Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Conversation with Mystery Author Amy Saunders

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Amy Saunders
with Amy Saunders

We are delighted to welcome mystery author Amy Saunders to Omnimystery News today, courtesy of Great Escapes Book Tours, which is coordinating her current book tour. We encourage you to visit all of the participating host sites; you can find her schedule here, where you can also enter to win a copy of her new book and a $25 Amazon gift card!

And speaking of her new book, the title is Drive-Bye (Amy Saunders; March 2014 ebook format), the third mystery in her Belinda and Bennett series.

We recently had an opportunity to chat with Amy about her books.

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Omnimystery News: Tell us something about Drive-Bye that isn't mentioned in the synopsis.

Amy Saunders
Photo provided courtesy of
Amy Saunders

Amy Saunders: The main subplot in Drive-Bye involves issues that have cropped up with Belinda and Bennett because of events in the previous book, Auf'd. Due to the problems Bennett's having as a result, Belinda's grandmother sticks her nose into their relationship, creating extra problems. But it also presents an opportunity for Belinda and Bennett's relationship to grow, which was fun to explore.

OMN: How much of your own personal or professional experience have you included in your books?

AS: Well, the amateur crime-solving part is definitely not based on actual events! But there's a lot of me in my sleuth, Belinda. We have similar personalities, though she's more tenacious than me. Sometimes when I'm describing her from another character's perspective, I'll be like, "Hey! That's me!" That happened in Auf'd. Toward the beginning, I had Bennett remark that he realized it was important for Belinda to have fun. I kind of sat back from the keyboard for a second as it hit me that I'd just described myself, but I'd never known that before. So it can be weirdly enlightening.

Victoria has moments where she's like one of my older sisters, and some things about her husband is like one of my brothers-in-law. For instance, Victoria being mechanically savvy is like my sister. I can totally see her picking a lock. Also, my sisters are in music and photography respectively, and that's how Victoria got her career and Bennett his hobby.

In Drive-Bye, the whole theft storyline was inspired by a news article I came across that dealt with a house theft ring (in Rhode Island, ironically). A lot of my story ideas come from bits and pieces like that. I read something here, see something there, and then mold it to fit my story.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests? Have any of these found their way into your books?

AS: I love to bake. It's my way of relaxing and also a way to help me when I'm stuck or frustrated with writing. I didn't plan for this in the beginning, but that wove its way into The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries when I was debating what Belinda should do for work. She's not a professional baker either, but her interest in baking — and her ability to finance a business — led to the creation of her cupcake truck business.
I also love music and dance, and I've worked that into my series in smaller ways here and there. And I'm a big movie watcher, which hasn't come up so much, but it might!

OMN: Tell us more about the setting for the series. Is it based at all on any real areas?

AS: Yes! Portside is based mainly on the Newport/Middletown area in Rhode Island. It's my favorite coastal area in southern New England and I spend a lot of time there in the summer especially, taking notes and photos. I usually like working with fictional towns because I can do whatever I want without worrying about it. But by basing it on a real place, I still have solid images to draw from, which helps in creating vivid descriptions and adding relatively minor details that make a setting feel like a real place. Plus, I'm not always sure how I want buildings to look, so it's nice to be able to reference photos and my memory and include those details.

OMN: If you could travel anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, to research a setting for a book, where would it be?

AS: That is a tempting notion! There are so many places, but I'll stick with my gut reaction, which is Europe, and I'll narrow it down to the U.K. because I'm completely enamored with that part of the world. And most of my favorite mysteries are set in England. I did get a chance to go there as a teen, but it wasn't nearly enough!

I've thought it would be fun to have a special novel in the series that takes my main characters out of their home in Portside, and Europe is the most obvious choice for that.

OMN: What have your readers had to say about your books?

AS: I'm sure there isn't an author out there who doesn't love hearing someone likes their books! It's incredibly rewarding to get an e-mail, even if it's just one line, saying someone likes what you're doing. It's a small thing, but it can make your whole day. Writing is kind of a solitary job, so hearing from your audience is quite a morale booster. Some people also volunteer how they found your books, which is awesome for me from a marketing perspective. It helps me to know what's most effective. And I like hearing what people want to see happen to certain characters and that sort of thing. It can help me make choices in future novels.

OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young?

AS: I read a ton of historical fiction growing up, which translated into historical mysteries later on (and up till now). I know it has influenced me to write, but interestingly not in the same genre. Except for one book, I've stuck with modern-day settings. As much as I love history and period settings, I simply do not have the patience to do the amount of research necessary for that kind of literature.

OMN: Did any specific authors or titles influence how and what you write today?

AS: Looking back, I have always been primarily drawn to books that spend a lot of time on relationships, regardless of the genre. L.M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott were two of my writing heroes growing up. Then as a teen, I loved Sherry Garland and Ann Rinaldi. As I got older, I was introduced to Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell. All of these books have a lot to do with people and their relationships. On the other hand, I also adored mysteries and had started reading a lot by Agatha Christie, which in large part is more plot-centric. I was also drawn to action-adventure stories like Treasure Island. So as I've grown as a writer, I've really taken pieces of all this and put it together, trying to balance it all out in a way that suits my style.

OMN: What kinds of books do you read today for pleasure?

AS: I still love my historical mysteries and default to that genre a lot. In that department, I'm working on Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy series right now, which takes place around the turn-of-the-20th century in New York. Such an exciting era! But I'm also a big YA reader, especially in the sci-fi/fantasy department. I love the Percy Jackson series, and I'm about to wrap up the Selection series.

OMN: What's next for you?

AS: I'm working on book four of The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries, and I'm in the early development stages of book five. Plus, I'm also working on a new young adult series I'm really excited about. So lots of fun things to look forward to!

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Amy Saunders Book Tour

Amy Saunders is a mystery lover with a soft spot for humor and romance — and the ocean. She lives in Massachusetts, and loves to bake and watch movies. She's the author of one mystery series and three standalone mysteries.

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

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Drive-Bye by Amy Saunders

Amy Saunders
A Belinda & Bennett Mystery

Belinda's recent blunders have come back to bite her — and Bennett — in the monster cupcake. But they're not the only ones with problems.

A car crash uncovers the body of an unlikely murder victim. But the more they learn about her, the more the answer to her death seems to lie in issues that reach far beyond Portside.

As the truth comes out, and Belinda's personal life teeters on the breaking point, she takes life by the maraschino cherries, and finds help in unexpected places. Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)  iTunes iBook Format


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