G.M. Malliet is an American award-winning author of mystery and cozy mystery novels. She is best known for writing the Agatha Award-winning Death of a Cozy Writer (2008), the first installment of the St. Just Mystery Series, named among the Best Books of 2008 by Kirkus Reviews.
The holder of degrees from Oxford University and the University of Cambridge, G.M. Malliet has wide experience in journalism and copywriting. Before switching to fiction writing, she wrote for national and international news publications (Thomson Reuters) and public broadcasters (PBS). She currently resides in the U.S.
Elevator Pitch: Max Tudor thought he’d left the world of deceit when he resigned from MI5 to become an Anglican priest. Then his bishop asks him to return to his Oxford college, St Luke’s, to investigate the death of its chaplain, and Max realizes there’s no leaving the past behind.
What brought you to writing? Writing was always just there. It’s the kind of thing you are compelled to do rather than take up idly on a whim. The longer I live, the more I wish I could cut back on the writing, but that compulsion is still there.
Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? My office is right in the middle of a several-story house, so it’s Grand Central Station. I think that might just be what I’m comfortable with. If I have too much quiet, I can’t really work.
Tell us about your writing process: The early stages of writing are always the fun part when you’re not committed to anything. That’s where the joy comes in.
What is the most challenging part of your writing process? What are you currently working on? Book 6 in the St. Just series. It is called Death and the Old Master.
Has an association membership helped you with your writing? Both SinC and MWA have provided friendships with seasoned experts willing to share their expertise.
How do you come up with character names? Like most authors, I use a baby naming site or the Census records.
Do you ever kill a popular character? I wanted to kill an early Max Tudor character. St. Martin’s wouldn’t allow it. I still regret caving.
G.M. Malliet is a member of:
Crime Writers’ Association (U.K.),
International Thriller Writers,
Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance,
Mystery Writers of America,
Sisters in Crime (former National Board member).
Email me at gm at gmmalliet dot com.
I can’t always answer, but I love fan mail 😉
June Gillam writes the Hillary Broome crime fiction series. She is sketching out a new thriller trilogy she’ll fine tune at 2024’s Thrillerfest in New York. A native of California’s Central Valley, June loves the company of writers and readers and was honored with a Jack London Award for service to the writing community. Just out on Audible is Nest of White Crows, book five in the Hillary Broome series.
Legacy of the Wild Vines, book six in the Hillary Broome Crime Fiction series, to be released in spring 2024:
In Legacy of the Wild Vines, a professor on a summer trip to Rome tries to keep her sixteen-year-old gay daughter safe amidst a rash of kidnappings, but when her daughter vanishes, the professor must probe the secrets of a remote Italian village to help find her daughter before it’s too late.
June at the 2023 CA State Fair Authors Booth
Along with Archy the cockroach, “expression is the need of my soul,” as the little poet typed onto paper left in columnist Don Marquis’ typewriter at the Chicago Sun Times office back in the mid-20th century. Archy typed no capital E since he could not operate the shift key with his tiny body flung as he did every night when the journalists went home. For details, see E. B. White’s “From The Best of Archy and Mehitabel.” https://rb.gy/604efi
Like Archy, I started out as a poet and then an academic papers writer until I was hired as a full-time faculty member in English at San Joaquin Delta College in 1990. It was then it hit me that I didn’t know how to write stories even though many of my poems wanted to become stories. Over the next ten years, I studied fiction and had a few short stories published, then took the craft deeper as part of my doctoral work in Transformative Learning and Change at the California Institute of Integral Studies. My dissertation was a cooperative inquiry, published in 2009 as a monography: Women Writing Stories Containing Conflict. I was thrilled.
However, Lambert Academic Publishing priced it at well over $100 and I could not get them to reduce the price. That was when I decided I wanted to be in control of my price points. As a result, Gorilla Girl Ink was born as my imprint and has published all my books: poetry, writing, fiction, and just last year, a children’s picture book with my daughter as illustrator.
So, I’ve been an Indie-published writer since 2012 with Gorilla Girl Ink. Thanks to the support of fantastic sister writers and critique groups along the way, I’ve had a bit of success and enjoyed the ride. But Indie publishing is a lot of work beyond the writing. It includes finding, hiring, and supervising editors, cover designers, formatters, etc. Recently, a medium-sized publisher, Bedazzled Ink, has approached me because of the platform I’ve built with Gorilla Girl Ink. They are interested in publishing my next book, a thriller trilogy set in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe.
The pros and cons of Indie vs Trad publishing are presented on websites such as the well-balanced Book Bub and Writers Digest assessments.
Although not every point in these comparisons holds true all the time, they are worth the effort to consider. After more than ten years as an Indie, I am now ready to focus my time on my writing rather than the publishing of it. I am eager to turn over the publishing tasks to Bedazzled Ink and concentrate on writing, marketing, and teaching workshops, which I enjoy. https://www.bedazzledink.com
My advice for new writers is to join a writer’s group for support and camaraderie. Take a look to see if the San Joaquin Valley Writers branch of the CA Writers Club could be a good fit for you. Check us out at https://www.sjvalleywriters.org
Readers may contact me about my books and upcoming workshops starting in February at https://www.junegillam.com/contact
Groups I belong to include
San Joaquin Valley Writers
Capitol Crimes, Sisters in Crime
Mystery Writers of America
Gold Country Writers
Links to buy my work:
Nest of White Crows, Hillary Broome book 5, Audible https://rb.gy/462wuh
June Gillam’s Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2ZX5OjK
Nearly fifty of David Poyer’s novels and nonfiction are in print with major publishers. He’s also published oral history, travel, biographical nonfiction, and collaborated on memoirs. He’s been translated into Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Hungarian, and Serbo-Croatian, and rights have been sold for films. Writers he’s mentored have been taken on by major literary agencies, published by major houses, appeared on New York Times Top Ten bestseller lists, won the International Latino Book award and other prizes, and become college teachers. He currently teaches at the Ossabaw Island Writers’ Retreat.
His latest, The Academy, was published by St. Martin’s/Macmillan in December.
“The Academy, a profoundly human story, is a captivating and fitting finale to the Lenson series from David Poyer, a master in modern naval fiction.” – Quarterdeck Magazine.
“This long-running naval series continues full-steam ahead. . . [Poyer generates] top-notch suspense.” – Publishers Weekly
“The Lenson series is an intriguing alternate history saga […] Fans of the long-running series—will be well pleased.” – Booklist
David Poyer is set to captivate readers once again with THE ACADEMY, just published by St. Martin’s/Macmillan. Known for his gripping military fiction, Poyer brings to life a tale of courage, honor, and the complexities of life within the hallowed halls of a military academy. With high ethical stakes and a suspenseful past-and-present narrative, it’s Poyer’s capstone novel in the Dan Lenson series.
In his final tour of duty after a harrowing career at sea, Lenson is appointed Superintendent of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. He begins at a difficult time: Congress is cutting military budgets in the wake of a devastating world war, calls for radical reform are upending traditions, and Dan himself faces legal jeopardy for his actions during the war. And when a Category 5 hurricane threatens to overwhelm the coast, Dan must fight to rescue the Academy itself.
Parallel to this narrative runs the dramatic story of Dan’s years as a first-class mid, many years before. A plebe he coaches commits suicide, and Dan is drawn into the investigation. The decisions he makes will shape how he comes to lead troops in battle and at peace.
What brought you to writing? I’m four years old, sitting on the porch with my mother. She’s reading to me, which she did a lot, and I’m grateful! But her stock answer for my questions, and I was full of questions in those days, was “God made it.”
Where did the moon come from? “God made it.” The sky? “God made it.” I ask her, then, “Where do books come from?” And she says – a sentence that changes my life – “Writers write them.”
I realized what I was here for.
Now, I didn’t start right away. I felt I had to go out, live, and see the world. In 1976, I was in the Navy when an accident dictated several months of leave in a cast to my waist. So I bought a desk and a typewriter and tried to write 50 to 60,000 words and have them all be different.
The result was The Hill, a YA novel about cross-country running and a small-town scandal. No one’s ever read it, though I’m thinking about publishing a limited edition. Maybe next year?
Tell us about your writing process. I believe waiting for inspiration is unfruitful and frustrating and a self-limiting strategy for a career novelist.
A group of contractors reports to a building site. Do they stand around waiting for inspiration as to what they will build? No. They have blueprints, lists of materials, timelines, and milestones. They may change a partition wall here and there, beef up a structure, or adjust to a new zoning regulation. But in general, they know where they’re going. They can work with a minimum of stress and uncertainty.
I operate the same way. My outlines run 10 to 15 single-spaced pages, organized by chapter. That charts my course, though I’m still free. When inspiration does strike, I’ll follow. But I modify the outline as I go. This synopsis becomes a sales tool for film rights or, sequels, or promotion.
How long did it take to write your first book? How long to get it published? As I said, I didn’t send out the first manuscript. The second, White Continent, is speculative fiction about a group establishing a technologically advanced colony in Antarctica. They declare independence and then have to defend themselves. It’s a Utopia, an Erewhon. I sent it out fifteen times and got it back fifteen times. So I put it away and started on another.
But if you persist, the Universe gives up on discouraging you. A newspaper editor persuaded me to pull the manuscript out and send it to a friend at Lippincott. Lippincott didn’t like it, but my editor’s friend’s secretary read the first page while it was in the mail room getting boxed up to go out. She liked that page, so she stole it and took it home. Read it and made her boyfriend read it the next time he came over. As luck would have it, he was an agent. He sold it to the first publisher he sent it to.
Do you ever kill a popular character? I have, though not without soul-searching. One of my recurring characters in the Dan Lenson books is SEAL Master Chief Teddy Oberg. He’s captured in a raid, tortured, sent to a horrific POW camp in Xinjiang, escapes, and leads a Uighur rebellion in Western China.
Over several volumes in my War with China arc, Oberg grew steadily darker. Eventually, in Violent Peace, he had to be terminated with extreme prejudice by a CIA agent, Andres Korzenowski. (A bow to Heart of Darkness. Joseph Conrad’s real name was Korzienowski.) Some readers saw this coming. Others, who identified with Teddy as a fighter and overlooked his misogyny and ruthlessness, protested. But an author has to be true to the fact: governments feel no sense of loyalty when their tools outlive their usefulness.
Where do you place your settings – real or fictional locations? Saul Bellow says each writer has an “arcanum,” a milieu in which they can set any story. Mine is the Navy, the sea, and diving, with a sideline in Pennsylvania, where I grew up.
The Lenson novels are the most popular. The 22 books trace Dan’s arc as he begins in The Circle as an ensign and ends – in the final volume – as Superintendent of the US Naval Academy, a vice-admiral facing retirement.
The Hemlock County novels deal with the struggle of the people against the greed that’s historically plagued the Northern Appalachians: extractive industries, organized crime, and governmental corruption.
The Tiller Galloway novels are about a black sheep diver. Tiller joined the Coast Guard, served in Vietnam, then got tangled up with a cartel and went to prison. As an ex-con, he tries to make a living as a dive boat and salvage captain.
The Whiteness of the Whale and Ghosting are sailing novels set on the high seas.
So you can see how the settings of my books have reflected my arcanum!
Do you have any advice for new writers? This spring, I pulled together a group of articles and talks I’d published over the years. I rewrote and ordered them into chapters. Writing in the Age of AI came out from Northampton House Press in July. It explains how I approach writing how the process can be made easier, and advises writers on the best ways to deal with AI technology. Everything I know about writing is in that book!
Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? Finishing the Lenson series feels like retiring from the Navy, which I did after 30 years of active and reserve service. Like retiring from university teaching, which I did for 16 years. But I’m not going to stop writing. A day without writing feels like a day not fully lived.
There might be another Galloway. I may have one more sailing book. A memoir? Maybe. Right now, I’m taking a year off to mull things over. Digitize my photographs, overhaul the boat, and we’ll see what comes next.
Perhaps this account will inspire a few fans of your blog. I hope they’ll also pick up The Academy and enjoy the concluding – and, I hope, satisfying – chapter in Dan Lenson’s long, star-crossed career!
Naval Academy Alumni Association,
Surface Navy Association,
American Society of Naval Engineers,
Civilian Marksmanship Program,
Ossabaw Writers Retreat,
Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia,
Kevin Anderson Associates,
Eastern Shore of Virginia Public Library board,
Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
Buy link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250273086/theacademy
Michael was born in Manchester, England. He lived in France and joined a French Order of Missionary priests. He spent ten years in West Africa, several of them during a civil war when he was stood up to be shot. He spent a year living as a hermit in Northern Ireland, was a teacher in Madrid, Spain, and as part of the British ‘brain drain’ taught at the Univ of Puerto Rico.
The owner of MJB Consultants, he flew all over the world monitoring and evaluating humanitarian projects and has worked in more than thirty countries. He is fluent in several languages, an avid golfer, and academically considers himself over-engineered, having three Masters’ Degrees and a Ph.D. On his bucket list is to pilot a helicopter, become fluent in Arabic, and spend a week’s retreat at Tamanrasset in the Sahara Desert.
Michael lives with his French wife, who designs and paints the covers of his books, and a Tibetan terrier in Clayton, California.
I have just finished reading my third novel by Sally Rooney, followed by Cormac McCarthy’s latest, Stella Maris, and I’d like to report the speech marks are missing! Punctuation goes in and out of fashion, and the marking of text with inverted commas to signify direct speech seems, in the current moment, is decidedly going out of fashion.
Cormac McCarthy called punctuation, “Weird little marks. I believe in periods, in capitals, in the occasional comma, and that’s it.” Since this was his first novel after a 16-year hiatus, I started reading it because I was intrigued by the subject matter, dedicated solely to a dialogue between two people, a woman who self-committed to a mental institution and a psychiatrist. It was a disaster. After twelve pages, I’d had enough and just couldn’t handle page after page with no italics. However, I was sufficiently intrigued to purchase the audiobook. And oh, my goodness, what a difference. I didn’t want to stop listening. I was enthralled by the female and male voices that gave color and texture to a dynamic, intriguing, and labyrinthine script.
But with Sally Rooney, not so. Why she has chosen to use this technique in her novels, only she can say. I found it gimmicky at best since her lack of italics didn’t enhance the flow of the story or blend with the rest of the text. But a greater irritant for me was her use in all three novels of another technique, the way she attributes the spoken word. No writer wants their characters to become disembodied, but attribution, clarifying for the reader who’s saying what, is key to maintaining good order in dialogue. It sustains the novel’s pace and orients and relieves the reader from unnecessary guesswork. As writers we shouldn’t have to send the reader window-shopping in search of a speaker to “assign” the script to! Distractions of that sort break the spell of the interactive flow, and are really an earmark of the inexperienced writer.
I’m speaking here, of course, of “she said” and “he said” the most common attributions, and their host of variants. When it’s evident who’s talking, the reader can readily do without them. Often enough, in a brisk exchange between two people once the talk gets rolling, it takes nothing more than a paragraph change, the customary tool for differentiating speakers, to make clear to the reader who’s saying what. Repeated attributions can serve to heighten the intent of the exchange two people are having. Beginning writers in particular are prone to suppose that “she said” and “he said” become too humdrum, are used too frequently, and need to be replaced by such alternatives as “she replied,” “he explained,” “he responded,” “she murmured,” “she protested,” and so on… all of which, when used judiciously, are useful.
Repeated indications as to who’s doing the talking can also be used for dramatic effect. And this is where Sally Rooney drives me crazy. A creative writing teacher advised, not to labor too much about attributions, “Go ahead and use “she said” and “he said” with little fear of over-use! They soon enough become mere transparencies for the reader, barely noted in passing as the reading proceeds.” If this is the case, why does it irritate and distract me from the story line making me want to stop reading? In Rooney’s Normal People on just one page I counted thirteen times her use of “he said, she said.”
An additional curiosity is Rooney’s point of view as she described her characters. In Beautiful World Where Are You much of its tension comes from the disconnect between the spare prose of the third-person sections, (I can’t remember seeing a semi colon in any of her books) with sometimes one paragraph filling an entire page, and the rambling soliloquies of the emails. Once they have been named, she ghosts her characters through page after page by simply referring to them as ‘she’ and ‘he,’ and given that she rarely fully develops them, I found it annoying and my attention flagging.
But there is a reason her books are bestsellers. In addition to her famous sex scenes, described as “the best in modern literary fiction,” she captures with unembellished, often plaintive prose, the angst of her millennium audience, albeit, her sometimes meandering chapters while reflecting the time and milieu, can be perplexing to those of us north of 40. But be that as it may, I still need my punctuation.
Michael’s latest book is No Room for Heroes: A novel of the French Resistance 1942-44.
Books on website: www.mbwriter.net
After a long career in 9-to-5 jobs – caseworker, teacher, Probation Officer, urban planner, copywriter, and even aircraft carrier tour guide – Sid became a published author at the age of seventy-one. Whether or not he makes a dime from his thrillers, that alone is an accomplishment he’s proud of.
Two of his past jobs were particularly helpful when he began writing crime novels. As a Probation Officer, he learned to see things from a criminal’s point of view and to tip-toe past their minds’ many dark alleys. As a copywriter, he learned how to craft stories that draw readers in and keep them wanting more.
Murderer from Moscow is the sequel to his debut Kim Barbieri thriller, Unwitting Accomplice. The Russian mafia has to stop reporter Kim Barbieri from exposing their money laundering in NY—and they’re going to use the world’s most lethal poison to shut her up.
Will they succeed in killing her? Or will she succeed in putting them out of business for good?
What brought you to writing? As a copywriter for many years, I convinced customers to buy what my clients were selling. That was my job, and I was pretty good at it – according to the lawyers, suits, and clients who approved my work. When I retired, I decided to write to please a whole new audience – readers of crime novels like myself. I knew three things going in: Crime fiction readers could be a tough audience, I had a compelling story idea, and I was up to the task.
What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? The challenge is making my characters of the opposite sex credible and relatable to my readers of the opposite sex. Rightly or wrongly, male writers have a reputation among women readers for not doing female characters well. My protagonist, Kim Barbieri, is both a strong, tough woman unfazed by violence and a very human person dealing with everyday issues faced by women of a certain age in our society. I was determined to do right by her—and several female readers have told me I’d succeeded.
Do you outline, or are you a pantser? That’s not an either/or question, as far as I’m concerned. I do an outline, of course, to make sure all the moving parts conform to the story arc. But as I develop my characters, they often seem to take on a life of their own. They grow. They change. I then find myself becoming a pantser, letting them make decisions I hadn’t planned on. How does she react when she stumbles upon a crime scene? How does she deal with a crisis? Those become her decisions as much as mine. And her actions sometimes change the plot I’d so carefully laid out in the outline – for the better!
What kind of research do you do? They say, ‘Write what you know’. But when I develop an idea for a novel, I make it a point to include topics I know nothing about. For instance, to write my first thriller, Unwitting Accomplice, I learned the pros and cons of using specific weapons—knife, gun, poison, vehicle—to end a victim’s life without getting caught by the police. And for my second thriller, Murderer from Moscow, I learned all I could about one lethal weapon: poison. How many there are, how each enters the body, which organs each one attacks, and how long each takes to kill. For both books, there was a lot of physiology and chemistry jargon to master, and my challenge was to write everything I’d learned in an easily understood way that wouldn’t kill the desire of the average reader to go on to the next chapter.
Where do you place your characters? Real or fictional settings? My two thrillers take place in New York, a vibrant, dynamic, ever-changing metropolis with many unique neighborhoods and ethnic communities. I grew up there and found that if described well, a neighborhood, a street, or even a particular shop can become an interesting character.
The settings for my two thrillers are in neighborhoods I know especially well from my days as a New York State Probation Officer – Fort Greene in Unwitting Accomplice and Williamsburg in Murderer from Moscow. They’re both fully gentrified now, with upstanding citizens and excellent schools, and they both are a good place for my protagonist to come home to. But back in the day, they were both “bad” neighborhoods, with drug addicts, muggings, poverty, bad schools, high unemployment, etc.
Groups where you can find Sid:
Mystery Writers of America NY
Sisters in Crime, NY
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You can read more about my thrillers at Sidmeltzer.com.
You can email me at email@example.com.
You can order Murderer from Moscow on Amazon at tinyurl.com/5b3fjnyh or from Black Rose Writing.
You can order Unwitting Accomplice on Amazon at tinyurl.com/pjjs4v7t or from Rogue Phoenix Press.