Please welcome G.M. Malliet, author of the Inspector St. Just and Max Tudor mysteries.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
There is nothing better than a lobster roll, although lobster-and-shrimp tacos (which I’ve just discovered) run a close second. My mother’s family was from Maine—if it is possible to inherit food preferences, I have.
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Certain artists have always inspired me. Vincent Van Gogh, probably everyone’s favorite. All the pre-Raphaelites—I just saw the Tate exhibit of their work. All those deep jewel-tone colors and textures—wonderful. And in another field altogether, Alfred Hitchcock. Ok, one more: Julian Fellowes—I saw Gosford Park a dozen times when it first came out. I think anything visual inspires writers—we keep trying to describe everything we see.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Never. I wish I could, but anything with lyrics interferes completely. To get around this problem I once tried writing to a spa music CD and practically ended up with my nose planted on the keyboard.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
French chocolate. Very dark, very bitter, with a sweet brandy liqueur filling.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
I was inspired by a non-fiction book. More than that gives too much of the plot away. But I can tell you nothing has moved me as much as this true story.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
I suppose every mystery author is fascinated by—obsessed by—the concept of bringing a killer to justice. Since so often we can’t see this happen in real life, we try to make things come out right on the page.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Max Tudor is a former MI5 agent turned vicar of a small village: when his colleague in MI5 is murdered, Max, reeling from the violence, does a 180-degree and begins studying for the Anglican priesthood. He thinks he’s escaped his past but murder seems to trail him wherever he goes. And of course his special training, and his need to restore his safe-haven village to normalcy, make him a sleuth to be reckoned with.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
I find I can’t do this. Max Tudor is just Max, but with a passing resemblance to Hugh Grant. If you recall the scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary when the elevator opens on Hugh, you get the idea of the impact Max has on the women of his village.
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Robert Barnard, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, and Patricia Highsmith. But given the company, I would also invite a food taster.
What’s next for you?
In the third Max Tudor (arriving September 2013) Max attends a dinner party that includes newcomers to the village like West End actor and dramatist Thaddeus Bottle and his downtrodden wife Melinda. When Thaddeus is found dead in the pre-dawn hours, Max knows a poisonous atmosphere has once again enveloped his idyllic village of Nether Monkslip. Remembrances sparked by the paintings of a famous local artist help Max unravel the lethal connections to long-ago crimes.
G.M. Malliet, current Agatha Award Best Novel nominee for A Fatal Winter: A Max Tudor Mystery, won the Agatha for her first book, Death of a Cozy Writer, which also won the Malice Domestic grant. Wicked Autumn, first in the Max Tudor series, was a 2011 Dilys and Agatha nominee for best novel and an NBC TODAY show Summer Reads Pick by Charlaine Harris. A Fatal Winter followed in 2012. Both books were listed by Library Journal as best mysteries of 2011 & 2012.