ABOUT THE BOOKTexas transplant Pru Parke has put down roots in England, but she never dreamed she’d live in a grand place such as Greenoak. When her former employers offer Pru and her new husband, former Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse, the use of their nineteenth-century estate while they’re away for a year, she jumps at the chance. Sweetening the deal is the prospect of further bonding with her long-lost brother, Simon, who happens to be Greenoak’s head gardener. But the majestic manor has at least one skeleton in its closet—or, rather, its garden.
Working on renovations to the extensive grounds, siblings Pru and Simon squabble about everything from boxwood to bay hedges. But when the removal of a half-dead tree turns up the wreckage of a World War II–era German fighter plane and a pile of bones, the arguments stop. That is, until a rival from Simon’s past pays a surprise visit and creates even more upheaval. It’s suddenly clear someone is unhappy their secrets have been unearthed. Still, Pru’s not about to sit back and let Simon take the fall for the dirty deed without a fight.
INTERVIEW WITH MARTY WINGATE
Marty, do you have a writing routine?
I do have a routine – I walk to the local library every morning and spend two to three hours combing through what I wrote the day before and writing new scenes. In the afternoon, usually in my home office, I edit. This routine works beautifully until it doesn’t.
Do you write every day?
I do, even on weekends. This doesn’t seem a burden, because I love it so much. Some days I may write 1,000 words – other days, I tweak a phrase, change a tone, layer a description. The days I don’t write (yes, I know what I said) I think through scenes. This mental editing process has proved to be invaluable to me.
What’s more important – characters or plot?
Characters, because they carry their own stories with them. I love this about series, that I can follow a character through his/her ups and downs and traveling a story arc that transcends on single book. I have been known to put down a famous author’s latest mega-seller because my favorite character – who just happens to be a secondary character, not the star – makes only a cameo appearance. I’m not above flipping pages (which is just as easy to do on my iPad as it is with a physical book).
How often do you read?
Everyday. Really – I’m not stretching the truth on that one. I often have a nonfiction book sitting by my chair in the living room, while on my nightstand is a piece of fiction. There’s such a comforting thrill (hmm, an oxymoron?) about knowing you can crawl into bed and sink into a good book.
What books do you currently have published?
I have four books published in the Potting Shed mystery series (The Skeleton Garden is the newest) and two books out in the Birds of a Feather series (The Rhyme of the Magpie and Empty Nest). I’m working on book three in Birds and Potting Shed; book four (The Bluebonnet Betrayal) will be out in August.
Is writing your dream job?
It is and has been since I was about eight years old. It took me a while to get back to it, but it’s as if it was always waiting for me to return.
If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
BBC Two – everything from intelligent and yet silly quiz shows, through great British comedy and fabulous dramas.
How do you feel about Facebook?
I feel good about Facebook – in general. It’s more of a fun conversation for me than Twitter, and a way of sharing news that is more than a hashtag. I love seeing photos, but I also want to read something. And who doesn’t want to see another cat video?
For what would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as someone who told a good story.
What's your favorite treat for movie night?
Popcorn – no butter, please. Don’t sit in front of me if you don’t like the munching sound. That reminds me – we spent a few days in Rye, Sussex last November and went to a cinema called Kino. It’s a great place – a café in front with a small bar. They have several screens that are behind locked doors (it isn’t that kind of movie house – we saw Suffragette), and you get in by scanning the bar code on your ticket at entry. The door unlocks, and voila! Only thing is, they ban popcorn and put their wine in plastic glasses (too noisy otherwise). I missed my popcorn.
What do you like to do when there’s nothing to do?
A writer is never bored. I think about my characters, about a particularly tough plot line to sort out. I can think through an entire scene, over and over, and never get bored. By the time I get to putting that scene down, it’s pretty much finished. Also, sometimes future books start sneaking into my mind, and I have to tell them to stay in the closet until I’m ready for them.
What would you name your autobiography?
This is a question that was settled when I was a teenager. When I was about twelve, our neighbor made homemade noodles and they were delicious – sort of thick and chewy, not like delicate pasta. I loved them. Several years later both that family and mine had moved, and one day my sister and I were talking about the people we’d left behind. I exclaimed, “I remember noodles!” That, she said, would be the title of my autobiography. What can I say? I’m a noodle girl.
Would you rather be a movie star, sports star, or rock star?
Movie star. I have an undergraduate degree in drama and have never been afraid of standing up in public. I love doing readings from my books, too.
Do you procrastinate?
Oh yes. This is why deadlines are so useful – especially the ones that loom.
What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Cheese – pecorino, cheddar, string – and apples. Milk. Pancetta. And a leftover baked egg dish.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I know sign language – although not so much ASL (American Sign Language) as Signed English, which mimics the syntax of spoken language. I’m pretty rusty these days, though.
What are you working on now?
Birds of a Feather number three. Julia Lanchester, manager of the Tourist Information Center in the village of Smeaton-under-Lyme in Suffolk (England), has a problem that involves her ex-husband, her boyfriend, and taking back the job she used to have – that of personal assistant to her celebrity ornithologist father, Rupert.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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