Interview: Karen McCullough

Please welcome Karen McCullough, author of the Market Center Mysteries.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
A day at the beach with some writing time first thing in the morning, a morning swim, lunch, rest and reading time, afternoon swim, more writing time, cocktail hour, dinner with family, then reading time after dinner. Maybe a long walk on the beach in there somewhere. It doesn’t get any more perfect than that, for me.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal?
My current favorite fragrance is Angel by Thierry Mugler, and I’m famous for liking the color blue. But if I have a signature anything, it’s a drink: coffee.WFM_200 I’m a self-confessed coffee snob. I order high-quality beans from Gevalia or from a local coffee shop and pretty much take it with me wherever I go.

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?
A number of authors have had a major impact on me and my writing. My most important author influences are J.R.R. Tolkien for my fantasy writing; Mary Stewart and Barbara Mertz (writing as either Barbara Michaels or Elizabeth Peters) for romantic suspense; Ellis Peters (and not just the Brother Cadfael series), Dorothy L. Sayers, and Rex Stout for mysteries.

Do you listen to music when you write?
Music is too distracting. I can’t help but start singing or humming along and get involved in the music itself.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Dark, rich chocolate, I hope. Not overly sweet, but enticing, deep, mysterious, and flavorful, with a tangy center and a particularly satisfying finish.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
This is actually the second book in my Market Center Mysteries series. The first book, A Gift for Murder was published by Five Star/Cengage back in 2011. This second book Wired for Murder was still in the editorial process when Five Star cut its mystery line early this year and returned rights for all unscheduled books back to the authors. After some debate and research, I decided to self-publish it. It’s already edited and I’m working on formatting it now. I have a third one in the series currently in progress.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
The conflict of duty and personal beliefs, or duty versus honor. Sometimes duty versus love. I like the kind of conflict where the protagonist risks something deeply important to them in pursuit of a goal he or she believes is even more important.

Tell us about your main character.
Heather McNeil is the assistant to the director of the D.C. Commerce and Market Center. It’s normally a clerical position, but her boss, the director, has discovered that Heather has a gift for resolving conflicts and soothing ruffled feathers, so she gets assigned to those types of jobs frequently. She’s also a good listener, which results in people telling her all sorts of things. When murder happens in the Market Center, Heather is often more deeply involved than she wants to be, and she finds clues and gathers information simply as part of the job.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Oh, wow. Let’s see. Heather is a cross between Miss Marple, Meg Ryan, and Dear Abby.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Wouldn’t that be exciting! I think I’d invite Rex Stout, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Barbara Mertz, Sue Grafton, and Dashiell Hammett. That should make for some interesting conversation, don’t you think?

What’s next for you?
I’m currently at work on a third book in the Market Center Mysteries series, tentatively titled A Perfect Home for Murder. Unlike the first two, which are set at business trade shows, this one is set at a show that’s open to the public, giving it a bit of a different ambiance. I’ve also almost finished a new paranormal mystery starring a witch and a gargoyle as protagonists.


Karen McCullough is a web designer by profession, and the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres as well. She has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, four grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.


Blog: http://www.kmccullough/kblog



Pre-order for Wired for Murder:



11 thoughts on “Interview: Karen McCullough”

  1. What an adventure! So sorry about Five Star. It has been a roller coaster ride in the mystery world this year and we’re not half way through. So glad that you were able to bring Wired for Murder out on your own. It sounds like a great read.


  2. Welcome, Karen! Love reading themes of duty versus personal belief; it always ups the stakes! Also, your paranormal mystery sounds so original, I’ve never heard of a gargoyle protagonist. Best of luck with Wired for Murder! 🙂


  3. Welcome Karen! Kait said it best about the upheaval in publishing. What differences have you noticed between working with a traditional press vs. self-publishing? Good and bad.


  4. The best thing about our current publishing market is the ability to self-publish. A publishing house closes a door, an indie author opens a window. Congrats on your book. Wishing you lots of readers.


  5. Thanks, Kate and Kimberly! Hi Mary – So far the biggest difference between traditional and self-publishing is that in self-pubbing, I’m having to do a lot more up-front work myself. I’ve arranged for editing and proofing, and cover art, and am working on all the publicity. It feels very risky, since I’m putting in a lot of money upfront and I have no idea how it will all work out. I hope it sells more than just a couple of copies, but there’s no guarantee!


  6. I ended up in the same situation as you–contract with a publisher disbanding the mystery line. I wonder how exactly the mystery market is shifting. Good for you for self-pubbing. Can’t wait to check out the book!


  7. Don’t you love taking control of your own work? Good luck on your new ventures! I am looking forward to checking out your books. Duty vs. honor is one of my favorite themes.


  8. Thanks for a terrific interview! (I wear Alien but have wanted to give Angel a try.)

    What a gift your protag has… soothing ruffled feathers. I can see where that could get her in the middle of any number of potential problems. Well done!


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