I had a BALL interviewing the ladies from the Murder in the Valley Book Tour: Carole Price, Ann Parker, Staci McLaughlin and Penny Warner. I am just sorry there weren’t MORE authors on their Book Tour. I’m going to need fresh reading material, luckily, these ladies are all very active in their writing careers, so never fear, more goodies coming (and already in print).
Speaking of authors with LOTS in print, my final interview is with the fantabulous Penny Warner. She is a best-selling author and has won several awards, both for her adult and children’s books. I like to think you’ve really made it when you have your own Wikipedia entry… and she does! I can’t resist, I must post…
Naturally, she also has a wonderful website with all things Penny. She has a couple of middle grade series for children, plenty of fun mysteries for the grown-ups and, of course, there are the party books. I tell you what, this lady is the real deal. What’s the word? Oh, right… multi-faceted… and how! Be sure to bookmark her site:
– I just finished the first in your Party-Planning Mysteries, “How to Host a Killer Party” (BTW, LOVED it! Such a fun ride!) Looking at the other books I get to dive into, I noticed you continue using Bay Area locations: Alcatraz, the Winchester Mystery House and in your newest novel, “How to Dine On Killer Wine,” we go to Napa. What has been your favorite setting thus far? Where else would like you like to stage a murder?
It’s hard to decide on my favorite – I love them all. I choose places where I want to spend time, and place that lend themselves to murder. Alcatraz has such a history, the Winchester House is just plain spooky, and Colma—the City of Souls—has more dead people than alive, so how could I not set a mystery there!
– So, I’m sure you simply HAD to do some research to get your Napa setting just right. Any tips for cannot miss spots in Napa? Maybe some favorite wines? (I’m always on the look-out for new yummies!)
Yes, there was a lot of wine involved in the research. Tough job, but someone has to do it. As for where to go and what to do—beyond the obvious wine-tasting—try a mud bath, ride the Wine Train, check out the Bingo scene (!), and have a picnic lunch at Sattui!
– Your bio mentions that you, like your protagonist, Presley Parker, are something of a party-planner goddess. Which came first, The Party-Planning Mystery Series or the real-life murder themed fundraisers? How did you get into party planning?
I’ve been planning and hosting parties and writing party books for years. When my kids were little, there were no books on the market that offered ideas for kids parties, so I wrote my own, after interviewing moms who had great ideas. The party planning mystery seemed like a natural—since party planners are “behind the scenes” and make great sleuths…
– When you go to a party what type do you enjoy most? Are you a dress up girl? A themed event type? Or just hanging out by the barbecue?
I loved themed events! My favorite party to host is a murder mystery event, where guests come as suspects and everyone has to guess whodunit. Every major milestone in the family is celebrated with a theme—Octoberfest, Mr. Fix-it, On Broadway—everything from invitations and decorations, to games, food, and favors.
– You have crafted a very successful and interesting career for yourself, over fifty books (WOW!). I love that you write children’s and adult books. Is the process very different when writing for the various age groups? Do you prefer one over the other? If so, why
Sixty, actually, to date. There isn’t a big difference between writing for adults and kids—except there’s no violence, sex, or bad language in my kids books, of course. But the characters still have to be realistic, the story compelling, and the writing the best it can be.
– How has your writing changed from your first books to today’s projects? What’s different about, say, book seven versus book forty-eight? What has stayed the same?
I hope I’ve become a better writer. But the process is the same.
– Likewise, have you noticed any changes in trends and practices in the publishing world? What has remained constant?
The pub world is undergoing dramatic change. There are fewer publishers, so many writers are going the e-book way and publishing their own books on Amazon, etc. However, every book needs a good editor and that hasn’t changed.
– I’ve asked all of your co-authoresses from the Murder in the Valley Book Tour this question in one form or another, and I am sure you get asked it all the time, so, my apologies. That being said, what advice do you have for writers starting out? What is one unexpected piece of advice that you wish someone had told you when you were getting your feet wet?
My best advice is to persevere – not give up. I think authors who received rejections give up too quickly, not realizing that a rejection is just ONE person’s opinion. If you think your book is good, keep sending it out!
– Speaking of your Murder in the Valley Tour, that is an amazing, talented group of women. How did you all meet? What have you most enjoyed about the tour?
Hmmm. I think I met them all in writing courses I’ve given over the years. I can usually tell if someone has what it takes to be published, and invite them to my critique group. We have a very talented group!
– After so many books, does marketing fatigue ever set in? How do you keep it fresh? Do you do more or less promotion now?
No, I love the process, the business, everything about it. There are ALWAYS fresh ideas to explore. In fact, sometimes more ideas than I have time for! I do about the same promotion as I always have – that’s a never –ending part of the business. But I enjoy it.
– Last question, from me anyway, it seems we’re in an interesting time for publishing. Electronic books, social media, more gadgets… do these help you as a writer? What have been some of the challenges arising from our techno-age? Where do you see the industry going in the future
It can be confusing—do I stick with traditional publishing or go out on my own. I think a combination of both. I still like to work with professional editors, but enjoy bringing books back as e-books that are out of print. As for the future – wow – no idea. It will be exciting to see….
– My nine-year-old daughter, Anna, is reading the first of your children’s series, The Code Busters Club. She’s not done, so no spoilers, but I hope you won’t mind, she had some questions for you, too.
1.) What is your favorite part of writing
Hi Anna! My favorite part of writing is creating fun story, then watching it “come alive” as the characters begin their adventure. I get lost in their world!
2.) Do you have any kids? What do you like to do with them?
Yes, I have two grown kids and four grand-children, ages 2 to 7. I love writing stories for them (although most of them can’t read yet!)
3.) Is making codes hard? How do you do it?
I LOVE making codes. I used to write secret notes in code when I was a kid and thought kids today would enjoy doing the same thing. I try to include lots of different codes in the books, and make them challenging, but not too hard. I hope you enjoy the first book. The second one comes out in November – THE HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSE. If you didn’t get a secret packet of code cards, I’ll send you some!
Thanks, both of you. What fun!
Well, Penny, that’s what I have. Thanks again for agreeing to be on my little dog and pony show. Anna and I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your time and the stories you have brought to life. I should warn you, Anna is VERY interested in the code cards… apparently, she simply MUST have them. I’ll, um, email you, okay?
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
Really? It’s over? No more fun authors to talk to? DRAT.