Ann Claire earned a degree in geography, which took her across the world. Now Claire lives with her geographer husband in Colorado, where the mountains beckon from their kitchen windows. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking, gardening, herding housecats, and enjoying a good mystery, especially one by Agatha Christie.
DEAD AND GONDOLA – In this series debut, a mysterious bookshop visitor dies under murderous circumstances, compelling the Christie sisters and their cat, Agatha, to call on all they’ve learned about solving mysteries from their favorite novelist.
Hi, George and readers! I’m thrilled to be posting today. It’s launch day for the first book in my new cozy mystery series, Dead and Gondola, a Christie Bookshop Mystery. I’m also launching a new pen name, Ann Claire. I previously wrote the Bookmobile Mysteries as Nora Page and the Santa Fe Café Mysteries as Ann Myers.
I adore writing and reading cozy mysteries because everyday characters get to be the heroes and use their special skills to solve crimes. In Dead and Gondola, Ellie and Meg Christie are bookseller sisters with a love of mysteries. Although the only Agatha in their family tree is their cat, in Dead and Gondola, they summon all they’ve learned from their favorite author to catch a killer in their tiny Colorado hometown.
George asks some wonderful questions about writing and books, so I’ll turn to them now.
Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I write at home, which is great, but there are many distractions. I’m way too easily enticed by my garden, cats, baking, and—the worst distractor—the Internet. To combat web-surfing distraction, I got a popup screen tent so I can write out in the backyard, beyond the reach of Wi-Fi. Wonderful, but then I’ll see a weed to pull or flowers to admire… I wish I were distracted by useful household chores, like cleaning or doing the laundry. Alas!
What are you currently working on? I’m working on the second book in the Christie Bookshop Mystery series. The series is set in Last Word, a fictional Colorado mountain town, and features two bookseller sisters named Christie (sadly, no relation to their favorite author). When a matchmaking service based on bookish interests turns deadly, the Christie sisters must summon their inner Miss Marples to catch a killer.
Has an association membership helped you with your writing? Yes! Sisters in Crime has helped me immensely with its wonderful support, encouragement, training, and especially friendships.
How do you come up with character names? I spend a LOT of time on random-name generators, baby-naming websites, and occasionally online graveyard records. Google must wonder about me…
Do your protagonists ever disappoint you? Mmmm… I can’t think of a disappointment. Just the opposite, usually. I love writing cozy protagonists because they’re relatable but can also do things I’d never do—like track down killers while maintaining a bookshop and still taking time for tea and cookies. They have skills and bravery I can only wish I had.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew to enjoy? For me, it’s more discovering writers I should have read before but somehow missed. You mention Joyce Carol Oates. I recently read some of her short stories and loved them. How had I not read them before? So many books, so little time, right?
Given that I have such a towering to-be-read stack, I rarely reread books. When I do, sometimes I’ll see them in a different light. For instance, Rebecca. I first read it when I was much younger and considered it a romance. I reread it a few years ago and had a totally different impression of Maxim de Winter!
Do you base any of your characters on real people? I’ll use aspects of real people. My grandmother is an inspiration for intrepid senior characters in all three of my series. However, the characters take on lives and features of their own.
What kind of research do you do? I’ll do a lot of research about places and occupations. I’m a geographer by training and love sifting in regional details when I can. My current setting is fictional but loosely based on some real Colorado towns, Ouray, and Telluride, which I love to visit. I did some fun gondola-riding “research” in Telluride before starting Dead and Gondola.
Anything else you’d care to add? Most of all, thanks again for inviting me to post, George, and thanks so much to readers! I really appreciate your time and support!
My website: https://novelmystery.wixsite.com/books
You can hopefully find my series at your library: The Santa Fe Café Mysteries by Ann Myers, Bookmobile Mysteries by Nora Page, and Christie Bookshop Mysteries by Ann Claire.
Dead and Gondola, To order: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/690689/dead-and-gondola-by-ann-claire/
George, I don’t belong to many groups except Sisters in Crime (Colorado Chapter and Guppies) and the Facebook group Save Our Cozies, https://www.facebook.com/groups/726103940858234.
Thanks again! I appreciate this opportunity to post!
Great observation about rereading Rebecca, Ann. It reminded me of what it often said about Don Quixote. When the book is read by a young man, he thinks it is a comedy. When reread at an older age, he realizes it is a tragedy. Best of luck with your new series and herding those cats.
George, thanks so much for inviting me! Also, from now on, I’m introducing myself as geographer, cat herder, and busy author. Thank you–it’s a perfect title! Congratulations on your new release!
Thanks, Ann. I enjoyed your new TITLE and am thrilled you do as well. And thanks for the kind comment about Robbers and Cops.