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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Creating an A thru Z Series: Author Interview with Amber Crewes

Like Sue Grafton, you've decided to do a 26-book series using each letter of the alphabet in the title of your book. Was your original idea to do a series? 
When I started the Sandy Bay series, I knew I wanted to write a lot of books in the series. As I'd never written any cozy mysteries, I wrote several titles to serve as inspiration to begin the first book, Apple Pie and Trouble. I never knew if I was going to accomplish a complete 26 book series but I guess that's the beauty of taking things one step at a time and enjoying the process.

Did you plan out your imaginary town in detail with your first or second book or did it slowly evolve? 
Sandy Bay is set in the Pacific Northwest which is home to my favorite football team, the Seattle Seahawks. I imagined a small town near the Pacific Ocean that was charming but had many quirky characters. Things have organically evolved with each successive book in the series. Before Apple Pie and Trouble, I had never written any mysteries.

The details for your first book Apple Pie and Trouble says it's “Perfect for a lunchtime read,” which makes sense as your book is under 90 pages. What made you to start your series with a novella?
I think one of the first cozy mysteries I read was a novella and I wanted to write something similar.

Later on in the series your books doubled the size of your original ones. Why the change?
As someone who had never written a novel, it was my way of starting small. I noticed several reviews with my early books, where readers said they enjoyed the books but wished they were longer. I took this onboard and the later books in the series reflect this.

What was the hardest title that you had trouble bringing together? 
I have the most amazing fans and they've helped me come up with titles for the latter books in the series. I think 'X' was the hardest as there are not many pastries/treats that begin with X.

How do you go about plotting your mystery? Do you pick the victim or the murderer first? 
I always ask myself 4 questions before I begin writing namely:
who dies
who kills them
how where they killed
what was the motive for the murder

What is the hardest part of writing for you? 
After writing more than 35 books, I think the hardest part is plotting the book. I always have an outline before I start. I've told myself I need to spend some time reverse engineering my outlines so the process becomes easier with each new book.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing? 
Amazing reviews and feedback from my fans. I once had one subscriber of mine from The Netherlands send me a picture with all the paperbacks she had bought. I was up to letter R by that point, so that was pretty cool to know I had someone who was so invested in the series.

What has frustrated  you the most in writing/publishing? 
I think the biggest frustration was discovery. I've learned a bit about marketing and it's not as hard as it used to be.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner? 
Create a series bible if you intend to write a long series to help with continuity and consistency.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
Just start. And once you start, don't stop.

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
Don't get sidetracked by bad reviews. Your writing might not be everyone's cup of tea but the comments of the few shouldn't stop you from writing for that select community who enjoy your voice and appreciate your writing style.

What is the next book coming out? 
My last book was Zucchini Chips and Poisoned Lips, the last book in the Sandy Bay series. Let's say it was a bit emotional coming to the end of a series that's been a major part of my life for the last 3 years. I intend to work on my other series, The Fern Grove Cozy Mysteries. The next book in that series is titled, Marigold and a Killer Cold.

That's all for today's interview. Hope you'll check out Amber's books. If you join her mailing list, you'll get the prequel story to the Sandy Bay series.

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