Monday, March 28, 2011

Interview -- Beverle Graves Myers

Beverle Graves Myers made a mid-life career switch from psychiatry to full-time writing. A graduate of the University of Louisville with a BA in History and an MD, she worked at a public mental health clinic before her first Tito Amato novel was published in 2004. 

Bev also writes short stories set in a variety of times and places. Her stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Woman's World, and numerous anthologies. She has earned nominations for the Macavity Award, Kentucky Literary Award, and Derringer Award. She and husband Lawrence live in Louisville.

Tell us about your new novel
Her Deadly Mischief takes Tito Amato back to Venice--back to singing lead roles at the Teatro San Marco, back to his Hebrew wife and their adopted son. During a popular opera, a courtesan falls to her death from a fourth-tier box. As the audience's gaze is locked on Tito, the singer is the only witness to the masked figure who struggled with her. A new, democratic-minded chief constable enlists Tito's aid in finding the culprit. Did a wager over a rival courtesan's jewels spell Zulietta's death? Or did the motive involve sinister events at her lover's glass factory on Murano? Tito's home and stage lives collide when the killer transfers his vengeance to Tito's family.
Her Deadly Mischief is the fifth installment of the Tito Amato mysteries from Poisoned Pen Press. It's available in hard copy, audio and ebook format.
How is this novel different than your previous novels?
This is the first Tito book that grew directly out of Venetian soil. My husband and I spent a week in the Cannaregio, Tito's neighborhood. We picked out a new house for Tito's growing family, spent a day in the old ghetto where his wife's family lives, and visited many 18th-century palazzi. The days we spent on the island of Murano gave me a direct window into the glassmakers' furnaces, and many of these ancient techniques made their way into Her Deadly Mischief. We were also fortunate enough to tour La Fenice, the opera house that is the inspiration for Tito's fictitious Teatro San Marco.

Do you feel like you have to defend yourself for writing "genre fiction"?
Mystery is the greatest, so "no." Nothing strips a society bare like murder committed in the midst of seemingly "nice" people. "Cat among the pigeons," I think Agatha Christie said. Mysteries provide a wonderful structure for examining a wide range of settings: a small town, a college campus, an archaeological dig, or ... a baroque opera company.

Why do you write mysteries?
We write what we read. Mysteries have been my favored fiction reads since I started borrowing books from the library on my own. The mystery plot structure must have seeped into my bones over the years. I also am very curious about the "whys" and "hows" of present day life. I was a history major in college, so historical mystery seems the perfect niche for me.
When did you know you were a writer?
Fairly late. My first career was in medicine, and my writing was confined to journal articles and case histories. I was well into my forties before it occurred to me that I could entertain people through fiction.

What’s a work day like for you?
Up early. Dog walk, bacon and egg breakfast, large cafe latte from my own espresso machine. Write for two to three hours. Another latte--thank god for my little machine--I'd go broke buying coffee from the neighborhood shop. Try to squeeze out another couple of writing hours, editing at least. From mid-afternoon on, I'm brain dead and only good for chores, hoeing the vegetable garden, knitting, taking my hound to the dog park.

What’s a day off like for you?
Sunday is my day off, and I work hard to keep it uncluttered. There's this lovely NPR program--Sunday Baroque--that I listen to while we have a leisurely brunch and paper read. The menu tends toward the forbidden. Waffles with fruit and whipped cream, omelets with cheese and mushrooms. Later on, if the weather is decent, I roll out the door for a long walk. An especially good Sunday involves the grandchildren in some activity.

If you could be anything other than writer, what would it be?
If I was blessed with a different body, a dancer. With different vocal chords, an opera singer. Do we see a pattern here? I'd like to be on the stage, but must make my words do the performing for me.

How do you define success?
Connecting with readers. When someone tells me they couldn't put one of my books down, or that reading about Tito taught them something about his world, then I feel my job is well done.

What’s next for you?
I'm jumping from the 18th to the 20th century, but not alone. Good friend and fellow author Joanne Dobson and I have completed a mystery set on the eve of World War II, We hope it will be the start of a series that follows a small group of New Yorkers as they confront the best and worst the war dishes out. Racial paranoia, fears of sabotage, U-boat attacks off the coast, rationing, profiteering--we'll depict acts of true heroism as well. Foyle's War, the PBS Masterpiece Mystery series set in Hastings, England, is one of our inspirations. Our book is currently being shopped by our agent.
Visit Bev's website for more information about her writing:


Gwen Mayo said...

I am sure your new series will be great. Your books are excellent. I do hate to say good-bye to Tito and company. His adventures are always interesting.

Bev Myers said...

Thanks, Gwen. With Tito, it's never-say-never. I often hear a song or see a scene in Venice that gives me the urge to craft a new Tito adventure. Selling it in this publishing climate is the problem, of course.

Peg Herring said...

Hey, Bev!
I'm excited to see a new Tito coming out. I have so enjoyed that series. The new one sounds intriguing, too. Wishing hard for your success in selling it!

Bev Myers said...

Thanks, Peg. I'm excited, too.