First of all, thank you for inviting me to post on your blog, Maria Grazia. You and I have become friends through our shared love of Jane Austen, and I appreciate the opportunity to share my latest novel, a British police procedural, with your readers.
You are welcome, Mary! At Fly High as well as at My Jane Austen Book Club, any time you wish to be my guest! This is my first question for you: What is the appeal of the mystery genre?
Before I had children (now adults), I read mostly non-fiction. It was nothing for me to read a 700-page book on Irish nationalism or the history of the Plantagenets. However, once my daughters arrived, I didn’t have the time, discipline, or brain power to read lengthy tomes. In 1987, suspense/mystery writer Scott Turow released Presumed Innocent, and the ending just blew me away. With that novel, I was hooked on mysteries.
What has brought you to give it a try after publishing Austen-inspired novels?
It’s very much like eating out. You wouldn’t want to go to the same restaurant every time you went out to dinner. After writing ten Austen re-imaginings, I wanted to eat someplace different.
What are the great mystery stories/writers from the past which most influenced you?
I’m drawn to British police procedurals. Why British? Because I love language, and part of the fun of writing these mysteries is learning the differences between American and British law enforcement procedures and their vocabulary. In America, you take a suspect down to the station. In England, the villain is hauled into the nick. To me the second sentence is more interesting, probably because it’s different to my American ear.
This time you've chosen a nowadays setting and a contemporary hero. How did you cope with the change?
At first, this was a problem. I had to get the Georgian vocabulary and cadence out of my brain. But part of my preparation for writing is speaking the dialog aloud. In that way, I can hear what works. I do the same thing with the mysteries, and like my Austen novels, in a British accent. I can do a posh accent as well as decent blue-collar accent.
"Three's a Crowd" seems to announce a series with its subtitle, A Patrick Shea Mystery. Is that your intent?
Yes, that is most definitely my intent. In fact, #2 has already been completed, and it’s out to the first readers. The title is A Killing in Kensington. Because of the murder victim’s history, Patrick and his fellow detectives at Scotland Yard are having difficulty working up any empathy for the guy/bloke. Because he was so hated, the list of suspects is long.
7. What kind of a hero is Patrick Shea? Has he got anything of the Austen heroes we both admire?
Patrick is a blue-collar guy with a strong set of values. He will always do the right thing. In that way, he is like Mr. Darcy, but without the money. Like many coppers, he wants to help the community in which he lives. In this case, it’s London where he is a detective sergeant with the Metropolitan Police. In many ways, DS Patrick Shea’s world is black and white. If you commit the crime, you will be punished. Although he’s on the fast track at Scotland Yard, his personal life is a bit of a mess. Because of his commitment to the job, he keeps losing the girl.
As a reader, what do you look for in a good mystery?
I like the setting to be a character in the story, which is why I opted for London in my mysteries. I don’t like stories where the killer comes out of nowhere. A reader should be able to at least guess the ending. I like romance versus sex and an illusion to violence rather than graphic descriptions. If there’s torture involved or too high a body count, I’m out of there.
Can you recommend a good mystery?
I really like Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series which takes place in Los Angeles. I have three favorite historical mysteries: The List of Seven by Mark Frost, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, and a more recent one, The Black Tower by Louis Bayard.
What's next for Mary Simonsen the writer, more Mr Darcy or more Patrick Shea?
A Killing in Kensington, #2 in the Patrick Shea series, should be out in mid September. I’m very excited about this because it is my first murder mystery. I am currently working on a Pride and Prejudice re-imagining in which Darcy meets Elizabeth in Italy (yes, Italy!) several years after his failed proposal at Hunsford Lodge. Amore!
Lovely! I’ll keep an eye on your "Italian" P&P novella, then! I can’t miss it. If you need any help to make Darcy or Elizabeth speak Italian, just ask! So, that’s it for now, Mary. Thank you! I hope to have you as my guest soon again for your next releases here on FLY HIGH or at My Jane AustenBook Club.
Thanks again to you, Maria Grazia. It’s always a pleasure.
Mary Lydon SimonsenIn Three’s A Crowd, we are introduced to Patrick Shea, a young detective sergeant with the Hampden Criminal Investigation Department, whose career is being fast-tracked by the Metropolitan Police in London. With an eye to an appointment with a murder investigation team at New Scotland Yard, Shea is doing everything by the book. Unfortunately, his love life is a bit of a mess and gets messier when he learns his former lover, Annie Jameson, has been assaulted on someone else’s patch. Will Shea’s involvement in the under-the-radar investigation of his ex-girlfriend put his career in jeopardy and possibly her life as well?
If you are a fan of the television series Law & Order UK, you will enjoy Three’s A Crowd. This novella is the first in the Patrick Shea Mystery Series The Author Mary Simonsen is the author of several Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion re-imagings, all of which are available on-line. She has also written a modern romance, The Second Date, Love Italian-American Style, and her first mystery, Three’s A Crowd. She lives in Arizona.
More from Mary Lydon Simonsen at http://marysimonsenfanfiction.blogspot.com and www.austenauthors.net