Monday, February 06, 2012

Scene of the Crime with Author Deborah Crombie!

This week should be called Deborah Crombie Week here at Kittling: Books, and I couldn't be happier. Today you'll get to know Deborah a bit better through her answers to my interview questions. Tomorrow you'll be able to read my review of her latest book, No Mark Upon Her, on its release date. Wednesday, Deborah will be appearing at the Poisoned Pen, my favorite bookstore on earth, and you'll get to read all about it on Friday because Denis and I have made plans to attend.

Deborah Crombie writes the sort of books that I buy automatically. I don't have to know what they're about; I just know they're going to be good. Deborah plops me right down in England and gives me an excellent mystery to solve with one of the best casts of characters in crime fiction. If you have yet to read one of her Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James novels, please don't wait any longer-- you've been denying yourself some marvelous reading!

Deborah Crombie
If you'd like to learn more about Deborah Crombie and her books, here are some links for you:

Now it's time for the fun part: the interview!

What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?

I still have my childhood copies of Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.  I've only half-jokingly said they were responsible for making me an Anglophile for life, but it's probably true.  And, um, I still have teddy bears, too....

[So do I, Deborah, so do I!] 

Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?

Free time?  What's that?  Seriously, I--of course--love to read.  I love walking my German shepherd, Neela.  I putz around in the garden and cook things that are not very complicated.  (I was a better and much more adventurous cook before I wrote novels.)  This year, I'm determined to at least start my first quilt, and to ride the fabulous purple bike I got from LL Bean LAST YEAR!  And my very favorite thing of all is to be in London, and just walk.  All day.

[Speaking of walking in London, those maps in your books are fabulous!]

If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.)

Tartan Thistle B&B, McKinney, Texas

I live the historic district in McKinney, Texas, which is north of Dallas.  This is black-land prairie, so it was cotton country.  In the mid 1800s, McKinney was bigger than Dallas, because we had a cotton mill.  We have a beautifully restored, quintessentially Southern town square with the courthouse (now a performing arts venue) in the center, lots of shops and cafes and restaurants.  I can't think of many things more pleasant than spending a day on the square (unless I'm in London) and I'd also recommend just driving around the area and looking at the beautiful 19th century houses.

You have total control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?

Kate Winslet
Oh, eeek.  I can't imagine casting me.  But I suppose in a fantasy world I might pick Kate Winslet.  With a very slight Texas accent.

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

Completely off the top of my head, Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden.

Although I'm not quite sure you can classify the Dresden books as crime fiction.

Name one book that you've read that you wish you had written. What is it about that book that made it come to mind?

Okay, I was going to say The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, because then I'd be really rich, but I haven't actually read it.  So, something I've read recently that I absolutely loved, a book called (in the UK) Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch.  (The US title is Midnight Riot, and the cover is so horrible I'm amazed anyone bought it.)  I think this book, and the sequel, are just brilliant and funny and so original.  (You are probably noticing a fantasy trend here...)

How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published? What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore?

I was so gobsmacked when I heard my first book--first three books, actually--were going to be published that I think I just walked around in a daze for weeks.  I don't remember going out for a special celebration.  (I suspect I wasn't getting paid enough ....)

I don't have a really distinct memory of seeing the book in a store for the first time, although I know it was at the (sadly, long gone) Mystery Book Store in Dallas.  I do know that I was very proud, and very happy to have my family there.

I do LOVE it now, though, when a new book comes out and there are STACKS of them in the front of the bookstore.  That's so exciting.

I don't know if you've seen it, but I love Parnell Hall's video about book signings. What is the most unusual experience you've had at a book signing or author event?

I haven't seen this, but will look it up.  Parnell is always a hoot.

Oh, my, so many signings.  I do remember once, signing with a couple of friends, years ago, at a Barnes and Noble in San Antonio.  The only person who came near us was a soldier on leave from the nearby base.

He had obviously been smoking LOTS of pot, and was very happy to sit down and tell us how cool it was that we were signing books.  But he didn't buy one....

What's the best thing about eBooks? What's the worst?

I'm all for anything that encourages people to read.  And I'm hoping that digital media will bring a resurgence of the short story, which would really be fun.

I think, however, that losing brick and mortar bookstores would be a huge loss, emotionally, financially, culturally.  Not only do they provide a "third place" where like-minded people come together in a community, but I don't think blogs and social media can replace a trusted bookseller's enthusiasm in hand-selling books to customers.

It was those booksellers who gave me a start in my career.  I'm sure my books would have sunk like stones without them.

On Sale February 7!

Speaking of short stories (which I've started reading more of now that I have an eReader), Deborah has a short story, "Nocturne," available free on Kindle or Nook. Not only will you be able to read a fun story centered on Duncan's son, Kit, you'll be able to read the first three chapters of No Mark Upon Her. After reading "Nocturne" and those three chapters, I know you'll have to get your hands on a copy of the book!

Thank you for spending this time with us, Deborah. May your book sales do nothing but increase!


  1. Oh this is just lovely, Cathy! I'm so glad you're having Crombie week. Enjoyed reading her responses to your questions and I've actually been to McKinney. Well, I guess that's not really all that surprising. Looking forward to hearing all about her visit to the PP. I'm still upset that I won't be there.

    1. It *is* too bad that you won't be here, since Denis will be along and we'll be meeting another Arizona blogger while we're there!

  2. Hi Cathy! What a nice piece! The pic you posted of the B&B in McKinney, The Tartan Thistle? It's for sale. So if anyone wants to run a very Victorian B&B...

    Thanks for all the features this week, and look forward to seeing you at The Poisoned Pen!

    I'll check in throughout the day today if readers have any questions.


    1. I think I'll be busy running my own B&B, unofficially of course. I have friends coming for visits, including family from England. :)

  3. Getting excited about reading the new one, Deb! And I'm have to get the Aaronovitch book too ... haven't heard of him. Good luck with the quilt!

  4. I've had this author on my wish list for ages. Must put her at the top of said list.

  5. Barbara, hope you enjoy!

    Vicki, what fun to see one of MY favorite authors here! When I was in London in October, I stayed in Covent Garden. Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London was in the window of Covent Garden Waterstone's. Went in. Picked up. Hooked. Definitely on the fantasy/horror side of the spectrum, though, but SO London!

    Post book tour: write and quilt, write and quilt:-)


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