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Friday 13 October 2017

ℚ♫ Murder Misread: Maggie Ryan [7] - P.M. Carlson

Today we have the pleasure of welcoming back author to talk about Murder Misread (First Published November 1991; this edition , The Mystery Company, 228 pages), a Traditional Mystery, book seven of the Maggie Ryan series.

“A tasty blend of irreverence (Carlson enjoys jokes at the expense of academics) and sincerity (her portrayal of the murder victim’s wife is touching). Maggie is an engaging everywoman – wife, mother, professional – who conducts her crime-busting with panache. " – Margot Mifflin in Entertainment Weekly

|| Synopsis || Trailer || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome back to Patricia Carlson; thank you for joining us again on BooksChatter!
"Thanks for asking me! This blog is always fun."
As always our first question is about music which may have inspired or haunted you whilst writing this particular story..
"MURDER MISREAD concerns the death of a professor whose body is found on a trail in a gorge near a college campus. The point-of-view switches back and forth between two characters: his colleague, Professor Fielding, who studies reading and is a film buff; and his widow, also a professor, whose field is French. So the music in my head as I wrote it was from 1977-era film soundtracks, especially "Jaws" and the first "Star Wars" movie (the episode called "A New Hope"), interrupted by French songs like Jacques Brel's "Ne me quitte pas" or "Quand on n'a que l'amour.""
And here they are. Enjoy!

What was the inspiration for Murder Misread?
"I've always been interested in how people cope with the bad things in life--death of loved ones, injustice, crime, addiction. That's what drew me into psychology, although I loved languages and literature and theatre too. Writing the Maggie Ryan series allowed me to investigate questions I was already wondering about. I find that reading case studies and memoirs so that I can imagine myself into the skin of a person with a particular problem helps me understand other problems and other humans better. It's not always pleasant but working at understanding makes us better human beings.

I find also that getting into the daily details of life for my characters–– hobbies, obsessions, worries, family members–– can inspire other aspects of the book, even plotting. For example, I knew MURDER MISREAD would be set in 1977. I was thinking about making one of my point-of-view characters into a film fan, since many academics love films. And then I noticed that the first STAR WARS film came out in 1977, and a major scene suddenly shifted into perspective. So real I could smell the popcorn!"
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"Among others, my day jobs have been in studying and publishing about children's language acquisition, including some work on reading (like two characters in MURDER MISREAD), and teaching and publishing about college-level statistics (like my detective Maggie Ryan). I've lived in France. But the most important reflection is common to most of my writing: like Maggie Ryan, I worry about my personal problems but still care about our fellow human beings, especially children, as they cope with the problems of life and reach for the joys."
Can you also tell us about your cover for Murder Misread - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"The covers of the Mystery Company editions of the Maggie Ryan mysteries are views of the crime scene and clues in the book. The artist is also a mystery bookseller, Robin Agnew. For MURDER MISREAD, she gives us a muddy trail with footprint, a pipe, and a notebook. . . and yes, at least one of those clues points to the killer."
Why should we read Murder Misread and what sets it apart from the rest?
"People have praised the plot twists and characters in the Maggie Ryan mysteries, but there's a sad bonus to reading this series. These traditional mysteries are also reports from ground zero of how the tumultuous times of the sixties and seventies (war, civil rights, the women's movement) affected the everyday life and coming-of age of a bright young woman, her family and friends. The problems Maggie and I and our friends worked to solve forty-some years ago are still with us in slightly different form, and many advances we made are being attacked today. I wish these books were less relevant, but as the French professor in this book would say, "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.""
Can you tell us something quirky about Murder Misread, its story and characters?
"Some people have told me that the sections describing how people read make for an odd experience. They're reading the book normally, looking at a page or a screen and understanding what the sentences mean, what the scenes look like, what the characters are doing and feeling and saying. But then the characters start talking about how our eyes don't glide along the lines, they jump from one spot to another, and how the next landing-spot is chosen, and why READING ALL CAPS MIGHT BE DIFFERENT from reading lower-case, and suddenly you find the book is about you. Right in the moment you're reading it."
If you could / wished to turn Murder Misread and the Maggie Ryan series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"In MURDER MISREAD, Professor Fielding is a movie-lover, and he sees himself sometimes as Charlie Chaplin and sometimes as Paul Newman, he sees Maggie Ryan sometimes as Diane Keaton and sometimes as Big Bird from Sesame Street, he sees the department secretary as Farrah Fawcett-Majors, and so forth.

My own feeling is that films and novels and theatre are different forms of storytelling and have very different strengths in how they tell them. If my book inspired, say, the Coen brothers to make a film, I'd be delighted to let them do the casting and everything else. I'd love to see what they'd do because they are always surprising and always good. It would be a fascinating film. But it wouldn't be MURDER MISREAD."
What is your writing process?
"In the Maggie Ryan stories, I liked to start with questions. What's like to live with someone with cancer? Before the pill, what were a woman's options if a pregnancy occurred at the wrong time of her life? How did individuals and families cope with soldiers returning with grievous wounds? Or cope with post-traumatic stress, before we knew there was such a thing? How do people live with secrets that could damage their families or careers? I was always curious as a psychologist, and if a particular problem seemed to work well with a mystery plot gimmick I was thinking about, I would rough out the story with point-of-view characters that would allow me to study the interesting problems. I was drawn to research into case studies and memoirs that made the abstract problems live and breathe for me."
What is in store next?
"The next, and probably the last, in the Maggie Ryan series is BAD BLOOD. After an argument with her grandmother at her Maryland home, sixteen-year-old Ginny Marshall – “born rotten,” according to Gram – gets high and runs away. She turns up on the doorstep of Maggie Ryan and Nick O’Connor’s Brooklyn brownstone. Her presence in Brooklyn is unsettling, but, more urgently, Ginny is a suspect in a murder investigation back home. Maggie travels undercover to Maryland, where she searches for a killer and tries to protect her own most closely-held secret. While all of the Maggie Ryan books are stand-alone mysteries, people who have read earlier books in the series may find that this one casts a bit more light on some of Maggie's motives and obsessions in her earlier adventures."
And now for our final quirky thing, to continue to get to know you a little bit better... what are you going to share with us today?
"I was born in Guatemala, and though I haven't lived there in recent years, I remain deeply interested in the little country with its amazing wildlife, rocky history, and courageous Maya population. In the photo I'm following an ornithologist guide along a Maya trail in the remote Guatemalan highlands, where I was privileged to see a Resplendent Quetzal."

Wow! They are beautiful! That sounds absolutely fantastic - what a journey that must have been. Thank you again for sharing. You've been a fantastic guest :-)
"It was great to be here!"

Murder Misread
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1 comment:

CMash said...

I have seen so many great reviews for this series that I wonder how I missed them. But I plan to binge read them in the near future.