another. Can you talk a bit about developing their characters, especially in relation to each other?
I'm glad Bree and Tonia come across well. They are actually very easy to write. I have two sisters--neither one of them an aspiring actress--and I love them dearly. I think a lot of that sisterly cross-fire crept into Bree and Tonia's relationship. (And yes, I'm the oldest sister.)
Since Bree's client, Lindsey Chandler, is accused of stealing from a Girl Scout, I feel that I have to ask this question: Do you have a favorite type of Girl Scout cookie?
THE PEANUT BUTTER ONE! I love it.
Is it more challenging to write temporal characters like Bree and Lindsey or angelic characters such as Ron, Petru and Lavinia? What about canine characters like Sasha?
It's harder to write good guys. It's much easier to write bad guys. Truly good and saintly characters are to be much admired, but they are bor-r-r-ing. I have the most fun writing the sleazy lawyer, Payton the Rat, and his sleazy boss. In the 3rd Beaufort & Company, which I just turned in to Berkley, the easiest parts of the novel were when Beasley and Caldecott showed up. They are the lawyers for the Opposition. They make a brief appearance in ANGEL'S ADVOCATE.
As for Sasha--I began my career as a writer with a novel much like WATERSHIP DOWN, except the characters were horses instead of rabbits. Animals are much much much harder than people--unless you turn them into people in dog suits or horse suits or rabbit suits. Sasha is sort of in-between; he's more angelic than dog-like.
You have written two other mystery series as Claudia Bishop, the Hemlock Falls Mysteries and Dr. McKenzie Mysteries. How do you divide your writing time between multiple series?
Well, it's actually pretty hard. For three seasons of the year, we live in Upstate New York. We have a working goat farm (900 goats, 300 sheep) and although we have lots of help, my real life gets pretty hectic. So I set my working year up in three-month increments. I can usually get a first draft in three months, then I take a few weeks off, and rewrite. Then I take a few weeks off and start another novel.
In Angel's Advocate, Bree muses that reading detective novels might help her during her investigations. As an author, what would you recommend to her?
Now that's a really cool question! Hmmm. Probably Sue Grafton, SJ Rozan, Lee Child, and maybe all of Nero Wolfe. Those guys are great on how an investigation works. If your blog readers have more suggestions, I'd love to hear them.
What's in store for Bree next? Can you give us a teaser for the third book in the series, Avenging Angels?
I decided that Bree needed to know a lot more about the background of Beaufort & Company. So she learns more about the Celestial Spheres. And DEFENDING ANGELS, the first in the series, was a little thin on the mystery end. So I concentrated on writing the best mystery I could, with a nice twist at the end. I had a lot of fun with that.
Angel's Advocate Book Giveaway
Mary Stanton is giving away a signed copy of her book, Angel’s Advocate, to one lucky tour visitor. Go to Mary’s book tour page, http://mary-stanton.omnimystery.com/, enter your name, e-mail address, and this PIN, 7147, for your chance to win. Entries from Bookish Ruth will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow. No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on Mary’s book tour page next week.
Don't forget to check out the rest of the stops on Ms. Stanton's tour:
Musings of a Bookish Kitty | Mystery Reader Discussion | Book's Ahoy | Wendi's Book Corner | Mystery Books News | Allie's Musings | Shhh I'm Reading