1. Why do you write novels that are set in Switzerland when you’re an American?  There isn’t one particular reason although my husband is Swiss and during the years we lived in Lausanne my interest in the country took root. I’ve always found it a fascinating country, one that is simultaneously well-known and anonymous. Ask almost anyone what they know about Switzerland and they will be able to name a thing, a place, a person that is legitimately connected (Geneva, Lucerne, Heidi, watches, Mont Blanc, chocolate, cows, fondue, and the United Nations to name a few favorites). It is a country of diverse geography, diverse cultures and languages, deeply rooted traditions and cutting edge technology. There are so many places and people to capture the imagination of readers that it seemed like a perfect setting to share.
  2. What was the inspiration for your characters?  Agnes Lüthi developed slowly as her personality emerged. I wanted her to be American and Swiss since that would provide a chance to highlight cultural differences. Also important is that she isn’t a super-hero and therefore she has the same pressures many have in their family, at work, with their hair, clothes… you name it. In rounding out her family, my husband and I love cooking and I wanted to give Agnes a connection to food so her mother-in-law, Sybille, is the foodie (another strong food connection emerges in the next book). My husband claims that Julien Vallotton is an idealized version of him and I hope he doesn’t read this and realize that’s not entirely true! The Vallotton family do represent the most traditional of Swiss and European values. They allow us a glimpse into a life of great privilege and the associated problems. Plus I love to travel, collect antiques and art and the Vallottons each tap into one or more of those interests. I also wanted to showcase the wide variety of architecture found in Switzerland and Château Vallotton allows that glimpse. The chalet of Agnes’s in-laws provides an architectural balance. In the next book you will find a sampling of modern architecture (hint: Le Corbusier, one of the most famous architects of the 20th century, was a native of Switzerland even though he later was more associated with France).
  3. How did you get into writing?  Because I love stories, it’s as simple as that. You could say that my first love was reading, which nurtured a sense of ‘what if’. That’s when writing entered the game.
  4. What writers do you read?  Everyone and everything isn’t too far from the truth although I’ve always loved mysteries. During my grade school years we spent summers at my grandparents in Mississippi and the Ruleville library was a favorite outing (everyone should have access to such a wonderful facility). I picked out my first Agatha Christie’s there (perhaps Elephants Can Remember was the first?) in addition to biographies of Queens Marie-Antoinette and Elizabeth I. Clearly I must have thought that happy endings weren’t necessary for a good read. Of course every reader has long term favorites and mine include Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Anna Karenina, and James Clavell’s Shogun, to name a few. I have a long list of favorite mystery writers including, but not limited to: Kate Ross, Henning Mankel, Donna Leon, Elizabeth George, Martha Grimes, C.J. Sansom, Tatiana de Rosnay, Deanna Raybourn, Oliver Potzsch, Louise Penny, Jo Nesbo, David Liss, Philip Kerr, P.D. James, Tana French, Alan Furst, David Downing, Alan Bradley, Tasha Alexander. Other than mystery: P.G. Wodehouse, Elizabeth Kostova, Diana Gabaldon, Jasper Fforde, Bernard Cornwell (Richard Sharpe series)… and too many more to name.
  5. Did you attend a creative writing program?  No, although my father and I have been writing together for years (while we both worked at our respective day jobs). It was like a personalized, intensive writing program where you have to develop a story and finish it, no excuses.
  6. Are you a member of any writing associations or other organizations?  Yes, I am a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America.
  7. Do you visit Bookclubs? Absolutely, I would love to join your bookclub. If it’s within driving distance an in-person visit can be arranged, farther away and I can join by Skype. It’s a pleasure to talk books! Use the Contact form on my website to get in touch.
  8. Are you in a writer’s critique group?  Yes, it keeps me connected to others in my community who are committed to the craft of writing. Because of the format of our group, I don’t have to present often, which means I don’t submit work that is in the earliest – and most fragile – stage. I also have trusted beta readers who read on an as-needed basis, meaning they are willing to read “right away!” Critical, since timing can be everything.
  9. When will your next book be released? The second in the Agnes Lüthi mysteries, A Well-Timed Murder, releases February 6, 2018.