On Tour with “The Murders At Astaire Castle”
Here at Jaquo and Mystery Suspense Reviews, we’ve been fans of Lauren Carr ever since reading the first book in her Mac Faraday series. You can’t help but grow attached to Mac, Archie, and of course, German shepherd Gnarly.
Reading the series in order was great fun. That included The Murders at Astaire Castle, which I reviewed here on Jaquo as soon as I finished. So when asked to participate in a virtual tour for the audio version of the book, the answer was an immediate “Yes!”
Audiobooks allow you to immerse yourself in the story. While driving, shopping, even house cleaning, it enables you to stay connected to the story through busy days. What a treat to be laughing at Gnarly’s antics while in the midst of the day. It makes any task easier and quicker as you get lost in the setting of the novel.
The Murders at Astaire Castle surely achieved all that! Please check out my review of the audiobook here at Mystery Suspense Reviews.
As a special treat, lovely author Lauren Carr, has written an article for us as part of that virtual tour. You won’t want to miss it! Always vivacious and willing to share her knowledge and tips, Ms. Carr gives us a sample of her average day as a writer. It sounds as amusing as her stories often are! Mystery, suspense, and humor all rolled up into a terrific story. Enjoy!
A Day in the Life of a Mystery Writer
By Lauren Carr
For some reason, the general population is curious about the daily life of a writer.
What goes on in our lives from sun rise to sunset? Do we simply sit in front of the computer transmitting literary greatness from our brains, down our arms, and out through our fingertips to the keyboard?
Or is our lives more like a Neil Simon play (most of his protagonists were writers) with quirky friends coming in and out throughout the day to annoy and inspire us? Have you ever noticed how little time Neil’s protagonists actually spend writing? Or maybe we live like John-Boy Walton from The Waltons, where every day is filled with a wondrous discovery about life?
As a young girl aspiring to one day be a mystery writer, I had fantasized that my life would be like that of Jessica Fletcher in It’s Murder, She Wrote, or Ellery Queen. Not a week would go by without a dead body and mystery popping up for me to solve.
With my eighteenth mystery, Killer in the Band, released this month, and my nineteenth book, A Fine Year for Murder, scheduled for release on January 1, I have given up all hope of tripping over a dead body during the course of my day. Frankly, there is not enough time in my schedule to nab real killers.
So, you may ask, what is the day in the life of a mystery writer like? Well, I have found that it takes a daily routine and a commitment to sticking to it in order to write books.
Here’s how I do it:
6:00 am: Each day starts with a vigorous run at the crack of dawn. To reveille performed by my security team [aka four dogs, Gnarly (German Shepherd/Chief of Security), Storm (German Shepherd/Deputy Chief in charge of trespassing squirrels), Ziggy (Australian Shepherd/semi-retired contractor), and Beagle Bailey (beagle/retiree)], I jump out of bed and run for the door to let them outside, where they immediately secure the perimeter from any invading squirrels, deer, or low-flying birds.
Hit the button to start the coffee brewing on the way to the door.
6:15-6:30 am: Start on the StairMaster with trips up and down the stairs at five-minute intervals to let dogs outside and then back in. Being independent, they each take issue with coming or going with another canine.
6:30-7:00 am: Wake-up to coffee while reviewing e-mails. Delete junk e-mail; read the important stuff. Example of important: the forwarded stuff from friends that contain lots of jokes and cute animal pictures. It is important to start your day off in a good mood. This sets a positive tone for literary creation.
7:00 am: Security announces that the perimeter is secure, and they are now ready for breakfast. The Chief of Security (Gnarly) remains outside to direct deer traffic taking the expressway on the south end of the property. (Every now and then, one of those does has a collision while trying to text and drive from Route 115 to the river. Will they ever learn?)<
The semi-retired contractor (Ziggy) jumps up onto his recliner and barks criticism out the window about how he did a better job back in the old days when he used to be chief of security.
Grab another cup of coffee and move from emails into social media.
Book promotion. Writers are expected to spend some time every day promoting their books. I use social media and guest blog posts. But writers need to be careful not to get so sucked into social media and end up not having any time to write. So I set the limit of three hours a day on social media. The rest of my day is spent writing.
7:30 am: Husband wakes up to discover that the coffee pot is empty and that I have once again set up camp in the corner of the living room instead of working in my writer’s studio, which has been occupied by son.
After making another pot of coffee, I send the Chief of Security (Gnarly) outside to once again check the perimeters. The Deputy Chief claims the area is secure, but Gnarly is a micromanager and feels the need to check it himself. After all, his master is a mystery writer with a following. There could be an obsessed fan out there in a squirrel suit. Meanwhile, Beagle Bailey, the retiree, takes his morning nap We won’t see him again at 1 pm.
Back to writing guest blog posts and getting the word out to my followers on social media about Mac Faraday’s latest mystery. What a cute picture of a husky pup! I need to retweet that! … A nun killed a priest in Texas? Need to read that news article—research potential!
9:00 am: Husband wants breakfast and another cup of coffee—stares at me until I pick up the message telepathically. Storm announces that squirrels threatening an advance from the Northeast ridge and needs back up. Imperative that I take a break from writing to go take care of my family before they completely fall apart. Hey, got a new follower on Twitter! She’s a mystery writer. Let me check out her books!
11:00 am: Discover that I am now five hours into my day and I am still in my bathrobe and slippers. You can’t expect to go far in your writing career if you don’t treat it seriously. You need to dress for it. Shower, dress, and get ready to work on my latest work in progress.
12 Noon: Husband asks what’s for lunch. Discover that I was so busy with my book promotion that I have not had breakfast. It is a busy life for a mystery writer!
1:00 pm: After cooking and eating lunch, I sit down to my laptop to work on my book. Email pops in from friend with link to article about an old man who kills wife of sixty years because he got sick of listening to her yap. That’s research potential!
1:15 pm: Gnarly announces that it is time to play catch. As Chief of Security, it is important that he stay at the top of his game by keeping his reflexes in tip-top shape with exercise. Go outside to play catch.
2:00 pm: Now it is time to get to work on my book.
3:00 pm: Husband asks, “What’s for dinner?” Unable to answer, I open the freezer door and stare into the interior until something jumps out at me. Husband rejects that. Back to staring into the freezer. Next thing that moves gets thawed.
3:30 pm: Move from freezer to the computer screen—Staring at the computer screen until drops of blood form on my forehead from thinking so hard.
3:35 pm: Inspiration breaks through and greatness pours from my fingertips onto the keyboard.
3:45 pm: Son texts from college: Out of coffee. Send money. Drop everything to send money to support his caffeine habit.
4:00 pm: Security team threatens strike unless they receive payment in the form of dog food.
5:00 pm: Husband threatens collapse from hunger unless fed.
7:00 pm: After Dinner. The quiet of the evening is a great time to get those creative juices flowing. Now is the time to let my characters come to life and write late into the evening.
8:30 pm: Security team announces that it is time to secure the perimeter for the night. On the way through the kitchen, a carton of ice cream calls to me from the freezer. A hot fudge sundae would surely give me strength to write late into the night.
9:00 pm: Security declares the boundaries safe for the night and come to call it a night. The Chief (Gnarly) critiques the team on their day’s performance. The Deputy Chief (Storm) disagrees with the Chief’s evaluation. That bird had violated our airspace and needed to be reprimanded. An argument results. Gnarly feels Ziggy (the semi-retired contractor) is overly critical of his performance during the day. I’m called in to negotiate. Everyone retreats to their beds in disgust.
With the sundae devoured, I return to the laptop with the full intention to write late into the night … or until the pillow starts calling out that it’s my bedtime (around 12 Midnight).
How did Jessica Fletcher write so many books in It’s Murder, She Wrote with mysteries to solve every week?
Never tell Mac Faraday not to do something.
Spencer’s police chief, David O’Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer’s mountaintop – even though he owns the property. It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors toKeep Out!
Topping the list of the 10 top haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago – and Mac Faraday owns it!
In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels.
What starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet – including a wolf man. No, we’re not talking about Gnarly.
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries. The twelfth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series, Candidate for Murder will be released June 2016.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.