Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Interview with mystery author Radine Trees Nehring

Today at Reviews and Interviews we have award-winning mystery author Radine Nehring.

Radine Trees Nehring's writing career began when she and husband John moved to the Arkansas Ozarks in the mid 1980s and she wrote and sold her first Ozarks essay. Radine continues as a full-time writer with many awards and honors, (as well as fan-friends), attesting to her success. In addition to work as a journalist and magazine feature writer, she has published a number of mystery short stories, one non-fiction book about life in the Ozarks--"DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow,"--and a series of "To Die For" mystery novels. These have earned, among other honors, a Macavity nomination, and the 2010 Silver Falchion Award from Killer Nashville. Radine was also named the 2011 Inductee into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame by the Arkansas Pioneer Branch of Pen Women in the USA and the board of the Arkansas Writers' Conference. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Authors Guild, Ozarks Writers League, and has represented Arkansas on the board of Mystery Writers' of America, Southwest Chapter.

Radine, please tell us a bit about your newest release, Journey to Die For.
Carrie McCrite (retired librarian), and Henry King (retired Kansas City Police Major) begin their Journey to Die For on the A&M RR Passenger Excursion train day-trip to Van Buren, AR. What was meant as an eight-month anniversary surprise for newly-wed Carrie turns into murder on the banks of the Arkansas River. Why is the body of a man from the train on the riverbank? What might that have to do with the sinking of a treasure-laden Confederate steamboat? And how are Van Buren antiques shops linked to burglaries in Kansas City? Can this couple and their friends uncover answers before a killer stops them?

This is (for me, and, I hope, others) another enjoyable and exciting adventure with Carrie and Henry, plus their friends Shirley and Roger Booth, and Eleanor and Jason Stack. These three couples--quite a contrast in human backgrounds and interests--came together for a cause in the first "To Die For" novel, A Valley to Die For. In some adventures, the Stacks join Carrie and Henry. In others it's the Booths or maybe all four of them. They make an adventuring-detecting sextet that keeps me on my toes, creating and unravelling crimes and puzzles for them to solve.

What inspired you to write this book?
The terrific thing about this series is that I get to choose locations in the Arkansas Ozarks that I will enjoy visiting with my characters. These destinations--always places popular with tourists--make research an adventure for me, as well as for Carrie and Henry et. al. In the case of Journey to Die For, I remembered riding the Arkansas and Missouri Passenger Excursion Train to the historic town of Van Buren a few years earlier. Who doesn't love a train? Why not take Carrie and Henry on that excursion, and see what we can find in Van Buren, along the banks of the Arkansas River, and in a port area that saw a lot of steamboat traffic during the nineteenth century. History a-plenty, with Civil War excitement included, made a terrific spring-board for this novel. Adding connected evil doings in Henry's home town of Kansas City gave depth, as I explored events that had touched his life there in the past.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Ah! The Ozarks area is known for fall craft fairs. Are they always as benign and as much fun as they seem? What if . . . well, let's see what Carrie and Henry and their friends get themselves into at the fairs.

When did you consider yourself a writer?
Hmmm, probably back when I wrote (and immediately sold) my first essay about the Ozarks. Coming to the Ozarks in the 1980s exploded into an urge to tell others about this wonderful place, and it seems the setting was of interest to editors, especially those living on the east coast. For a number of years I continued to write Ozarks features and essays for magazines and newspapers, and also had my own radio program about the Ozarks for ten years. Right after my non-fiction book about Ozarks life (Dear Earth) sold to a New York publisher, I began thinking about writing a mystery novel. (Just one.) Mysteries were my fiction reading of choice, could I write one? Thus Carrie and Henry and their friends, loosely modeled after people I knew here in the Ozarks, were born. Well, one wasn't enough, so . . . By the time my first Carrie and Henry adventure sold, the second book had been finished, and was part of the package.

Now I think I'm addicted to adventures with these people.

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 wish. I am in the writing business full-time, but editing, promotion, on-line connections, organizing book events, travel, mailing promotion materials and books, and so on seem to take up well over half of each work day. That's six days a week and half-days on Sunday.

So that means I write for fun! Ahhh, at last, I can spend time with Carrie and Henry and friends. Truth be told, I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.

As I child I learned that being alone was comfortable, and reading was an escape from sometimes unhappy events in "real" life. Now, it's being a writer that frees me from whatever shyness I grew up with. I can talk about writing very easily.

For shared fun, my husband and I enjoyed working around our homestead for years. Now, with our new life style, we enjoy taking a break from work by going out to eat. Time for us to talk and -- what else? -- read. I often read my work in progress to him on the road to one of our favorite restaurants. (He drives, I read, we talk about the work.)

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I began listening to the Saturday afternoon broadcasts of Metropolitan Opera performances when I was eight or nine.That continued until I left for college. So, what did I dream of being? You guessed it! An opera singer. Only one problem. I didn't have the voice.

My father didn't believe in college for women but finally agreed to two years for me. (I majored in pre-professional art.) Then he insisted I go to secretarial school. I did, but only worked part-time as a secretary for one summer. After marriage, I worked in interior decorating and antiques sales and went back to school, majoring in Art History and English, taking evening and weekend classes at the University of Tulsa until I finished. More recent post-grad work has included time at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Program during summer vacations. (I enjoyed writing but didn't write professionally until I was old enough for AARP!)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I think all writers are joined in their love for the creative process. Otherwise, we come in as many varieties as the rest of the human population. I am grateful to be writing fiction. I can't imagine doing anything else now. (And it's a profession with no forced retirement age, thank goodness!)

Radine, thank you for sharing so much with us today. You certainly sound like you're enjoying the writing life.

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