As I mentioned in last week’s blog on the fantastic Carole Price, we have three more Trivalley Mystery Authors to interview and enjoy!  This week I need to thank multiple award-winning author, Ann Parker, for taking the time to share her thoughts and enthusiasm on her books, the publishing world and the wild, wild west that was the Silver Rush in Colorado during the 1880’s.

I met Ann on an appearance at Towne Center Books in Pleasanton during her Murder in the Valley Book Tour with fellow authors Carole Price, Staci McLaughlin and Penny Warner.  This tour still has dates coming up, so if you live locally this is a can-do, must-do event!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012, 1:00 p.m.
Danville Public Library
319 N. Vermilion Street
Danville, California

Saturday, November 3, 2012, 6 p.m.
“A Literary Feast”
Lafayette Library and Learning Center
3491 Mount Diablo Blvd.
Lafayette, California

Saturday, November 10, 2012, 11 a.m.
“Second Saturday” Bookclub
Berkeley, California

Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 7 p.m.
Livermore Public Library
Livermore, California
***-With author Camille Minichino, special event for NaNoWriMo: Tips on getting through the “muddle in the middle”

For more information on the world of Ann Parker, please check out her website:

– Of all the places in the world, Leadville? What about this place first drew your attention to it?
I came to Leadville through family history… and pretty late in life, actually!  It turns out my paternal grandmother was raised in Leadville. The strange thing is, although she told us grandkids many a tale of her life as a young married woman in Denver, she NEVER mentioned Leadville to us at all. It was my Uncle Walt who told me this tidbit of family information. I’d never heard of Leadville, but my uncle described it with such enthusiasm (“It was a h-ll of a place! One of the great mining centers of the world! A huge silver rush back in the 19th century!” etc. etc.) that I became intrigued. Uncle Walt then told me: “I know you’ve been thinking about writing a novel. I think you should research Leadville and write a novel set there.” So I did. Not quite as easy as that, but it was the impetus that got me going. Once I started reading about Leadville and its background, I was entranced. I staked my claim in Leadville, and the rest, you might say, is history!

Book One of the Silver Rush Mystery Series- Silver Lies

– I have just finished Silver Lies, which I adored, and I am thrilled to see that you have THREE more in the series in print.  How many books do you envision for the series?  Will they all feature Inez Stannert?

Well, I don’t envision a set number of books… I intend to just keep writing until I run out of time or energy or both!  At this point, I’m focused on Inez and her situation (which becomes ever more complicated as the series progresses). I have toyed with the idea of eventually writing a Silver Rush novel from the point of view of Doc Cramer or Susan Carothers. Or even jumping forward in time, twenty or so years, and writing one from the point of view of Inez’s son. As noted, it just depends on my time and energy.

Book Two of the Silver Rush Mystery Series- Iron Ties

– Your novels are a fascinating mix of real life and fictional characters. As a writer, what is more fun: creating your own characters or taking the opportunity to play with real people in your stories?

Thank you, Erika! Ooooo, that’s a difficult one to answer. Since the core characters are all fictional, I suppose that’s where my heart lies. But I do enjoy researching the real people of the times and working them into the storyline, as appropriate. I can get very obsessed about some of them, almost becoming a “stalker of the past,” in trying to uncover who they were and what they were like.

Book Three of the Silver Rush Mystery Series- Leaden Skies

– Which of the real life characters of the Colorado Silver Rush of the 1880’s most fascinates you?  Why?

I hope I don’t have to pick just one!  I’m fascinated, in general, by the women of the times. People like Mattie Silks, one of the famous Denver madams of the late 1800s. Augusta Tabor, who was Horace Tabor’s first wife. (Horace Tabor was one of the most famous “silver kings” of Leadville… he had a rags-to-riches-to-rags story that is almost mythical in nature.) I’m particularly intrigued by Mrs. Anna Galbreaith, who I stumbled across in my research for the fourth book in the series, MERCURY’S RISE. Mrs. Galbreaith was a photographer in Manitou Springs in the 1880s. There’s very little I could find out about her, although I did procure one of her cabinet cards of Manitou Springs. As for the men, I think Bat Masterson is a fascinating character: This is someone who successfully “morphed” from the Wild West of the 19th century into the Urban East in the 20th century, from buffalo hunter to lawman to professional gambler to fight promoter to sports writer… and not always on the right side of the law throughout this time span. He died in New York, in 1921, slumped over his typewriter at his desk.

Book Four of the Silver Rush Mystery Series- Mercury’s Rise

– Your protagonist, Inez, is one amazing woman who does not seem to suffer fools gladly.  I know you mentioned you drew inspiration from your own sister, but are there any traits that you share with Inez?

Inez and I share a love of classical music. However, I only listen. She plays.

– I think your books would make an amazing television series or mini series.  Dreaming big here, who would you cast as Abe? Inez? Handsome Rev. Sands? And I have to ask, Harry Gallagher?

I’ll cross my fingers for that! As for casting, perhaps you can answer that better than I. When I first started writing the series, back in the late 1990s, I thought Morgan Freeman might make a good Abe. I always pictured Inez as looking like my maternal grandmother. (I gave Inez my paternal grandmother’s name, and my maternal grandmother’s looks. She was, by all accounts and from the photos I have, quite a looker and had gorgeous long dark hair that she would wind up in a knot, per the fashion of the days.) As for the rest of the crew, I’m stumped. I’d love to know what your “picks” would be…

– Your writing has a gritty, even dark slant to it in places, which adds to the suspense and the vividness of the action.  Have you ever thought of writing a different genre, or even a different type of mystery? What would it be and why?

I would love to try my hand at steampunk “on the dark side.” I enjoy the books I’ve read in the genre. Steampunk (for those who haven’t heard of it before) usually incorporates the Victorian Era, technology (of the steam era), and science fiction/alternate history (check the wikipedia entry for more information ) . It combines a number of elements I love, including science, science fiction, and history. Lots of leather, brass, and glass. A funny thing: as a young teen, one of my favorite TV shows was the Wild Wild West, which (as it turns out) is often cited as one of the earliest mainstream examples of steampunk-ery.

– What sort of writing do you admire the most?  Who are your favorite authors?

I love writing that takes me to other places and times such that the outside world “disappears.” This magical moment happens less and less these days, as I tend to read novels with a more critical/analytical eye than I did before (one of the casualties of becoming a fiction writer!). One of my favorite contemporary authors is Martin Cruz Smith. Other writers I admire include William Shakespeare, John Milton, W.B. Yeats, and T.S. Eliot (lingering faves from my long-ago college days). I also love Sandra Dallas’ writing… she creates marvelous, evocative historical novels, many of which take place in Colorado .

– If you could share one overlooked or little known author with the world, who would it be and why?  (No fair using anyone from your critique group- we already know they’re wonderful.  Besides, how could you pick just one?)

Oh boy. Another difficult question. Michelle Black writes very engaging historical fiction. I recently finished her newest novel SÉANCE IN SEPIA, which has lingered with me.

I’m sure I’ll think of a dozen others, as soon as I send this to you.

– What is your favorite aspect of the writing process?  Marketing? Editing? Creating? What makes it your favorite?

Researching!  I love the serendipity of research. I might be trotting in one direction, looking up information about some specific topic, and then stumble into a gem that ends up being a key part of the story I’m creating. I have to be very firm with myself about putting the research aside and getting down to the business of writing.

– “Serendipity” is one of my favorite words, Ann. What skills, other than the ability to spin a good yarn, do you believe writers today could benefit from developing?

Stamina. Persistence. Manners (? Is that a skill?). Having marketing skills—particularly being proficient with online/social media—also seems to be a HUGE plus in today’s world.

– Do you have any words of wisdom for other writers?  For example, perhaps things NOT to do?

Don’t diss other writers, agents, or publishers. It’s a small world, and that sort of talk gets around.

– What do you think your readers would be most surprised to know about you in your private life?

Readers of SILVER LIES would probably be surprised to learn that we have pet rats here at the homestead. Two of them. Mushi and Chewbacka are, of course, very sweet and tame… nothing like the wild rats one finds in the back alleys or the Silver Queen Saloon!

Ann Parker, author of The Silver Rush Mystery Series

Ann in front of a map of her beloved Leadville, CO.

Ann, you are amazing, just like your books!  Thank you for your time and all the wonderful insights into your work.  I shall be reading your remaining books with glee!

Incidentally, as to casting, hmmm, I admit, it’s a tough question.  I had thought Danny Glover for Abe, and I toy with the idea of Jennifer Connelly as Inez.  Renee Zellweger is not my favorite actress, but, I wonder, she’s a good character actress, maybe as Mattie Silks?  I like Kevin Spacey for Gallagher, so hard to tell if he is a good guy or a bad guy.  He’ll need to play against type as Inez needs to have fallen for him, if only briefly.  He’d have to display a charming streak.   Lastly, what about Christian Bale for Sands? He’s pretty, he’s young, but he plays tough characters. I realize this is taking terrible liberties with your creations, Ann, so feel free to cringe, or even throw something!

Thank you, again!!!

Ann’s books are available from your independent book store, through her publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Large print is also available.
Alright, readers, be sure to check out next week’s mystery writer, also from Livermore (there must be something in the water there), Staci McLaughlin!!!