Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Conversation with Mystery Author Frankie Bow

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Frankie Bow

We are delighted to welcome author Frankie Bow 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.

Frankie's soon-to-be-published prequel to her Molly Barda mystery series is The Case of the Defunct Adjunct (Hawaiian Heritage Press; December 2015 ebook format) and we had the opportunity to spend some time with her talking about it.

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Omnimystery News: Tell us a little more about Molly Barda.

Frankie Bow
Photo provided courtesy of
Frankie Bow

Frankie Bow: Professor Molly Barda is a fish out of water. She's a big city girl recently transplanted to remote Mahina State University, using her top-ten literature Ph.D. to teach resume-writing to business majors. She just wants to keep her head down and stay out of trouble until she gets tenure, so naturally she keeps ending up in the middle of these bizarre murders.

I like writing her because she's very self-conscious and eager to do the right thing, and at the same time she keeps slipping up. Because she doesn't have tenure, she has to make sure not to offend anyone, and she doesn't feel like she can call out even the most obvious foolishness or knavery. However, she's not nearly as good at hiding her feelings as she thinks she is.

OMN: Into which genre would you place this series?

FB: The Molly Barda Mysteries are cozy in the sense that any sex and violence takes place offstage, and the language is very mild, but they're not the kind of cozies that feature cats and recipes. Mystery author Leslie Karst calls these "snarky cozies."

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

FB: In The Case of the Defunct Adjunct, we get to know Molly's colleague Iker Legazpi a little better. Iker is a professor of accounting and one of Molly's favorite people, despite his sunny attitude. She marvels that he must get the same underachievers, plagiarists, and grade-grubbers in his classes that everyone else does, but he never loses his patience, and gives each student his full attention and the benefit of the doubt.

Iker is gentle and guileless, and acts as a father confessor figure for Molly. English is not his first lanugage, and probably not even his second or third, so he doesn't quite have the idioms down. He assures an administrator that an important file is "as safe as a house on fire," and a perceived injustice makes him "madder than a wet blanket." We'll hear more from him in the next book, Molly Barda and the Cursed Canoe.

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

FB: The main character, Molly is supposed to be a complete invention, a character so comically obsessive and neurotic that she couldn't possibly exist in real life. So of course everyone thinks she's me.

I'm familiar with the state university environment, and I try to stay on top of what's happening in higher ed in general. What's funny is that elements that may seem most fanciful or unrealistic — grade-fixing administrators, absurd lawsuits, the existence of a dedicated Student Retention Office — are taken from real life.

OMN: Describe your writing process for us.

FB: Lately I've been trying to follow the Author Marketing Institute's book in 90 days schedule:

1. Full outline by Day 14.
2. First draft by Day 49.
3. Second draft by Day 56.
4. Submit to editor by Day 63.
5. Re-submit for second pass by Day 73.
6. Publish on Day 90.

I think the reason this works is that you're devoting two whole weeks to outlining the story. I also do a visual character table. I wrote Molly Barda and the Blessed Event this way, and I'm in the middle of drafting Sinful Science, a Kindle Worlds novella written in Jana De Leon's Miss Fortune world.

OMN: How do you go about research the plot points of your stories?

FB: I research obsessively. Say what you like about my writing style, but I will get the details right. For the physical settings I use personal observation. And because I work at a university, I have access to databases of news articles, academic publications, and medical and pharmaceutical information. My browser history is full of searches on ways to kill people, so let's hope I never need to get a security clearance.

OMN: Where is Mahina State University located?

FB: Mahina is a fictional place, but constructed to feel like a small town on a neighbor island, meaning not Oahu. We know that you have to take a plane to get to Honolulu.

OMN: If we could send you anywhere in the world to research the setting for a book, where would it be?

FB: Florence. The world definitely needs another book about Florence.

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

FB: I'm close to some people in the paddling community, and you'll get a glimpse into that world in Molly Barda and the Cursed Canoe.

OMN: What's next for you?

FB: I'm bringing out a series of children's books, starting with The Adventures of Alice Mongose and Alistair Rat in Hawaii.The Alice Mongoose stories were written and illustrated by Mary Pfaff, known in her day as "The Beatrix Potter of Hawaii." Mary's granddaughter, Dorothy, is a major donor to Mahina State University, where my protagonist Molly Barda works.

And I'm trying my hand at fan fiction. I enjoy Jana De Leon's books, and Kindle Worlds is now offering the opportunity to write in her Miss Fortune world. The title is Sinful Science, and Dani Alexander is doing the cover: "Justin Lao, a grad student from Hawaii, visits Sinful, Louisiana to do fieldwork for his thesis in conservation biology. He planned to spend the summer poking through the woods and picking up swamp rat droppings. Instead, he discovers something that leads to Sinful's darkest secret."

And I have the next four Molly Barda mysteries lined up, so stay tuned:

Molly Barda and the Cursed Canoe;
Molly Barda and the Black Thumb;
Molly Barda and the Invasive Species; and
Molly Barda and the Blessed Event.

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Frankie Bow Book Tour

Like Molly Barda, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, a loving family, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn't fair, at least it can be entertaining. In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.

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

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The Case of the Defunct Adjunct by Frankie Bow

The Case of the Defunct Adjunct by Frankie Bow

A Molly Barda Mystery

Publisher: Hawaiian Heritage Press

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

A forbidden kiss. A death in plain sight. And the faculty meeting’s just begun …

Forced to attend the Student Retention Office's summer retreat, Professor Molly Barda brings her game of buzzword bingo to fend off boredom. But when the lecherous Kent Lovely, Mahina State's one-man hostile work environment, collapses face-first into his haupia cheesecake, the afternoon goes from dull to disastrous.

Now Molly has to fight to keep an innocent out of prison — and herself off the unemployment line.

The Case of the Defunct Adjunct by Frankie Bow

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