Monday, June 17, 2013

Featured Author: Amy Beth Arkawy

I'm happy to feature another great cozy mystery today. Dead Silent: An Eliza Gordon Mystery is by Amy Beth Arkawy, published by Cozy Cat Press.

About the book:

It’s summertime, and in Goodship, New York, the living is anything but easy. Controversial radio shock jock Paul Hackett is found strangled to death with his headphone cord around his neck in the studio of local radio station WSHP. There’s little evidence beyond the initials V.O.S. scrawled across the studio window in red lipstick and a list of suspects that could easily fill the Goodship phone book. And that’s not all. Eliza Gordon, former soap star turned local soup aficionado and amateur sleuth and her pal and unwitting snooping partner radio DJ Midge Sumner must contend with in Dead Silent, the second in author Amy Beth Arkawy’s Eliza Gordon Mystery series. The locals are also on edge thanks to the rumors rolling across The Goodship Grapevine, a new toxic gossip site, and bemused by flyers heeding folks to follow an enigmatic cult known as “The Quiet.” Eliza’s instincts have her searching for clues and connecting the mysteries together, but they also put a strain on her burgeoning romance with Tom Santini, Goodship’s dishy police chief (who also happens to be her late husband’s best friend). The sudden reappearance of her elusive playboy brother-in-law, Jonas Gordon, sparks unexpected feelings in Eliza and may hold the key to connecting the mysteries and solving Hackett’s murder. Join Eliza Gordon and sidekick Midge Sumner as they embark on this intriguing and dangerous sleuthing escapade. Will they solve the mystery or wind up Dead Silent?

Interview with Amy Beth Arkawy:

Amy Beth, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I’ve been telling stories since I could talk. And actually wrote my first 2 (very  short) books at around 8 from a kit my mom bestowed upon me.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

For years my day (and sometimes night job) was in radio, as a DJ and talk show host. Now, in addition to writing I work as a creativity coach and writing instructor, helping others conquer artistic blocks and find their voices. I also recently got back behind the microphone hosting a popular Internet radio show featuring compelling conversations with authors and other storytellers. 

How would you describe your book in a tweet? (140 characters or less.)

Radio can be murder! Will Eliza & Midge solve mystery or wind up #DeadSilent

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

I have a basic idea of the plot lines, but the characters often take me on unexpected detours.

Did you have any say in your cover art?

Yes. The publisher sent me an array of designs and the designer was open to my suggestions. It took a while, but together we came up with an eye-catching cover.

What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

Drunk with Love (and almost anything) by Ellen Gilchrist is a great collection of stories that I often revisit.

What do you do to market your book?

I’m immersed in social media: Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, etc. All very helpful tools, but very time consuming. I’m also grateful to bloggers and readers who help spread the word and fellow radio hosts who have interviewed me. Oh, and I have a nifty trailer.

How do you get to know your characters?

While I don’t know where they come from, I get to know my characters as I do real people. They reveal themselves over time and as their stories unfold.

When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?

I have most of the characters in mind. But, as in real life, unexpected people some time appear on the scene.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

Oh, I can’t answer that. I enjoy them all. And if I dared choose, I’’m sure a few would make my life miserable.

What would your main character say about you?

Eliza on Amy Beth: I wish she’d stop complicating my love life!

What song would you pick to go with your book?

“I Heard it Through the Grapevine”

Who are your favorite authors?

Ellen Gilchrist, Michael Cunningham, Virginia Woolf, myriad mystery authors...too many to name (and you never want to get a mystery writer mad at you!)

What are your favorite books from childhood to adult?

I think I went from Amelia Bedilia and Harriet the Spy to Agatha Christie and Virginia Woolf.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

I just started reading Sharp Objects. It’s the first book by Gillian Flynn, the author of the bestselling thriller Gone Girl. I’m reading it in paperback. I do have a Kindle, but I’m still partial to the feel (and smell) of a ‘real’ book.

Do you have a routine for writing?

I write all my first drafts in long hand, often in Starbucks. There’s something about that pen-to-paper soul connection that I find essential to my process. This practice, which a lot of people find arcane, also prompts me to get on the computer quickly for the second draft since I need a Rosetta Stone to read my own handwriting.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

I used to write in the late afternoon/early evening, but lately I’ve started writing early mornings. This lets the Muse (and all my characters) grab my attention early before I have time to get distracted with everything else in my life.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?

A blank notebook. I’m assuming I’ll have a stash of pens.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?

Bookstore. Libraries are too quiet.

Where would your dream office be?

In a cottage overlooking the beach on Cape Cod or the coast of Maine. Cape Cod’s a better bet, I guess, since I don’t want Stephen King sneaking up on me in the middle of the night.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

You know I don’t think I ever had writer’s block. But I do often suffer from ‘idea overload.’ That’s when I have so many ideas or stories clamoring around my head. Then I have to wait and see which story emerges, which character demands to be heard. That’s the one I know will be next.

Is there anything in particular that you do to help the writing flow?

It won’t shock my readers to learn there’s almost always music playing when I write as my books come with a soundtrack built in. As a playwright I am accustomed to reading my work aloud to listen for natural dialogue, and I often use that practice with fiction, too. It helps to hear the rhythm or musicality of the work.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

“We all shine on. Like the moon and the stars and the sun.” John Lennon

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Ah, tricky question. Because when I’m not actually writing I often talk about writing with other writers in coaching sessions, workshops or on the radio, but I’m also an avid movie fan. And in the summer I am (probably too) pre-occupied with the fate of my beloved, beleaguered New York Mets.

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? (Don’t worry about the money. A publisher is paying.)

I don’t write science fiction. But I’d love to go to Ireland.

What are you working on now?

I am in the very early stages of a psychological thriller and Eliza & Midge are starting to rumble around my head again, so the third in the series will be in the offing soon.

About the author:

Amy Beth Arkawy is the author of the Eliza Gordon Mystery series: Killing Time (Hen House Press)and Dead Silent (Cozy Cat Press) as well as several plays including: Psychic Chicken Soup;( MacLaren Comedy Award nominee) Full Moon, Saturday Night; Listening to Insomnia: Rage Amongst Yourselves; and The Postman Always Writes Twice. Her work has been produced in New York City and across the country and featured in several anthologies. She is also a creativity coach/writing teacher, radio talk show host and freelance journalist. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, and former MFA Fellow at the University of Massachusetts, Amy Beth also has a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling from Long Island University. She is at work on a psychological thriller and the third Eliza Gordon mystery.

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  1. I love a good mystery and this one sounds great!

    1. Thanks for checking in, Leti! I hope you enjoy the book.

    2. Thanks, Leti. I hope you enjoy DEAD SILENT. And once again, thank you, Amy, for inviting me to meet you and your readers.


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