Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Conversation with Mystery Author Lauren Carr

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Lauren Carr

Last week mystery author Lauren Carr visited Omnimystery News to write about "So Many Murders, So Little Time". Afterwards, we realized it's been a while since we had a chat with Lauren and managed to snag a few minutes of her time recently. Her new mystery in the Mac Faraday series is Cancelled Vows (Acorn Book Services; January 2016 trade paperback and ebook formats) and that's where we started our conversation.

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Omnimystery News: We've read several books featuring Mac Faraday, but for those who haven't had the pleasure, tell us a little more about his background.

Lauren Carr
Photo provided courtesy of
Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr: The Mac Faraday Mystery Series is set in the fictional town of Spencer, which rests in the corner of Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland.

In It's Murder, My Son, the sudden death of world-famous mystery writer Robin Spencer has revealed her secret that as a teenager, she had given birth to a baby who had been put up for adoption. Her baby boy had grown up to become a homicide detective named Mac Faraday. On the day that his divorce from his wife, who had left him for another man, Mac inherited Robin Spencer's vast fortune, which includes the Spencer Inn, the five-star vacation resort that rested on top of Spencer Mountain. Since Mac Faraday is not good at golf or tennis, he spends his time solving murder mysteries.

Mac Faraday is the average guy (as average as you can be owning a vast fortune) who has been plopped down into an extraordinary circumstance. He cares about his friends and family, which includes half-brother David O'Callaghan, Spencer's chief of police. As a descendent of the town's founders and the owner of the Spencer Inn, Mac has power, yet, he's not arrogant. He uses the influence he has to help those who need it.

Readers also enjoy Gnarly, the overly-intelligent German shepherd Mac had inherited from Robin Spencer. The only dog to be dishonorably discharged from the United States Army, Gnarly is a kleptomaniac. He has a mind of his own. Gnarly's role is to humanize Mac. Who would not start to feel a little full of himself with all his wealth and power. Yet, just when Mac starts to think too highly of himself, Gnarly has the ability to bring him right back down to earth.

OMN: When starting a new book in this series, which comes first: the mystery or the characters who will be part of it?

LC: The murder mystery always comes first. The majority of the time, I will come across a murder mystery. Then, I will create the characters — the victim and suspects. Once I have the case and the characters established, the storyline will come together. Some books write themselves once I have all that.

OMN: Tell us a little more about your writing process.

LC: I'm what you call a plantser. That is, I plan the book very loosely, leaving plenty of room for my characters to take over and lead me in a different direction. Then, when I sit down to start writing, I will write by the seat of my pants. However, because of the outline, my characters and I always end up where I planned for us to end.

After years, I now finally have a system. I am usually thinking about the next book while working on the current one. Usually, by the time I send the current book off to the editor, I am ready to start writing the next book.

The most important thing with every one of my books is the murder mystery — the case the characters are working on. The subplot of what goes on with the characters is secondary — surprisingly that is very often dictated by the case. For example, in Cancelled Vows, I did not start out the book intending to David to explore his relationships with women, nor did I plan for the book to end the way it did. However, because of what happens during the course of the investigation, both David and Chelsea discover things about themselves and their relationship.

But then also, I am working on books that just aren't quite there yet — simply because I don't have the plot worked out yet. I've had one Mac Faraday Mystery in mind for well over a year and just recently had a break through on the plot. That will be my November release, Murder for the Holidays.

OMN: Why did you set the series in Western Maryland?

LC: I set the Mac Faraday Mysteries in the Deep Creek Lake area in Western Maryland because it is close enough for me to visit, therefore I am familiar with it to capture the feel for my books. Actually, there is a humorous story about the setting for the Mac Faraday Mysteries. After my second Joshua Thornton Mystery was released (A Reunion to Die For), my sister-in-law asked me to set a murder mystery in the small resort town where she and her husband summer, which is Pelican Lake, Wisconsin. At the time, I did have an idea for the first Mac Faraday Mystery, It's Murder, My Son. Well, when I wrote the first draft, she was horrified that not only did I set the murder in Pelican Lake, but the murder victim was killed in her house! Married to a millionaire, she lives in a distinctive house on "the point." Therefore, anyone who knew her who read the book would know that the victim was killed in her house. This was much too close to home for her.

So, for family harmony, I had to change the setting. At that time, my family and I started vacationing in Deep Creek Lake, which proved to be the ideal setting for the Mac Faraday Mysteries. So, I just picked up her house and plopped it down in Deep Creek Lake.

Now, while Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland is real, Spencer, the small town tucked in the corner of Deep Creek Lake is not. Spencer is a fictional uptown section of Deep Creek. When I was writing the first installment of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, I contacted the sheriff of Garrett County for research. Without giving away any spoilers, the chief law enforcement officer in It's Murder, My Son was a doofus. Well, when I told the sheriff that, he refused to cooperate in any way because people would think it was him. So, after some thinking, I decided to create a fictional small town with its own police force and have that chief of police be a doofus.

OMN: We recently learned that Lauren Carr is your pen name. Why did you choose to use one?

LC: My reason for using the pen name of Lauren Carr is not really very grand or even interesting. Frankly, I don't like my real name. I never did. That's why my husband calls me Marilyn. (No, that is not my middle name. … It's a long story.) When I was growing up, I realized that since I wrote fiction, which is not real, then I was free to take on a not-real name and I could be any one I wanted.

I thought long and hard about my name. I gave as much thought to it as an expectant mother, because that was who I was going to be, even if only on the cover of a book. I chose Lauren because my sister's name is Karen. I was convinced that if my mother was thinking straight, that Lauren would have naturally followed Karen. Don't ask me why or how I came to this conclusion, I just did. Carr was my late stepfather's last name.

So, I became Lauren Carr, a pen name that I have had longer than my real name. I was Lauren Carr before I married my husband and took on his name. Little did I realize that as my career has grown, that Lauren Carr would become a whole other identity, which is also a kick.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a mystery dinner theater in the small town where we have lived for close to a quarter of a century. I hosted the event. During the performances, I would be introduced as Lauren Carr to the audience. Jaws did drop. Many people in the audience had read Lauren Carr books, written by the local author, but they didn't know Tristan's mom and Jack's wife wrote murder mysteries. She seems so normal!

All of my friends and writing/publishing colleagues know and call me Lauren. As a matter of fact, some of them don't even know my legal name. I've been using the name Lauren Carr for so long that I'll just naturally answer to it. If someone gives me something to sign, I have to stop to ask myself who I am. A couple of years ago, my husband was having some out-patient surgery done. I was in the waiting room and someone came in and called "Lauren!" I turned around and stood up.

Some people would think that's weird. I think it's fun.

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Lauren Carr is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit the Acorn Book Services website for more information.

Lauren lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

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

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Cancelled Vows by Lauren Carr

Cancelled Vows by Lauren Carr

A Mac Faraday Mystery

Publisher: Acorn Book Services

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)

Police Chief David O'Callaghan and Chelsea Adams' wedding day is fast approaching. Unfortunately, at the last minute, David discovers that there is one small problem to be taken care of before he can walk down the aisle — divorce his first wife!

Lauren Carr takes fans of the Mac Faraday mysteries to the Big Apple in this nail biting adventure. In Cancelled Vows, David, Mac, and Gnarly, too, rush to New York City to dissolve David's marriage to an old girlfriend — and he's got five days to get it done. When murder throws up a road block, it is up to David's best man, Mac Faraday, and Gnarly, K9-in-waiting, to sort through the clues to get David to the church in time!

Cancelled Vows by Lauren Carr. Click here to take a Look Inside the book.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for inviting me to Omnimystery today! Great website! I make this one of my go-tos for mystery news!


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