I'm part of a 25 novel collection trying to hit a list on the week after Christmas. You can preorder the collection for $0.99. For the next month I'm spotlighting all the great authors in this collection with me. Today's author is Anna Celeste Burke.
ART: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a retired professor living out in the California desert not too far from Palm Springs. I took up writing fiction when I retired several years ago. Before that I had a lot of different life experiences—good and bad—that have influenced my writing. I was a University Professor and Associate Dean for Research when I retired. At other times, I worked as an organizational consultant, a therapist, a chef, a caterer, an Avon sales person, an assistant in a genetics lab, as well as a variety of odd[er] jobs. I enjoy hiking, music, and old movies—especially film noir. My life got off to a bumpy start, so I’m forever grateful for second chances.
ART: Was there a certain time in your life you knew you wanted to write?
I read like a fiend when I was a child. Like many children, I made up stories—I especially enjoyed creating alternative endings for my favorite books. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered that I had to write. My second or third year of graduate school, on my way to becoming a professor, I began to feel the pressure to publish. When they say publish or perish in the academic world, they mean it. It’s hard to get and keep a job if you don’t write. The “stories” I wrote then were all about using science to understand mysteries behind poverty, mental illness, or crime.
ART: What are you currently working on?
The 4th novella in the Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery Series: A Merry Marvelous Marley World Wedding for release in December. A Christmas wedding is in the works! When a bride goes missing, a cast of unusual suspects make it difficult to figure out whodunit and why. I’m also hoping to finish the 4th book in the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery Series, A Dead Mother.
ART: Of the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?
I don’t know if I have a favorite, but I’m always delighted when I finish a new book. Right now, that’s the latest book in my Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery Series: A Merry Marvelous Marley World Wedding. It’s my “new baby” so it’s special. There will also always be a special place in my heart for the first fiction book I wrote—book one in the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series, A Dead Husband.
ART: What books have most influenced you as a writer?
A ton of mysteries, most of them what we now regard as cozy. When I first read Agatha Christie’s books, for example, I just called them mysteries. I love reading mystery series. I enjoy encountering the same sleuth confronted by very different mysteries to solve. I’m partial to women sleuths who are accidental or amateur sleuths. There are so many in addition to Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple that I could never list them all. I enjoy books with female sleuths ranging from cozy to hard-boiled.
ART: What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing? And the most rewarding?
The creative part of writing is the most enjoyable aspect of what I do as an author. Making stuff up is fun. The research required to write a book is sometimes challenging but also rewarding. I always learn something new with every book I write.
Character development and plotting are two components of storytelling that matter a great deal to me. Writing a series is particularly appealing because it provides a much longer “character arc”—a longer time frame in which to explore a sleuth’s character and in which it can grow and change.
Getting the sleuth into trouble and writing her out of it is another challenging and rewarding element of storytelling. There are delightful surprises that come about while writing, especially when characters interact. Editing is far less satisfying than creating that first draft, but essential, of course. It’s amazing how much you get wrong while writing. Marketing is probably my least favorite part of the writing process. Without it, though, no one knows your book exists. So, it’s every bit as important as the creative process and editing.
ART: What book is on your nightstand?
I have a ton of books on my Kindle. Several mysteries & thrillers are waiting in the queue to be read. Books by David Baldacci, James Rollins, and the latest book by Sue Grafton, “X.”
ART: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
Once I finish the 4th mystery in the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series, A Dead Mother, I have the 5th book in the queue to write: A Dead Cousin. After that, there will be two Corsario Cove Cozy mystery novellas and another Georgie Shaw mystery that will take place on a cruise ship. The tentative title is MMW Fantasy at Sea.
ART: Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers?
I’d just like to say thank you again for the support from sites like this one that help those of us who enjoy cozy mysteries find out about new authors and new series. I’d also like to convey how much I enjoy engaging readers. It’s so interesting to hear others’ take on the topics that show up in my books or hover in the background as I write. The energy from that give and take keeps me going when I’m trying to juggle the demands of writing and publishing.
Anna Celeste Burke is an award-winning and bestselling author who enjoys snooping into life's mysteries with fun, fiction, & food—California style! Her books include the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series set in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, the Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery series set on California’s Central Coast, and The Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery series set in Orange County, California–the OC. Coming soon: The Misadventures of Betsy Stark that take place in the Coachella Valley. Find out more at http://www.desertcitiesmystery.com.
Website link http://www.desertcitiesmystery.com
Facebook Link (author page) https://www.facebook.com/annacelesteburke
Twitter Link https://twitter.com/aburke59