How exciting for all of us Lady Writers at Shaggy Dog Productions to celebrate the release of Evelyn Infante’s new book, Simply Gregg, on Amazon on March 11! We sat down with Evelyn for an interview shortly before the book became available to the public and asked her to share some thoughts.
SMJ: I’m excited to read your new book, Simply Gregg, which is about to be released. I know it’s a mystery. Can you tell us a little more about it?
EI: Simply Gregg is not so much a mystery as it is a detective story. You know who the killer is soon after the homicide. The story then takes you into the mind of the lead detective, Howard Pierce, trying to solve the homicide. You meet his team and follow along as they try to piece together a homicide investigation that will lead them to the killer.
SMJ: It sounds fascinating! I love detective stories. What inspired you to write this one?
EI: Well, in 2008, I read about a gruesome murder committed in the Poconos. That news story sparked my curiosity about homicides in the region. I began thinking of writing a murder mystery where some of the clues left behind were notes written in shorthand, a skill I know a lot about.
I didn’t know from what perspective I wanted to write the story. Should I write from the killer’s point of view, or the victim’s, or perhaps from the investigator’s point of view? At first, I toyed with the idea of writing as the killer. I have always been interested in criminal psychology, so I thought this was the way to go. But as time went on, and after I interviewed a real detective from the Stroudsburg Area Police Department, I decided to write my story as a homicide investigation from the detective’s point of view, but also giving insight into the killer’s state of mind.
SMJ: You certainly researched the book thoroughly! What specifically did you learn from your work on Simply Gregg?
EI: I was advised that stories like these are hard to write. You have to follow a certain formula with pitfalls to avoid, or the reader will turn off. What does anyone know about writing such a book? You need to read other detective books to see how they are written. On and on it went. I am sure some gave their opinion with good intentions, some with a certain amount of doubt that I could do it. But I knew I wanted to try and write the story that was already taking form in my imagination, and I was not going to be discouraged. I purposely stayed away from detective books as I did not want to subconsciously plagiarize another author as I worked on my novel, at least that’s what I stubbornly told myself. Besides, running a business did not leave me very much time to read. It was hard enough finding the time to research and write Simply Gregg.
I attacked my project by immersing myself into research so the investigation involved would read as authentic. After many years, writing, rewriting, not picking up the story for two years in frustration, and learning how to write, I am finished. It’s been hard work, but I did enjoy developing my story, and I learned a lot, especially how you need experts to scrutinize your work. Hopefully, my next book will be easier to write, now that I have some experience. Everyone was right, though, I should have read some detective novels. It probably would have helped. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a rewarding and very interesting experience for me.
SMJ: You say it might have been helpful to have read some detective novels. Do you have favorite authors who write in that genre?
EI: I do not have favorite authors in any genre, although when I enjoy a book by a particular author, I tend to read as many books by that author as I can. When I was a teen, I read romance novels, devouring Harold Robbins’ and Nora Roberts’ novels. I then got interested in spy books and read as many books by Tom Clancy, John Le Carre, and Robert Ludlum as I could. I really loved spy books because they are full of intrigue and mystery. I’ve been an avid reader all of my life. The different genres on the New York Times Best Sellers List got me interested in different styles of writing. But I have also read books not on that list since a lot of good books don’t make it to the NYT list. I do not have a favorite mystery writer, or a favorite detective story. I read what interests me.
SMJ: What do you find the most difficult thing about writing?
EI: Not catching obvious mistakes after many readings. It really does take four eyes to read through a manuscript.
SMJ: At least four eyes, I would agree! On the other hand, what do you find most enjoyable about writing?
EI: I enjoy doing research and learning things I did not know before. I also like imagining my characters as actual people and thinking through them.
SMJ: How do you feel about being a Lady Writer for Shaggy Dog Productions? And also, I believe you took advantage of the book formatting service offered as well.
EI: I am thrilled to be part of a group of such talented authors, and to have the backing of such a wonderful service.
SMJ: Do you have an idea for your next book?
EI: My next book will follow Detective Howard Pierce after his retirement. He is now a private investigator who will become involved in another homicide. I have begun to write the story, writing three chapters, but it is still very much in the developmental stage.
SMJ: We’ll certainly look forward to learning more about this book! It sounds as if you may even be thinking of a series, but I would imagine time will tell. Thank you, Evelyn, and congratulations again on the release Simply Gregg!
Author of the Augusta McKee Mystery Series