Under the nom de plume Mary Lou Kirwin, MFAC Professor Emerita Mary Logue followed up the release of her 2013 Caldecott honor book Sleep Like a Tiger by returning to writing mysteries for adults.
Please describe the book.
These two books are a series—in the first one, Killer Librarian, Karen Nash is on her way to England for the first time when her boyfriend dumps her. She’s horridly disappointed but decides to go anyway. At the B & B the owner, Caldwell Perkins, also a bibliophile, takes her out for a curry and things start to look up. Then a nice old gentleman, who has just created a new rose, dies in the garden room. And Karen’s afraid her ex-boyfriend’s life is also in danger. What’s a librarian to do?
Death Overdue finds Karen back in England, trying to figure out if she will can make a life there with Caldwell and his books. Then his old girlfriend comes back and is killed in the library by (you guessed it) books.
As the story progressed from inception to copy-edited version, what were the major changes? How did those changes come about? When did you first begin work on it? When did you finish?
The first book was done as a lark. It didn’t have a murder in it, but the editor said they would buy it if I killed someone off—so I did. The second book, unbelievable, wasn’t edited at all—just went straight to copy edit.
What research was involved, and how did it affect the story’s development?
Since most of these two books was set in England I had a good British friend vet the books. The most amazing research I did was on the new Globe theater. If you go online you can actually tour the building. Very helpful.
Without naming names, tell us who your first readers are (e.g., live-action writing group; online writing group; editor; agent). When do you share a piece of writing?
I can name a name—it’s Pete Hautman, my guy. I usually show him the first forty to fifty pages, just to find out if I’m headed in the right direction. Then when I’m done he reads the whole thing. I remind him to tell me the good things first—then he can have at it.
What books do you love to teach or recommend to students?
What widely-loved or acclaimed book is one that didn’t work for you?
Many of the highly touted books I didn’t quite climb aboard the story—even the Harry Potter books and Twilight. But I read a chunk of them just to know what everyone was talking about. I like books in which real people talk to real people about real problems—usually.
During the January 2013 residency Emily Jenkins lectured on “How to Be Funny,” and one of her suggestions was to “use jolly words.” A good idea even if one isn’t trying to be funny. Do you have a favorite jolly word?
In French, I love the word semblable. Just say it a few times. Great feeling in the mouth. I also am very fond of the word smock. I enjoy using the word rather.
To learn more about Mary and her writing, visit her website.