Welcome to author Emmeline Duncan who will be bringing us a new line of mysteries in 2021. We’re excited and hope you are as well.
Describe your favorite writing spot or space.
Writing in coffee shops is one of my favorite spaces. Getting away from home and its distractions and simply focusing on my project is a joy. I even organize a weekly drop-in writing group at a fantastic local coffee shop, plus I meet up with work sessions with writing friends. But, given the pandemic, I haven’t inside a coffee shop since March.
My favorite coffee shops tend to have several things in common: they have steady noise, generally a mix of music, people talking, and the sound of the baristas making coffee. Plus the seductive aroma of brewing coffee, along with plenty of tables so I won’t feel bad using a spot for an hour. Writing this makes me think of how much I miss coffee shops! The bustle of the shop helps me focus.
Describe your current writing spot or space.
I’m lucky to have a dedicated home office, and since all of my local coffee shops are to-go only at the moment, I’ve been taking the time to make it truly mine. In 2020, I received an Oregon Literary Fellowship and I used some of the funds to buy a kneeling chair and a wall-mounted monitor. I’d only worked on my laptop for years and it’s been wonderful to use a larger monitor. It’s nice having a bookcase next to my desk full of resource books. And when I need a break, I have a couch on the opposite of the room from my desk for recovery reading and podcast listening.
I also have a built-in desk in my kitchen that I use when I need a change of scenery and/or access to coffee or tea.
Do you write under a pseudonym? If not, have you ever considered it??
I currently write under two names. My YA projects, like The Last To Die, are under Kelly Garrett. My adult mysteries, starting with 2021’s Fresh Brewed Murder, the first in my Ground Rules series, are under the name Emmeline Duncan. Note by adult I don’t mean rated-X, but rather, projects that should appeal to an adult audience versus being intended for teens.
What comes first for you, the plot or characters?
Characters usually come first for me. Their personalities and flaws fuel the plot since they have to make decisions that feel in-character for them. When I sit down to write a novel, I usually know where the novel starts and where it ends, including the logic behind the “why” of the mystery or main conflict, but I end up discovering a lot of the story during the rough draft.
How do you select the names of your characters?
There are multiple elements that go into my character names. One, the sound. Does the name sound and feel right for each character. Name meanings are also important and there’s frequently a reason why I chose a name for a character.
For example, the narrator of Fresh Brewed Murder is Sage Caplin. In my book, Sage’s mother is a notorious grifter, and, she trained Sage to also be a con artist. But Sage is too principled and strives to live an honest life. But she does break out some of her skills for fun, and, for example, will cold read customers. This had made Sage exceptionally perceptive and Sage means perceptive. Caplin was the occupational name given to chantry priests who sang a daily mass on behalf of the souls of the dead. While she might not sing for them, over the course of the Ground Rules series, Sage will help get justice for the dead by solving their murders.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Hiking is one of my biggest hobbies. I’m also a Portland Timbers fan and have season tickets. I also lift weights and spend a lot of time with my rescued Great Pyrenees-mix, Waylon. I also read a lot! I also bake and have been working on perfecting a homemade recipe that’s similar to Grand Central Baking’s Como Loaf. I also knit and am currently working on a fair isle scarf. I’m new to stranded colorwork knitting and am really enjoying learning a new skill.