Welcome to author Amy Pershing who took time from her FRANTIC writing schedule and her GORGEOUS views on Cape Cod to chat with us.
Describe your favorite writing spot or space.
My favorite writing spot is anywhere on Cape Cod. I spent every summer of my life on the Cape, and although I’ve lived in many wonderful places, Cape Cod will always be home to me. I’ll be spending a month there this summer (starting in five days!), and, as I am under a looming deadline for Book 3 of the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, I plan to set myself up on my little deck and happily write my heart out.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Frantic. Pretty much always frantic.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I’m a big outline fan, so I take about a month to do a detailed outline before I even start to write. It takes me about four months to complete the first draft. Then another month to edit and rewrite those pages. Then, once I get notes back from my fantastic editor, another couple of weeks for revisions. Then add in a few weeks to go through the manuscript again when it comes back from my fantastic copy editor. And, finally, a week to go through the page proofs. So, all told about seven months, give or take, which I almost always have to squeeze into six months (see Frantic, above).
What comes first for you, the plot or characters?
Definitely the characters, particularly my heroine, Samantha Barnes. Sam is everything I’m not. Tall (really tall, like, over-six-feet-tall kind of tall), brave (wait until you see her take on the guy who kicks her dog), funny and snarky (I am boringly polite), and a terrific cook (I’m good, but I’m not chef-level good). On the other hand, and this is where we’re soul sisters, she believes in the primary importance of food, friends and family. Cooking for and/or sharing a meal with people you love is, in my opinion, one of life’s great gifts.
Can you hear your characters talking?
Hear them talking? Believe me, they never shut up. Just like in the book, yak, yak, yak. But I like them anyway. In fact, that’s probably why I like them so much. They make me laugh.
Were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one? For how long?
I’m only recently a full-time fiction writer, but I’ve pretty much always written full-time for a living, first as a book editor, then as a journalist in Rome, then as restaurant reviewer in New York, then as a financial journalist in New York, and finally as the head of employee communications for a major Wall Street firm. It was a great way to hone my craft, but I’ve got to say, nothing, but nothing, beats writing a real book!
What kind of research do you do for a book?
I hope no one ever, ever does a search history on my laptop. Because what I research is murder. Thank goodness I don’t have to research the Cape or dogs or cooking or sailing. Those I know like the back of my hand. But murder… that takes some looking into.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Can I choose two? Sometimes I think it would have to be a sheep dog (like my darling Australian Shepherd, Ray, the Best Dog in the World), because they’re only truly happy when they’re working at their given job. But then I think about myself once I get a book in my hands. That’s when I turn into a cat, lying in the sun, reading a book (if cats read books), doing that thing called whatever I want.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Read, read, read. Also cook. Also sail.
What’s next for Sam and her Fair Harbor gang?
As for Sam, I’m afraid she’s going to be falling over more bodies. There’s that not-so-jolly Santa in the upcoming holiday season’s An Eggnog to Die For. And a famous chef/cookbook author in next summer’s Murder is No Picnic. And, of course, there’s an embarrassing online video or two (though the Cape Cod Foodie videos, I’m happy to say for both Sam and Jenny, will become increasingly popular).
The rest of the gang will be doing their bit, of course: Helene offering her usual no-nonsense response to Sam’s, well, nonsense; Miles making Sam laugh and trying keep her Aunt Ida’s house from falling down; Jillian making up for Sam’s lack of baking prowess; her boss, Krista, being, well, bossy; and Jason the harbormaster still causing Sam to go weak at the knees.
Sam’s dog Diogi (pronounced dee-OH-gee, as in D O G), of course, understands that the series is all about him and will be taking his usual starring role.
Amy Pershing is a lifelong mystery lover and wordsmith who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod. In her previous incarnations she was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before leading employee communications at a global bank. A few years ago (with the final college tuition bill paid), she waved goodbye to Wall Street to write full time (and spend more time sailing on the Cape!).
A Side of Murder is the first book in the Cape Cod Foodie mystery series featuring Samantha Barnes, a disgraced but resilient ex-chef and the world’s most reluctant YouTube star. While Sam tries to balance her new job as the local paper’s “Cape Cod Foodie” with her complicated love life, a posse of just-slightly-odd friends, a falling-down house and a ginormous puppy, she also discovers a new talent – a propensity for falling over dead bodies … and for solving crime.