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Interview with Gayle Carline

Q.1 Tell us a little about yourself?
A. After a 30-year career as a software engineer, I finally turned my talents to the things that bring me joy: writing, horses, and my family. I write a weekly humor column for my local newspaper, a mystery series set in southern California, and a few other genres. When I’m not writing or riding, you can find me with family and friends, wine glass in hand and a smile on my face.

Q.2 What made you write A Peri Minneopa Mystery?
A. I began writing the series in 2007. I wanted to write mysteries, and I decided that my protagonist should be a woman close to me in age (she’s a little younger, at 50). I appreciate younger heroines, but I wanted other women of 50+ to read it and think, yes, I understand what she’s going through. There are 5 books in the series. Murder Bytes is the latest.

Q.3 Are you working on another Peri Minneopa mystery? If so, what can you tell us about it?
A. I am advertising this as the fifth and final installment of Peri Minneopa Mysteries. I think I’ve taken her to a place where the next book would be such a completely different flavor, it will have to be a new series of mysteries. Don’t worry - I’ll start writing them! In the meantime, I have a sequel to my romantic suspense, Murder on the Hoof, to write.

Q.4 Murder Bytes is your fifth Peri Minneopa mystery. What can you tell us about Peri, and how does this book continue the traditions established by the other novels in the series?
A. In the last book, A More Deadly Union, Peri was left traumatized after solving the case. In the latest story, she just wants to stop investigating crime, settle down, and marry her longtime boyfriend. Unfortunately, that’s not the way her life works. Her brother needs her help, to prove he did not commit murder. She is reluctant to help him, both because she is still feeling the trauma of the last case and because her brother does not want any kind of relationship with her - he is only using her to get out of trouble. To me, it is a classic question of the thickness of blood and water, and how much you are willing to go to bat for ‘that relative.

Q.5 In Murder Bytes, Peri re-opens her practice to help her estranged brother. What keeps Peri from simply referring him to another qualified detective?
A. At the end of the day, Dev is her big brother. She wants to believe that he considers her his little sister, that someday, somehow, he will realize his familial love for her. There’s a piece of advice, to ‘raise the child you have and not the one you want.’ In Peri’s case, she wants the brother who wants to be close to her and has a hard time accepting the brother that he is.

Q.6 Peri’s boyfriend, Detective Skip Carlton, is now her official fiancé. They have bought a home together, and are selling their houses. Because Peri’s house sold and Skip’s is still on the market, she is living in the new place while it’s being remodeled. How is this affecting their relationship?
A. The continual stream of workers and noise in their house has Peri’s stress dialed up to 11, on top of her PTSD. It creates conflict for them, in that he wants to defer remodeling decisions to her, so that she will be happy, and she would like him more involved, to take the pressure off. In addition, he wants to help her with her brother’s problem but would like her to just sit on the sidelines and watch - something she’s never been good at.

Q.7 There are a number of familiar characters in Murder Bytes that readers will recognize from the earlier novels in the series. Who are your personal favorites, and what happens to them in this particular story?
A. I like them all, for individual reasons. Blanche is always Peri’s rock as her BFF, and I appreciate her good advice. I admire Police Chief Fletcher - he is the right man for the job. Of course, Benny Needles will always be my favorite. In this book, he gets his own chapters, and even has a ‘special friend.’ He and Peri have a lot of warm, connecting moments, and I’m very pleased with his growth.

Q.8 Murder Bytes takes place in Southern California, in the Orange County area. How integral is this setting to the Peri Minneopa mysteries, and why did you place the series in this environment?
A. When I started this series, I wanted a small-town feel, but not so small that I wouldn’t kill off all the residents! They say to write what you know, and I know Southern California. My hometown of Placentia has a very small-town feel, even though it is locked into the vast Orange County. That made it perfect - nonresidents are constantly coming in and out of town, giving my stories lots of victims. Plus, I’m very proud to live in Placentia (we sometimes call it P-Town). I might as well do my part to put it on the map.

Q.9 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A. I don’t find writing about men to be as difficult as writing teenagers. I had to poll a few young folks to make certain I was using the correct jargon, making the correct cultural references, etc.

Q.10 How do you select the name of your characters?
A. Peri’s name came about from an inside joke between my friend and me. We dreamed up a heroine named Peri Menopause, who solved every crime by crying, eating chocolate, and slapping people until someone confessed. I went Googling through the internet, looking for a word that could be mangled into “menopause.” I found Minneopa, which is a state park in Minnesota and a Dakota word that means “water falling twice.” Seemed perfect.

Q.11 How many books have your written? Which one is your favorite?
A. I have written 12 books - 5 Peri Minneopa Mysteries, 5 books of my weekly columns, one romantic suspense (Murder on the Hoof), and one all-ages book about my horse (From the Horse’s Mouth: OneLucky Memoir). I love them all, but my favorite might be my latest, Murder Bytes. It feels like me in all the pages, with my love for my family, and my software engineering roots.

Q.12 Outside of your family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author?
A. My writing community! My writing friends are always pushing me to finish this book, publish that one, query such-and-such agent. They are my strength on days when I feel like I can’t put two words together.

Q.13 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
A. I’ve found that most of my blocks come from two sources. One, I’m not being true to my characters or my story, and I’m trying to manipulate them instead. Two, I dread putting words on the page that I’ll have to delete later. Writing is rewriting!

Q.14 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
A. I read all the reviews! I actually like the bad ones. Sometimes they give me great insight into how to improve. Sometimes I realize the wrong person read my book. And sometimes, the bad reviews are so bad themselves, I find them funny. For example, I got a one-star review for my short story on Amazon because “it was too short.”

Q.15 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. I don’t know that I have any quirks or habits, but I keep an assortment of items around my desk that I consider a good fortune. These include crystals, a sparkly wand, and a pocket Ganesh.

Q.16 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
A. As long as my mind can still think, I’ll still write, whether I am published or not. I've always written. I suppose, if my brain goes south, I’ll still tell stories - long, rambling, nonsensical ones.

Q.17 Who designed your book covers?
A. Joe Felipe. He is always on point.

Q.18 What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
A. Read a lot and write a lot. Do it because you love it, but don’t sell yourself short. Get the money you deserve.

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
A. Golly, there are so many, for so many reasons. Cannery Row for its language, A Prayer for Owen Meany for its quirk, Tarzan novels for their action…perhaps my favorite is A Count of Monte Cristo? It’s the one I’ve re-read the most.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
A. My journey has been a herky-jerky roller coaster. I suspect everyone else’s is, too. You spend a lot of time in your cavern, writing-writing-writing. Then you come out into the sunshine, release the book and have the parties. There are book signings and blogs and lots of talking. As that winds down, you go back to the cavern and work on the next one. I love it because it feeds both my inner introvert and extrovert. After a good day of writing, I feel tremendously creative. After a good day of talking, I feel tremendously loved.

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  1. She sounds so simple! Loved her modesty n one thing I found as common as the other writers also have that each of us including her have experienced a 'herky-jerky roller coaster' ride before giving some fantastic output...

    Enjoyed the interview thoroughly.

    All the best for a bright future!

    1. Thanks Swati for your kind words. Keep supporting & reading. :)