Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Maureen Mullis, author of the novels WHAT WOULD NANCY DO?, IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN, THE CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER and short stories THE BOOK CLUB, ELIZA AND MRS FRANK and TEA AT THE BILTMORE, amongst her works, and welcome her to my blog.
Thank you Marcia! It’s a pleasure to be here.
Q: Have any life experiences inspired you to write your books?
A: Absolutely. As in THE CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER, I remember hearing my grandfather tell stories of his childhood in Denmark. I always wanted to tell his story to show how some children work to help their families. Also, like Gillian one of the characters from IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN, I went through the same surgery and decided to give her the experience. Like both Gillian and Maeve in the Maeve and Kate Mysteries, I am married with two sons.
The Maeve and Kate Mysteries, while they are cozy mysteries about solving a crime, are basically about friendship. The characters are roughly based on my own relationship with my best friend of 44 years. That type of friendship with the history and depth allows a freedom that can only come from that long knowing each other.
Q: For how long have you been writing?
A: I’ve been writing for many years. I worked as a journalist for several years before deciding I didn’t really have the aggressive personality to be an effective reporter. I began pursuing fiction about six years ago.
Q: You have a prolific output of both short stories, and several longer works. Do you have a writing program which works for you?
A: I really don’t. I’m what’s referred to as a “pantser,” meaning I write as the spirit moves me. One of my short stories, FAMILY TREE, is based on an idea given to me by my husband, and others are based on things I may overhear, or read or even dream about!
Q: Do you have any favorite book genres which you love to read?
A: I love most genres, but my particular favorites are cozies, police procedurals, detective stories, historical fiction and women’s fiction. One of the things I love so much about e-readers is that I can have several books with me at all times without having to carry several pounds of books! What a treat!
Q: Are there any favorite books and authors who have been influential upon you and your writing?
A: The late Anne George’s Southern Sisters Mysteries were very influential in my writing the Maeve and Kate books which again, are about two women who have shared a lifetime together. Marcia Muller has also influenced me in that she never writes down to her readers. I love that!
Maeve Binchy is another HUGE influence. The character of Maeve is named after her, but Binchy’s works were very significant to my writing IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN.
Q: Your books are uplifting works which remind the reader that life really is a gift, and that the little moments in life do really count. Apart from this, your books, from my reading experience, also present to the reader the characters, and proceed to delve deeper into their lives, showing us what makes them tick, in turn making them human, and three-dimensional to the reader. When did you first discover that you liked to explore the intricacies of human nature and all its complexities?
A: I have a deep faith that has carried me through many trials and dark times in my life. I love to share this philosophy that live is joyful and worth living. In my writing, this is definitely the impact of Maeve Binchy. From her I learned that it is the little pieces all added together to make the whole, and that it is important to give that to the reader. I’ve always been fascinated by what makes people tick. One of my favorite pastimes is to sit and watch people as they hustle around me, and make up stories to myself about what they’re up to. Here comes a man hurrying into the park; carrying a white paper bag and checking his watch while he searches the area for … what? Fill in the blanks and you have the beginnings of a short story or a novel.
Q: Do you have any favorite TV shows, from either the past, or still on the air?
A: I’m not a dark person, nor am I a reality show aficionado, so I tend to like less heavy programs. I enjoy mystery programs such as Jonathan Creek and Murder, She Wrote. I like British dramas too. Lark Rise to Candleford is marvelous, as is Downton Abbey. Frasier is another favorite; it never fails to make me laugh.
Q: Do you have any hobbies you like to participate in when you have spare time?
A: Well, obviously I love to read! I also enjoy needlework and have been thinking about learning to knit. Another favorite is taking pictures and playing with them on the computer to make them look good. I’m not a very “crafty” person, so many of my projects tend leave me wanting.
Q: Do you have any other writing projects that you would like to mention?
A: I’m starting a new mystery series that I’m excited about, and am working on the third Maeve and Kate Mystery. I’m also releasing a Christmas romance late this fall, and am hoping to find some time to write some more short stories. I love short stories and wish more people would write/publish them.
I am certain that you will join me in thanking Maureen today for her time, and that we look forward to reading more of her works in the future. If you wish to contact Maureen, she is available on:
Maureen’s books can be accessed by clicking on the book covers below: