Thursday, February 23, 2012

Anne K. Albert

Winner of the 2011 Holt Medallion Award of Merit, Anne K. Albert is a former art teacher and display ad sales person. She also worked for a major water company before writing her first novel. She's featured in the soon to be released book, The Mystery Writers, with Lawrence Block, Sue Grafton and many others, with writing advice for novice authors.

Anne, when and why did you decide to organize the Mystery We Write Blog Tour and is this your first tour?

After the release of my debut novel last fall, I signed on to a blog tour with 20 other writers. Unfortunately, I dropped out within a few weeks for personal reasons, but knew another blog tour would be in my future.

In March 2011 someone on the Sisters-in-crime e-group bemoaned the price advertising companies charge to arrange blog tours to promote an author’s books. I contacted the writer and asked if she’d be interested in a blog swap. She was. We sought out other mystery writers, and within days, the 2011 Mystery We Write Blog Tour was born.

Has teaching art classes and selling display advertising helped you in any way with writing fiction?

I believe everything I’ve experienced has effected my writing as well as my personality and how I choose to live each day. I’m the sum of all that’s happened to me, and would not be who or where I am today if I’d chosen a different path.

Whether teaching, selling, writing or promoting, I strive to consider the other person’s needs and wants before my own.

As a teacher, I emphasized that learning can a fun, life long activity. When selling advertising for a local newspaper, I designed ads I hoped would instantly grab the reader’s attention and promote that particular business. As a writer, I want to entertain my readers. I want to take them away from the real world for just a few hours. If I provide them with a puzzle to solve, characters to care about, as well as bringing a smile to their faces, I’ve done my job.

I love your title, Frank, Incense and Muriel. What’s the story behind it?

My goal was to write a lighthearted mystery. I knew the story would take place the week before Christmas and I wanted the title to convey that. I already had the hero’s name (Frankie Salerno), and I knew he infuriated the heroine when they were in their teens. With a little tweaking I changed frankincense and myrrh to Frank, Incense and Muriel.

Btw, I’m thrilled this book is the recipient of the 2011 Holt Medallion Award of Merit. (link: http://www.virginiaromancewriters.com/Contests/holtwinners.html)

What makes your protagonist special?

Muriel Reeves is the intellectual in a family of thrill seekers. They even hand out the annual D-DAY (Death Defying Act of the Year) award to prove it. Muriel’s always felt like the black sheep of the family, but in reality the majority of her family are black sheep and she’s the lone white one! Part of the fun in Frank, Incense and Muriel is watching her confidence grow as she steps out of her comfort zone and helps Frankie search for a missing woman.

Why did you decide to write mystery novels?

I grew up reading Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and the Hardy Boy books. From there I discovered Agatha Christie and other mystery writers. I’ve always loved cozy mysteries and when I decided to write a book it was a forgone conclusion it would be a whodunit.

Do you have a strict writing schedule and do you outline?

I wish I did! Unlike some writers, I can go weeks or months without actually writing a single word. The words eventually build up, however, and like a volcano I’ll burst!

As to outlining, when I began writing I was strictly a seat of the pants writer. I loved the thrill of not having a clue what would happen next. The only problem is it takes a fair amount of time to figure a story out. Now that I’m published I have deadlines and at my editor’s request, I wrote the synopsis to my next release first.

In the past, knowing all the twists and turns ruined the fun of writing for me. This time, however, I’m finding it a benefit. I no longer have to stop and think what should come next. It’s like having a road map. I know my destination, but there’s still a lot of discovery of new places and things to see along the way.

Who most influenced your own writing?

I’m unable to pick just one person, but Stephen Cannell’s fast paced writing style has always impressed me. I love it when I forget to analyze the author’s writing style and become engrossed in the story. When that happens, I know I’m in the midst of genius!

Which author, past or present, who you like to be trapped in an elevator with?

Mark Twain would be fun because of his insight and wit. I’d also like to have met Robert A. Heinlein.

Advice for aspiring mystery writers?

Write. Finish what you write. Polish it until it shines. Read, then write some more. Oh, and never, never give up.

Thank you, Anne.

You can visit Anne at her website: http://www.AnneKAlbert.com

and her blog site: http://anne-k-albert.blogspot.com, http://muriel-reeves-mysteries.blogspot.com
Her book is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Frank-Incense-and-Muriel-ebook/dp/B004CLYDRO/