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What Fresh Smell
by Jeffrey Marks
The story line is interesting, has multiple twists, and no clear suspect other than Pamela.
~Christa Reads and Writes
What Fresh Smell (Marissa Scott Mysteries)
3rd in Series
Self-Published (August 9, 2016)
Paperback: 164 pages
E-Book ASIN: B01IYX5V3A
There’s Murder in River City – Daycare that is.
When Marissa learns that a teacher at the daycare center has been murdered, she comes to the realization that she really didn’t know much about the people who worked there, especially the murdered woman. She’ll now have to manage her son, her mother, her mother’s Scottish terrier, and an ex-boyfriend as she tries to hunt down the people behind a robbery ring and the person who killed a daycare teacher. If she’s not careful, she might meet the same fate.
Jeffrey Marks is a long-time mystery fan and freelancer. After numerous mystery author profiles, he chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer Craig Rice.
That biography (Who Was That Lady?) encouraged him to write mystery fiction. His works include Atomic Renaissance: Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s/1950s, and a biography of mystery author and critic Anthony Boucher entitled Anthony Boucher. It was nominated for an Agatha and fittingly, won an Anthony. He won a Malice Domestic Grant for The Scent of Murder, which has spurred the Marissa Scott series. What Fresh Smell is the third novel in the series.
His work has won a number of awards including the Barnes and Noble Prize and he was nominated for a Maxwell award (DWAA), an Edgar (MWA), three Agathas (Malice Domestic), two Macavity awards, and three Anthony awards (Bouchercon). Today, he writes from his home in Cincinnati, which he shares with his spouse and three dogs.
Website: jeffreymarks.com (blog is a link from the site),
What initially got you interested in writing? I have always been interested in writing. When I was perhaps three or four years old, my grandmother gave me tablets of paper (she worked at a newspaper) and I would draw the stories out. As soon as I could form words, then I began to write, and I’ve written on and off since i was six years old. I won a poetry contest at age 10, so I’ve been at this a while.
What genres do you write in? I write mystery novels (and short stories) as well as writing biographies of mystery authors.
What drew you to writing these specific genres? I discovered the mystery genre when I was a teenager. My father, who used to sell antiques, brought me home a copy of Agatha Christie’s The Underdog and Other Stories. From there, I read all of her books and branched out to other Golden Age authors. Since I was a teenager making teenaged wages, I bought used books to maximize the number of pages purchased. So most of what I read during my teen years were authors of the 1940s and 1950s, which is the era I write about in my biographies.
How did you break into the field? With fiction, I started with short stories, progressed to editing anthologies, and then moved on to writing novels about the same characters I’d featured in short works. With my non-fiction, I start similarly in that I wrote feature pieces and interviews. From there, I wanted to look in-depth at authors and the themes they used in their novels. That required a longer work, which led to the biographies.
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works? I mostly want to entertain. So if the reader enjoys the few hours they spend with my book, then I’m happy. With the biographies, I hope I exude some of the passion I have for this genre, so that the readers will want to check out works by the subject and receive the same enjoyment that I get from writing about these people.
What do you find most rewarding about writing? Research. I could get lost in research and never come back up for air. Of course, that would not help with paying the bills, but I could easily spend time looking up the minutiae of someone’s life.
With the biographies, most of my subjects wrote during the middle years of the 20th century, so I have access to papers and correspondence. I have to wonder what the next generation will do in the age of emails and computers in terms of research for literary biographies. I hope that the same level of research can be done, but I’m not sure how that will look.
What do you find most challenging about writing? Editing. For me, it could go on forever. I like giving shape to a piece of writing, and I don’t mind editing smaller works, but editing a novel or biography always seems so daunting. So many pages of so much text and each page contains a myriad of word choices and connotations. I try to pare the editing down to manageable chunks so I won’t get as overwhelmed.
What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field? Write for yourself. Write what makes you happy. I can’t imagine writing in a genre or in a style that you think will make you money, but will not make you happy. I don’t know if I could do that.
That’s not to say that I don’t write for money, but the money should come from the passion and the interest. I wrote my first biography because I wanted to know about the woman (Craig Rice) and her life. At the time, no one wrote biographies of mystery writers. They were genre! However, in the 20 years I’ve been doing this, now practically every mystery author of note has been the subject of a biography. I would never have been involved in the increase in literary biographies if I hadn’t wanted to learn more.
What type of books do you enjoy reading? Pretty much the same types of books that I like to write. I read mysteries and biographies. I try not to read the same type of book I’m writing at the moment. So I would likely read some mysteries while writing a biography and vice versa.
Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you? Well, since I write about mystery authors, I also read about mystery authors, and I collect mystery first editions. I have a full collection of Agatha Christie 1st editions (all 80+ American firsts) plus some great collectible pieces from each of the authors I have profiled.
What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work? Email and via my website (www.jeffreymarks.com) I’m always up for talking about mystery fiction, so please feel free to chat about your favorite authors (especially older authors.)
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