Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Conversation with Mystery Author Cathy Pegau

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Cathy Pegau

We are delighted to welcome author Cathy Pegau to Omnimystery News today.

Cathy's second mystery to feature suffragette and journalist Charlotte Brody, Borrowing Death (Kensington; June 2016 trade paperback and ebook formats), is published today and we had the opportunity to talk with her more about the series.

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Omnimystery News: Introduce us to Charlotte Brody.

Cathy Pegau
Photo provided courtesy of
Cathy Pegau

Cathy Pegau: Charlotte is an Eastern U.S. born suffragette and journalist with a keen sense of justice. Charlotte believes everyone deserves a say in their own future, thus her stand for women's voting rights, reproductive choice, equality of gender and race, etc. By setting the series in a time when these ideas generated quite a bit of pushback from society and government, I want to give readers a little taste of what women like Charlotte went through to get where we are now (and to be honest, to see how far we HAVEN'T come in some areas). Some readers have said she's "too modern" for the time period, but the women's movement started well before Charlotte's day. Outspoken women are nothing new.

OMN: How do you expect her to develop as a character over the course of the series?

CP: Charlotte stays fairly the same person throughout the series, though in the first book, Murder on the Last Frontier, she rediscovers the ability to trust those she becomes close to. Certain events that occur in each book open her eyes to circumstances she hadn't known or considered. How she acts and reacts to those hopefully show growth of her character.

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

CP: I tried to share my experiences of living in Alaska through Charlotte's eyes. Not the solving murders part, of course, but her take on the climate and living in a small town are similar to my own. I think we all write characters that have bits and pieces of people we know, or are often a composite of several people. And I "steal" friends' and family members' names for fun, but the characters aren't necessarily them!

Each of the Charlotte Brody mysteries are, so far, loosely based on a real event of the town's past. Murder on the Last Frontier is based on the death of a local prostitute, though the timing (the actual murder was several decades later than when the book is set) and circumstances are different. The same goes for Borrowing Death. The third installment of the series, Murder on Location, is set during the filming of a silent movie. There really was a movie filmed partially in Cordova at about that time, but no one died.

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

CP: Writing about a real place requires a lot of research. I am ever grateful to the folks at the local museum and library for all their help in that regard. These are fictionalized versions of the town and events, but I try not to stray too far. I have moved buildings to more convenient locations. Surely someone will call me out on that someday, but I plead creative license.

I do a lot of online research as well, particularly when it comes to clothing and technology of the time. When you're investigating murders in the 1920s there isn't a lot of forensic advancement to rely upon.

OMN: How important is the setting to the series?

CP: Setting is very important, even with my changing things around. Alaska in the early part of the 20th century was still finding itself. There were a lot of conflicts politically, culturally, economically. Even today, we're one of the youngest states and still experience growing pains.

OMN: How involved have you been with the cover designs?

CP: Kensington is fantastic about having the author involved in cover design. I was asked to provide descriptions of the character, the town, the clothing, and encouraged to send images when words wouldn't do. I love love LOVE my covers. Jim Griffin and Kristine Mills at Kensington are amazing. They captured Charlotte and the feel for Cordova from the get-go. I can't wait to see what they have in store for book three!

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

CP: My go-to genres are usually science fiction or fantasy or mysteries, but I'm open to most anything if the story and characters sound interesting. I don't necessarily have a favorite character, though there is a "type" I look for. They need to be active in the story, willing to go the extra mile, strong in their convictions and vision, but I also enjoy a touch of vulnerability. Just like in real life, I expect characters to be imperfect.

OMN: And how about television or films?

CP: We watch a number of series on SyFy (Wynonna Earp is a current fave, as is FaceOff). I loved the series Firefly and the follow-up movie, Serenity, and was very very sad when it was cancelled after a year. I also enjoy history programs from just about any era, and science programs on space or biology, things like that. I watch crime docuseries like Forensic Files. Yes, looking to see how to and how NOT to commit crimes.

We don't have a movie theater here, really, so films have to be available to rent or whatnot before we can catch them, unless we head into the Big City for some reason. Ususally they're out on DVD or downloadable or on television before we get the chance to catch them on the big screen. The last one I saw was Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. Totally enjoyed it. Reminded me of the original Episodes 4-6 (we won't discuss Episodes 1-3).

OMN: We totally agree with you about Episodes 1-3! Suppose your series were to be adapted for television or film, who do you see playing the lead roles?

CP: I absolutely have a mental image of Charlotte. If adapted for television (I can TOTALLY see the series on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel!) I'd love to see Abigail Hawk (Baker in the TV show Blue Bloods) play Charlotte. As for Deputy James Eddington, Joe Manganiello would do nicely. And I think Mia Kirshner would be great as Brigit. I'm not sure who would play Charlotte's brother Michael. Anyone have any suggestions?

OMN: What's next for you?

CP: I'm working on edits for the third book of the Charlotte Brody Mystery series, Murder on Location, due out March 2017. I have a few other things on the WIP list, mostly science fiction romances, as well as possible stories for Charlotte. We'll see how that works out.

On the personal front, enjoying time with my family. Can never get enough of that!

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Cathy Pegau cut her writing teeth on sword and sorcery fantasy and science fiction romance, but also loves the challenge of trying new things. While researching local history for an Alaska-based post-apocalyptic pirate tale, she learned of some real life events that spurred the creation of a historical mystery. No speculative fiction, no aliens, no magic. It's funny where research will lead. She lives in a small fishing town in Alaska with her family, pets, and the occasional black bear wandering through the yard.

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

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Borrowing Death by Cathy Pegau

Borrowing Death by Cathy Pegau

A Charlotte Brody Mystery

Publisher: Kensington

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

Suffragette and journalist Charlotte Brody is bracing herself for her first winter in the frontier town of Cordova in the Alaska Territory. But the chilling murder of a local store owner is what really makes her blood run cold …

After three months in Cordova, Charlotte is getting accustomed to frontier life. She is filing articles for the local paper — including a provocative editorial against Prohibition — and enjoying a reunion with her brother Michael, the town doctor and coroner. Michael's services are soon called upon when a fire claims the life of hardware store owner Lyle Fiske. A frontier firebug is suspected of arson, but when Michael determines Fiske was stabbed before his store was set ablaze, the town of Cordova has another murder to solve.

Her journalist's curiosity whetted, Charlotte begins to sort through the smoldering ruins of Lyle Fiske's life, only to discover any number of people who might have wanted him dead. As the days grow shorter, Charlotte's investigation turns increasingly complex. She may be distant from the trappings of civilization, but untangling the motives for murder will require plumbing the very depths of Charlotte's investigative acumen …

Borrowing Death by Cathy Pegau. Click here to take a Look Inside the book.

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