Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Peggy Rothschild

After losing their home during a California wildfire, Peggy Rothschild and her husband moved to the beach community of Los Osos along the central coast. When not at her desk or out walking, you can usually find her in the garden. Rothschild is a member of Sisters in Crime National and Sisters in Crime Los Angeles.

Her new novel is Playing Dead.

My Q&A with the author:

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

From the very start, this book was titled Playing Dead. It was one of those magical moments where the title popped into my head and matched the story—since dogs, dog-training, and murder all figure into the plot. The title evokes both a trick you can teach your dog as well as a survival technique a character might use—pretending defeat in order to strike or escape.

What's in a name?

I spent a lot of time thinking about Molly’s name. I liked the idea of alliteration and since she had originally lived in Brockton, Massachusetts, I wanted a last name that sounded East Coast-ish with a bit of history to it. Molly Madison fit the bill! I didn’t realize until after book one was already published, that I hadn’t just picked the name Molly out of the ether. When I first met my husband, Molly was the name of his golden retriever. Doh! Molly’s new hometown, Pier Point, came more easily—inspired in both name, location, and architectural style, by the Pierpont area of Ventura, California.

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

Finding the starting point for the story is the bigger challenge for me. I don’t want to start the story too soon and bore readers with details of the character’s life pre-mystery, and I don’t want to start the story too late, leaving readers wondering “What’s going on?” That’s not to say endings don’t have their own challenges, but—hopefully—by the time I get to the story’s climax, there’s a logic and inevitability to it. But who knows? This may change over time. For now, I find myself tweaking, cutting, and rewriting the beginnings more.

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

Molly is much braver than I am. She’s also more coordinated and athletic! But we do share some characteristics. Her sense of humor is very much like mine—as is her total lack of—or interest in learning any—culinary skills. (She and I both rely heavily on the microwave.) I also share her love of animals and her need to keep them safe.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

My husband was the first person to say to me, “You should write a mystery.” I loved reading them and watching them. When we would watch one together, I’d apparently make a noise or move in such a way that he’d know I’d already figured out the ending. Though I loved writing, it had never occurred to me I could write an actual book. His encouragement sparked me to take a mystery-writing class and begin my journey. On a more “about this book” note, my friend Nancy was a huge inspiration for the Molly Madison series. She invited me to meet her at an agility trial and, as I watched, I got the idea to write about a handler and her agility dog getting entangled in a murder mystery. So, without that day, I don’t know what I’d be writing about right now!
Visit Peggy Rothschild's website.

--Marshal Zeringue