Monday, April 27, 2015

Featured Author: Marie Moore

About the book: 

Sidney Marsh’s job as a New York travel agent is on the line. On her last two tours, she and her colleague Jay ended up smack in the middle of murder and mayhem. Their sleuthing sideline did not endear them to their employer, Itchy Feet Travel, so naturally they are relieved when their wealthy friend Brooke requests their presence on a no expense spared tour of India and Nepal. Another agency has made the arrangements, so all they need do is sit back and enjoy the ride. Well, not quite all. Brooke has enlisted them to keep a sharp eye on their fellow travelers, all “friends” who have grown rich from the demise of others. After surviving an attempt on her life, Brooke is certain the culprit must be one of the five: a handsome Scotsman, a Bollywood actress, an investment banker, a Parisian filmmaker, or a twice widowed blonde. Many of the tour accommodations prove to be as dodgy as the reputations of the travelers themselves. After one of the members of the moving house party dies of an apparent heart attack, everyone’s nerves are on edge. Sidney can hardly be blamed for assuming a deadly game is afoot … or for falling for Adam, the doting Scotsman. Now, if only she can unmask the killer before the killer beats her to the punch. Side Trip to Kathmandu is the third book in the Sidney Marsh Mystery series, which began with Shore Excursion.

Interview with Marie Moore

What’s the story behind the title Side Trip to Kathmandu?
All of the titles of my books in the Sidney Marsh Murder Mystery Series, Shore Excursion (2012), Game Drive (2013) and Side Trip to Kathmandu (2015), are travel terms, because Sidney Marsh, the protagonist, is a young, Mississippi-born, New York-based travel agent who travels the world with her best friend and colleague, the irrepressible Jay Wilson.

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?

Sidney and Jay work for Itchy Feet Travel, a New York retail travel agency, and as part of their jobs, they escort groups of tourists around the world to exotic destinations.  The trips are great, but unfortunately, some of the clients don’t make it back home alive.  Then it is up to Sidney to try to discover the killer is without getting murdered herself.
The books in this series are written to stand-alone so that the reader does not have to read them in order to enjoy them, but many prefer to do so.

Where’s home for you?

I’m a Mississippi girl, bound by kudzu to a tiny town in the South. I split my time between my hometown of Holly Springs, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee, but have also lived in New York City, Florida, and Virginia.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
No, but prior to becoming an author I owned a retail travel agency for fifteen years, so I was able to travel all over the world. That experience is invaluable in writing this travel mystery series, for I was able to personally visit the countries I write about in the Sidney Marsh books. On those trips, I took good notes and photos, and that really helps in conveying the feel of a place to my readers. Before the travel agency, I worked for a newspaper, and right out of college I taught school (junior high science), and raised a family. 

Who are you? 
That’s a tough question, and I’m not entirely sure I can answer it! But I can tell you who I am not, and that is Sidney Marsh. She may live in my head, but she is not me, and I am not her. I am often asked by readers if Sidney is me, or my daughters, and the answer is emphatically no. This series is not autobiographical.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

One of my favorites is actually from a play, from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion:
“The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls: in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, where there are no third-class carriages, and one soul is as good as another.”

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
No, because I think that in doing so you limit your imagination, plus, it is not entirely fair to those close to you. If I base a character on a friend, I am influenced by the likes, dislikes, appearance and personality of that friend. Pure imagination is far easier to manipulate. That said, I will sometimes use a detail from the appearance or demeanor of a stranger I observe on the street, or in a restaurant. I think that’s fair. But I really don’t think it’s fair to exploit your friends and family.

Is your book based on real events?

No, except in a larger sense. For example, the systematic decimation for profit of the elephant and rhino in Africa that I present in Game Drive is very real, and very sad.

Who are your favorite authors?
I have many, in many genres, for I have always loved to read. Some of my favorite mystery and thriller authors are Lawrence Block, Carolyn Hart, Michael Connolly, Annamaria Alfieri, Maddy Hunter, Sarah Wissemann, Michael Stanley, Randy Wayne White, and the late great authors Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Elizabeth Peters, John D. McDonald and Tony Hillerman.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I just finished Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi by Dean Faulkner Wells. She was William Faulkner’s niece, raised in his home after the death of her father, and her personal recollection of the great author is fascinating. I read it in paperback. I am a great admirer of the work of William Faulkner and also Eudora Welty.  Those Mississippi authors were utterly brilliant and so is their work. I can in no way compare my little writing with theirs. We all share in the time-honored Mississippi tradition of storytelling; however, the similarities between us stop right there.  My books are brain-candy — certainly not brilliant, but they are lots of fun! I enjoy writing them. I enjoy discovering what Sidney is going to do next.

What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?

I hate falling asleep with the light on, which often happens when I read late at night.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I mostly write really early in the morning, before anyone else is awake, before dawn, before phones start ringing. If I’m on a roll, I may keep it up until noon, but usually I’m done for the day by nine o’clock. I have to be in a zone to write, so I really can’t do it with a lot of interruptions.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
Midwest Book Review Bookwatch said, in the February 2015 issue, “Side Trip to Kathmandu" is the third book in the Sidney Marsh Murder Mystery series by Marie Moore, who has now clearly established herself as a master of the mystery/suspense genre. Simply stated, Marie Moore is an exceptionally gifted author who never fails to satisfy her readers and leave them eagerly looking toward her next novel."

Now that may be a bit over the top, but I loved it!

Another reviewer once said that “Sidney Marsh is what would happen if Nancy Drew were a travel agent.”

I liked that too, for I grew up as a big fan of Nancy Drew!

How did you find your publisher and how long did your query process take?
I was fortunate enough to sign with Jane Gelfman of The Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency/ICM Partners in New York. My fabulous, hard-working agent there, Victoria Marini, sold the series to Camel Press in a three-book deal. There was no query process on my part, for Victoria handled it all.

What are you working on now?

Sidney’s fourth adventure! And I really can’t wait to find out what will happen to her next. Sidney is beginning to take over my life! Do you think I should be worried?

About the author

Shore Excursion is Marie Moore's first novel, but not her first writing experience, and like Sidney Marsh, she is a native Mississippian. She graduated from Ole Miss, married a lawyer in her hometown, taught junior high science, raised a family, and worked for a small weekly newspaper, first as a writer and later as Managing Editor. She wrote hard news, features and a weekly column, sold ads, did interviews, took photos, and won a couple of MS Press Association awards for some of her stories.

In 1985, Marie left the newspaper to open a retail travel agency. She completed agency and computer training with Airlines Reporting Corporation, Delta Airlines and TWA, earned her CTC (Certified Travel Counselor) designation, and joined the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), International Air Transport Association (IATA), and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). For the next 15 years, she managed her agency, sold travel, escorted group tours, sailed on 19 cruises, and visited over 60 countries. Much of the background of her first book, Shore Excursion, comes from that experience.

Marie also did location scouting and worked as the local contact for several feature films, including Heart of Dixie, The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, and Robert Altman's Cookie's Fortune.

In mid-1999, because of her husband's work, Marie sold the travel agency and moved to Jackson, Mississippi, then New York City, Anna Maria Island, Florida, and Arlington, Virginia. She and her husband now live in Memphis, Tennessee and Holly Springs, Mississippi.

Marie and her mystery novels have been featured in Click! Magazine, At Home Memphis and MidSouth Magazine, Portico Magazine, and Southern Writer's Magazine, She has been a featured guest on WREG's Live at 9, BookTalk, and The Earle Farrell Show. She has given 30 minute presentations: "Whodunnit? Crafting the Mystery Novel" and "Finding A New Career in Mid-life" to numerous civic groups, senior citizens groups, writer’s groups, libraries, and from The Balancing Act Stage as part of the program of The Southern Women's Show. She has served as a panelist on the programs of Malice Domestic Mystery Conference (Bethesda, Maryland, 2012, 2013, 2015) and Killer Nashville Mystery Conference (2013). 

Game Drive
, the second book in The Sidney Marsh Murder Mystery Series, was named Finalist for ForeWord Review's 2013 Book of the Year Award in the Mystery category. On March 15, 2015, the third novel in the series, Side Trip to Kathmandu, set in Northern India and Nepal, was released by Camel Press. 

Marie is an active member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Connect with Marie:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Camel Press