I am so happy to be spending time with Meg Muldoon, the author of the Christmas River cozy mystery series (one of my personal favorites), The Cozy Matchmaker Mystery series and the Dog Town USA Cozy Mystery series. I really appreciate her taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk with me about her life and her writing.
Meg Muldoon loves writing cozy mysteries. A former small town news reporter, Meg has always had a special place in her heart for lost dogs, homeless cats, and feisty old locals. She enjoys bourbon bread pudding, red cowboy boots, and craft glue guns.
She lives in central Oregon with an Australian cattle dog named Huckleberry.
Visit http://megmuldoon.blogspot.com/ for more information on Meg’s upcoming books. Stop by Meg’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/megmuldoonauthor for contests, giveaways, and more cozy fun. (Amazon)
When did you know that you wanted to be an author? What things, if any, influenced that decision?
Both of my parents are writers, and I grew up in a household where creativity was really encouraged. Since elementary school, I’ve loved writing. I used to write short stories – mostly absurd epics about rodents and other small animals. But once I graduated high school and headed to college, I sort of abandoned the idea of becoming a writer, believing that there was no way to make a living out of it. I studied public relations instead, thinking it was a more practical career choice. But something about the profession just didn’t fit for me. After college, I landed a job at a newspaper in Central Oregon. When I started writing again in a news setting, it wasn’t long before I started writing fiction in my free time. I self-published my books, and last year, I was able to quit my job at the paper. I’m now writing cozy mysteries full-time, and it’s truly a dream come true. I love every minute of it!
I love the Christmas River series. In fact it is one of my favorite cozy series. With so many cozy mysteries being published, what do you think make your series stand out from the others?
Aw… thank you, Mary! That’s such a big compliment.
When I write, I try to put real heart and honesty into my stories. I think those feelings come through for readers, and is one of the reasons why they love the series so much. I also try to balance a strong mystery with equally strong and multifaceted characters. I think Cinnamon Peters, the main character, is a very relatable, likeable and complex person who you can’t help but root for throughout the series.
I think the other thing that makes the Christmas River series standout is the setting. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of cozy mysteries set in small towns. But I honestly feel like you couldn’t find a better fictional small town than Christmas River. I am, of course, biased since I spend so much time there! But seriously, who wouldn’t want to live in a town where it’s Christmas all the time? If it were a real place, I’d move there in two seconds flat!
All of your Christmas River series full length books begin with “M”. I think this is a clever idea and I love it. Are you worried that you will run out of “M” words for your titles?
Ha! Such a great question. When I wrote Murder in Christmas River in 2012 and came up with the title concept, I had no idea that I’d be writing so many books! So yes, I am a bit concerned that the “M” words will eventually run out (any of you readers out there with “M” ideas, I’d love to hear them!) If I have to eventually pick another letter to use, I’m okay with that. Frankly, I don’t ever want to stop writing this series – and if I run out of “M”s and have to move on down the alphabet to keep going, then so be it!
I also love your covers. Who designs your covers and how important do you think covers are when selling your books
My super talented sister, Cassandra, designs my covers. We work together on the concepts, and she does her magic and comes up with the final design. I initially had the idea for a gingerbread man with a knife going through it as the Murder in Christmas River cover several years ago while I was at work – I think I may have doodled it on one of my reporter notepads during a particularly boring newsroom meeting. I have absolutely no skills in Indesign, so I asked my sister to help me with them. We’ve been working together on the covers ever since. And I must admit – I do feel a little guilty about all the terrible things we’ve done to this poor little gingerbread man. He’s been stabbed, burned, put in a strait jacket, zapped by a witch, and run over by an RV, among other horrible things!
I think that book covers are incredibly important when it comes to getting new readers to take a chance on your book. And as an Indie author, I’ve learned not to even begin writing a new series until I have an entire concept for the book titles and covers. These days, I believe being a successful Indie author is as much about being a dedicated writer as it is about being a good book marketer.
What do you think is the easiest thing about writing? What is the hardest?
I was giving this question a lot of thought recently, and honestly, I don’t know if there is any easy thing about writing. Every day as a writer, you confront not only a blank page – one of the scariest things ever when you have nothing to fill it up with – but you also battle everything from bad days of writing, to negative inner voices telling you the story will never work.
But for every hard thing about writing, I feel like there are rewards that make it all so worth it. Things like a letter from a reader who tells you how much your books have helped them through a tough time in their life. Or the thrill and excitement when you finally get to see your book live on Amazon. Or the feeling that you’re putting something new out into the world that can help people escape their daily lives for a little while.
There may be nothing easy about writing, but there’s nothing else I’d ever want to do.
Are the experiences in the books based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My background as a reporter has given me a huge amount of inspiration for the books. Huckleberry, the dog in the series, was based on this amazing shelter dog that I wrote a story about a few years ago.
Several of the Christmas River plots are based on real occurrences that happened in the Oregon town where I reported. For example, in Mayhem, the string of arson fires really did take place – a church was severely damaged in one of the fires, and the arsonist was never caught. The missing turkey incident in Roasted in Christmas River really did happen as well. A city councilor actually had her turkey stolen from its pen right before Thanksgiving! Of course, in many of these real-life occurrences, the perpetrators were never caught, and the mysteries remained unsolved. That’s part of what makes writing mysteries so fun – I always get to uncover who the bad guy is.
Additionally, the annual Gingerbread Junction Competition featured throughout the books is actually a real thing! It takes place every year in a little Oregon town called Sunriver. And while it’s not nearly as high-stakes and elaborate as the one in Christmas River, it was a great inspiration for the books.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
It really varies depending on what stage I’m at in the process. On normal days when I’m writing the first draft of a book, I generally get started working at about 10 a.m. and go until mid-afternoon. I don’t usually take days off from writing. Once I get further along in the process, I’ll put in some long work days. And then once it gets closer to publication, the work days get extra, extra long. Then the book gets published, and I’ll take a few days off. Then it’s back to work, and the process starts all over again.
What type of books do you like to read?
Like most authors, reading truly fuels my writing. Because of that, I take it just as seriously as I do my writing. I love mysteries – everything from hardboiled to light and fun paranormal whodunits. I also love Westerns and historical non-fiction related to the West. I love books that move you and make you feel something. I think one of the best feelings ever is when you’re in the middle of a really good book, and all you want to do is leave your place of work in the middle of the day, run home, jump into bed, and finish reading it through to the end.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love Graham Greene, Raymond Chandler, and Larry McMurtry. I also love Stephen King, Jools Sinclair, and Charlaine Harris. Charlaine Harris’ work was actually a big inspiration for my own books – the Sookie Stackhouse series was my first introduction to the cozy genre. Even though they’re paranormal, the books really resonated with me because of their small town feel and the strength of the main character. Jools Sinclair’s 44 series was also a big inspiration for the same reasons.
Do you read the reviews written for your books? Do you do anything special to obtain those reviews?
I usually have a page at the end of my books that asks readers to leave a review. But other than that, I haven’t made a huge effort to get reviews. That’s something I’m going to work on, though!
What is the one thing you would like your readers to know about you?
I guess I’d like them to know that I’m in this for the long haul. I love what I do, and I don’t anticipate stopping anytime soon. All I want to do is keep writing, keep getting better at it, and keep entertaining readers.
Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?
Just a huge and heartfelt Thank You. I don’t think there’s adequate room for me to go into detail about the magnificent ways in which my life has changed since I started writing the Christmas River series. Because of my readers, I’m now able to write full-time and live out my dreams.
Also, as a thank you to my readers, and in anticipation of the Christmas season, I’ll be hosting what I call “Meg Muldoon’s Cozy Christmas Countdown” on my Blog and Facebook these next few months. Each week leading up to Christmas, I’ll have giveaways on my Facebook page and blog. I’ll also be hosting a virtual gingerbread contest! There’s going to be some really fun prizes, so please stop by!
What projects do you have planned for the future?
I’m currently working on the second book in The Dog Town USA Cozy Mystery series – Bulldogs & Bullets. That should be out late November/early December. After that, it’s another Christmas River book. In 2016, I’m planning to also co-author a series with one of my favorite authors – Jools Sinclair – which I’m so excited about. More info to come!
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Thank you so much for giving your readers a chance to get to know you better and to find out what your plans are for the future. I cannot wait to read your future projects and to hear more about your collaborative effort with Jools Sinclair, who I enjoy reading too.
Her latest book in the Christmas River series is available now, having just been released on October 22, 2015. Her latest, and seventh book in the series is titled Magic in Christmas River.
Below are the covers of the first book in each of Meg’s three series. Be sure to check them all out and see which one is your favorite ( I already told you mine).
Meg is also giving away a free digital copy of Murder In Christmas River, the first book in her Christmas River series. Please comment below and a winner will be randomly chosen the evening of 10/29/15. Be sure to leave an email address so Meg knows where to send the digital copy. To be eligible, the comment must be left on this blog.
I would like to thank everyone who stopped by today to learn more about the fantastic author, Meg Muldoon, and find out what she has planned for the future. Be sure to leave a comment to be eligible for the giveaway. If you are new to my blog, be sure to visit often and follow my blog. Good luck to all those who stop by and Happy Reading..