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On Favorite Books and What's Coming Next

Amy Pendino interviews me about writing, Fenway, publishing, and more.

· amwriting,author interview,Coming Soon

Last month, fellow indie author Amy Pendino reached out to me after finding Fenway's series. Knowing her readers would love Fenway too, and thinking you might enjoy her novels as well, we decided to introduce each other via author interviews on our blogs! Below, you'll find excerpts of her interview with me, and can read the entire interview on her blog.

You can read my interview with Amy where we discuss her journey to becoming an author, what real life mysteries, animals, and events inspired her award-winning novel, The Witness Tree, and its sequel, Wild Horses.

Fenway is an engaging but flawed protagonist. Without being too obvious, [Paul Austin Ardoin] shows Fenway’s insecurities and vulnerabilities while crafting plots that force her to grow and learn her new role. Her spicy attitude and her inclination to react without a lot of forethought do nothing to calm the surrounding turbulence of her new position, but that’s why I like her: she’s exciting and real, and I whipped through the books to see if she could solve the cases that erupt in her quirky West Coast town.

AMY: You have two series going. How do you avoid mixing the plots and characters together?

PAUL: With both The Fenway Stevenson Mysteries and The Woodhead & Becker Mysteries, the characters came first. Although technically Fenway in the same “universe” as Woodhead & Becker (Becker’s boss’s last name is Stevenson, vaguely related to Fenway), they live on opposite coasts, they’re in much different areas of law enforcement, and the characters solve problems in a much different way. It’s also easy to keep them separated when one series is focused on a single character and the other is focused on a partnership.

AMY: Each of the characters in the “Fenway Stevenson” series has a unique quirk or two. How do you come up with these idiosyncrasies (and please explain how you chose her first name!)?

PAUL: As soon as “Fenway” popped into my head, I thought, “That’s ridiculous! Who would name their daughter ‘Fenway’?” As it turns out, I figured it would a narcissistic rich guy (and huge Red Sox fan) with a second wife not much older than Fenway. It was a no-brainer to start the series by putting Fenway in a position where her father had a lot of power over her and she resented it but couldn’t get away from it.

As far as the other characters in the series, I base some of them on real people (or combinations of people). I guess I don’t really think of them as having unique quirks—they just are who they are. We’re all quirky, after all; some of us just think we come off as normal.

AMY: Who are a few of your favorite writers? What’s your all-time favorite book?

PAUL: I started reading Agatha Christie when I was eleven or twelve, and I still love the Hercule Poirot books. Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, Jack Benton, and Faith Martin are my favorite mystery authors. I read a lot of books across many genres, though. My favorite book of all time is probably Paul Auster’s 1992 novel Leviathan, although Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved and Gabriel García Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude are close. I don’t read much science fiction or fantasy, but Becky Chambers’s Wayfarers series and N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy are amazing. Michelle Damiani's Santa Lucia series—sort of a telenovela set in the Umbrian countryside—is also a favorite.

AMY: Please share a hint or two about what you’re working on, and what we might expect to see from you in the next year?

PAUL: I’m in the editing process for a non-fiction book about making $1,000 a month from self-publishing fiction. So many books focus on getting to six or seven figures a year, which can feel massively overwhelming for authors who have just written one or two books. I focus exclusively on the strategies and inexpensive marketing tools to get authors to that first milestone of success. It’s not “quit your day job” money, but hitting four figures every month gave me a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I’m hoping to publish that by the summer.

I’m in the early chapters of The Trailer Park Murder, the third book in the Woodhead & Becker series, and after that, I’ll write the ninth installment of The Fenway Stevenson Mysteries. I’m hoping both of those books will release in 2023. I have couple of ideas for new series as well.