Probably sixty percent of my reading is mystery, with the other forty made up of whatever catches my attention—and imagination—at the moment. I don’t count nonfiction in that tally because I do a tremendous amount of research for my books, so there’s a lot of nonfiction reading. A lot of it is for my books, even more is just because I love reading on so many topics and don’t stop right away when I’ve already discovered the key to whatever I was researching.
What sort of research did you do to write this book?
My Bodies of Art Mysteries take a lot—from setting details, to art angles like art history, art forgeries, and artistic masters, to technical stuff my characters need in the story, and finally to the criminal elements like forgeries and heists. For the Organized Mysteries, it’s more regional research, to make sure I have my characters placed where they need to be for whatever job they do that ends up with them stumbling onto another crime or murder.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
Ideas come from everywhere. I have a file I jot down ideas, add newspaper clippings, print out ads—whatever—then I just let the ideas percolate. Once I know I’m going to write a book about one of the ideas, I create a folder on my computer and start putting relevant information inside. It can still be many months, even a year before I start writing a book on that idea.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
Writing first thing in the morning. Stop about noon to connect with people on Facebook. Post to all my tweet teams and RT everyone, then do any marketing I need to do for the coming months. I usually start working up a book launch four to six months before the book is due to be released, so there’s always marketing work to do. The afternoon to early evening is also when I do my office bookkeeping work, write and schedule blogs and newsletters, and go back into email and social media to make sure I don’t have any messages I need to answer.
What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?
While they’re reading, I want them to escape into my mystery. I write the kind of books I love to read—to get away from whatever is bogging me down in my life. If readers come out of reading my books with a little better understanding of others, or want to know more about a subject in the story, that makes me even more thrilled, as it’s a double-win.
If your novel were being made into a movie, whom would you pick to play the lead roles?
For the Organized Mysteries, I asked my street team about this and they came up with Gillian Jacobs or Sarah Michelle Gellar for Kate McKenzie and Jennifer Garner for Meg Berman, then Michael Trucco for Kate’s husband Keith.
As far as the Bodies of Art Mysteries go, I’ve always written this series thinking about old Cary Grant movies where he was always working just a little left of the social norms, the women and men were equally smart and good at their jobs, where the dialogue was fast and witty, and a plot twist could happen at a second’s notice. So, in my mind Laurel has always been modeled after a mix of a young Grace Kelly/Kate Hepburn/Rosalind Russell and Jack based on a thirtyish Cary Grant.
Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?
A little of both. I write very messy outlines for my cozy mysteries—which I know sounds weird since the protagonist is an organizational expert—that has everything laid down quickly and arrows drawn if I want to move things around later. And for the Bodies of Art Mysteries, because it is more interconnected, and has A Lot More Moving Parts, I have a multi-book story arc created for it, with the books blocked out to show when I’m revealing specific plot details, and what has to happen in particular places, so I can stay on track. Then I use index cards to write all the scenes, characters, bits & pieces for each of those titles, so I stay on-track as I write. In both series, even with their different outlining methods, I still leave a lot of room for extemporizing. The outlines are just to keep me on-track with all the plot points and reveals—not to straitjacket me as I write.
What do you do in your free time when you aren’t writing?
Did I mention how much I love to read? Oh, a few times. Right. I also love to take walks with my husband and my blonde Labrador retriever, Honey—she seems to enjoy them, too. I love photography and have been composing shots since high school. And we live in an area with a lot of interesting places to go, so I like to wander around a bit when I have time, too. But my very favorite thing when I’m not writing is to travel. My belief is that every vacation should be like one of my Bodies of Art Mysteries—start out in London, then spiral off in some great new direction from there.
Ritter Ames currently has 2 multi book series out.
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Laurel Beacham may have been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she has long since lost it digging herself out of trouble. Her father gambled and womanized his way through the family fortune before skiing off an Alp, leaving her with more tarnish than trust fund. Quick wits and connections have gained her a reputation as one of the world’s premier art recovery experts. The police may catch the thief, but she reclaims the missing masterpieces.
The latest assignment, however, may be her undoing. Using every ounce of luck and larceny she possesses, Laurel must locate a priceless art icon and rescue a co-worker (and ex-lover) from a master criminal, all the while matching wits with a charming new nemesis. Unfortunately, he seems to know where the bodies are buried—and she prefers hers isn’t next.
Organization expert Kate McKenzie is on track to make her new business, STACKED IN YOUR FAVOR, a hit in small-town Vermont. But when her first client, the wealthy Amelia Nethercutt, is found dead, the job takes a decidedly sinister turn.
Kate thought she and her family were making a fresh start in her husband's hometown, but she quickly learns that small towns can hold big secrets. When her first client is poisoned just after Kate leaves her mansion, she knows she's gotten off to a bad start. But things only get worse when the police find Kate's fingerprints on the murder weapon, suddenly putting her in the position of suspect number one. The stopwatch is ticking for Kate to prove she had nothing to do with the murder, and the odds are further stacked against her when items stolen from the Nethercutt mansion start showing up in the McKenzie home. Now, Kate must trust her methodical skills and expert eye to sort out who is trying to frame her and to find the real killer before she's organized right into a jail cell.