Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mary Miley

Mary Miley is the winner of the 2012 Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Novel Competition. She grew up in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and France, and worked her way through the College of William and Mary in Virginia as a costumed tour guide at Colonial Williamsburg. After completing her masters in history, she worked at the museum and taught American history at Virginia Commonwealth University. As Mary Miley Theobald, she has published numerous nonfiction books and articles on history, travel, and business topics. The Impersonator is her first novel.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Miley's reply:
Because I’m working on book #3 of my Roaring Twenties mystery series, I’m usually reading books written in the Twenties or about the Twenties. This helps keep me in the mood, gives me insight into the decade, and provides details that bring life to the scene. I can learn how people interacted with others (blacks and whites, men and women, bosses and employees), how they spoke (the use of slang, contractions, swearing, insults), how they dressed at various types of events (for work, a cocktail party, a dinner party, a tennis match), descriptions of offices, homes, drug stores, boarding houses, theaters, and so forth.

Right now, I’m working through all the Agatha Christie mysteries that she wrote in the Twenties: Murder on the Links, The Man in the Brown Suit (my favorite!), The Mystery of the Blue Train, and Secret Adversary. Even though the author was British and I can’t use the language as a model, there are other things I can take away, such as what it was like to travel on a steamship. On the nonfiction end, I’ve just finished re-reading Last Call by Daniel Okrent, a fascinating history of Prohibition in which he mentions an incredibly bold whiskey theft that gave me the idea for my side plot. I recently read The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, a novel set in the Twenties that I liked so much I recommended it for my book club. Right now, The Great Gatsby is sitting on my night table. The last time I read that, I was in high school, so it will be like reading it for the first time.
Visit Mary Miley's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue