You’re other books have been historicals. What drew you to writing a contemporary suspense? I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published. And I had twenty finished books on my computer when I received my first contract. Those books were mainly all romance but within that frame I wrote in all genres. And that included contemporary romantic suspense. I decided at some point in those ten years that if no one would publish my books, I’d just write to entertain myself, so I wrote whatever I wanted that sounded fun. I love writing the cowboys and hope to always get to do that, but changing genres, sweet, suspenseful, contemporary, police procedurals, cozy mysteries, really energizes me and I love doing it.
Serial Killers…not your typical fare. While all your books have intense conflict, why did you find that this was a story you couldn’t walk away from? I was reading about the gifts of the spirit and they were all really familiar. Knowledge, Wisdom, Prophecy, Faith, Healings, Miracles, Discerning of Spirits, Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues.
Except I noticed ‘discerning of spirits’. And I wondered about that. I’d never heard of anyone who had that gift. I’d heard of all the others many times. So I started to think about that one rarely referenced gift and wondered what it would be like to have it. What if a person could go up to someone and sense an evil spirit? Out of that came my heroine in Ten Plagues, a lady cop with the gift of discerning spirits who is at a crime scene and senses an evil unlike any she’d ever known. I needed a truly ugly, demonic evil and the serial killer was born.
Research is different for historicals and contemporaries. What did you find especially challenging with this one? My main research for this book was Chicago. Trying to set a book in a big enough city to sustain the big police force, the homeless shelter, a true culture or street people because my serial killer is focusing on an inner city mission pastor. Well, to have an inner city mission pastor, you’ve got to have an inner city. So I needed a city big enough for that and fictionalizing a really big city seemed wrong somehow. So I picked Chicago and then I had to learn about it, at least enough to not make the story ring false. With historical, at this point, because I feel really familiar with the cowboy era, my main research is either the interests of my characters…in my most recent cowboy release my heroine is obsessed with fossils she’s found in a cavern. That took a lot of research. And beyond that I mainly research the plants and animals native to the specific setting. The rest is pretty much John Wayne movies and Louis L’Amour books.
Which character was the hardest to write? I seem to struggle with heroes more, mainly because I think it’s easy to slip into clichés with heroes. Tall, dark and handsome. Courageous white nights. I struggled with Pastor Paul quite a bit because I needed him to go through a terrible time that would shake his call to serve at that inner city mission. So he’s hidden himself in a life of pure service. Yes, he’s called to it, but he’s got this burden of guilt because he blames himself for the deaths of his wife and daughter. Part of his growth during the book is learning that he can forgive himself and live a full life and still serve in that mission.
Of all the cities in the United States, why Chicago? I’m not sure really. I think because it’s Midwestern and so am I. I guess I felt more comfortable with the Midwestern mindset, the weather. You know what? I’ve got no idea why Chicago. I suppose it’s too late to change that now.
What did you learn about God as you wrote this book? I remember this verse about the spiritual gifts, along with a lot of proverbs, being really important to me when I was younger. I used to pray hard for the gift of wisdom. I hadn’t thought of that in a lot of years, those old prayers during my teens and my college years. It set me to wondering about wisdom again, wondering what it meant, whether I could claim to have it. (I doubt it!) And I’m praying for that again, wisdom.
Mary, that is so cool! I should join you in that prayer for wisdom! What fact did you learn that surprised you the most? Were you able to incorporate it into the book? These are getting hard. The fact I’m learning right now is, when I try really hard to think of great answers to these interview questions it kinda makes my head ache. I think my brain has atrophied and honestly, I’m dismayed to discover that.
You’re using a pseudonym…why? I am not using a pseudonym to try and hide my identity. That just gets too confusing. What I intend with the pen name is to WARN PEOPLE. I want readers to know, when they pick up this book, they are NOT getting romantic comedy with cowboys. I think a reader is never more unhappy with an author then when their expectations aren’t met. Never is this more true than when they pick up a romance novel and the book doesn’t have a happily ever after. So in that sense, I’m coming through because this is definitely a romance.
But it’s DIFFERENT! Be warned. I hope that if a fan of Mary Connealy picks up Mary Nealy they will not be dismayed, betrayed, waylaid and afraid. (Okay, now I’m a poet—and considering the subject of Ten Plagues, go ahead and BE AFRAID!!!)
Where can people find you on the internet?