Sherry: Thanks so much for stopping by today Marni! Marni’s latest book, Death Unscripted, is the first in her new Manhattan series, featuring nurse Trudy Genova, a medical consultant for a New York movie studio. It sounds so intriguing!
Marni: Some women buy shoes. I used to be one of those before arthritis made attractive shoes go out the window and Birkenstocks come rushing in. For years now, my guilty pleasure has been buying books. Then I started to review them, and suddenly, to my husband’s relief, I wasn’t paying for the majority of them any longer.
One of my goals in starting Auntie M Writes crime review blog was to bring attention to authors from other countries, since my own Nora Tierney Mysteries are set in England. I started out writing a weekly review and still stick to that routine, but often add a Wednesday post here and there, especially when I have books piled up that relate to each other in some way. I call these my “survey” posts. Coming soon will be a post on books that contain humor and another written by fellow Sisters in Crime. I may find a new author or get a recommendation and read three at a time and review them together, as I will this summer for Christopher Brookmyre’s Sharp/MacLeod series.
When I was transitioning from being a nurse who wrote “on the side” to full-time writing, I conducted interviews with authors whose work I admired for “Mystery Review” magazine. Now when I find an author whose work I really enjoy, I’ll ask them if we can do an interview for the blog and really develop a relationship. Most writers are incredibly giving of their time and happy for the exposure.
Once the blog was established and I started routinely getting books from publishing houses, the piles also started. Stacked on our Welsh dresser right now are 44 books waiting to be read. These include several I don’t routinely receive for free, but are by authors I enjoy reading. St. Martin’s/Minotaur sends me their catalogue and lets me choose the books I will review. This works to their advantage as I’m invariably going to make certain I read a book I’m interested in, which is why there are tons of their books on my piles.
I’m often asked if there are books I don’t review. Of course there are. Free books mean that the houses are looking for me to find some kind of positive. If that becomes impossible, or if the subgenre is one I can’t bear to read, I simply don’t review that book. That’s not to say I won’t be critical. I often complain that one writer refuses to use contractions in her dialogue, which to my reader ear makes her characters sound stilted at times. Yet I keep reading her because her main character is intriguing and her stories are sound.
Next to my desk is a small three-tier bookcase where I keep the books I’ve already read that are waiting to be reviewed. Today that count is at 37. I read at least three books a week, sometimes a fourth if I can fit it in. I couldn’t possibly review them at their publish dates and try to get to them in a reasonable amount of time.
During my ‘day’ job, I’m writing my own mysteries, and with two series, often have two books going at different stages. Then there’s the marketing and reader outreach that accompanies a full time writer, editing for others, running a mentoring writers program, conducting workshops, and traveling to things like Bouchercon (in Raleigh this year, hooray! I can drive to it!). I also travel to England for St. Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Conference when I can and to research settings, usually every other year.
So when do I read?
Here’s my secret: I keep the book in process on my bathroom vanity next to the sink. When I head to the water closet, it comes with me. Brushing my teeth is good for three or four pages. It’s there when I put on my sun block and choose earrings. And since it’s where I take my nighttime medications, I take it to bed with me after and read with a booklight after my husband turns out the light. I stay up far later than he does, the house is quiet, the dog is usually asleep, and I snuggle down and just read … bliss.
That same book will come in the car when we go to town. We live in a very rural area on a river, lovely and peaceful for a writer, but very isolated. The closest town is half an hour away. Having a book with me lets me read when Doc runs into the hardware store on an errand. I take it with me to doctor’s offices, and yes, I’m that nut you see reading while my husband pumps gas, good for another four pages minimum.
Since I live at the end of a dirt road, the post office doesn’t deliver to our house, so a trip to get mail three times a week, is nine miles – ONE WAY. When the mail contains an envelope with a new book to add to my piles my husband says: “What else? At least it’s not shoes …”
Readers: What are your reading habits? Where do you keep your current book or your To Be Read pile?
Marni Graff is the award-winning author of The Nora Tierney Mysteries, set in England., and The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries. The Blue Virgin introduces Nora, an American writer living in Oxford. The Green Remains and The Scarlet Wench trace Nora’s move to the Lake District where murder follows her. In process is The Golden Hour, set in Bath. Graff is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer on writing groups and critique techniques. She writes crime book reviews at http://www.auntiemwrites.com and is Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press. A member of Sisters in Crime, Graff runs the NC Writers Read program in Belhaven. All of Graff’s books can be bought at Amazon.com or at http://www.bridlepathpress.com and are available as eBooks.