In the first author interview for 2017 on my blog, I have the great pleasure of welcoming Peggy Edelheit, author of the Samantha Jamison mystery series, and non-fiction memoir THE RIVIERA IS BURNING, to Marcia’s Book Talk.
Welcome, Peggy, it is lovely to have you here!
Q: For how long have you been writing?
A: Since the end of 2009 /2010
Q: Have any life experiences inspired you to write your books?
A: All of my mysteries have some true life experiences weaved throughout them. I’m not admitting to which experiences or how many of them are…chuckle. I leave that to the imagination/enjoyment of the reader deciphering those mysteries.
Q: Each writer works in different ways with reference to writing. Do you have a writing program/schedule that works for you?
A: I try to write everyday. I have a designated area where I work and can shut out any distractions. I surround myself with family photos and mementos that bring a smile and inspire me. I have a leather journal to jot down notes when a thought or idea hits me and I don’t want to forget it, regardless of where I am.
One thing I have always done is when I am in the heat of a scene; I often close my eyes to visualize it, taking note of minute details for realism. Of course, when some scenes have happened it comes naturally, as I recapture scenery, details, and dialogue that caught my eye and ear when it actually happened. I’ve also been known to swap dialogue to see how it plays out coming from another character.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s to keep my readers in the loop. I let them know exactly what Sam is thinking and seeing as the story unfolds. If I lose my reader, they may give up on me and not come back. I try to keep the reader engaged. And I try not to forget they are looking over my shoulder.
I have found readers like details that enrich a scene, not detract from it. Unnecessary filler is often used to stretch books. I find when I’m reading a book with fillers; I tend to brush past those pages to get to the meat of the story and action. So I try to avoid it, only adding what I think a reader needs to know, to understand the subject matter at hand and it doesn’t hinder the flow of the story.
Q: Do you have any favorite book genres which you love to read?
A: I do read all genres and appreciate the varied storylines. There is so much talent out there; sometimes it is hard to pick which one to read. I’m a voracious reader and travel with my eBook reader. I can’t sit and do nothing, while I wait in line, travel, etc. But I continuously drift back to mysteries. I love trying to undo all the strings to figure out who the culprit is and always appreciate an author’s skill when they cleverly place clues in plain sight. I do that all the time in my mysteries. It is only when the reader gets to my surprise endings that they tell me they go back and realize my hints and innuendo leading them to the answers at the end.
Q: Are there any favorite books and authors who have been influential upon you and your writing?
A: I would have to say there are so many talented authors out there that each one has taught me skills over the years through reading their books and appreciating their individual and unique styles. I don’t think I could pinpoint and single out one or two. Today the talent out there is mindboggling. When I see talent I will support that author if it helps them get recognized for their gifts in relating unique stories.
Q: After reading your memoir of a family summer in the French Riviera, THE RIVIERA IS BURNING, which I found an utterly compelling page turner, will you be writing further non-fiction books of other notable experiences in your life?
A: I’ve been asked that a lot and am mulling that over. The reason I wrote that book was I wanted to put pen to paper before I forgot any relevant details by giving a firsthand account of what we went through as a family from my point of view only. My mysteries are told from Samantha’s viewpoint. I thought if told from that perspective the reader would experience what I was thinking and going through emotionally and physically at my doubts and indecision, not knowing how it would all end. To this day, I still have a fear of fire and what it can do.
Q: Amongst your stories, is there one which is closest to your heart, and why?
A: I think they all are close to my heart, as they all have an element of truth to them. Each book takes place in a true-to-life setting where I have lived at one time or another and did experience a few of the incidents I relate in each book. Ex: that horrific ice storm in Book 1 The Puzzle; my becoming fascinated by the oddities of our gardens and property in France in Book 3, 86 Avenue du Goulet; the break-in in FL by a thieves chiseling out the window and throwing it into the pool to gain entry in Book 5, Mouth Of The Rat; my broken leg in Book 6, Death Knell In The Alps; my other broken leg in Book 8, The Lush Life, along with my rehab, which included my wheelchair and learning how to walk again; which led to Book 9, Too Close For Comfort, etc.
Q: You have written a multi-part series in the Samantha Jamison detective novels and are currently in the tenth instalment. Will you be writing any other book series?
A: Although it is a series, I wrote each one as a standalone mystery, giving just enough background in each one (not to bore readers) as to who the characters are and how they are relevant to that mystery. Although I have had feedback from readers that they’ve enjoyed the series more when read in order. It is their choice. I’ve had people read them in the usual places: planes and trains, and even in their cars on the way to work, and standing in line at the bank reading on their iPhone. I try to make the chapters not too long so people can pick up and put down the mystery easily and not have to repeat reading chapters to recall who and what is going on. I am now writing #11 in the series.
Q: You have mainly written in the detective/mystery genres. Would you like to write stories in any other genres?
A: I have toyed with that idea often, but then Samantha, my protagonist, whispers in my ear another idea for another mystery. Truthfully speaking, I think she has a vested interest in not losing her job as a sleuth. There is some of me in her. (Not saying how much) Maybe she’s my alter ego. But most of all, I have fun with it and embellish where necessary. (Quite often!)
Q: Do you have any favorite TV shows, either from the past, or currently on the air?
A: What is out there today in original series: Cable, Netflix, Amazon, I am amazed at the intelligent writing and smart programming, it would be impossible to single out any one. I’m not trying to be evasive, it’s that the consumer has so much more to choose from as far as such varied choices in multiple genres. Good ones!
Q: Are there any hobbies or pastimes you like to participate in when you have spare time?
A: I love cooking and have pots and pans hanging everywhere in my kitchen that overlooks my gardens (another love) as well as old clay pots filled with cooking utensils, flowers, family memorabilia placed everywhere. I do that on purpose so it calls out to me at the end of the day to create something or bake something to relax and unwind from my day. I set tables that encourage lively conversations and much lingering.
I once whipped up a dinner in an hour for 14 friends and family. I felt inspired and began calling everyone at the last minute.
I stared at my table while everything was cooking and prepared. Hmm… I then picked out (I refer to it as going shopping in my house) items as my theme. I quickly began collecting old leather books of odd sizes from my collection and began stacking them haphazardly along the center of my long table in the kitchen. Then put old candlesticks of various heights throughout. Than perched old photos, wire-rimmed glasses, an old pipe, a few cameos, and bookmarks I ‘ve collected from all over the world. Then I set the table, dimmed the lights just as my hubby cranked up the grill outside and the guests began arriving, stunned I had pulled off such a coup! Truth be told, I just love doing it. We all lingered for hours over dinner, wine, and then coffee, telling humorous family/friend stories.
It’s times like those that I absorb dialogue, the natural way people interact and talk, joke, and laugh. I am always listening for the cadence and trueness of language. People don’t speak grammatically correct either.
I was once given a mug that proudly sits on my desk in my office that says: Watch what you say, it may end up in my next novel. Trust me, it does!
Q: Have you written any short stories, either unpublished, or aim to eventually publish?
A: I’ve written brief true stories I have on my website. If readers have read some of them and also my mysteries, they will find that a few of them have found their way into my mysteries. That is what I meant about keeping it real. People have asked where I get my ideas. Read some of those blog/posts and you will find out. I don’t live an ordinary life. I love every minute of it!
…Okay, okay, maybe some instances I’d just as soon forget.
Q: Are you left-handed, or right-handed? Being a left-hander, it is interesting to see how many writers are either one or the other, or ambidextrous.
A: Good question with unusual answers. I am left handed, but can cut with scissors only with my right hand. I can only throw a ball, play tennis with my right arm. I eat with my left hand. I don’t know what that says about me, but I can tell you I am real creative (mind wise) for getting into trouble both on paper and off.
Q: Do you have any other writing projects, or new/upcoming releases, that you would like to mention to readers?
A: I am in the middle of #11 in the Samantha Jamison Mystery Series. This one had numerous delays. I refer to that as life interrupted, throughout this last year. As usual, it is an unusual mystery. I’ll leave it at that for now.
Thank you, Marcia.
I’m honored and appreciate you thinking of me for the interview. It was fun.
And to all those readers out there, remember to chase your dreams not someone else’s. Everyday is a blessing.
All the best, Peggy
It has been a sheer pleasure to have you on the blog Peggy.
I am certain you will join me in thanking Peggy today for her time, and that we look forward to reading more of her works in the future. If you wish to contact Peggy, she is available on: