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Archive for September 15th, 2019

ROSEMARY AND LARRY MILD, cheerful partners in crime, coauthor mystery, suspense, and fantasy fiction. Their popular Hawaii novels, Cry Ohana and its sequel Honolulu Heat, vibrate with island color, local customs, and exquisite scenery. Also by the Milds: The Paco and Molly Murder Mysteries: Locks and Cream Cheese, Hot Grudge Sunday, and Boston Scream Pie. And the Dan and Rivka Sherman Mysteries: Death Goes Postal, Death Takes A Mistress, and Death Steals A Holy Book. Plus Unto the Third Generation, A Novella of the Future, and three collections of wickedly entertaining mystery stories—Murder, Fantasy, and Weird Tales; The Misadventures of Slim O. Wittz, Soft-Boiled Detective; and Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai‘i. 

mild5ROSEMARY, a graduate of Smith College and former assistant editor of Harper’s, also delves into her own nonfiction life. She published two memoirs: Love! Laugh! Panic! Life With My Mother and the acclaimed Miriam’s World—and Mine, for the beloved daughter they lost in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. On her lighter side, Rosemary also writes award-winning humorous essays, such as failing the test to get on Jeopardy; and working for a giant free-spending corporation on a sudden budget: “No new pencil unless you turn in the old stub.”

LARRY, who was only called Lawrence when he’d done something wrong, graduated from American University in Information Systems Management. In 2019 he published his autobiography, No Place To Be But Here: My Life and Times, which traces his thirty-eight-year professional engineering career from its beginning as an electronics technician in the U.S. Navy, to a field engineer riding Navy ships, to a digital systems/instrument designer for major Government contractors in the signal analysis field, to where he rose to the most senior level of principal engineer when he retired in 1993.

Making use of his past creativity and problem-solving abilities, Larry naturally drifted into the realm of mystery writing, where he also claims to be more devious than his partner in crime and best love, Rosemary. So he conjures up their plots and writes the first drafts, leaving Rosemary to breathe life into their characters and sizzle into their scenes. A perfect marriage of their talents.

THE MILDS are active members of Sisters in Crime where Larry is a Mister in Crime; Mystery Writers of America; and Hawaii Fiction Writers. In 2013 they waved goodbye to Severna Park, Maryland and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they cherish quality time with their daughters and grandchildren. When Honolulu hosted Left Coast Crime in 2017, Rosemary and Larry were the program co-chairs for “Honolulu Havoc.”

Over a dozen worldwide trips to Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Great Britain, France, Italy, Israel, Egypt, and more have wormed their way into their amazing stories. In their limited spare time, they are active members of the Honolulu Jewish Film Festival committee, where Larry is the statistician and recordkeeper for their film ratings.

Website: http://www.magicile.com

INTERVIEW:

Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Copper and Goldie, 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawaii. To begin with, can you give us a brief summary of what the stories are about and what compelled you to write them?  

ROSEMARY and LARRY: Copper and Goldie is a collection of 13 fun-filled stories, each one a complete little mystery. Homicide detective Sam Nahoe takes a bullet in his spine in the line of duty. Disabled, his career with the Honolulu Police Department shattered, what now? Jobless, divorced, and lonely, he becomes a Checker Cab driver and adopts a golden retriever with a touch of Doberman as his partner. Somehow trouble always finds them. Sam and Goldie take on the criminal side of Honolulu: bank robbers, kidnappers, vengeful wives, even killers. Hobbling on two canes, Cane and Able, he orders Goldie to chase the baddies. Snitch/card-sharp Sophie asks him: “You still walkin’ wit’ dem giant chopsticks?”

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What triggered the stories? Larry invents all our plots and dreamed up Copper and Goldie several years ago. We published nine of the stories individually in Mysterical-E, an online quarterly mystery magazine. He also found a perfect outlet for our love of golden retrievers. In Locks and Cream Cheese, the golden retriever Shana helps foil a thug. But dogs, cats, and birds find their way into many of our books. In Cry Ohana, a stray Black Lab becomes homeless Kekoa’s only friend. Lord Byron in Death Goes Postal is a brave kitty who sleeps in the poetry stacks and helps nail a killer. In Boston Scream Pie, Detective Paco teaches his macaws to talk.

What do you think makes a good (traditional “cozy” mystery)? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?

ROSEMARY: One, an inventive, well-paced, plot full of conflict. A crime has been committed; or the threat of a crime hangs over the characters. Or, there is no hint of a threat, and then a happy scene suddenly erupts into mayhem. Two, characters who are three-dimensional—way beyond their façade, deep into their minds and hearts. Even the villains must be flesh and blood. Three, An amateur sleuth like a Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher; or a private investigator; or a detective/policeman/inspector solves the crime(s). But solves it by way of a convoluted path that keeps the reader guessing. And always with the author keeping his/her promise to the reader. No unsubstantiated off-the-wall conclusions. So we’ve narrowed the three elements down for you. In truth, we could go on and on in rapturous detail. So fasten your seatbelts, we’ve got mysteries for you.

How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?

ROSEMARY: Larry insists he’s more devious than I am, so he makes up all our plots and writes the first draft. Often I find a tantalizing scene told low-key or second-hand. I really love turning it into real-time drama and dialogue.

LARRY: I work from a ten- to fifteen-page statement of work, so I know where I’m going in general. The central plot develops from the characters, their situations and reactions. Subplots may pop up at any time. Rosemary has her say in pushing and pulling the growing plot too.

Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?

ROSEMARY: Larry has an image in his mind of who the protagonist is; he might make notes on it. In Copper and Goldie, Larry gave Sam his own chronic back trouble; he also walks with two canes and calls them Cane and Able. Often I’ll pick out photographs  in magazines or newspapers that match my concept of some of our characters.

LARRY: Sam and I are simpatico. It goes along with the idea that there is something of the author in every character.    

In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?

ROSEMARY: Larry and I work hard to give all our characters realism and credibility. For Hot Grudge Sunday, I found a photo of a former Congressman looking down from a balcony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. He had the perfect commanding demeanor for our antagonist, a mercurial corporation president. It was a start.

LARRY: Antagonists and villains are created from their motives. What is it that they want most and how far are they willing to go to get it? The psychology, subterfuge, skills, preparations, opportunities, and execution take you to the next layer. Our goal: getting the reader into the characters’ minds.    

How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?

ROSEMARY: If you’re dozing off writing a scene, delete it! Your readers will do the same. Using The Da Vinci Code as an example, end each chapter with a cliff-hanger—meaning a sense of danger or a seemingly hopeless dilemma.

LARRY: Conflict and resolution! Action! Conflict and resolution! Action! And more of the same. Well, almost.

Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?

ROSEMARY: We love drawing on our own experiences for our settings. In Copper and Goldie you’ll hang out at Sam’s favorite eating places and parks, which are ours too. In Murder, Fantasy, and Weird Tales, we placed a story in a Cambodian jungle, where an American helicopter pilot and local boatman struggle for possession of a stolen sapphire. In that very setting, we witnessed the massive fig tree roots wrapped around decaying temples.

LARRY: Our short stories are set in at least a dozen countries. There’s nothing like first-hand experience. Our photographs are great tools in recalling those experiences.

Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?

ROSEMARY:  Larry knows the general theme when he conjures up each plot. Together we hammer out the details. The theme (or more than one) and outcome evolves in each book. Sometimes the characters lead the way to a surprising conclusion.

Where does craft end and art begin? Do you think editing can destroy the initial creative thrust of an author?

ROSEMARY: First step: Disgorge (yes, disgorge!) your story. Write the first draft without obsessing over each word and paragraph. Get the whole story out. Then edit. Think about it, mull over it.  When you’re rewriting true craft begins. Did I use an adverb like “he said angrily” when I should have said, “He slammed his fist on the table.” Show, don’t tell. The Maryland Writers Association newsletter once had a cartoon showing a speaker before an audience of writers. On the wall behind him was a large sign: “Adverbs and Adjectives Anonymous.”

LARRY: The art lies in your creativity—the realism, the settings, the conflicts, and the characters who must endure them. The craft comes in how you manage that art—allowing and drawing the reader to see that art. Sure, editing can both destroy and make a story. If the writer(s) and editor(s) work toward the same goals as Rosemary and I do, then a carefully crafted editing job will do wonders for any writing. 

What three things, in your opinion, make a successful novelist?

ROSEMARY: If “successful” means making lots of money, that “success” doesn’t include us. If we had to live on our earnings from our writing we’d be on welfare! But secretly, we’re proud to admit we don’t need ATMs. Our true success comes from this:  One, a fan of our books coming up to us in our booth at a fair or festival and wanting our newest one. Two, a daughter saying her mother has read all our books and needs to buy her the new one for her birthday. Three, seeing our books in print on shelves. They’re our legacy. On the most practical side, the digital revolution—Print on Demand—means our books will never go out of print.

A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. Thoughts?

ROSEMARY: You better believe it. It’s “Work work work work work” as Mel Brooks manically said in one of his crazy films. But we love it. The work keeps us going.

LARRY: So is it a labor of love or is it just lovely work and we do it?

Are there any resources, books, workshops or sites about craft that you’ve found helpful during your writing career?

ROSEMARY: Umpteen resources are available. The wittiest, sharpest advice comes from Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty) in Writers on Writing. He lists ten rules in his essay “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points, and Especially Hooptedoodle.” Join a writers’ critique group. Take writing classes at a community college or university. Join writers’ organizations such as Sisters in Crime. Subscribe to The Writer, Writer’s Digest, etc. (they’re also online). Keep a notebook with you so you can jot down ideas, observations, dialogue you hear at the grocery store or during an argument between your parents. First and foremost, just start writing. Try not to get bogged down by advice; there’s no end to it out there. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers about the craft of writing?

ROSEMARY AND LARRY: The golden rule of writing is get something down on paper. So what are you waiting for? Start writing. Read in your genre of interest and learn from it. And for happy escapes, read our books!

 

 

 

 

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