Interview: Cindy Brown

Please welcome Cindy Brown, author of the Ivy Meadows mystery series.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
I’d sleep late, awakened by coffee in bed, courtesy of my early-rising husband. Maybe he’d make breakfast, too—that’d be nice because I love to cook, but not in the morning. I’d do a little writing, then walk down to our village with my husband for lunch at one of our hangouts. Afterward I’d read for the rest of the afternoon, maybe take a break and mess around in my raised bed at the THE SOUND OF MURDERcommunity garden for awhile. That evening, we’d meet friends downtown for happy hour at The Hotel Deluxe (a place that remarkably combines Hollywood glamour with casual comfort) and see a play, preferably a comedy to keep my husband awake (he gets up really early). Hmm, this all sounds pretty do-able. I think I’ll pencil in “perfect day” on my calendar.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Do you consider cheese a meal?

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
My friend Serena Torres-Webbe, who dared me to submit my plays to a theater company.

New York Times best-selling author April Henry. I was first her fan, then her student, and now her friend. She’s been incredibly supportive and has always believed in me, even when I didn’t.

My friend Nancy Black. We were sharing a hotel room during a conference and both reading before we went to sleep. I was deep into some sad literary fiction and she was laughing her ass off at Janet Evanovitch. I remember thinking, “That’s the kind of book I want to write.”

Do you listen to music when you write?
When I write non-fiction (I am also a ghostwriter), I listen to baroque music. When I write fiction, I don’t listen to music, but sometimes I turn on Coffitivity, which mimics the sound of a coffee house. It’s supposed to aid in creativity, but I like it because I feel like I have non-intrusive company in the house.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
An Almond Joy–reading The Sound of Murder should feel like a sunny vacation (think coconut) with a bit of nuttiness.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
There are so many ideas behind this book, but I’ll pick one for brevity’s sake: I often feel like elders in our society get short shrift. I wanted to write a book that dealt with some of the issues senior citizens face, while also showing the love that exists between people of all ages. Pretty heady stuff for a light comedy, eh?

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
The importance of community and creativity in our lives.

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
When Ivy was eleven, her brother had an accident on her watch. It’s the defining moment of her life so far—it pushed her parents away from her, and that distance created a deep longing for a place where Ivy felt she belonged. She found that place in the theater, and it became her passion. She also loves her Uncle Bob, who’s her mentor and her employer (she works part-time in his PI firm), and often feels pulled between these two loves.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Ivy is sassy (and a little hapless) like Bridget Jones, smart and independent like Kinsey Millhone, and earnest and slightly silly like Amy Poehler.

If you could host an author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Shakespeare, P.G. Wodehouse, Douglas Adams, Sue Grafton, Tana French (mystery writer and former actress), and Helen Fielding (author of Bridget Jones, TV producer and documentary filmmaker).

What’s next for you?
In July 2016, Ivy and her PI uncle go undercover in Oliver Twisted—murder, mystery, and musical theater aboard a Dickens-themed cruise ship (complete with orphans and pickpockets)!

***

Cindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s the author of the Ivy Meadows series, madcap mysteries set in the off, off, OFF Broadway world of theater. Macdeath, Ivy’s first adventure is “a hilarious riff on an avant-garde production of the Scottish play” (Mystery Scene Magazine) and her newest book, The Sound of Murder is “a definite delight” (Suspense Magazine). Cindy and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, though she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities. She’d love to connect with readers at cindybrownwriter.com (where they can sign up for her Slightly Silly Newsletter) or on Facebook or Twitter.

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15 thoughts on “Interview: Cindy Brown”

  1. Welcome, Cindy! Cheese is definitely a meal. At least to me. And I’m intrigued by “a Dickens-themed cruise ship.” Having read a lot of Dickens, he doesn’t strike me as the cruise-ship type. What gave you the idea?

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  2. What a wonderful interview–thanks for visiting us, Cindy! So much fun. I especially love the story about your friend laughing with her mystery read while you read the “sad” book. Looking forward to reading your second book–I loved MACDEATH.

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  3. Thanks, all! And Mary,thanks for asking about the Dickens-themed cruise idea. Several things behind it: I wanted a setting where no one could leave.I liked the idea of an immersive literary (& later discoverd there is such a place in the UK – http://www.dickensworld.co.uk). And I wanted a place where the classes were obviously separated in true Dickensian style- which is why this mystery features wealthy guests and barely-scraping-by employees.

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  4. Cheese, cheese, and more cheese! With the title “The Sound of Murder” I am surprised that you did not listen to music as you wrote.

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  5. Nancy, we should definitely have a cheese course when we next meet (and 3 no 7, you can join us)!
    And now that you mention it, it is funny that I didn’t listen to soundtracks from the plays when writing The Sound of Murder. I guess I was afraid the real lyrics would implant themsleves too firmly in my head.

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  6. Such a fun interview. I can’t wait for Oliver Twisted! Great title and premise. And I didn’t know you’re a ghostwriter. Or maybe I forgot? I’ve done some ghostwriting, too, and I hope to do more.

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