Sunday, March 02, 2014

Scene of the Crime with Author Sandra Parshall!

I vividly remember the first time I read a mystery written by Sandra Parshall. It was almost exactly a year ago, and my husband and I were trapped in a small stone cottage in the Yorkshire hills by snow and howling winds. To take my mind off being unable to go to Scotland, I turned on my Kindle and began to read the very first Rachel Goddard mystery, The Heat of the Moon. The character of veterinarian Rachel Goddard, the family dynamics, the suspense... everything combined into a badly needed page-turning distraction. I'm thrilled that, not only do I get to share an author interview with all of you, I'll also be reviewing Sandra's latest Rachel Goddard book, Poisoned Ground, today as well!

Sandra Parshall
Let me share a few links with you before we continue on to the interview. I know most of you are just as curious as I, so I like to be able to speed your way to learning more about this talented writer:

Okay, I'm finished with all the fussing and prep work. Let's get to the fun part-- the interview!

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

I read a lot as a child but remember very little about those early books. The first novel that made a lasting impression on me was To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960 when I was in my early teens and beginning to read “serious” fiction. Although I had lived all my life in the deep south – upstate South Carolina – I was barely aware of the history of slavery and the racial injustices that still infected American society. (Southern children at that time were not taught about such things in school.) By letting me see the south through the eyes of white characters who felt like friends, neighbors, schoolmates – characters who felt like me – Harper Lee awakened my social conscience and changed me profoundly. She also made me understand that people like Boo Radley are my fellow human beings and entitled to their own place in the world. Beyond the issues of racial equality and respect for those who are different, Ms. Lee’s novel is a beautiful and moving work of art that has earned its recognition as a modern American classic.

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

Photography is my hobby, and animals and nature are my favorite subjects. I could quite happily spend all my time taking pictures. There’s something magical about capturing a perfect moment, a gorgeous slant of light in the natural world.

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.)

To tell you the truth, I’ve been away from my original home for so long that I no longer know it well enough to advise a tourist. I’ve lived in the Washington, DC, area for decades and consider it home. If you come here, of course, you’ll want to see the White House, the Capitol, all the monuments and fabulous museums and the animals at the National Zoo, which specializes in breeding and conserving endangered species – really, does any city in the U.S. have as much to offer as Washington?

Huntley Meadows
But if you get outside the city and cross the Potomac to Northern Virginia, where I live, you’ll find some of the most beautiful natural areas in the country, such as Mason Neck, Occoquan Bay, Accotink Bay, Huntley Meadows – if you want to see bald eagles, herons, and a host of other wildlife species in their natural habitats, these are the places to visit. History buffs will love strolling the streets of Alexandria and visiting Sully Plantation (which belonged to the Lee family) and the restored home of George Mason, who wrote our Bill of Rights, as well as the more commercialized and crowded Mount Vernon.

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

Claire Danes
Claire Danes, but I’m really flattering myself with this choice! Actually, I’d rather see her play my character Rachel Goddard (but with auburn hair).

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

I have a few favorites, but I’m especially fond of Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles in Tess Gerritsen’s books (but not the TV show!) and D.D. Warren, Lisa Gardner’s tough-but-human female detective.

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?

To Kill a Mockingbird, because it made such a difference in my life. I have an old hardcover copy with the original cover, but I think it’s from the fifth printing.

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 got the news in an answering machine message from Robert Rosenwald, publisher of Poisoned Pen Press. He’d called to say they needed a current e-mail address so they could send me a contract. Since they’d had the manuscript for 16 months and I’d almost forgotten about it and had long since given up hope, I was stunned. I can’t even remember what I did afterward, but I do remember the date: August 29, 2005. The first time I saw my book in a bookstore, I had to make a real effort not to cry in public.

Name one thing on your Bucket List.

Tai Shan
Visiting China to see Tai Shan and other pandas at the Wolong and Chengdu panda centers.

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

Mystery Loves Company Booksellers
Mystery Loves Company. Kathy and Tom Harig, who own MLC, have been absolutely wonderful to me, and I will be forever grateful for their support and kindness.

Available March 4!

Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Sandra, it was a pleasure to be able to get to know you a little better. May your book sales do nothing but increase!

Next up on Kittling: Books-- my review of Sandra Parshall's latest Rachel Goddard mystery, Poisoned Ground!

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