Monday, March 11, 2013

"Death Will Attend," by Morgan C. Talbot

Today we're pleased to feature our KindleBoards interview with Morgan C. Talbot, author of the newly-released novel Death Will Attend.

We received an advance review copy of the novel, and found it a delightful, engaging read. The book is a cozy mystery, set in at a hotel full of partying geocachers, including besties Margarita and Bindi. Margarita's new boyfriend Drew is along, and all is going swimmingly until a prominent partygoer is mysteriously killed. Margarita puts her sleuthing skills to work, and quickly finds herself and her friends in deadly peril. This fun read is the second in Talbot's Caching Out series.

The Death Will Attend blog tour kicks off today! Check the blog tour page for upcoming interviews and reviews of the book, as well as giveaways.

Now, on to our conversation with Morgan C. Talbot!

Congratulations on your new novel. In a few words, how would you describe your book to someone who hasn't heard about it?

DEATH WILL ATTEND is a fabulous blend of love, death, mystery, and geocaching during a Valentine’s Day weekend party at a remote hotel in a ghost town. It’s got love triangles, skeletons in closets, old grudges, the most powerful family in the geocaching world, and far too many secrets for anyone’s good. All at an event cache that’s totally to die for.

This book is the second in your Caching Out mystery series. To our pleasure, we found it also reads well as a standalone book. A new reader can get to know Margarita and Bindi without having read the first book (First to Find). For returning readers who've read the first one, you efficiently introduce the character's back stories without breaking the pace of the story. Can you comment on your approach as an author to this? What was unique about writing the second book in a series as opposed to the first one?

I had a much easier time writing my main characters, that’s for sure. It usually takes me about half a book to get to know new characters. I managed that part in FIRST TO FIND, so Bindi and Margarita are old friends now. The setting and most of the other characters were different this time around, so having my girls be familiar and easy to write helped give me more mental focus on the parts of the story that needed brand new introductions. Readers aren’t the only ones who love series; it’s easier on the author, too.

I also got to play with my setting a bit. Now that I have these good characters, I want to drop them into this or that interesting location and see what they do. (Writing series characters is turning out to be more like scientific field observation than I expected.) In DEATH WILL ATTEND, I wanted to play with the concept of what makes a geocacher a geocacher. They’re always out and about, so I wanted to see how well I could craft a plot that harked back to the classic mysteries that took place in a single mansion. Would my geocachers sit still? (No. They didn’t. They’re irrepressible wanderers, as I suspected.) But I did enjoy having more of my settings under one roof.

The activity of geocaching lends a charming backdrop to this series. The lingo and the puzzle-solving strategies are mesmerizing! We saw that you included a geocaching primer and glossary in this book. That was helpful and a considerate way of introducing terms to interested readers. What led to that decision?

Honestly, it was because of confused reviews on FIRST TO FIND. You know how you think a certain celebrity or food or hobby must surely be a household word because you personally have been familiar with it for so many years? Yeah, no. Geocaching began in 2000, and some people have still never heard of it. We can’t have that! So I wrote up a quick intro and relevant terms (which will include new terms for each book as new ideas are introduced) to help ease new-to-geocaching readers into Margarita and Bindi’s world. So far, I’ve heard that it really helps. I have a lot of readers who have heard of geocaching before, but haven’t participated, and the primer and glossary help refresh their memory, so everyone can enjoy the book on the same level.

The "cozy mystery" is a favorite category among our forum members and Facebook visitors. As an author, what led you to writing in this genre?

I’ve been reading mystery novels since I was a child. Encyclopedia Brown and Trixie Belden were my buds. I’ve read many different subgenres of mystery, but cozy is my favorite. It flatters me to think that I too might someday become an amateur sleuth and save the day. I like the appeal of the everyman. I’m a team player, and I’d hate for anyone to feel left out, so I write plots everybody can feel part of, and I include a geocaching primer.

Your story smoothly intermixes the developing relationship between Margarita and Drew amidst the mystery-solving action scenes. In the process, various "plants" are put in place that reveal themselves later in the story. It's hard for us to imagine writing such a tightly-spun story without plotting out the intricacies ahead of time; in your story-writing approach, do you make heavy use of outlines?

You like my plants? Olivia the plant lady would be proud! I wouldn’t say “heavy” use of outlines, because the more I do this whole writing thing, the easier it is to keep my ideas on track. But I definitely still outline my plots, my character backgrounds and motivations, my setting details, and… Is that “heavy”? I can’t tell from here. I just write everything down when I think of it and try to cram most of it into the story when it’s time to write.

The most important thing that I outline is my bare-bones plot. In a mystery, you have to pace the bad guy ahead of the good guy at the beginning, work in all those red herrings, then let the good guy catch up at the end. You can’t half-ass a mystery. I just like to get all the hard work done before I start writing.

Can you share with us some of your reading interests? What genres, and authors, are some of your favorites?

I’ll read just about anything if it’s written well, but near and dear to my heart are cozy mysteries, epic fantasy series, historical fiction (preferably with swords), and sci-fi. I like most things about Brandon Sanderson’s works, and Lois McMaster Bujold is an absolute wizard with characterization, in both her sci-fi and her fantasy. Dorothy Cannell is one of my favorite cozy authors for the magical way she makes danger seem hilarious.

What advice would you give to readers who are interested in learning more about geocaching?

Geocaching.com has a short video called Geocaching in 2 Minutes, and a Geocaching 101 page, which are great for picking up the basics. Try entering your ZIP code on their Seek page and see how many caches are in your area. Then see if you can find one (and hide it as well as you found it, please).

Techsperts have created various geocaching apps for smartphones, so if you have such a phone, you won’t need a dedicated handheld GPS unit. If you want to hang out with someone who caches a lot, find a local cacher with a lot of finds and shoot them an email (all online log names are clickable, as are cache owner names), and ask if they could take you around some time and show you how everything works. If they are too busy placing and finding caches, chances are they’ll know someone who just loves to help new people out. And if there’s an upcoming event cache in your area, I definitely suggest going and checking out your local caching scene. Those get-togethers are great ways to meet other cachers and get a sense of the community. Tell them I sent you.

We hope that these first two books are just the beginning of more Caching Out mysteries! Do you have plans for more books in the series?

Definitely. I’m nearly finished with book three (working title: Trailing Death), and I have a cloud of ideas for book four (Grandfathered Out), just waiting for me to anchor them down in an outline. Book five (Death’s Difficulty Five) has several distinct ideas impatiently waiting their turn, and book six (Murder At Stage Six) has a couple nifty concepts as well, but it’s out on the balcony having a smoke, pretending it’s too cool to care that it’s still four books away from existing.

Thanks for talking with us, Morgan. We're pleased to feature your book on KBoards!

Thank you. I’m very pleased to get a return visit.


Death Will Attend is available now to download to your Kindle!

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