Questions From Seattle Mystery Bookshop:
Jeanne Matthews, author of the Dinah Perelin series, was in today to sign her latest novel, BONEREAPERS (Poisoned Pen, $24.95 signed and dated hardcover, $14.95 trade paperback, signed only), and here are her answers to our questions:
--> How many rejection slips did you get before your first novel was published?
I received 27 rejections from publishers, each one engraved on my heart with jagged steel. I lost track of the rejections by agents. The philistines.
--> Have you ever thrown away a book that you just couldn't make work?
Not thrown away, exactly. But there are a few ancient floppie disks gathering dust in my office. I think one contains an unfinished novel about a Texas bubba afflicted by the foreign language syndrome while trying to smuggle Persian rugs across the Mexican border during the Iranian embargo. I wrote another novel shortly after I retired from my job as a paralegal. It involved the brutal murders of a dozen litigators and the tone was deeply disturbing.
--> Is it still exciting to publish a new book even after all this time?
Absolutely. It’s addictive.
--> Do you get ideas for new books all the time and you keep them written down, or does one come to mind when you need one?
My most recent idea came to me when an old friend invited me to spend a few weeks at his house on the Greek island of Samos. It sounds like a lovely place for a murder. Stay tuned.
--> Do you know how a book/series is going to end when you begin it?
No. My husband has threatened to leave me unless I learn how to outline. He’s fed up with my mid-novel panic attacks when I look up from the computer and wail, “What now?” I may not know exactly what will happen when I begin one of my Dinah Pelerin mysteries, but I know where it will happen. Dinah’s plane always lands where Jeanne wants to spend her next vacation and the novel develops from the physical and political environment where it is set. This style of writing entails moments of angst and husband-bothering. But anyone reckless enough to marry a fiction writer assumes a certain amount of risk and sleeplessness. And the travel benefits can’t be beat.
--> Is there any kind of book you would like to write but haven't?
I’d like to try my hand at historical fiction one of these days. I’m fascinated by the 1920s and the Algonquin Round Table. But I think a murder would sneak into any story I write. I think I’d have Dorothy Parker stab Tallulah Bankhead and try to frame Alexander Woollcott.
--> If you could change anything about your writing career, what would it be?
All of my books would become best sellers, of course, and Seattle Mystery Bookshop would have lines of people snaking around the block, all waving their money and clamoring for my next release.
--> What’s the most interesting question you’ve ever been asked, and what was your answer? Unprintable.
--> If you could have written any single work – novel, screenplay, stage play, poem, history, biography – that you most admire and adore, what would it be?
“Gone With the Wind.” I was born and raised in Georgia. Every Georgian wishes he or she had written “Gone With the Wind.”
--> Anything you’ve always wanted to be asked but no one ever has?
“Okay, how about if I raise the offer to a million dollars?”