Mystery Author Carol Preflatish Treats Setting as Character

Full disclosure: Carol Preflatish and I are active members of Derby Rotten Scoundrels, the Ohio River Valley chapter of Sisters in Crime. When I first met Carol, she told me she adored Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series. I immediately knew that we had something special in common!

I’m so delighted to feature Carol on my blog today as she celebrates the release of her latest Nathan Perry Mystery. Below are her responses to my interview questions, followed by her bio.

First off, congratulations on the release of MURDER IN MYSTIC HOLLOW, your fourth novel in the Nathan Perry Mystery series. Can you share with our readers a bit about MURDER IN MYSTIC HOLLOW?

Thank you for having me here today, Lynn. MURDER IN MYSTIC HOLLOW is a loosely based modern day retelling of Washington Irving’s short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” If you read closely, you can see elements of Washington Irving’s original short story. You’ll find it has all the characters you loved from the first three Nathan Perry books, and you’ll also meet the newly hired librarian, Isaac Caine, who comes to Mystic for a new start and ends up falling for the lovely Katina Van Allen. When Isaac finds a dead body at the bottom of his staircase, his world is turned upside down, and Detective Nathan Perry is called upon to find the killer.

What inspired your Nathan Perry Mystery series?                   

I’m a huge fan of the late Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series. I love the Jesse Stone character and that was my inspiration, not to mention the television movies that spawned from the books.

When you began writing the Nathan Perry Mysteries, did you have a plan for the overall story arc? Or has it been more just feeling your way from book to book?

I wanted all the books to be murder mysteries and wanted to develop each of the characters within each book. It’s a series with the same main characters, but each book can also be read as a stand-alone.

What is Nathan Perry like, and how has he changed during the course of the series?         

Nathan Perry is a former investigator for the Army Criminal Investigative Division. He was injured in Afghanistan from an IED. After leaving the army and recuperating from his injuries, he returned to his hometown of Mystic, Massachusetts where he was hired as the police department’s first detective. I think the way he’s changed over the course of the books is that he has learned more about himself and how people perceive him, as well as how he sees them. He rekindled an on-again, off-again relationship with his high school girlfriend, who is now a lead reporter for the local newspaper.

Setting seems very central to the atmosphere of your novels. How do you choose your settings and what kind of research do you do?

I treat the locations of my books like they’re one of the characters. It’s very important to the story. Mystic, Massachusetts is a fictional town, but it’s based on the real town of Salem, Massachusetts. Witchcraft plays a role in the stories, although it doesn’t come to the forefront until the third book, WITCH HUNT. I probably research more about locations than I do almost anything else. I’ve never been to Salem, but I can tell you a lot about it, and I have friends that have been there who have sent me copies of their photos.

Many authors who write series worry about keeping their series fresh. Any tips for how you’ve held your readers’ interest over several books in your series?

I try to keep surprising the readers with new information about the main characters in each book. One character, a female officer, has really come up the ranks on her own hard work. I also try to introduce new characters into each book that, I hope, readers like. In MURDER IN MYSTIC HOLLOW, I introduced Isaac Caine, the new librarian in town. I find his backstory fascinating.

In recent years, you’ve also begun writing screenplays and have won several screenwriting awards. What drew you to screenwriting, and how is it similar and different from writing novels?

I always hoped to have the first book in the series, HOMECOMING TO MURDER, made into a movie. I researched how to get a book adapted and was disappointed at how difficult it is. I knew if it was going to happen, I would have to write the screenplay myself, but had no idea how to do that. Fortunately, Tony Acree, owner of Hydra Publications and an accomplished screenwriter himself, offered a free screenwriting class through a local arts program. I attended and came home to start writing. It took about four months of doing nothing but working on that script to get it completed. It has placed first in one competition and runner-up in another. I still haven’t received an offer to make it into a movie, but I’m still trying. I’ve written one other screenplay that has been nominated in two other competitions.

Writing screenplays is so different than novels. It’s much more dialogue-based with very little description. All the movements of the actors are left to the director when the movie is made. That works very well for me because my books are dialogue heavy. Screenplays are also written more in present-tense, where a book is usually in past-tense. There is no way I could work on a screenplay at the same time as a novel because of that.

What is your writing process like? Do you consider yourself a planner, a seat-of-the pants writer, or somewhere in between?

I’m a little of both. I have an idea of what I want and usually jot down some notes and work from those. I wish I owned stock in Post-It Notes because my book binder is full of plot ideas written on them. I retired from my day job in 2017 and after moving a few years ago, I now write every day. I usually start around two p.m. and sometimes write until ten p.m. I do a lot of my writing in long-hand on the couch. I feel I’m more creative writing with pencil and paper. I also love to go to a local coffee shop to write, usually on Sundays.

What’s next for you writing-wise?

I’ve finished four Nathan Perry books and have an idea for a fifth, but I’m taking a break from the characters of Mystic for a while and am working on a new series. I don’t want to go into it, except to say it has a new location, new characters, and new murders. I’ve already finished the first book and am working on the second one now. I also have one more screenplay that I would like to write and am working on notes for it now.

Anything you’d like to add, or wish I’d asked that I didn’t?

Again, thanks for hosting me today, and if anyone wants more information about me or my books, you can visit me at https://carolpre.blogspot.com/.

 

BIO:

Carol Preflatish, from southern Indiana, has been writing for over twenty years, and is the author of the Nathan Perry Mystery Series, as well as several romantic suspense novels, two non-fiction books, and is a multi-award-winning screenwriter. When she’s not writing, she loves to read mysteries, watch golf and Indianapolis Colts football, and do just about anything outdoors. An avid photographer, Carol has had many of her photos published in newspapers, magazines, and books. Carol is a member of the Sisters-in-Crime writing organization, SinC’s Guppy chapter, and SinC’s Derby Rotten Scoundrels chapter out of Louisville, Kentucky. You can learn more about Carol by visiting her web page at https://carolpre.blogspot.com/

Amazon: https://amzn.to/4cw9QSW

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/murder-in-mystic-hollow-carol-preflatish/1145882536

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/murder-in-mystic-hollow

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/murder-in-mystic-hollow/id6504735968

 

 

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