Author Interview: Betty McMahon
Stephanie: Hello Betty! Congrats on winning the B.R.A.G Medallion. I see that your book (A Rendezvous to Die For) falls under the mystery genre and I do love a good mystery. Please tell me about your story.
Betty: Photographer Cassandra Cassidy does weddings – but only to pay the rent. She’d prefer more interesting subjects. Which gets our reckless heroine in a lot of trouble. During a newspaper assignment to cover a 1830s Rendezvous reenactment, she points her camera inside a sweat lodge, clicks the shutter, and finds the body of her nemesis with a tomahawk in his loathsome head. She can’t help but think “good riddance,” but the local constabulary thinks our meddling photog is the main suspect. Soon she’s up to her f-stops searching for the real killer – with her only investigative skills camera-related.
Stephanie: What was your inspiration for your story and how long did it take you to write it?
Betty: I’d been a working journalist for many years and decided to take a Writer’s Digest course in fiction writing. My mystery book was generated out of the exercises for that class. It took me a long time to write it, several years. Writing fiction is different from journalism and I spent a long time learning how – through writing workshops, tons of books about fiction writing, and lots of practice. It was the equivalent of another college degree!
Stephanie: Please tell me a little about your character, Cassandra Cassidy. How would you describe her?
Betty: She’s talented and independent, a little bit sassy, sometimes naïve and always impulsive.
Stephanie: Is this your first published story?
Betty: This is my first published novel. I won several award for short stories I entered in contests. I’ve been “publishing” for many years in newspapers and magazines.
Stephanie: What got you started in writing mystery?
Betty: The Writer’s Digest class exercises asked students to develop characters and a plot. In the process, I realized I had a mystery going and went with it. I’ve always read mysteries so it was a natural progression.
Stephanie: What is most challenging about writing in this genre?
Betty: Making sure you tie up all the details – and making sure it’s not easy to determine just who the villain is.
Stephanie: What’s up next for you?
Betty: Cassandra’s next adventure is set in New Mexico. I have it almost written and hope to publish it this fall. I still need to go through the editing/rewriting process.
Stephanie: What advice would you give to an aspiring author who wants to write mystery?
Betty: Most important – READ a lot of mysteries.
Stephanie: What is the one thing that sets your book apart from others?
Betty: Putting mystery’s new female sleuth Cassandra Cassidy in a setting at a 1830s Rendezvous reenactment is unique.
Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?
Betty: From surfing the Internet to find reviewers for my Rendezvous book.
Stephanie: Thank you, Betty!
I’ve worn many hats in my 30-year career as a writer — newspaper reporter, newspaper editor, magazine editor, copywriter, marketing communications specialist — and now, finally, author.
Here’s what made such a career possible: a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Minnesota in 1982, and then lots of persistence to make that degree work for me. It had to work because I love writing and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
A RENDEZVOUS TO DIE FOR grew out of the intersection of my wide-ranging interests and my writing experience. Before spinning this mystery novel, I was an award-winning short story writer, and also won numerous awards in the field of journalism. A RENDEZVOUS TO DIE FOR actually became a finalist in mystery-writing contests.
I love the idea that A RENDEZVOUS TO DIE FOR takes place in a small Minnesota town and centers around the fictional Prairie River Trappers’ Rendezvous, a weekend reenactment festival involving local citizens and Indians from the nearby reservation. It was a great setup, just asking for a mystery story.
I’m still writing (do writers ever stop writing?) and have some scenes sketched out for Cassandra’s next adventure.
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Betty McMahon, who is the author of, A Rendezvous to Die For, one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, A Rendezvous to Die For merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.