I recently met this sweet author in a Facebook group and just had to have her visit and talk about her writing. The coffee and tea is brewed, and the pumpkin muffins are fresh from the oven. Settle in for a nice chat…
SHARON: Coffee, please. Heavy on the milk, but no sugar. And pumpkin muffins sound lovely. Mmm… they smell great.
Is that a gift you brought for me? You are so thoughtful!
SHARON: I’ve brought you a tortoise, smuggled here from the Galapagos Islands. He looks small now, but eventually he’ll grow to be several hundred pounds. I hope you like him, because he may live until the next century. Galapagos tortoises feature very prominently in my yet-to-be-published mystery, Secrets of the Galapagos.
I love him! I hope readers will help me pick out a name for my new little pal. I’m delighted you took the time to visit and tell us about your recent release. Going Home was inspired by your mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s and explores the challenge of solving a murder mystery when a potential witness has memory issues. What factual resources did you use, and how did you blend the fact with the fiction to keep the story and pace flowing?
SHARON: My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2001, and a decade later, we went through that battle again with my mother-in-law. The mother character in Going Home, Lola, was based on my own mother, and many of her behaviors and conversations were similar to what I observed with my mom or my mother-in-law. I also did some reading and watched a video produced by the Alzheimer’s Association about what we could expect. The murder part was all made up. Thankfully!
Who is your favorite playwright and why? What aspect of that writer do you try to incorporate into your own craft?
SHARON: I’d have to say Agatha Christie. I went to see The Mousetrap in the mid-80s, and it was a long-running play back then. I believe it is still going! I enjoy the twists and turns Agatha Christie uses in her mysteries, and I strive to keep my readers guessing like that.
Do you outline, write in clumps of ideas, start at the top, or other?
SHARON: I consider myself a “pantser.” I start out with a basic idea and some characters, and I’m not always sure where it’s going. Sometimes I have to stop somewhere in the middle and outline to get organized.
Michelle struggles with caregiver issues in this story. How do you balance this very relevant and heavy subject with the central murder mystery?
SHARON: The caregiver is the victim, so that issue is already central to the story. We have to explore her background to determine if anyone had a motive for killing her. Because Lola, Michelle’s mother, is a suspect, the agency is reluctant to send her another caregiver, and Michelle is forced to assume that role. Taking care of her mother is another distraction in Michelle’s quest to solve the murder. Also, she uncovers some evidence that makes Lola look even more guilty.
Michelle has a career yet finds herself investigating a murder. How do you make this believable to your readers? (ex., gaining information, police communications, etc.)
SHARON: Fortunately, Michelle has been able to take time off work to care for her mother and investigate the murder, but conflicts with her job are revealed through long-distance phone conversations. While Michelle is visiting her mother, her younger, less qualified colleague gets the promotion Michelle had hoped for and becomes her boss, rigidly asserting her newfound authority straightaway. It’s another layer of stress for Michelle to endure while trying to solve the crime.
If Michelle stopped by and could only speak one sentence to your readers, what would that be?
SHARON: People who truly love you will allow you to become your own person.
What is one odd or unusual item right now on your writing desk?
SHARON: My cat is on my lap and my writing desk is so cluttered, I can barely see the surface. Cleaning my office is on my to-do list, and that task has been there for a while.
What other news or words of wisdom about the craft of writing would you like to share?
SHARON: Write every day, at least something. If that’s not possible, write as often as you can. Don’t worry if it’s not good; your first draft won’t be. Don’t get too attached to your words; rewriting is an important part of writing. Share your work with others and listen to all feedback even if you don’t agree and even if it’s not what you want to hear.
Excellent advice. My first drafts are best left away from the public eye. Thank you so much for visiting ePen! Take the rest of these muffins with you!
SHARON: Thanks for having me. I will share the muffins with my friends so I can spread the calories around!
It was delightful to have Sharon visit and share the news about her book “Going Home.” Enjoy the synopsis below, and drop a line on Sharon’s website!
Michelle DePalma expects to jet home for a routine visit to Two Wells, Texas, to check on her elderly mother, Lola Hanson, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. She walks in to find her mother hovering over the bludgeoned body of her caregiver and unable to offer a straight answer about what happened. Lola is quickly labeled a suspect. Michelle must stay in her home town longer than planned to help unravel the mystery and clear her mother’s name while dealing with baggage from her past and confronting people she’d hoped never to see again. Going Home was inspired by the author’s own mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s, which prompted her to wonder what it would be like to interview a witness who could not rely on her memory.
Sharon Marchisello has written fiction all her life. Going Home (Sunbury Press 2014) is her first published novel. She has also written travel articles, corporate training manuals, book reviews, a blog, and a personal finance e-book, Live Cheaply, Be Happy, Grow Wealthy. She earned a Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and is an active member of Atlanta Sisters in Crime, where she contributed a short story to their anthology, Mystery, Atlanta Style.