Title: Crooked House
Series: An Erica Coleman Mystery
Author: Marlene Bateman
Release Date: 1st April 2015
BLURB supplied by the author
Quirky private investigator Erica Coleman, is no stranger to murder and mystery—which is why her best friend’s daughter, Megan, is so confident that Erica can unravel a disturbing mystery surrounded her roommate, Liz.
When strange—and potentially fatal—“accidents” threaten Liz’s life, Megan begs Erica for help. Once Erica arrives at the ramshackle old mansion known as Crooked House, matters go from disturbing to deadly, as it soon becomes clear someone is indeed trying to kill Liz.
As Erica begins to unearth secrets, she discovers a twisted web of love, greed, intrigue, and deception. Erica must draw upon her all her investigative prowess to keep Liz safe and unmask the killer before he can accomplish his deadly objective. With a touch of romance and surprising twists, this thrilling mystery will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.
What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is Marlene Bateman Sullivan and I was born in Sandy, Utah. I now live in North Salt Lake, Utah.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer—ever since I was in elementary school. Sometimes I wonder if writers are born, because I’ve certainly always wanted to write. I kept writing until I got married and had children. I then stopped for a while, because—let’s face it—you can’t do everything at one time. When my babies got a little older, I began writing articles and stories for magazines. Then, as the children got still older and I had more time, I started writing books.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
My first book, (Light on Fire Island—a mystery romance), took me three years. But I had seven kids at the time. I’ve gotten a little faster and now if I work hard, I can do a non-fiction book in 6-9 months and a mystery in 9 months.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I do love writing mysteries, but I am working on a romance now. It will be a clean romance, though. No steamy sex scenes. It’s fun and smart and delves deeply into the main characters lives. And I like the setting—a small town.
What genre would you place your books into?
Murder Mysteries. Strangely enough though, I just wrote a romance and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also write LDS religious non-fiction. The audience is quite small, consisting mostly of Mormons, but I enjoy it. The book I’m most proud of is Gaze Into Heaven—Near-death experiences in early LDS Church History. It differs from modern-day near death experiences, but I found it fascinating. I wrote this book under the name Marlene Bateman Sullivan
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I get my names from two sources. First, I can look online. I found a great website that lists names according to year. This way, if I have an older character, I can type in their birth year and have a long list of names from that era to pick from. Second, I save names from the sports pages of my local newspaper when they list all-star football and basketball teams. I clip out the entire page and file it away for when I need some current popular names. Each page has dozens of cool names.
As for the place names in my books, they are all 100% accurate. For A Death in the Family, my husband and I drove to Oregon, rented a car and drove all over Florence and Lake Oswego. When I describe the Sea Lion Caves and how the gift shop and caves are laid out, it’s all accurate, as is the descriptions of the beach, Heceta Head lighthouse, the historic Siuslaw Bridge, Charl’s Restaurant, etc. Everything, including the church house and stores in historic Florence are as described. I take great pride in going to each and every setting I write about, taking tons of pictures and notes, so that everything is accurate.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
Since I write mysteries, I have to know how the book is going to end before I can start the first chapter. I spend one to two months plotting. Then I write a rough draft of the last chapter, and the first chapter, and go on from there. I have to plot very carefully to keep up the tension and to make sure all the clues are in place at the right time. Plotting can be hard, but its very important and actually saves time in the end, since you don’t have to rewrite and add important information that should have been there in the first place. Once you get your storyline laid out, you have a structure to follow. A contractor would never begin building a house without plans, and to my way of thinking, a mystery writer would never write without having a basic plot down on paper.
Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
What’s writer’s block? I’ve never had it, probably because I go through a process of plotting out an outline first, then build on that. If one scene is difficult to write, I just plow on through it. Some days, writing comes easier, but you just go on and do your best. Most of my spent is done revising, so I just read what I’ve written and try to make it better, sharper, funnier, more mysterious, etc.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Never. Give. Up. People don’t fail because they can’t write, they fail because they stop trying. I have a yellowed newspaper clipping by my computer that says; “For most of us, it isn’t that we don’t have the ability to write, it’s that we don’t devote the time. You have to put in the effort.” Another way of saying that is if you want to write and be published bad enough, you’ll work for it. And if you work at it, your writing will improve, and you WILL be published.
Where can readers follow you?
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25128600-crooked-house?ac=1