Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Interview with mystery author Sandra Parshall
Here's a hearty (albeit silent) round of applause for mystery author Sandra Parshall as she stops by today.
Sandra Parshall is the author of the Rachel Goddard mysteries. Her debut, The Heat of the Moon, won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. It was followed by Disturbing the Dead, Broken Places, and Under the Dog Star, just released. A former newspaper reporter, she lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband and two cats.
Welcome, Sandra, please tell us about your current release.
In Under the Dog Star, veterinarian Rachel Goddard makes enemies when she races to save a pack of feral dogs wrongly blamed for mauling a prominent local doctor to death. At the same time, she becomes entangled in the lives of the doctor’s adopted children, who are growing up the same way Rachel did: showered with luxuries but denied parental love and approval. Deputy Sheriff Tom Bridger, the man in Rachel’s life, believes the doctor’s death is somehow connected to illegal dogfighting, and that when he tracks down the fighting operation he will also find the killer who used a trained dog as a murder weapon. Under the Dog Star is a fast-paced, suspense-filled mystery, but it’s also a story about the meaning of family and the power of compassion.
What inspired you to write this book?
I live in Virginia, where Michael Vick’s infamous dogfighting operation was discovered. I wanted people to realize that Vick’s arrest didn’t put a stop to illegal dogfighting in Virginia or anywhere else. This so-called sport still flourishes all over the country. Neglect and abuse of animals has always been a big issue with me, but I know that readers are turned off by preachiness as well as graphic descriptions of violence toward animals. My aim was to highlight the problem in the context of a mystery that would grip readers and keep them turning pages.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m writing a fifth book about Rachel, and I’m bringing her sister Michelle back onstage for the first time since The Heat of the Moon. A stalker is terrorizing Michelle, and when she flees to Mason County to seek help and protection from her sister, she brings danger with her and disrupts Rachel’s life with Tom Bridger. At the same time, Tom is investigating the killing of a young woman who was working with an Innocence Project to clear a local man she believed was wrongly convicted of murder.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I was scribbling stories in pencil on lined pulp-paper tablets at an early age. I worked as a reporter – had to earn a living – but I never surrendered my dream of being a published novelist.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m fortunate enough to be able to write full-time. I don’t know how authors with demanding day jobs manage to produce books. Maybe they’re more disciplined when they have only a small window of time for writing every day. I write in the morning and early afternoon five days a week, but when I’m near the end and a deadline looms, I’ll write six or seven days a week. For the sake of my sanity, I do like to get away from the computer at least one day out of seven.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I wish I had some colorful writing quirks! But I’m basically a plodder – sit down and Just Do It (thanks for that slogan, Nike), day after day. I do like to have a cat in the room when I’m writing. Our girl Emma is my muse. Our other cat, Gabriel, doesn’t want to work that hard.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer, from the start. I’ve always loved books, those magical objects that could transport me to another time and place with nothing more than words on paper. I wanted to create those words, those imaginary worlds, and see my name on the covers of books.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I love hearing from readers, and an e-mail from someone who has read and liked my books can brighten a bad day and keep me writing. So, please, keep in touch!
Along with my website, people can find me blogging at Poe's Deadly Daughters.
Great to have you as part of my blog, Sandra. Thanks for stopping by