Meet Isabella Muir

Isabella writes mystery/crime on the cozy end of the spectrum. All of her books are available wide of the major platforms and in books stores and libraries. She also has audio books available. If you sign up for her newsletter, there is a free novella available.

Have you ever been to the United States and if so where?

No, I have never been to the US—although looking at pictures of New England in the fall has always tempted me to venture there to capture what looks like the very best of nature.

What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean?

‘I’m banjacksed!’ I’m guessing this is a British word—although you might well know it in the US? It means ‘destroyed’ or ‘ruined’. It seems to have derived from Irish slang—so I’m not sure if that counts!

Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first and why?

I’m so lucky that I live in the countryside beside the sea! So, within ten minutes I can be walking along a deserted beach, or around the most beautiful boat marina, or along a woodland pathway, listening to birdsong. So, I would take a US visitor along with me and hope they would enjoy the simplicity as much as I do.

When did you start writing?

I entered my first writing competition at the age of eight! I’ve been writing in one form or another ever since and love it just as much now as I did then. But in terms of novel writing, I started that in earnest about six years ago and have since published six novels, three novellas and two short story anthologies.

What, in your opinion, are the essential elements of good writing?

Of course, grammar, punctuation and spelling are pretty critical, as is breadth of vocabulary—but as writers we are lucky enough to escape into another world as we write. So, I guess the best writing is when readers really feel they are in that world, walking alongside us. Everything that goes to make up a story—intriguing plot, depth of characters, descriptive setting, pacing that creates emotion in the reader—all of those things are important. Also, regardless of genre, I think readers need to feel that the ending is satisfying, that all loose ends are neatly tied off—even if some lead to a sequel!

Describe your writing space.

In my garden I have the most beautiful log cabin, which is my ‘woman cave’! I escape there every day—sometimes for hours—sometimes for a short respite. The view from my writing chair looks out onto bird feeders, so that I can watch blue tits, woodpeckers, thrushes and all manner of other delights, as they grab what’s on offer. Around the walls of the cabin are my bookshelves, filled with much-loved novels that I have read and read again, as well as books I’ve delved into for research and my all-important dictionaries and thesaurus.  I have a snuggly burnt orange throw that I can wrap around my knees when it’s a bit chilly and to top it all off I have my gorgeous Scottish terrier, Bonnie, lying at my feet. I consider myself very blessed.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart?

This is so difficult to answer! I feel as though I have met all my characters—they have become my friends, so choosing one over another is tricky. Probably—in terms of emotional tugs on my heart—it would be Emily Carpenter—the main character of my standalone novel—The Forgotten Children.

Struggling with the demons of her past, Emily is a children’s author with a dark secret, and a guilt that threatens to consume her. For twenty years she has lived in Brighton, England, trying to forget the day they took her baby from her, just hours after he was born. In the summer of 1987, she decides to begin the search for her son.

As the story unfolds, the emotional journey that Emily goes on really stayed with me and still affects me now whenever I re-read the book, and it’s made more emotional because the story is based on true events.

Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences or purely all imagination?

All my books are set in Sussex, England, which was where I was born and brought up and where I still live. So, my descriptions of setting and place are based on real-life experience. Also, my novels are all set in the 1960s—an era I have a great passion for. It was a time of great social and political change—in the UK, but in the US too — with the explosion of ‘pop’ music, radical changes in fashion, as well as the beginnings of greater independence for young people—especially women. I was just a child during the sixties, but I have older brothers and sisters who were teenagers in the sixties, and many of their anecdotes about that ‘swinging’ time have found their way into my stories.

Ok, I’ll be the first one to admit it; I’m jealous of Isabella! Her very own log cabin? What more could a writer want? And the simplistic walk along the beach or woodland path sounds perfect for plotting out a story. Be sure to sign up for Isabella’s newsletter and check out all her books.

Isabella made a good point. Most wide authors have their books available in libraries. Did you know this is something an author who is in the Kindle Select Program on Amazon can not offer? To me, having my books on the library shelf or data-base is so important. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to read any book they want, regardless of their income. And this is something our local libraries provide. So support your favorite author and your local library.

You can ask for any of my books from your librarian! Or buy them direct from my website.

Victoria LK Williams

Meet K.T. Bowes

K.T. Bowes writes mysteries with older female protagonists. I have written fourteen novels and a fantasy trilogy, but I always come back to mystery writing. Her books are available on all platforms and you can by directly from her website. Now lets find out a bit about K.T.

Have you ever been to the United States and if so, where?
I haven’t, but I’d like to. A university friend went on Camp America one summer and brought back stories of riding horses in Wyoming and falling in love. I’d enjoy seeing the rolling plains for myself. I’m happy with Husband, so don’t need to fall in love again.

What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean?
‘Don’t rip your nightie.’ It means, don’t get angry or upset. It’s a humorous rebuke. I live with Mr Super-calm, so don’t get to say it as much as I’d like

Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first and why?
That’s easy. I’d take them home, and we’d have a barbeque and some beers. Hospitality is a massive thing with Kiwis. The first thing we noticed was the big blue sky in New Zealand when we got off the plane. A friend warned us it was bigger here, and it’s true. It looks best from a friend’s garden with a bottle in your hand. Then I’d take them to Hobbiton and the set for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.

What, in your opinion, are the essential elements of good writing?
The reader has to relate to the characters. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter what happens in the plot. Empathy is one of my strengths and I love unpicking characters and reverse engineering their behaviour so I can better understand them. I derive pleasure from knowing my characters are believable enough to have fans of their own.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I write every weekday, no matter what. After exercising, I shower and go straight to my office. I tell myself I only need to write 100 words but always do more. My method is to write until it feels too hard, as though I’ve hit a roadblock. That tells me I’ve gone as far as I can for that day, so I’ll switch to another task. I’ll edit the next finished novel for a few hours and switch to admin tasks, marketing, accounts – the boring stuff which still needs doing.

Which of your books were the most enjoyable to write?
The Hana Du Rose Mysteries will always have a hold over me, and readers regularly plead for more of that series. But I think Pirongia’s Secret clicked most for me somehow. I loved writing a novel based in the 1990s rural New Zealand with this intensely complicated and insular small town dynamic.  

What were the key challenges you faced when drafting this book?
A Trail of Lies was one of my hardest books to write because I needed to endure a weekend in the New Zealand bush in order to appreciate what Callister went through as a runaway. I hiked into the bush with a Search and Rescue group and stayed there for two painful nights and hated every minute. I’m sure I was a liability. I couldn’t navigate and spent a lot of time running around screaming with something crawling through my clothes.

If you were a tour guide, what would you like a visitor to see?
My friend June has a waterfall at the end of her garden and glow worms. Then there’s the Kaniwhaniwha reserve at the bottom of Mount Pirongia which has a rope swing over a creek. To see the real New Zealand, you need to go off the beaten track and look for the special things that only locals know about. I think I’d do a secret tour, which included all those places.

Thanks to KT for answering our questions and sharing a bit of her writing life with us!

In my writing life, I’m thrilled to announce the final book in the Beach House Mysteries will be released on May 8th. You can pre-order now!

Victoria LK Williams