Interview with novelist G.A. McKevett

Mystery author
G. A. McKevett joins me today to
chat about her new cozy novel, Murder in
Her Stocking.
Bio:
Since
publication of her first novel in 1986, Sonja Massie has authored over sixty
published works, including the highly popular and critically acclaimed Savannah
Reid Mysteries under the pseudonym G. A. McKevett.
Sonja’s
novels range from Irish historicals to contemporary thrillers. Her earthy humor
and fast-paced plots delight her fans, while critics applaud her offbeat
characterizations and incisive observations on human nature.
Irish by
ancestry, Sonja has authored two non-fiction books on the history of Ireland: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Irish History
And Culture
and Irish Pride: 101
Reasons to Be Proud You’re Irish
. Both books impart detailed knowledge of
the complex and controversial Irish story with a light hand and plenty of
humor. Her Irish novels include: Dream
Carver, Daughter Of Ireland
and the bestselling Far and Away – the novelization of the Ron Howard movie starring
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
On nationwide
tours, Sonja lectures to published and “pre-published” authors in her
workshop, “The Novel Approach,” a seminar which covers such topics
as: story structure, characterization, plotting, pacing, and marketing
manuscripts.
Sonja has
taught numerous courses at university and adult continuing education facilities
including: general fiction, historical research, and mystery writing. She was
managing editor at “Single Living” magazine and has functioned as a
manuscript doctor and storyline editor for major publishers. Earlier in her
career, she was a prolific ghostwriter, authoring both fictional and non-fictional
books for celebrities and professionals.
Having lived
in Los Angeles, Toronto, and County Kerry, Ireland, she now resides in New
York.
Welcome, G. A. Please tell us about your
current release.
Murder in Her Stocking is the first book of the new Granny
Reid Mysteries. This new series is a prequel to the Savannah Reid Mysteries,
which I’ve been writing for the past 25 years.
What inspired you to write this book?
From the
beginning, fans of the Savannah series have told me how much they love
Savannah’s grandmother, who is in most of those books. (When Granny doesn’t
appear, I hear about it!) Throughout the Savannah stories, we’ve heard bits and
pieces about how Granny Reid raised Savannah and her eight siblings. Though how
this came about has never been fully explained.
Since Granny has
been so popular with my readers, I thought she deserved a series of her own,
and happily, my editor and publisher agreed. Certainly, there will be a murder
mystery in each book, but what I find most satisfying about writing this series
is the chance to explore the backstory of characters we’ve only known as adults
in the Savannah Mysteries. Plus, it’s fun to go back to the 1980s, to a quaint
little town in rural Georgia, to the “good old days” of big hair, shoulder
pads, and disco music. Though of course, people being people, there was plenty
of skullduggery going on, even in little McGill, with its three block long Main
Street and one stoplight.
Being blessed
with the darned-near-spiritual gift of Divine Nosiness, Stella “Granny” Reid
finds herself in the thick of the tightknit community’s various scandals, from
the dastardly “desecration” of Christmas decorations, to rumors about the
school principal’s Grinch-bedazzled boxer shorts floating down the street
(after his wife tossed him out the door and his belongings out the window), to
the murder of the town’s preeminent floozy, Prissy Carr, who dies in Stella’s
arms in a cold, dark alley.
What exciting story are you working on
next?
At the
moment, I’m writing the second of the Granny Reid Mysteries, Murder in the Corn Maze. It’s a
Halloween book, in which Granny and her friend, Elsie Dingle, uncover some
disturbing facts about their own family histories.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
The day I
received a phone call from a New York editor, offering to buy my first book and
make me a real, grownup, published writer! We didn’t have caller ID in those
days, but long-distance phone calls had a certain, distinctive, buzzing sound
to them, sorta like when you were a kid, talking to your friend with two
oatmeal boxes and a string tied between them.
I was living
in California at the time, and as soon as I picked up the phone, I heard the
buzz and knew it was either the publisher I’d sent my manuscript to in New York
or my southern grandma.
I’ll never
forget one word of that call until the day I die. Here’s how it went….
Me: Hello?
Her: Hello.
Is this Sonja Massie?
Me: (My heart
pounding so hard in my ears that I could hardly hear.) Yes.
Her: (With a
playful tone) This is Phyllis Lefkowitz, calling from Silhouette Books.
Me: Ye-es!
Her:
(Practically giggling) Well, we read the manuscript you sent us….
Me: (gulp)
Ye-e-e-es?
Her: And we
would like to make you an offer on it, if you –
Me:
(screaming, totally incoherent shrieks, dropping the phone, wild dancing,
finally picking the phone back up) Oh, oh! I’m so sorry I dropped you. (crying)
It’s just that I’ve never sold a book before. This is the first time that I…(sobbing
so hard I’m hiccupping)…I didn’t mean to scream in your ear like that!
Her:
(laughing) No apology needed. I learned long enough to hold the phone away from
my ear after delivering the news to a first-time author. In fact, we editors
fight over who gets to make these calls.
“First time
author?” I remember thinking, Oh, my
goodness, she called me an “author!”
Please believe
me when I tell you it was far better than winning the lottery. I know many,
many people dream of authorship. I’ll be forever grateful for this gift.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I do write
full time. I’m self-employed and have a mean, relentless boss. What I put up
with from that woman, I’d never tolerate from anyone else.

I work until very late at night (3:00am), so I sleep in late. I’m not good for
much until I have a lot of strong coffee in me. So, I spend what’s left of my
morning on correspondence and personal business. In the afternoon, I turn off
electronic communications (only receiving calls from my kids, grandkids, and
agent) and I write. I have an early dinner, then go back to work. Sometimes, I
break to watch a television show with my husband. (I love the BBC productions.) and then I crank out some more. Some days
the pages add up. Some days they don’t. But it’s my duty to show up, and I do.
However, I take time for family. I have five grandangels, who are the lights of
my life, and I set aside time for them whenever they’re available. Their
schedules are even busier than mine. They come over and spend the night. We
have dinner together, a session of “Arts and Craps” (their term, not mine) a
movie and decadent snacks. Ahhh, those times are the best!
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I don’t know
how interesting or quirky it is, but I definitely have my ritual. Before I
begin, I eat one piece of high-quality chocolate to get the brain working. If
it’s winter or the AC is a bit much in the summer, I cover my lap with a super
soft blankie, and light a candle. I’m not sure why the candle. Probably
something in my genes left over from the days when my storyteller, Irish and
Native American ancestors shared their tales with their neighbors around
campfires, stone hearths and coal stoves.
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
A nurse,
until my mother gave me a description of bedpan duty that was far too graphic
for a five-year-old. A ballerina, until I saw a movie that showed a dancer
bandaging her bleeding toes. A rock star, until I saw a picture of Kenny Rogers
sitting asleep in an uncomfortable airport chair with rollers in his hair. A
cowgirl, until I found out that Michael Landon (Little Joe on Bonanza) was
already married. For a while, I wanted to be a go-go dancer, wear white boots,
a mini-skirt and wriggle in a cage. Let’s just say, it took a while for me to
settle on “author.”
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
I want to
thank them. Without their faithful readership, I’d never be able to make a
living eating chocolate in my pajamas and feeling as though I’m making a
difference, however small, by allowing people a few hours of escape from their
troubles.
Without them,
I’d just be an overaged go-go dancer, smelling faintly of Bengay and popping
ibuprofen, while attempting to wriggle in a cage. (Heaven forbid.)
Links:
Thanks for joining me today, G. A.

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