Interview: Molly Macrae

Welcome Molly Macrae author of the Highland Bookshop Mysteries.

 What’s your idea of a perfect day?

Time to write, read, walk, cook, and enjoy family and/or friends at a sane pace – anywhere, any day. Any half day? Actually, almost any day can be improved if at the end there’s a little quiet time to read. And chocolate.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal?

neko-in-carrier Does my cat count as an accessory? If not, then along with 23-33% of the world’s population (according to a recent YouGov worldwide survey) my favorite color is blue.

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?

Adding “the most” to the end of that question saved you from just finding a link to the library catalog in this answer. Those two words make the question harder to answer, though. The most? I don’t like leaving anyone out. How about some books/authors that inspired or influenced me for humor? P.G. Wodehouse, Eudora Welty, Barbara Pym, Charlotte Macleod, James Thurber, Jasper Fforde, Douglas Adams, Sue Townsend, Dorothy Cannell.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Usually, but not always, and almost never anything with lyrics. Even the announcers on the classics station are distracting. Sometimes I’ll listen to the same CD, over and over, for weeks. You know how it’s supposed to be good for your concentration to have a routine and a space set aside for writing? Listening to the same music might be the same kind of thing. Miles Davis is great for that. So are Gershwin and Phillip Glass.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?

Plaid and Plagiarism is a bar of dark chocolate (not too dark, so that it doesn’t scare people away – somewhere between 65 and 72% cocoa), big enough to share, with chopped nuts (for humor), and bits of crystalized ginger (for surprise twists).

What made you interested in writing this particular story?

Three ingredients: a bookshop (l ran an independent bookstore for seven years – a wonderful experience), Scotland (I lived there in 1974-75, another wonderful experience), and a daydreaming game of “Wouldn’t it be fun if . . .” The tipping point came when I read an article about a bookshop for sale in the Highlands and started joking with a group of friends, saying “What if we . . .” The Highland Bookshop Mystery series is my answer to that question and a way of returning to bookselling and a place I love.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?

1) The stories we tell ourselves. 2) Looking at what happens between where we were and where we end up. 3) The protagonist as a fish out of water.

Tell us about your main character.

plaid-and-plagiarism-rev-resizedJanet Marsh, an American, is a retired librarian and newly divorced. She’s a planner. She enjoys research and examining possibilities, but she isn’t averse to believing that pipe dreams can come true. She and her husband owned a house in Inversgail, Scotland, and spent part of each summer there for almost thirty years. When the bookshop in Inversgail came up for sale, Janet figured out how she and three other women could move there, buy the shop, and make it all work. Janet is also a former winner of the Illinois State Fair pig calling contest.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.

Janet Marsh might be a combination of Julie Walters, Brenda Blethyn, and Barbara Bel Geddes. Her good friend Christine, who’s one of the partners in this new business venture, might be a combination of Eve Arden, Meryl Streep, and Nancy Marchand.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?

Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey, Louise Penny, Charlotte Macleod, Martha Grimes

What’s next for you?

I’m editing The Grim Reader, book three in a continuity series. (I’m writing books three and twelve in the twelve book series. Four other authors are writing the other books.) And I’m working on Scones and Scoundrels, the second book in the Highland Bookshop Mysteries.


The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” Plaid and Plagiarism, the first book in Molly’s new Highland Bookshop Mysteries, will be out in December. She’s also the author of the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries from NAL/Penguin. Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990 and she is a winner of the Sherwood Anderson Award for Short Fiction. Molly lives in Champaign, Illinois.





8 thoughts on “Interview: Molly Macrae”

  1. Welcome, Molly! Yes, your cat definitely counts, as does your cute kitty bjorn 🙂 Your character sounds so fun! I hope her pig-calling skills somehow aid in her sleuthing?! Best of luck with this new series!


    1. Thank you, Pearl! Neko always wanted to be on my lap or in my arms when I typed. The carrier made all the difference when I used the stand up desk.


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