I’m delighted to welcome ME Roche to my blog today, who began writing later in life after a distinguished career as a registered nurse. This month, she’s celebrating the release of BIGAMY, her fifth novel. Below are her responses to my interview questions followed by her bio and contact/buy links.
First off, congratulations on the release this month of your mystery, BIGAMY. Can you tell us about the novel and what inspired it?
BIGAMY is loosely based on a story from the 1930s. The story was brought to my attention by friends who were related to several of the characters in the actual story. My friends provided newspaper accounts from that time which piqued my interest. In the novel, I have taken liberties by adding elements of mystery and murder.
When a family discovers a hidden cedar box in their grandmother’s attic, as they help to prepare for her move to assisted living, no one is prepared for what they learn or for why their grandmother is so unwilling to answer their questions.
You began your writing career as a young adult author of the NORA BRADY SERIES that combined your expertise in nursing with solving mysteries. Your last two novels, NORTHE SOUTH SPIT MURDERS and BIGAMY, however, have both been written for adults. While THE SOUTH SPIT MURDERS continued the NORA BRADY SERIES for an adult audience, BIGAMY is a stand-alone novel. What led to your decision to shift to writing for adults? And to try your hand at writing BIGAMY, a stand-alone novel?
I came late to the student nurse mysteries of the 1950’s-60’s—like Cherry Ames or Sue Barton. When I discovered that nothing had been written for young readers about nursing after that time—and a lot had happened in nursing—I wanted to remedy that. The YA NORA BRADY MYSTERIES were written to introduce young readers to a nurse’s role in a nursing home, a hospital, and in a pediatric hospital in another country. Given Nora’s experience with law enforcement, I decided it was then time for Nora to move on. She pursued a career in law enforcement, while continuing to practice nursing. (I know there are those who say this isn’t possible, but in small towns, people often have multiple roles in their communities.) This is where THE SOUTH SPIT MURDERS begin the adult novels.
As mentioned previously, friends of mine brought the story of BIGAMY to my attention and suggested it would make a great book. It took me a while to decide how to approach it, but I wrote it primarily because my friends wanted it. It was a challenge and I think I would like to try another stand-alone!
As a YA author, I’m always curious as to how authors who write both YA and adult fiction perceive similarities and differences. What has been your experience?
It seems to me that there needs to be a good story in whichever we are writing—YA or adult. The main differences, I think, have to do with use of language and references to sex, drugs or alcohol, or depiction of graphic violence. Most of what I write is pretty PG, so it’s not really a problem for me. Young people are quite sophisticated these days, so I think it would take a lot to shock them. I did explore the use of vocabulary, sentence length and novel length, however, when I first started writing for younger readers.
Like many writers, you began writing fiction later in life. What led to your decision to try your hand at writing, and what steps did you take to become a publishable author?
I’ve always enjoyed reading—particularly mysteries. I had toyed with the idea of writing and it finally became a question of “if not now, when?” I began with trying short story submissions and then, as mentioned: I decided I would try re-writing those early student nurse mysteries. I read a lot about how to write—especially focusing on how to write for young readers. Then I joined several writers’ groups, attended a few conferences, and subscribed to a few magazines for writers. So far as attempting to be published, I went the usual route of multiple queries and rejections before finally electing to go with a subsidy publisher—despite the admonitions of some and prior to KDP.
A related question: What advice would you give to anyone who aspires to write fiction?
The same advice we always hear: read a lot, especially by authors who enthrall you. Read about how to write by such people as Stephen King, Hallie Ephron and Anne Lamott. Write everyday, preferably on a set routine—even if nothing comes and you’re staring at a blank screen, stick to that routine. Join writers’ groups, both in person or online. Connect with social media writers’ groups that share your interest.
Are there mystery authors who particularly inspire you and your work?
In my monthly newsletter, I am trying to read authors who are new to me and to introduce those authors to my readers—there have been so many good ones! That has been fun, but so far as inspiration, I would have to go back to those mystery writers who have been around for some time: Stephen King, Lee Child, Daphne Du Maurier, John Grisham or Tess Gerritsen—there are so many good ones!
Do you consider yourself more of a pantser, a plotter, or somewhere-in-between?
I am definitely a pantser! I’ve read those books on the importance of outlines, but it just didn’t work for me. I love letting the characters take me where the story is going to go!
What’s next for you? What are you currently working on writing-wise?
My next NORA BRADY MYSTERY has a paranormal aspect and it will be out this summer. I have started two additional ones for her, but I think I would like to try another stand-alone, though I haven’t made any decisions as yet.
Thanks for this opportunity to share these thoughts, Lynn. I would only add to invite people to check out my website: www.meroche.com
And thank you for visiting with our readers!
While the product of a Midwest upbringing, M. E. Roche has lived and worked on both coasts as well as in Ireland. As a registered nurse, she has had the opportunity to work in many facets of nursing, and although retired, she continues to volunteer and enjoy working at a neighborhood clinic.
BIGAMY is her fifth novel.
M.E. Roche, Author