M. C. Beaton e-interviewed by Lisa Respers France (September, 2006)
M.C. Beaton, a.k.a. Marion Chesney, is a prolific writer who has delighted readers for years with her mystery novels and countless historical romances written under a handful of other names. Fans delight in her Hamish MacBeth series as well as her books about the pushy public relations executive who reinvents herself as a private detective, Agatha Raisin.
With the publication of her 17th Agatha Raisin mystery it seems that the longtime novelist has no intention of slowing down and that suits her admirers just fine. While the Scottish native currently divides her time between homes in the English Cotswolds and Paris, she is much beloved on this side of the ocean and was chosen as the British Guest of Honor for Bouchercon 2006, the oldest and largest annual convention of mystery fans, authors, publishers, book dealers, and agents. She graciously agreed to talk to Bookloons.com about her writing.
Q: Your Agatha Raisin series are such a great mix of humor and suspense. Where do you find the inspiration for your plots?
A: The inspiration comes from the very beautiful surroundings of the Cotswolds and Sutherland, stories in newspapers, and listening to people. There is no such thing as an ordinary person. Everyone has a story.
Q: What do you enjoy about being an author?
A: Writing "THE END."
Q: As Marion Chesney you have written countless romances and have also found success writing mysteries as M.C. Beaton. Do you see any similarities in writing the two genres?
A: There is really no similarity between the romance genre and mystery. The romances were historical and therefore I was bound by the limits of the Regency genre - lord finds girl, lord loses girl, lord finds girl - and the historical research.
Q: How do you balance between writing your Agatha Raisin mysteries, the wonderful Hamish MacBeth books and your newer Edwardian mysteries featuring Lady Rose Summer? A: I have given up writing the Edwardian mysteries because of the pressure of producing the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth mysteries. While I am writing Agatha, I see the world through her beady little eyes and when writing Hamish Macbeth I am inside a totally different character. For example, I couldn't break off in the middle of one book to write the other.
Q: Like Agatha and Hamish you reportedly live in a village. Is it at all as exciting as Carsely and Lochdubh?
A: I live in a murder free area and when I lived in Sutherland - well, I think they had one murder there in the past 100 years, so I am afraid it is all down to my imagination except for descriptions of the scenery.
Q: Agatha seems to be fighting aging with every thing she has. Can you relate?
A: Of course I can relate. I am a lot older than Agatha now but I found the fifties that very vulnerable age when everything in the body wants to droop south, when you feel one slice of chocolate cake is cutting off your circulation, when you grow an incipient moustache and everyone says, 'You should just accept it.' Damned if I or Agatha will!
Q: Your latest Agatha Raisin mystery, Love, Lies and Liquor, reunites (in a way) Agatha and her ex-husband James Lacey. What is it about these two that keeps drawing them together?
A: Romance is the unattainable. Agatha isn't quite emotionally grown up. Men are always accused of shying away from commitment, but there are a lot of women out there who feel the same thing, so Agatha keeps chasing the dream.
Q: Will Agatha ever find true love?
A: I really don't know. Wait and see, and I'll wait and see as well.
Q: This is the 17th book in the series. How difficult is it to keep a long running series fresh?
A: It's a lot of hard work, especially to keep things light. Again, I have a burning interest in other peoples' lives and that sparks me.
Q: What's next for you?
A: More of the same. Ouch! I mean more of the same but hopefully fresh and different enough to keep the reader's interest.Find out more about M. C. Beaton, her background and pseudonyms, books and various series at Answers.com.
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