In a normal year, we’d be fixing mint juleps and talking about the possibility of a Triple Crown winner. I can’t predict what this year’s Derby will look like, but I think this month is a perfect time to introduce you to my friend and fellow mystery writer Elaine Munsch and her stories about bourbon and murder! Not only do you get to enjoy solving crimes, but you also get a primer on Kentucky bourbon. Now, if only we could arrange a taste test! Relax and enjoy this interview with Elaine…and pour yourself a little on the rocks. 😉
Janet Irvin: Hi, Elaine. Welcome to my author’s corner. Let’s go back to the beginning, if you will. How did you get started as a writer?
Elaine Munsch: As a life-long reader, I used to dabble with writing a paragraph here and there. Sometimes I wrote maybe 5-10 pages but then I would get side-tracked with life and drop the idea. It wasn’t until my husband died and I retired from selling books full time that I had the time (and inclination) to do more.
JEI: What are your writing habits?
EM: I write when the spirit moves me. I try to write a bit each day whenever I find I have the time and energy. Other days I will spend the whole day plugging away on whatever project is occupying my mind.
JEI: I know you have a writing group. Can you explain how the group functions for readers who may want to establish one?
EM: Finding a supportive group is key to growing as a writer. And having writers with different styles critique your piece helps you see other possibilities for your work. Without the support and encouragement of the writers’ group, I know I would not have finished, much less published, any of my books. It is hard to listen to others question what you have written. For me, everything is so clear and defined in my brain I just don’t understand why anyone else doesn’t see it. But I have learned to listen not only to my critiques but also to that of other writers. Listening has improved my writing.
I have our Sisters in Crime chapter. We formed a writer’s support group many years ago and to this day we read sections of works-in-progress. I have learned a lot just listening to all the comments for all the works, not just mine. I understand that there are quite a few writers’ groups in Louisville but I’ve never sought out any of these. The Sisters suit me just fine. How we function: Each month two members offer up part of their work, usually no more than 3000 words. Sometimes a particular member will submit a work several months in a row, these pieces being the continuation of the work. Our group steers away from the grammar and punctuation part of a review, striving to cover the plot lines, dialogue and characters.
JEI: What is your favorite genre to write in?
EM: I love mysteries and try to include some of those elements in my stories. A colleague calls my books ‘comedic mysteries’ while my daughter thinks the early books had more romance in them with a hint of mystery.
JEI: Do you have a favorite writer? Who is it?
EM: I have two: Rex Stout, creator of the Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin stories, and Lawrence Block, creator of the Bernie Rhodenbarr Burglar series. Both authors are wonderfully witty and humorous.
JEI: How did you decide on the bourbon book?
EM: Our chapter had success with two Derby-related anthologies. We felt we had exhausted the Kentucky Derby topic and turned to the next best (some will say THE best) thing coming from Kentucky and that is bourbon. We used the same format for this anthology as we did for the first two: fiction stories and then non-fiction information pieces.
JEI: What inspires you to continue writing?
EM: I love my characters. I do not write for money, rarely do any publicity but have a circle of ‘fans’ who ask for more.
JEI: What projects are you working on now?
EM: I just finished A REASONABLE AMOUNT OF TROUBLE which is the fifth book in the series. I have a completed manuscript for book six and an almost completed manuscript for book seven. And several short stories, non-series, that I’ve been trying to polish for a bit.
JEI: So, for a little fun and fancy, what is your favorite vacation spot?
EM: Rarely took them while working. Since retiring and becoming a widow, my daughter and I try to take a trip, usually to the British Isles, every two years. Best trip ever was to York and Oxford.
JEI: Do you have any hobbies?
EM: I have a very small space since I live in a condo but I do love to putter around. Visiting bookstores would be the other habit/hobby/obsession I have.
The Dash Hammond books are available in print and as eBooks through Amazon.
In order they are: The Price of Being Neighborly, The Cost of Kindness, The Expense of Family, The Wealth of Women and, just published, A Reasonable Amount of Trouble.
Contact Elaine at firstname.lastname@example.org.