Please welcome Elizabeth Buhmann as today’s Wednesday’s Guest
Hello, and thank you, Maryann, for inviting me to be a guest here on It’s Not All Gravy. I’m Elizabeth Buhmann, author of Lay Death at Her Door,
a murder mystery which has just been released by Red Adept Publishing. I live in Austin, Texas, where I worked for twenty years at the Texas Attorney General’s Office doing research and writing on criminal justice and crime victim issues. Lay Death at Her Door
is my first novel.
Hey, we’re fellow Texans.
1. How did you come to write in the genre you chose?
I have always loved the mystery genre. I started reading Nancy Drew when I was a child and graduated to Erle Stanley Gardner as a teenager. From there, I moved on to PD James, Dorothy Sayers, Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, and Ruth Rendell, to name just a few. Among contemporary writers, I love Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly and Gillian Flynn—and others! I would bet that half the books I’ve read in my life have been murder mysteries. I love the intellectual challenge of a good murder mystery, and to me, it’s satisfying when a killer is dragged out into the open and brought to justice.
2. What is a typical writing day like for you?
I get up blindingly early in the morning—often as early as four—while it’s still dark outside. I make a pot of tea and sit in my office with my dog at my feet to tackle the most important and creative work I want to do on that day. I break at about 7:30 to walk, have breakfast, and feed the chickens. I work off and on as the day progresses, shifting to more analytical tasks like editing, revising and polishing, or writing shorter pieces.
Oh, my, I did not realize four in the morning actually existed. So glad you verified that for me. (smile)
3. What is the most unusual or interesting research you have done for your books?
The main character in Lay Death at Her Door—her name is Kate—was born in Africa of expatriate American parents and came to the States as a teenager. I lived in other countries myself as a child, so I know what it’s like to reenter American culture from abroad. But I’ve never been to Kenya, where Kate is from. I loved reading about Kenya! So much so that I got carried away and put too much Kenyan history and politics in the manuscript. (Don’t worry—my editor took it back out.)
Thank goodness we have editors. Mine have been so helpful with the cutting.
4. What gives you the most pleasure in writing?
I love everything about what I’m doing. I love giving free rein to my imagination, then following out the logic of a story and working within the boundaries of craft. I like working out the details—what year would Kate have been born, and where exactly in Kenya? What was her mother like, and how did that help shape who she is? What sorts of flowers would be growing in Tony’s garden at the house in Sedgewick? How would Max go about trying to find the mysterious missing man that Kate eloped with during a drunken weekend fling twenty years ago?
5. What other creative things do you do?
I draw and paint—you can see some of my watercolors at www.pommelhouse.com
. I’ve maintained that large and rambling website for more than ten years—purely for my own entertainment. It’s like an online journal—my virtual home. I’m also a very ambitious gardener—out of control! I have nearly an acre, and the whole thing is planted and bedded and riddled with paths and benches and little rock walls. It’s always changing, never finished, and occupies an inordinate amount of my time.
I, too, love gardening, but mine is much more primitive. I hope my readers visit the website and view your art. Quite nice.
6. What do you do for fun?
Tai Chi. I have a black sash, and I’m currently learning Chen style.
7. Where do your stories begin? With character or plot?
I love that question. I begin with the major act, the crux of the plot, which to me defines the main character. Every trait and quirk and habit of a character relates, at least in my mind, to what that character will do in the overarching plot of the story. And the actions that make up the plot reveal the truth about the characters. So I would say that for me, character and plot are inseparable and evolve together.
Lay Death at Her Door is built around the character of Kate Cranbrook—a woman who lied on the stand about murder, in order to protect herself. She’s a dark protagonist, and her character is key to understanding the heart of the mystery—what happened and why.
Thank you so much for your candid responses, Elizabeth. Readers, do you have any questions for her?
While Elizabeth is in the spotlight here, I have cloned myself and am at two sites today. I’m sharing some writing tips from the comics at The Blood Red Pencil and having some fun at The Lightstealers Song.