Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesdays Tidbits With Kari: Featuring Mystery Author Luisa Buehler

Please welcome author Luisa Buehler. You can find out more about Luisa and her books at:
www.luisabuehler.com and www.luisabuehler.wordpress.com
Grace Marsden Mysteries ~ Think Monk in a skirt solving Cold Cases ~

Kari: I love your tagline: think Monk in a skirt solving cold cases. Your Grace Marsden Mystery series sounds fascinationg. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Luisa: Grace is a warm, good hearted person who is loyal to a fault and fiercely protective of friends and family. I blame Nancy Drew for Grace's inability to draw the line, say no, back away and in general, not go there. Both Grace and I read Nancy Drew when we were in junior high. Grace, however, resembles Nancy not one bit. Grace is not perfect, not slender and expertly skilled and successful in whatever she attempts. She is shorter than stylish, leaning toward the wrong side of her weight chart and oh, yes, she suffers with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Each book involves a cold case and wherever the bones are discovered, I weave in a ghost story. Because of the spirit involvement, another tag line I'm considering is, When Mr. Monk meets the Medium. Grace becomes involved in these cases not so much because they affect her directly but because a friend or family member becomes embroiled in something nasty, and loyal Grace rushes to their side. It is only in the first book, The Rosary Bride, that Grace makes the actual discovery behind the fireplace at her Alma mater of a skeleton in a tattered wedding gown. Nuns, a cloister walk, underground tunnels and the resident all girls Catholic school ghost kicked off the series.

Grace is never alone for long as she follows the decades old clues. Her English husband, Harry Marsden, ex-British Intelligence, her best friend Karen Kramer, and Karen's older brother Ric Kramer, police Inspector and Grace's early suitor aren't far from her side when trouble comes calling. The series has been called "a cold case sizzle" as it follows the cold trail of bygone crimes blending a traditional whodunit with a hint of romance and a touch of the supernatural.

Kari: You have quite an interesting background. How do you juggle it all? What's your writing schedule like?

Luisa: My secret weapon is the wonderful guy I married 26 years ago, Gerry. (no relation to Harry). He is supportive of both my passions. When in 2002 I bought the business I had been working at and signed a contract with Echelon Press for two books he stepped up and helped with both businesses. When I worked late at the office, he handled dinner and homework with our son, Christopher. When I needed to write instead of clean house, we wore thick socks and dragged our feet when we walked over the tiled floors. I'd thought of spraying the socks with that anti-static, pick up dust, product but never did.

I am joking about the socks but not about Gerry's support. My husband was always a self-sufficient sort of fellow--Army, living on his own, no steady squeeze to do chores and our son learned to do his own laundry, cook some basic meals, sew on the occasional errant button, etc. He's in college now and does more than his share of the grocery shopping and cooking for himself and his roommates and they are girls!

Now about the MIND SET of juggling life. Having help and support are important. Having an internal game plan is key. Since I have a business to run, I have to carve out time to write, research, noodle the ideas and fine tune the WIP. I get up at five a.m. every day (maybe sleep in until six on Sundays). I am a morning person, and a tad obsessive (write what you know,eh?) So I have a routine that helps me stay focused and not fall behind on deadlines and not get tense, anxious and overwhelmed. I turn on my laptop on my desk on the landing of the second floor. While it's booting up, I go downstairs, make the coffee, say my morning prayers (how else does one get through anything), head upstairs to write until about sixish, head to the kitchen for a second cup, step out to get the paper for Gerry (the least I can do) back up to write until seven. I usually (unless I have an early business meeting) walk two miles around the neighborhood. Depending on the season, I either spend a few minutes in my garden watering potted annuals and veggies and pulling the ubiquitous mustard weed, or I loll in one of the sitting areas in my garden and think about Grace and what she'll be doing.

Once I'm back inside, I do my Swiffer 15. This is my way of feeling that I'm not a housework slug. I choose one area and set a timer (heaven forbid I'd clean longer than necessary) and clean. If I don't finish, I put it on the next day's schedule. I leave for my office at about 8:30. I do bigger chunks of cleaning on the weekends (honest) which I try to spend with friends and my family. The short answer to how I juggle career, family, writing is 'haphazardly and usually on one high-heel!'

Kari: What's on the horizon for you? More books in this series? Any plans for a new series or even trying your hand at a new genre?

Luisa: The Grace Marsden series will end with book seven, The Re-Enactors: A Staged Death. I love writing about Grace and her pals but since she is an amateur sleuth, it becomes increasingly difficult to find compelling reason why she continues to become embroiled in murder. People joke about the Cabot Cove Syndrome, and I don't want that to be the case with Grace. I have some ideas for a stand alone thriller novel that would certainly be a departure from the cozy genre.

Currently I have completed a novel for middle grade boys. It's an adventure story about six American Boy Scouts attending Jamboree in Dover, England. They discover the meaning of friendship and loyalty when they meet a ghost patrol of four English scouts killed sixty years earlier during the evacuation of Dunkirk. I am looking for an agent for this book. As for another series, I have thoughts for one centered around an employment agency (my day job), a few characters roughed out but the concept still needs work.

Kari: Who are your favorite authors?

Luisa: Too many as my TBR pile will attest to. I love the classic writers, Christie, Sayers, Allingham. In the here and now, I enjoy reading Anne Perry, Barbara D'Amato, Marcia Muller, Margaret Maron, all great storytellers. Not to leave out the guys I enjoy reading Willian Kent Krueger, John Crais, John B. Parker, Michael Connolly; they write wonderfully heart bruised characters.

Thank you so much for being with us, Luisa! Can't wait to read your series!


Cassy Pickard said...

Luisa: I'm exhausted just reading your posting! I thought I started my day early and even had a bit of self-discipline. No way. You have me and probably all our readers totally beat. My hat is tipped to you.

What fun your hook is for your series. I love it.

Can you talk more about how you get into the heads of your characters? They are unique (as they should be!) but they also are quirky enough that I imagine you talking to yourself in your kitchen- while of course sliding those thick socks around the tiled floor.

By the way, that's why I have dog; they are really good at cleaning up the bits and pieces.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

I know Cassy, I thought my life was insane...LOL, just goes to show what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.

Thanks so much again for being here Luisa. What a great series you have.

Terri said...

What amazing discipline! Especially love the Swifter 15. Just may adopt that!

Mary Martinez said...

Wow Luisa, you have a great voice even in a blog post, I bet your books are great!

Thanks for joining M&M today. Kari great interview!

Anita Clenney said...

The tagline is great. I love Monk and I love ghost stories, so this is probably a series I'd enjoy. I'm so impressed at how structured you are. I'm so not.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be arriving so late to the page,I've been on the trail of a bi-lingual receptionist for a client.
Thank you for your kind words about my characters.They have developed as composites of people I know, have met, qualities I admire, people past/present I want to be, etc. When I learn something new about them I put it in their book. Each main character has their own small binder with notes about them--a dossier of sorts. Everything I think about them ends up in there--bits of dialog they would say, reactions to current events; they really do live in my head but they don't chatter.

Getting a dog for clean up was an option at one point when I realized our cat, Martin Marmalade,won't consider bits and pieces that aren't properly presented in his bowl. You know how they are.
It's been fun reading the comments from everyone. I am so pleased that my characters and their escapades may appeal to you. I hope it's not in poor taste to address all in one swoop--feels slap-dash and rude but I must return to the quest for a new hire.(read my day job) Thanks ever so much to all who commented and a big shout out to Kari for letting me run on! Oh, and on the discipline. Well, a bit of OCD keeps you focused in a quirky sort of way.

Lyn said...

Luisa's books are a lot of fun. The Rosary Bride, for instance, was a very emotional read, both for what happened in the past and for her husband's reactions to things. Grace Marsden is a wonderful character. If I didn't realize she was obsessive/compulsive, what does that say about me? Thanks to M&M for hosting Luisa, a wonderful and--I now realized--very hard-working writer!

Liz Lipperman said...

Good grief! I am exhausted just reading about your day. I am so undisciplined when it comes to everything, writing, exercising, even waking up at the same time every day.

Your series sounds like so much fun. I'll definitely have to check ir out.

Thanks for being with us.