Monday, July 23, 2012

Scene of the Crime with Author Ann Parker!

Shortly after I bought my first computer, I discovered the joy of Usenet and newsgroups. One of the newsgroups I read regularly was on the topic of mysteries, and this is where I first met this week's featured author, Ann Parker. She was working on an historical mystery set in the old mining town of Leadville, Colorado, and I was inspired to tell her about searching for old ghost towns here, and that my favorite mining town was Bisbee, Arizona. (Still is.)

I've since gone on to read all four of her Silver Rush mysteries, centered around saloon owner Inez Stannert in the 1880s. Her latest, Mercury's Rise, is an award winner, and it's wonderful to see all Ann's hard work and talent be recognized.

Ann Parker
Before we begin the interview, I thought I'd share a few links with you so that you can learn more about her.

There! If that doesn't satisfy your curiosity, you're on your own!

Now let's get to the really fun part-- the interview!

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

I got very excited at your first question and actually went upstairs to rummage through my "way-back" bookcase to find THE book. It's The Tall Book of Mother Goose, copyright 1942, illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky. This book came out long before I was born, so it must have been handed down from a cousin or some such. I loved the beautiful illustrations first, before I could read. At some point a little later on, I taught myself to count and recognize numbers using the page numbers. And when I finally could read, the whole world of poetry opened up. I still get a great feeling of "resonance" looking through the book.

[Click on Ann's photos to see them in larger sizes in new windows.]

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

Well, I don't have a lot of free time these days as I take on projects as a contractor/ consultant/very-part-time-employee for four or five organizations (mostly science writing, technical proposal writing, that kind of thing). Activities that put money in the bank have to take precedence right now. What little time I have left over, I try to spend with my family. Aside from that, I like to walk, visit with friends, go to movies ... movies being my guilty pleasure, I suppose. And reading, of course!

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.)

Livermore Public Library
Visit our library! We have an awesome new-ish library that's like a second home to me. it comes complete with a cafe, plenty of nooks and crannies for curling up and reading, and awesome librarians. In addition to that, I'd suggest you check out a couple of coffeehouses downtown: Panama Red and Peet's. (One can never have too much coffee!) My favorite little indie movie house is just a little further down the road: The Vine Cinema. Loard's Ice Cream! Awesome! Yes... coffee, ice cream, movies, books... what more do you need? There's no bookstore in town, alas, but you can hop to the town next door and browse at Towne Center Books.

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

Diane Keaton
Boy, that's a tough one. Maybe Diane Keaton? Susan Sarandon? Meryl Streep?  Sorry... You'd probably do better to ask one of my friends.

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

Besides my own you mean? *wink*  I'm very fond of John le Carre's George Smiley, and Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko. Hmmm. Come to think of it, there are quite a few parallels between the two characters. That would be interesting to explore.

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?

Well, I love Martin Cruz Smith's Rose. (In fact, I did a piece about Rose for The Rap Sheet's "The Book You Have to Read" series of posts. I was wowed by the sense of time and place. Smith really nailed it, with all the senses.

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?

When I first got "the email" from Chief Editor Barbara Peters at Poisoned Pen Press, it was late at night, the kids were asleep, spouse was on travel ... so it was just me, bouncing up and down on my chair and squeaking with joy (but quietly, so as not to wake the kids). There was absolutely no one in the house to tell. I believe I shot off a couple of emails to close friends. And I probably had some chocolate. *smile*

As for the first time I saw Silver Lies on a bookshelf in a bookstore, I think I took a photo. I remember that it all felt unreal... "Is that MY name and MY book?" Even now, four books in, it's hard for me to digest the fact that I have these works of fiction that I've produced. But hey, I'm not complaining!

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 just took a look at it on YouTube, and yeah, you just have to laugh, basically! Everyone does their best--authors, bookstore owners, librarians--and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and it really isn't anyone's fault. Probably the most unusual event I had was for Silver Lies, when I appeared at Mattie Silks' "House of Mirrors" in downtown Denver along with a couple of paranormal investigators. The house--which was a restaurant at the time--is a fascinating place, and one can well imagine it might be haunted. Mattie Silks was a famous Denver madam in the late 1800s, and she appears in Silver Lies, playing a small but crucial part.

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

I'm not a fan of reading books "on screen," as I spend so much of my time that way between work, fiction writing, and research. Still, with eBook readers, you can squash a lot of information into a small device, which is very handy. I also recently saw a children's book on an iPad and was astounded: the illustrations were interactive as was the text, and you could even have music playing to go with the book, if you wanted. I haven't looked into this any further, but if this is the direction children's books are moving, I'm impressed with how well the industry is applying all the power of computing and software to bring more dimensions to book "reading."

Old books have magic in them...
What's "bad" about eBooks? I love bookstores and libraries, where one can browse the shelves and I love holding books--as physical objects, they are wonderful. There are old books from 1880, for instance, scanned and available on Google books, but I'll tell you, that's a pale ghost of holding the actual book in your hands from that time. The gilded lettering on the cover, the way the pages fall open, the tactile presence of the book and the sense of holding an object that has been held by others long ago ... you don't get that from an eBook.


On Sale Now!

Thank you so much, Ann, for this opportunity to get to know you a little better. I would imagine that I'm not the only one who would love to have a peek at your "way-back" bookcase!

May your book sales (and awards) do nothing but increase!

Great News! If you'd like to start at the very beginning of this series with Silver Lies, it's available FREE on Kindle and iTunes, and 99¢ on Kobo. What are you waiting for???


  1. I'm going to have to read Parker's books. I always liked the old mining towns; I was most familiar with Jerome, AZ. Also I agree completely with her answer about e-books.

    Cathy, I saw something on TV (sorry I don't remember what network) about the Lost Dutchman's Mine recently. They said he became partners with two brothers from Mexico and shot them to take over the mine. Hadn't ever heard that before.

    1. That does raise the faintest of tinkles in my memory bells, Barbara, but I don't think it's a very well-known item about the Lost Dutchman.

    2. Hi Barbara!
      If/when you have a chance to sample the Silver Rush series, I'd love to hear what you think. I'm also a fan of old mining towns and their histories. Goodness knows there are plenty of these towns in the West, some ghosts, and some still alive and kicking!

  2. I'll have to read this series-thanks!

  3. I love your interview, ladies. Ann, I've come kicking and dragging my feet to self-pub thru Amazon and HUACHUCA WOMAN is in both paperback and e-book format. I read ebooks, especially by author friends, but prefer to hold the book in my hand as I've done with your wonderful series. Moments ago, my first shipment of 50 books arrived. Whoopie! but I'm feeling that disbelief you noted, almost shy of taking them out of their boxes and stacking them up. Read Ann's books, people,for you will enjoy the adventures.

    1. Hi Arletta!
      Congratulations on getting that first shipment! Hope you took a photo of those stacks of books (even better: Have someone take a photo of YOU and the stacks of books!). :-)
      I'm looking forward to reading HUACHUCA WOMAN!

    2. As soon as I saw the word "Huachuca" I immediately thought of Fort Huachuca down in Cochise County. Denis and I stay in Bisbee twice a year and stop at the Fry's there in FH to get groceries on the way. I looked up your book, read the synopsis, and it's now the newest addition to my wish list. Thanks for stopping by, Arletta!

  4. Oooo - that library...swoon...

    If Parker's prose is anything like her description of old books, I have to move this series up my list fast!

    1. Hello Debbie,
      Yep, my local library is a lovely refuge. A couple of hours reading and soaking up the book-filled atmosphere (with a cup of coffee and a good book in hand), and I'm ready to tackle the world again.
      Hope you enjoy the Silver Rush series... let me know what you think when you've had a chance to read one. I love to hear from readers. :-)

    2. Yes, you definitely have to move the series up that list. Faster! Faster! :-)

  5. Cool of cool....thanks for the info on a FREE book. I immediately went and downloaded Silver Lies on my iPad. Thanks a million. It will make a great companion on our trip this week.

    As usual Cathy, you give me a window into many an author's life that I can't get elsewhere. Thanks!

    1. You're welcome, Gaye. Enjoy your trip, and enjoy Silver Lies!

    2. Hello Gaye,
      Glad you decided to give Silver Lies a shot! Hope you enjoy it, and happy trails to you... :-)

  6. I haven't come across Ann Parker's books before, but they sound good reading. I've downloaded Silver Lies (by the way it's not free on Amazon UK, but at 72p it's still a bargain!)

    1. Too bad it wasn't free, Margaret, but you *are* right. At 72p it's still a bargain. I hope you enjoy it!

    2. Hello Margaret,
      Interesting... Free in some places, but not in others. Hmmm. Glad you decided to try it out anyway. Thanks! :-)


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