The request was pretty routine: would it be possible to get debut author Paula Matter in as a guest at Mysteristas? Our schedule was pretty tight around her release date, July 8. But then we met Paula at Malice Domestic and it was decided.
We had to find a way to get her in.
Paula is delightful and funny, and her debut from Midnight Ink, Last Call, set at a VFW post bar is sure to entertain. We offered Paula the opportunity to be a “Mysterista for a Day” and we each asked a different question. She was brave enough to accept.
So without further ado…
Mia: What was it like for you when you received The Call (that your book had sold)?
PM: It was an email that stated she (Terri from Midnight Ink) needed some info so she could bring the manuscript to the weekly acquisitions meeting. My reply: “Wait, what? You liked it?” and I promptly sent the info she’d asked for. A few days later, I was offered the contract.
Becky: What kind of research did you have to do for this book?
PM: Mainly names for characters. I didn’t want any of my former VFW patrons to be able to see themselves in Last Call. And they won’t because they’re all a great group of people. Mostly.
Kait: What was different about this book that made the difference? How did you know it was “right”?
PM: Maggie Lewis, my protagonist. Also, writing in first person POV, I think. Maggie and I hit it off immediately. She was a somewhat minor character in another novel I’d written several years ago. Beta readers commented how much they liked her, so I decided to give her a larger role.
Liz: The age old question: plotter or pantser?
PM: Definitely plotter. Big time. I need to know the beginning and the ending, and work my way through the middle. I’ll know some of the middle, but not all of it when I get started.
Peg: How long does it take you to write your first draft, and what’s your revision process like?
PM: Years. Agonizing. Seriously? I’m a slow writer and I revise as I go. That’s how I’ve always written my short stories. I’ve learned I need to change that process with novel writing. Must. Get. Faster. Any tips for me? I’m looking at you, Becky Clark.
Sue: How important is setting in your book?
PM: Last Call takes place in a very small fictional town in north Florida. I wanted to show a different side of what people imagine Florida to be. North DeSoto is far from beaches and attractions. Being from Miami, but living for many years in north Florida, I wanted readers to see the differences.
Barbara/Katie: As an author, do you read reviews? Critically or for fun? Do you look for comments on any key topics in reviews? What reflections or comments would you like reviewers to include in impartial reviews? (Of course other than I LOVED THE BOOK!!!!!!)
PM: I’m a debut author, so this is the first time I’ve had reviews to read. Reading reviews has become an obsession. OBSESSION. Like checking Goodreads and NetGalley several times a day. And these are for the ARCs. I can’t imagine much time I’ll be checking sites once the book’s released. Yikes! One reviewer was responsible for one little addition during the editing process, so very helpful. I have been loving the comments about Maggie’s development, how she changes. I especially loved this from Publishers Weekly: “That she also has to reevaluate herself and her capabilities adds depth to her character.” PW totally gets Maggie.
Thank you, Mysteristas, for inviting me to your fabulous blog. Answering your questions was challenging and lots of fun!
Paula Matter (rhymes with otter) is the author of the Maggie Lewis mysteries which take place in a small town in North Florida. Paula’s short crime fiction stories have been published in USA and German anthologies. After losing her job as a catering server, Paula decided instead of getting yet another job as a waitress/bartender/activities director/etc., she’d tackle her mystery novel again.
Originally from Miami, FL, Paula kept moving north until she settled in north central Pennsylvania. A proud mom of one son, she lives with her husband The Saint, and worthy-not-spoiled rescue dog in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains.