Thursday, January 27, 2022

Marty Wingate

USA Today best-selling author Marty Wingate writes The First Edition Library series (Berkley) set in Bath, England, about the curator of a collection of books from the Golden Age of Mystery. Book one, The Bodies in the Library, concerns murder among an Agatha Christie fan-fiction
writing group, and in book two, Murder Is a Must (October 2020), an exhibition manager is found dead at the bottom of a spiral staircase.

Wingate's third novel in the series is The Librarian Always Rings Twice.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

An agent once told me that although the book belongs to the writer, titles and covers are committee decisions. Occasionally, I have an idea for a title, but usually I let my agent or publisher (once, a reader) come up with something. The Librarian Always Rings Twice, came from the publisher, and is a reference to how often Hayley Burke, curator of the First Edition Society at Middlebank House, is interrupted and/or met with a new problem when she answers the door. If it isn’t her nemesis, Charles Henry Dill, then it’s someone claiming to be Lady Fowling’s grandson. Or perhaps the police.

What's in a name?

Sometimes, a character’s name comes to me first and then I then I learn about person. But many times, although I know the character has a name, I must locate it. I collect names from books, the credits to TV shows or movies, the news, lists of baby names, or browse my handy copy of A Dictionary of English Surnames. I keep lists and go over them, stopping occasionally to ask, “Is this you?” until it’s as if the character says, “Yes, that one’s me.”

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

My teenage self was reading Harry Kemelman’s Rabbi murder mystery series (beginning with Friday the Rabbi Slept Late), and so I wouldn’t be surprised that I’d followed in his footsteps. In fact, I often say he’s the reason it takes me so long to get to the murder in a book (past page 70 in The Librarian Always Rings Twice). There’s always more going on than a murder investigation.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

I love writing both beginnings and endings. Often, I have one or both already in my head from the start. Other times, I have to creep up on the ending before it comes to me. Beginnings are most often rewritten.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

There’s a bit of me in every character, I suppose. It could be something superficial—Hayley and I share a love of tea and cake—or a deeper character trait, such as Mrs. Woolgar’s intractability or Hayley’s daughter, Dinah, penchant for what others might call wasting her time by choosing to study a useless subject at university.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

I am inspired by visits to Britain, which usually take place once or twice a year. I feel like a sponge absorbing atmosphere, characters, history, landscape—it all gets filed away in my brain to use at the appropriate moment in a book. This includes overhearing snatches of conversation, which I can twist to my own advantage. I was in Bath a few years ago and heard a young woman order “One Earl Grey tea and one normal tea.” I never even had to make a note about it. That exchange, rather embellished, found its way into Murder Is a Must, book two in the First Edition Library mysteries.
Visit Marty Wingate's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Librarian Always Rings Twice.

The Page 69 Test: The Librarian Always Rings Twice.

--Marshal Zeringue