The Flurries Unlimited team was able to have a quick chat with mystery writer Anna Castle about her past successes, her penchant for historical mysteries and her upcoming projects. This is what we discussed.
FU: Most of your book takes place in Elizabethan England, investigated by Francis Bacon. Of all the different times and historical people, what inspired you to write about these in particular?
AC: I’m a learning junkie and with historical fiction you can never learn enough. I like periods of great cultural change and wanted a period with a rich vernacular literature. I started Murder by Misrule in 2010, when The Tudors was hot, but I was more inspired by Shakespeare in Love. The Elizabethan period was as light as the Henrician period was dark. I like optimistic periods (although the 1590s were tougher.)
FU: Why mysteries?
AC: The best advice is to write what you read, and that’s my favorite genre. I enjoy constructing plots; that’s the most fun part of the writing process. Also mysteries run in series and I can’t imagine abandoning my characters after only one book.
FU: Your Lost Hat, Texas Mystery book seems a major departure from the historical genre. Why the change? Which series do your fans seem to prefer?
AC: I actually started this series first. I’ve read possibly every humorous regional mystery series on Earth and have always enjoyed that genre. I also thought it would be easier to learn the craft by writing something fairly constrained, which is what you get with a small town and first person point of view. And it’s nice to write about a place where I can just look out the window to describe the weather.
FU: You've written four books so far. Which is your favourite and why?
AC: I like Death by Disputation, because I adore Christopher Marlowe. He was such an intriguing and brilliant young man and he died so young and so unnecessarily. Everyone who writes in this period ends up needing to write about Kit.
FU: They say that every character has some of the author in him/her. Which of your characters is most like you? In what way?
AC: Maybe Francis Bacon? Not that I’m a genius. His voice is essentially my natural academic voice. I’d rather read a book than go to a party and I’m about as adventurous as a old dog. Certainly none of the young persons I write about is much like me -- they are far too reckless. But the truth is that characters are only like the author in the sense that they derive from the author’s experiences, which includes hearsay and everything they’ve read, exaggerated as far as they can stretch it. Don’t tell your secrets to a novelist!
FU: So what is on the horizon? What are your new projects? When is your next new release?
AC: I’m having fun in the new year writing short stories, but I’m not sure yet how those will be disseminated. The next book release will be Flash Memory, number 2 in the Lost Hat, Texas series, coming out in April. I’m planning to launch a third series set in the Victorian period (another time of great cultural change with a HUGE literature) sometime during the year, but I won’t release book 1 until book 2 is nearly done. June-ish, probably. If I could persuade myself to write more diligently, I could finish the fourth Bacon book in 2016 also. There’s always a long queue of stories jumping up and down wanting to be written!
FU: Thank you very much!