One of the best parts about being a member of the Guppies, an online chapter of Sisters in Crime, is that I come into contact with many wonderful mystery authors. Today, I’m delighted to welcome author DonnaRaeMenard. Below you’ll find her responses to my interview questions followed by her contact information and list of publications.
First off, congratulations on the release of your debut mystery novel, Murder in the Meadows. Can you tell us about the book?
Murder in the Meadow (with Level Best Books), circa 1970 involves a young woman called home after the death of the grandmother who raised her. Katelyn Took, pronounced Touk, not like she stole something, left on bad terms and returns still angry. As her gram’s sole beneficiary, Katelyn will inherit a small farm, which she plans to sell, after which she’ll take the money and run. It’s not that easy. Gram also left seventeen cats, a mountain of bills, and a senile old lady, all for Katelyn to take care of.
Katelyn’s head is swimming, her brain is screaming for her to run, and the old lady whispers a secret. Gram was murdered, and big names in town are keeping it quiet. With only pennies in her pocket, Katelyn needs to earn enough to run. Her part-time job as animal collection officer nets her a fifty-pound pig and more problems. Even though she’s ready to go, someone doesn’t think she’s moving fast enough, and she becomes a target. Vermonters are known for being stubborn, and Katie is 100 percent that. Katie, her antagonist, and the pig get in a wrestling match. Who comes out on top and brings home the bacon? Have a read and find out.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? Were there favorite books/authors who inspired you as a child? As an adult?
I realized I wanted to write in the seventh grade. I was already reading Victoria Holt and Sam Slade, as well as Trixie Belden mysteries. I’d hide in the library and read vastly inappropriate stuff. I still gravitate to mysteries, cops and robbers, historical, and anything that feels like a cartoon. My favorite author is whoever I’m holding in my hand at that moment, but if I get hooked, I want everything she/he has written.
How much of your characters and plots are drawn from real life?
My life has been, shall we say, eclectic. I absolutely pull out bits from now and then, ramp them up, and use them. My friends and family are always on the lookout for bits they remember too.
How did the experience of being a cancer survivor affect your decision to pursue your writing seriously?
On April 28, 2008, I was diagnosed with stage 4 Squamish Carcinoma, and given a few months. I went for an experimental drug. If I didn’t make it maybe someone else would do better later on. Doctor Thomas Roland challenged me, refusing to let me give up. We talked about the box of books under my bed. Now, I’m polishing them and putting them out there. Thank you, Dr. Roland.
Tell us about your writing process: Are you a plotter, pantser, or somewhere in-between?
I would say I am somewhere in the middle of plotting/pansting. In Murder in the Meadow, I actually wrote the ending before I wrote the book. I could never write anything besides fiction and like to try all kinds. But I have to be careful because fun pieces end up being pretty dark sometimes. Maybe I’ll share It Takes Guts with you one day.
What are you currently working on writing-wise?
I just finished the second Kaitlyn Took Mystery and have a fantasy, The Waif and The Warlord, coming out with Metal and Magic Publishing in December. I tried to take a break, but I’m on to a mystery that follows a job I had in the eighties with a funeral home and crematorium. That’ll be a screamer!
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I’m a road-rabbit and spend a lot of time driving around, listening to sixties music, and considering places to hide bodies. We all recreate differently, right?
Any thoughts you’d like to add about your writing—or wish I’d asked that I didn’t?
Writing, following the story in my head, is fairly easy. Re-writing, editing is a bore. But marketing will eventually drive me nuts, except for the blog part. I’m new to this, and it’s like riding the tilt-a-whirl at the fair. Thrilling. But the really, truly, rock-hard worst is not always knowing if I’m on the right path. Fortunately, I’ve run into so many people who laugh at my frustration and shake me out like a wet dog. Before I know it, I’m all good again. To my new friends, my new family, and all the people I haven’t met yet: Hello, welcome to my paper and pencil world.
Contact Info and List of Publications:
MURDER IN THE MEADOW, June 29, 2021, Level Best Books
The Waif and The Warlord, December 2021, Metal and Magic Publishing
Willa the Wisp, available on Amazon
The Fairy Mothers, The Clarion Call Anthology, Vol 4, Fairytale Riot
Award Winning International Competitive Speaker, Toastmasters
face book and twitter