Monday, June 10, 2013

Scene of the Crime with Author Marja McGraw!



I've long been a believer that, if you want something to thrive, then you need to support it, to nurture it. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I would soon be telling you about a small independent press with a love of crime fiction. That small company is Oak Tree Press, and its headquarters are located in Taylorville, Illinois... just a few miles from the small farm town where I was born and raised. More information on Oak Tree Press is in the pipeline, but starting today and over the coming weeks, I'm going to be showcasing some of their authors and their books that are available.

This week, I'd like to introduce you all to Marja McGraw. She's the author of two mystery series: the Sandi Webster series featuring a young P.I. with attitude, and the Bogey Man series in which Chris and Pamela Turner run a 1940s-themed restaurant and find all sorts of mysteries along the way. Tomorrow you'll be able to read my review of Bogey Nights, the first in the Bogey Man series, but I thought I'd introduce you to Marja first.

Marja McGraw
Little did I know until I started doing a bit of research that Marja lives here in Arizona, too, so I'm thrilled to have you all meet an Arizona author. As always, I've provided a few links so you can learn more about this talented writer and connect with her if you're so inclined:




Now let's move on to the fun part of this post-- the interview!



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

Once I learned how to read, it seems like I loved almost every book I ever read. My all time favorite is To Kill a Mockingbird. It was an adventure and in some ways reminded me of my own childhood, minus the crime and court scenes. I lived in a small town and we had old barns and plenty of places to get in trouble. It seems like most kids have a Boo living somewhere in their town, too. I admired Atticus and I enjoyed Gem, Scout and Dill. The children reminded me of my childhood friends, although my childhood didn’t take place in the 1930s. I’m not that old – yet.







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

I’m a writer. Free time? I’ve almost forgotten what that is. However, we go ATVing (All Terrain Vehicle), I enjoy photography, and of course, reading. We have two Yellow Labs who demand (they’re very demanding) lots of attention. They keep us laughing. I enjoy getting together with friends. Gosh, I never realized how boring I am.


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.)

River Regatta
I live in a small town in the desert, and yet it seems like there’s always something going on. We’re right across the river from Laughlin, Nevada, so there are casinos to visit and shows to see. We have a yearly River Regatta, the River Run (motorcycles as far as the eye can see), a Bluegrass Festival, a lake and river for boating, fishing contests and all kinds of things. Some of our locals are trying to put together a first yearly book fair. There’s something for everyone, including a lot of heat. Not in the guidebooks? I’d take you ATVing and we’d visit a site where Indian artifacts have recently been discovered. I’d take you to Secret Pass, a place where the Indians used to hide out from the military. We’d go out into the desert and enjoy the scenery and the trails.

[One of the very things Denis and I love to do in our Jeep here in Arizona. You speak my language!]


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

Sally Field
I’m laughing because I can’t imagine an actor wanting to be cast as me. As a matter of fact, I can’t imagine a movie being based on my life. Putting that aside, Sally Field might work. She can do drama and comedy, although she’d have to work on being a klutz. Draw your own conclusions.


Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

It’s a toss-up between Molly Murphy from the Rhys Bowen books and Amelia Peabody from the Elizabeth Peters books. I guess those aren’t really crime fiction. I like Dirk Pitt but I guess you wouldn’t call those crime fiction either. Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn from the  Tony Hillerman books. Hmm. Jennet Ferguson from the Dorothy Bodoin books. Maybe Diane Fallon from the Beverly Connor books. Wow! I can’t narrow it down to one character. Savannah Reid from the G.A. McKevett books. That’s the toughest question I’ve been asked in a long time.


If you could have in your possession one signed first edition of any book in the world, which book would that be? Why that particular book?

It would have to be To Kill a Mockingbird for the  same reasons I listed it as my all time favorite book. It entertained me, contained great characters, and had an excellent storyline and heart. I wish authors like Harper Lee had written more stories.


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?

After I peeled myself off the ceiling and my feet finally touched the ground, my husband and I went out to dinner and celebrated with good food and a glass of wine, which is a big deal for me because I don’t drink. After that I celebrated by ordering several copies of the book.

The first time I saw my book on a shelf I grabbed my camera and took a picture of the shelf. I had quite an audience, too. However, it was at a library, not a bookstore.


Name one thing on your Bucket List.

I’d like to discover a ghost town that hasn’t been seen in over a hundred years. I let one of my characters in another series, Sandi Webster, do that in Old Murders Never Die. I was living vicariously through her in that story. Can you imagine what you might find in a deserted town like that? Everything from history to maybe an old tea pot. The mind boggles at the discoveries to be made.

[You really speak my language. One of the things Denis and I did on our honeymoon was to track down old ghost towns... and now I really need to read Old Murders Never Die!]


You've just received a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice. Which bookstore are you making a bee-line for?

Too funny. We only have one bookstore in town, so I’d head to Hastings. I wouldn’t have the patience to drive any distance to another town. Las Vegas is about an hour and a half away, and it’s the closest larger city. Definitely Hastings.


Available Now!



Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Marja. It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you a little better.

May your book sales do nothing but increase!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for my review of Marja's first Bogey Man mystery, Bogey Nights!

22 comments:

  1. There's a publishing company in Taylorville? Wow. Who knew? Well, obviously you did. I also like the idea of finding a ghost town.

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    1. Well, Barbara, Oak Tree is moving to California in July. They're an awesome publisher to do business with, and I've had a lot of fun working with them.

      Yeah, wouldn't it be fun to find a ghost town?

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    2. I only found out by accident, Barbara, and I knew you might say something since you're from Springfield! ;-) Kinda sad to hear they're picking up sticks and moving to California, but if it means business will take off and fly, then I'm all for it.

      Sounds as though there might be a whole herd of us searching for that ghost town! LOL

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  2. Cathy, Thank you for hosting me today. Your interview was a lot of fun!

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed doing it, Marja! (Hope you're keeping cool.)

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  3. Cathy, you will definitely want to read "Old Murders Never Die." If I had to pick one of Marja's books (I've read them all) that's my favorite, OMND would be it.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Patricia!

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  4. This is a good place to comment, Old Murders Never Die isn't available at the moment. I'm re-releasing the Sandi Webster series on my own, but all of the books will be available soon.

    In the meantime, The Bogey Man series is killer! (Little play on words there.) : )

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    1. I've been searching for Old Murders Never Die at most of my favorite book spots, and I haven't found it yet. Well, I did find a copy, but the seller wanted almost $70 for it. Yikes!

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  5. Fine interview questions, Cathy, and good answers, Marja. To Kill a Mockingbird is a favorite of mine. It was a bestseller the summer I had my first bookstore job. Great spending time with you!

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    1. Good to see you here, John. I finished reading Behind the Redwood Door not too long ago!

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  6. Thank you for stopping in, John! To Kill a Mockingbird took me away. I felt like I was "in" the story, and that takes outstanding writing.

    Yes, Cathy does a terrific interview!

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  7. Great interview and I have to add that Old Murders Never Die is my favorite Marja McGraw novel also. As for the recurring character question I would take Ranger in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series although I dearly love Chee and Leaphorn but sadly we'll never see them again unless I reread all of Hillerman's books. But then again there is Sandi Webster and I'm hoping there will be another book featuring her soon.

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    1. Thank you so much, Tricia! It appears I'd better get Old Murders ready for re-release soon. I love Chee and Leaphorn, too, and rereading the books is a good idea.

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    2. Okay, I can see that I'm going to be dancing around impatiently until I can get my hands on a copy of this book! LOL

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  8. What a fun interview and so different from most. Marja's books are great; she's one of my favorite authors.

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    1. Thank you, Lesley! Coincidentally, you're one of my favorite authors, too.

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    2. Thanks for stopping by. In contacting authors for interviews there've been times I could hear their eyes rolling back in their heads, thinking that I wanted to ask the same questions they'd been asked hundreds of times. If I want to know that stuff, I can just look it all up on the internet. ;-)

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  9. Outstanding interview of my favorite author. Most informative plus fun. Her books make excellent reading & gifts.

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    1. I've only read one of her books so far, but I know I'll be reading more, Jake. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  10. I can't wait to read, They Call Me Ace. And yes a just love To Kill a Mocking Bird, one of my absolute favorites along with The Great Gatsby.

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    1. You've just listed two of my favorite classics, Virginia. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!