Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Conversation with Mystery Author Ginny Fite

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Ginny Fite

We are delighted to welcome author Ginny Fite to Omnimystery News today.

Ginny's first in series mystery is Cromwell's Folly (Black Opal Books; September 2015 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we recently had the opportunity to spend some time with her talking about it.

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Omnimystery News: Introduce us to your new series lead, Sam Lagarde. What is it about him that appeals to you as a writer?

Ginny Fite
Photo provided courtesy of
Ginny Fite

Ginny Fite: Detective Sam Lagarde, a lieutenant with the West Virginia State Police, is based at the Troop 2 Command facility in Kearneysville, WV, a few miles outside historic Charles Town, a city of 5,000 souls originally laid out by George Washington's younger brother Charles in the mid-1700s when this part of the Colonies was still Virginia.

Lagarde loves horses, dislikes most people, and desperately hopes to acquit himself honorably until he retires in a few short years to his 18th Century farmhouse in the rolling hills of the WV Eastern Panhandle. He's a punctilious man who likes to dot I's and cross T's before stepping up to the next logical conclusion, but on occasion he's been known to make an intuitive leap. When he's stumped by a case, he likes to ride his horse, a Paint named Jake, across the fields in the direction of the Blue Ridge Mountains that rim the Shenandoah River. Lagarde's conversations with Jake often lead to a break in the case.

Lagarde is a serial monogamist. A handsome man in his youth, his blue eyes observe everything and yet he never seems to learn the necessary facts about women that would keep him married. He dresses like many gentlemen farmers in the region, a tan barn jacket over corduroy slacks, a blue work shirt, and work boots. A thin man, in deep winter he adds a down vest under his jacket for warmth. In summer, he switches to chinos and a tan seersucker jacket. He keeps a tie in his jacket pocket in case he's forced to wear one for court or meetings with the brass. Lagarde is not a fashion monger, as one of his past wives said, and he likes it that way.

I like Lagarde's independent mind and his willingness to be completely eccentric to the point of being oblivious to the fact that he's different from other people. His job, like a writer's, is to collect stories and put them together in a way that reveals the truth. I also like the fact that, in Cromwell's Folly, he is surprised by love in a way we often don't expect sixty-year-olds to be.

OMN: We understand the second in the series, No Good Deed Left Undone, is scheduled to be published later this year. How do you see Lagarde developing over the course of the series?

GF: I expect Lagarde will change over time from one book to the next, as all human beings do. The very gory murders he deals with, the people he meets, the stories he hears, all have an effect on him. The question is whether he will fall into cynicism and despair, believing that the law is useless in holding back the tide of human cruelty, or will he find a way to see himself as part of the balance between good and evil in the universe. That's deep stuff for a rural police officer to mull but Jake will help him out.

OMN: Why did you choose a male character to be your series lead?

GF: It never occurred to me that Sam Lagarde being a man meant anything in particular. He's the character who showed up first, who started urgently telling me his story and who led me through its tangled strands. His voice is his own. Perhaps in some way, Lagarde is my alter ego, my opposite, out there in the world where terrible things happen that are impossible to understand. Or, he is a metaphor for the writer, busily assembling pieces of a puzzle to reveal a larger picture.

It seems more as if Lagarde chose me than that I chose him. He's not my puppet. In fact, perhaps it's the other way around — he's the one pulling the strings. He's the one who seems to know what's going to happen next when I'm still groping around in the dark for clues.

As long as the character feels real to the reader, if there's something about him with which readers can identify and sympathize, I think it doesn't matter what gender he is. Karl Jung claimed that of the sixteen different personality types distributed fairly evenly between men and women, no one personality typifies men. Lagarde is an introverted, intuitive person who runs his observations and conversations with people through an actively logical brain and comes to conclusions about the world with some caution, even knowing that sometimes his guesses work better than reason. He's not driven by a desire for success but rather by a passion to set things right. He is who he is (with or without me writing down what he's up to).

OMN: Tell us something about Cromwell's Folly that isn't mentioned in the publisher's synopsis.

GF: Beneath the fast-paced unraveling of the murder plot in Cromwell's Folly is a slowly developing love story between Detective Sam Lagarde and the grandmother of the murder victim, Ben Cromwell. In this subplot, Lagarde's yearning for companionship, and hope for something better in the world than what he finds in his job is revealed.

OMN: Describe your writing process for us.

GF: I am both a "seat-of-the-pantser" and a planner. I write what comes to me, sometimes at the most awkward moments, typing as fast as I can to keep up with the words telling themselves to me, for as long as I can. I write as the story develops, rather than the other way around. This delicious part of writing can happen frequently throughout the development of a novel, happily spurred by God knows what.

When the spontaneous story-telling thins out, I start looking back at what I've written for clues about the story, which is often still a mystery to me at that point. Then I start to sort out the characters, those that have shown up so far, making lists of their names (so I don't give them other names later on), who they're related to, what they look like, how old they are, what their quirks and issues are. These are not biographies but quick takes to which I frequently refer. As more characters reveal themselves, they get added to the list.

Once the plot has taken hold, I also develop a timeline on a spreadsheet because the application allows me to go as far to the right in time, forward, or to the left, backward in time, for material that will show up in back story or flashbacks. A spreadsheet allows me to construct parallel time lines for different characters that will play out in alternating chapters. I make notes on the timeline as well. Regardless of what tools I use to keep myself straight, the story and the characters will do something else, so I don't feel locked in by anything I've listed or plotted.

I go back and forth between these two impulses, bursts of words and plotting, often changing the timeline as some other part of the story is revealed to me.

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Ginny Fite is an award-winning journalist who has covered crime, politics, and all things human. She has been a spokesperson for a governor and a member of Congress, a few colleges and universities, and a robotics company. She has degrees from Rutgers University and Johns Hopkins University and studied at the School for Women Healers and the Maryland Poetry Therapy Institute. She lives in Harpers Ferry, WV.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at GinnyFite.com and her author page on Goodreads, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Cromwell's Folly by Ginny Fite

Cromwell's Folly by Ginny Fite

A Sam Lagarde Mystery

Publisher: Black Opal Books

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)iTunes iBook FormatKobo eBook Format

Good girls, it is commonly believed, are obsessed with bad boys. Usually, they get burned. Rarely do they get revenge …

Ben Cromwell — handsome, sexy, and ruthless — keeps a stable of women; picks them up the way someone picks up a ripe peach, consumes it in a few bites, and throws away the pit. This time, he chose the wrong peaches.

When Detective Sam Lagarde of the Charles Town, West Virginia State Police is called to the scene of a homicide, he instantly surmises the force he is facing is far beyond what he's dealt with before. A head in dumpster and a pinky finger with an emerald/diamond ring attached is all he has to go by. Doggedly following lead after lead, Lagarde stumbles upon five women who all have one thing in common …

Cromwell's Folly by Ginny Fite. Click here to take a Look Inside the book.

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