Our Interview with Lauren Carr
Bestselling author, Lauren Carr, has a new mystery in the Mac Faraday series. We’ve been following his story for a few years now, catching up, one by one. Cancelled Vows is the eleventh in the series.
With each book, it is easy to grow more and more attached to the characters, especially since several now appear in their own series.
Ms. Carr is currently on a virtual book tour for Cancelled Vows, a tour in which we are delighted to be included. You can read my review of this most recent addition here on Jaquo. You can find complete tour details including each of her stops, here at the tour host, iRead Book Tours. You won’t want to miss learning more about the author and her terrific mystery.
We also had the opportunity to ask Lauren further questions about her plans for her characters and her books. Thanks so much for your time Lauren.
Hi Lauren! It’s been some time since our last interview. It is a pleasure to get together for another.
First, will you share what is on the agenda for the coming year? Which series books we might see?
For 2016, I am aiming for four books, one for each series. Cancelled Vows is the eleventh installment for the Mac Faraday Mysteries. At the end of April, Lovers in Crime will see the third installment for that series, Killer in the Band. In September, fans of the Thorny Rose Mysteries will see the second installment for that series, A Fine Year for Murder. I’m also planning to close out the year with a November release of Murder for the Holidays. This is a Mac Faraday Mystery that will include some flashback to an earlier case involving Patrick O’Callaghan and Robin Spencer.
Do you feel like you learn something new about your characters yourself with each book?
Oh, yes. My mysteries are character driven. I’m always diving deeper into the characters to figure out myself how and why they do the things they do. Sometimes, I learn things about the characters that I don’t even tell the reader about. For example, in Cancelled Vows, I really wanted to explore the character of David O’Callaghan and his relationships with women. At the beginning of the series, I’m sure for most readers, David simply came across as a hottie who maybe had an issue with commitment to women. But, by the end of Cancelled Vows, I’m sure readers will be surprised, as I was, to discover that there was more to it than meets the eye. Not only will readers learn more about David, but he learns more about himself.
Did Dallas in Cancelled Vows surprise you too? Does that happen often?
Yes, Dallas was a big surprise to me, too. Here was this fairly minor character who just sprang to life on the page and stole the book. That doesn’t happen a lot, but it is really cool when it does.
When I was planning the plot for Cancelled Vows, I was looking for a unique character who, in this diverse big city of New York, would capture Mac and David’s attention. Who better than a southern girl? Only I wasn’t looking for a meek mild southern belle, but a bold bigger than life Texan. I was still developing the character when I decided to name her Dallas Walker. As soon as I put that name to her character, she sprang to life—backstory and all.
I don’t want to give away the story, but wonder what made you decide on the direction. Were you not happy with the character or the circumstances?
It was actually a pretty hard decision. I almost felt like I was firing a real live person. Of course, I took readers’ reactions into consideration—though I admit that was not the deciding factor.
When planning what is going to happen to my characters in future books, I find myself constantly comparing them to the mystery series I grew up with—books that I devoured growing up. Bobbsey Twins, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Hercule Poirot, Perry Mason. All of those characters were always constant. They didn’t grow older and their character did not change or develop either. They were always surrounded by the same family and friends.
But then, series and readers are different nowadays. Most definitely it’s our culture. People don’t want to read the same mystery story with the same characters, who never grow. Just like in today’s culture, people are always coming in and going out of our lives and with each new person who comes into our lives, hopefully we will learn a bit more and grow some.
Likewise, people sometimes leave our lives … though, not necessarily forever. Hint. Hint.
Your potential series keep growing. Do you have future ones in mind already? Dallas seems sure to inspire more. Then, of course, Joshua and Mac both have more children. And there is David and his potential future.
As an investigative journalist, Dallas Walker is able to provide assistance from a totally different angle—as well as drag the gang into mysteries that they wouldn’t otherwise become involved in. For the time being, she’s going to be a constant in the Mac Faraday Mysteries.
Though, readers will see Dallas next in A Fine Year for Murder, the Thorny Rose Mystery that will be coming out in September. When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells Jessica and Murphy about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize that Jessica’s nightmares may be suppressed memories of a murder she had witnessed long ago.
In Killer in the Band, the Lovers in Crime mystery coming out at the end of April, readers will get to know more about Joshua Thornton Jr (J.J.), Murphy’s identical twin brother. J.J. has graduated at the top of his class from law school and is returning home to spend the summer studying for the bar exam. However, to the Thornton’s shock and dismay, J.J. decides to move in with Suellen Russell, a lovely widow twice his age. The move brings long buried tensions between the father and son to the surface. When a brutal killer strikes, the father and son must set all differences aside to solve the crime before J.J. ends up in the crosshairs of a murderer.
Speaking of Mac’s other children, or rather child, we can’t forget about Tristan, Mac’s son, who is a student at George Washington University, and not-so-secretly dating Joshua’s daughter Sarah, who is a cadet at the naval academy. Readers will see them taking on a more active role later on in the Thorny Rose Mysteries, while making occasional appearances on both the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime Mysteries.
How far out do you plan your books and plots? That is, do you already have the main idea for several coming books in each series, or do you try not to do that?
After years, I now finally have a system. I am usually thinking about the next book while working on the current one. Usually, by the time I send the current book off to the editor, I am ready to start writing the next book.
The most important thing with every one of my books is the murder mystery—the case the characters are working on. The subplot of what goes on with the characters is secondary—surprisingly that is very often dictated by the case. For example, in Kill and Run, the book starts out with Cameron’s inability to handle weddings and funerals. However, because of what happens with the murder case, she has a major breakthrough and her character ended up growing in the end.
But then also, I am working on books that just aren’t quite there yet—simply because I don’t have the plot worked out yet. I’ve had one Mac Faraday Mystery in mind for well over a year and just recently had a break through on the plot. That will be my November release, Murder for the Holidays.
With all the possibilities how do you keep your ideas organized and divided? Computer, files or note? Will you start an outline of more than one at a time, as ideas come to you?
Right now I keep most of them in my head. I’m what you call a plantser. That is, I plan the book very loosely, leaving plenty of room for my characters to take over and lead me in a different direction. Then, when I sit down to start writing, I will write by the seat of my pants. However, because of the outline, my characters and I always end up where I planned for us to end.
Many writers say they often speed thru (relatively) the first draft then the majority of time is spent editing? Do you find that to be the case? Is it hard to part with what you have written in the editing?
I don’t know if it would be considered speeding through. However, I have been told that I do write fast. It takes me about six weeks to get through a first draft of a book. Keep in mind, I do write full time. That is much faster than how long it used to take me to finish a first draft.
It then takes about two to three months of editing—that is with the book going back and forth between me and the editor. Now that I am on my seventeenth book, I don’t have to part with as much as I used to have to part with. That’s because I have made a point of learning from the editors I have worked with. So, usually, I end up killing those “darlings” myself before the book goes to the editor.
I’ve now gotten to the point that I will realize while I am writing it that it needs to go. If it’s something really good, but it just won’t work here in this book, then I will cut and paste that scene into a file that I create for every book called “Cut Scenes.” Then, when I’m working on another book, if it is a particularly good scene, I’ll remember it, hunt it down, and use it. I’ve used cut scenes from other books in Shades of Murder, Dead on Ice, and in the book I’m working on now, Killer in the Band.
How do you keep yourself going when you aren’t feeling it?
I’m always feeling it! Actually, I love writing so much that ‘m never really not in the mood to write.
For me, it is the opposite. I have to have friends and family drag me away from my laptop to go out and do other things. My husband will drag me out to lunch. A friend will take me away for a weekend and threaten to pound me if she sees me on the laptop. My doctor has actually used the word on me—I am a workaholic.
Do you ever find your story requires a complete change in direction?
Yes! I once finished a whole draft of a mystery and put it away. Something was itching at me and I couldn’t figure out what it was. Next day, I realized that one of the murder victims was actually the killer. So, I had to bring that character back and rewrite the last half of the book. It did turn out to be a better book.
How do you reward yourself once you type the end?
Ice cream slathered with Magic Shell!
Will you be considering audio versions of your novels? I noticed there are a few earlier ones available, but what about Kill and Run, and your newer books? Audiobooks have become so popular these days.
It is something that I am working on.
Is your Gnarly anything like Mac’s Gnarly?
Yes, only he is not so well trained. Just like Mac Faraday’s Gnarly, my Gnarly is extremely protective and has a mind of his own. However, this past year he has become more dignified. He’s now two years old. We’ve got another addition to our family, a female German shepherd named Storm, who has added a whole new dynamic to our family. Readers of Cancelled Vows will notice that Dallas mentioned her dog named Storm. She will be appearing in A Fine Year for Murder.
The more important question is how much are you like Robin Spencer? Or I should say, how much is she like you?
Well, I’m not having an affair of the heart with the local police chief! Robin Spencer as my fantasy of what I want to be when I grew up.
There are many similarities, but there are also differences. For example, in many of the Mac Faraday mysteries, reference is made to Robin Spencer’s beloved gardens that surround Spencer Manor. When she would get stuck on a case, she would work out in her garden. Not me! My husband jokes about how I do nothing outside. And I don’t. I have bad seasonal allergies and a black thumb. I can’t grow anything.
Robin Spencer was a prolific writer who had written close to a hundred books. That’s similar to me—though I don’t see myself as America’s answer to Agatha Christie. (sigh) Maybe someday.
Do you have potential weapons around for consideration or a dummy relaxing in one of your chairs?
Well, I don’t have weapons laying around the house. I actually did do a search for a dummy to relax in a chair in my studio and do you know how much those things cost?! I was shocked!
I’m always on the lookout for material—unique cases, various ways to kill people, information about weapons. Recently, I met a retired marine, who was kind enough to spend a whole evening showing me various techniques for disarming an assailant armed with a gun or knife. He even showed me how to kill a man with a plastic drinking straw. That will definitely be going into a book.
Once again, thank you so much for the interview Lauren. It is always such a pleasure.
Book Description for Cancelled Vows:
Police Chief David O’Callaghan and Chelsea Adams’ wedding day is fast approaching. Unfortunately, at the last minute, David discovers that there is one small problem to be taken care of before he can tie the knot—divorce his first wife!
Lauren Carr takes fans of the Mac Faraday mysteries to the Big Apple in this nail biting adventure. In Cancelled Vows, David, Mac, and Gnarly, too, rush to New York City to dissolve David’s marriage to an old girlfriend—and he’s got five days to get it done. When murder throws up a road block, it is up to David’s best man, Mac Faraday, and Gnarly, K9-in-waiting, to sort through the clues to get David to the church in time!
Buy the book here: Amazon
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday and Lovers in Crime Mysteries and the Thorny Rose Mysteries. Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real live Gnarly!) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.