To be more accurate, I should say that this week's Scene of the Crime interview is with Debra McReynolds. Following a centuries-old tradition among many authors, Debra writes under two different names: Deborah Merrell for her eBook romances, and Marva Dale for mysteries. An expert in the field of public relations, Debra has begun writing the Death by the Decade series, and if you stop by tomorrow, you'll be able to read my view of Death of a Flapper. Actually, it's Marva Dale Week here on Kittling: Books. Today, an interview with the author; tomorrow my review of her book; and Wednesday Debra will be telling us a bit about life in the 1920s-- the decade of Death of a Flapper. Lots of good things in store for you!
Are you all ready? Good, because it's time for the interview!
What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What made the book so special?
The book that intrigued me the most at the age of five or six was Mitzi the Mermaid. I still remember its wonderful illustrations in such vivid, lovely colors. Mitzi had long blond hair and spoke to the creatures of the sea. The book means more to me now because my mother read it to me, and I lost her to cancer 27 years ago.
Outside of your writing and commitments, what do you like to do with your free time?
I rediscovered embroidery a few years back, and I now find it very relaxing as I watch a classic movie on TV. I’ve made dozens of embroidered keepsakes like framed artwork, pillows, quilts, etc., and all for family and friends. And I’ll confess to sewing Barbie doll clothes for my dolls and making furniture for them out of everyday items. I also made the dollhouse. My hobbies invoke those halcyon memories of my preteen years. I guess I still have a bit of the home girl left in me.
If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend I go? (Not found in guidebooks)
First, I would take you for an authentic Mexican dinner at Chopes, a hidden gem along a wonderful country road that takes you through pecan orchards—the enchiladas à la Chopes may be a bit too spicy until you become accustomed to the chili heat factor. We could then walk along downtown El Paso to give you the feel of the border, a real Tex-Mex experience. We could also go to venues that offer salsa dancing and mariachi music, and then top off the evening with Chico’s Tacos. People far and wide come just for those little taquitos drenched in runny red sauce and mounds of shredded cheese. Of course, if you like the outdoors, there’s plenty of hiking trails throughout the mountains and desert.
You have total control of casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?
If I could coax her out of retirement, it would be Marsha Mason. She always played the down-to-earth divorcée/ single mom who weathered extraordinary conditions with her ordinary common sense and positive attitude. At first she’s baffled or confused about a situation but eventually comes to accept and embrace the consequences…similar to my life in many ways, the serious—and sometimes comical—ups and downs.
Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?
I would have to say Kinsey Milhone, the private investigator from Sue Grafton’s A to Z mysteries. She’s one tough gal but also has a softer feminine side. I also enjoy Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum, the ditzy bounty hunter. I enjoy the humor as Stephanie gets into yet again another over-the-top predicament involving weird characters, her partner, Lula, the ex-ho, her cop boyfriend Morelli, and her crazy grandmother.
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?
That’s so hard to narrow down, because I love so many books, but I’d have to say Eva Luna by South American writer Isabel Allende. When I read it I became enraptured with her vivid descriptions, particularly about the lives of her women characters who had to rise from the depths of their second-class status in order to achieve fulfillment. Her novel invoked so many emotions, from joy to sadness, and I wept, the first time I ever did that with a book.
How did you celebrate when you first heard you were going to be published? What did you do when you first saw your book on the shelf in a bookstore?
I felt thrilled, although I remained slightly skeptical that it could really be happening. So, I kept the news to myself until I signed the contract, and then I told my husband who called everyone with the news. I’m still a little amazed by it all. Death of a Flapper can be purchased direct from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but Barnes and Noble doesn’t physically stock my book unless they see a growing demand for it in my area. (I’m still working on it.) My book can also be had directly from the publisher, Oak Tree Press.
Name one thing on your Bucket List.
Learn French and go to France, and not just Paris but deep in the heart of the country. And if I ever get rich, I’d like to buy a villa near the Mediterranean. (I think I was a French peasant girl in a former life!)
You’ve just received a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice. Which bookstore would you make a beeline to?
That’s easy. Coas Bookstore in Las Cruces, New Mexico. They stock hundreds and hundreds of books, new and used. Their mystery books takes up a whole section of the store, and if I’m looking for an author who’s not particularly well-known I can usually find his or her titles at Coas.
Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Debra. It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you a little better.
May your book sales do nothing but increase!