You're about to meet Elise Warner, and she's a real Scene Stealer ;) It's also the title of her new book from Carina Press, a cosy mystery! Scene Stealer has already won some amazing reviews. Check out Long and Short Reviews, The Book Book Blog (who detect touches of Amelia Peabody in the charming Miss Augusta Weidenmaier) and RT Book Reviews.
Welcome, Elise! Ready for some questions?
How hard was it to create the puzzle that’s at the heart of every mystery novel? Without giving away the ending for Scene Stealer, can you give us any hints on the process of plotting a mystery?
I didn’t think of plotting a mystery when I began Scene Stealer. The characters appeared first. Being a New Yorker and living in Queens, I often take the subway to Manhattan and one day I was on my way to Lincoln Center when I noticed a scruffy looking man and a well-dressed young boy. A picture of the two of them together stayed with me and became the opening of the book.
Augusta Weidenmaier, my amateur detective, is much like a funny and exasperating character actress I toured with when I was working in the theatre. I know if Scene Stealer ever became a motion picture (dream, dream) she would look down from her cloud in theatre heaven and demand the part. My villain didn’t remain my villain; as I wrote and rewrote, the character took over and pretty much told me what to do. He charmed me and I had to look for another baddie.
Given that Miss Weidenmaier, your intrepid sleuth, is a retired teacher, can you remember any wisdom passed on from your teachers?
In high school, I wrote a romantic short story with all the bells and whistles-most of the other kids in class wrote about their summer vacations. The teacher called me to his desk and said it was the worst story he had ever read. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never attempted a romance novel. Then I tried to convince my math teacher I would be better off taking a writing class as well as a theatre class instead of hers. She didn’t agree and if looks could kill…But Richard Brickner, who taught at The New School, had a great influence on me. You could bring any type of fiction or non-article to his class. His great gift to students, via criticisms and class discussions, was to make us think and delve beneath the surface of what we had written. One of the many things he told me was I didn’t have to dot every I or cross every T, the reader can figure out many things for her/him self.
What’s your favorite Shakespearean quotation and why?
From As You Like It
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players
They have their exits and entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.
I think it resonates with me because of my early career in the theatre and because that’s what life is all about. We are children, wives, lovers, companions, students and teachers-so many, many parts in each lifetime.
If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be? And what would you ask them?
I would ask Irene in Galsworthy’s The Forsyth Chronicles why she never had the slightest compassion for Soames. I thought he was the most interesting character in the series and I missed him after he died.
Thanks, Elise, for a great interview. It's lovely having a guest author to visit!
And for everyone curious about Elise's baddie-turned-charmer. Here's Scene Stealer's gorgeous cover and blurb.
"For a moment our eyes met; his were frightened, seeking help. Was it my imagination gone wild? No. After all those years of teaching elementary school, I knew this child was afraid."
After a chance encounter on the subway, Miss Augusta Weidenmaier, a retired schoolteacher living in New York's Greenwich Village, is determined to help the police in the search for missing nine-year-old child actor Kevin Corcoran. Never mind that she has no training in law enforcement—she spent decades teaching. She knows when someone is lying.
Once set upon a course of action, the indomitable Miss Weidenmaier cannot be swayed—or intimidated. Facing down megalomaniacal business executives, stuck-up celebrities, pushy stage mothers and a rabble-rousing talk show host, Miss Weidenmaier will stop at nothing—not even the disapproval of one Lieutenant Brown of the NYPD, who does not take kindly to amateur sleuthing—to bring young Kevin home.