When an antique dealer buys the estate of an art history professor, she draws the attention of a man obsessed with a lost treasure.
Q: What intrigued you about the theme of FATALLY HAUNTED that led to the story you wrote?
A: I interpreted the anthology’s theme as a laser focus on motive. Specifically, some powerful emotion that compels a character to commit a terrible crime. I struggled to imagine a scenario that would make me feel obsessed enough to commit a crime. Then I read something in the news that carried me away to fantasyland. I was off and running.
Q: Is your story a who-dunit, a how-dunit, or a why-dunit? Why did you make this choice?
A: My story is a why-dunit. It’s a tale of covetousness. Why do people commit crimes over mere things? I was interested in creating a story built around the most desirable and mysterious object I could imagine. Something that would provoke my own covetousness.
Q: What is different about writing a short story? What did you learn from this experience?
A: There are fewer characters, fewer complications, and fewer locations in my short story compared to my novel. There’s a slow reveal of character arc for the key characters in my novel, while there’s a slow reveal of the mysterious object in my short story. The emphasis in my story is the palimpsest itself, while the mystery in my novel revolves around whether each new character is friend or foe.
What I learned from this experience is how much an editor can improve a story.
Q: How did your editor help you improve your story? What insights did you gain from working with her?
A: My writing goal was to craft a story that increased the tension with each new scene, and I thought I did a pretty good job – until I read Rachel Howzell Hall’s advice. Her suggestions put the reader inside my character’s skin. She also encouraged me to weave the multiple meanings of “palimpsest” throughout the story. I was surprised and intrigued by her suggestion, and I added that layer to the story.
Having a well-published author serve as the editor for our anthologies is a benefit of membership in Sisters in Crime / Los Angeles. The value of such an editor is immense.
Q: What’s next for you? What are you working on?
A: I’m working on a historical thriller set in 19th century America. My new year’s resolution is to finish the first draft.
Q: What does your writing space look like?
A: It’s an enclosed porch that gets pretty warm in the summer and pretty cold in the winter. But it’s the only space that’s off limits to my pets. On two sides are windows looking towards the yard, where a pomegranate is currently dropping gold leaves. On the other two sides are French doors which look into the house. When I’m in there working, my two dogs and three cats camp outside the door. I have two bookcases and a desk in this space, which are covered with my collection of minerals and the treasures I find on the ground while walking my dogs.