Sunday, May 18, 2014

Talking with Karen MacInerney

Karen MacInerney joins us today. Karen pens the Gray Whale Inn Mystery series. Death Runs Adrift, the 6th in the series was just released this month.

Kathy: In the Gray Whale Inn Mystery series Natalie Barnes leaves Texas for Cranberry Island in Maine. What made you choose Maine as the location for your series?

KM: I originally wanted to set it in Newfoundland, where I spent summers at my grandparents’ house on a small island, but have an interesting dialect and use words like “yaffle,” which means “an armload of dried fish,” so I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. When some friends invited us to visit them on Little Cranberry Island, in Maine, it reminded me enough of Newfoundland (but with vocabulary I understood) that I knew I had found the home for my series.

Kathy: Have you ever dreamed of opening your own inn or B&B? Do you think you'd run it like Natalie, or would you be more of a Basil Fawlty?

KM: If the current condition of my house is any indication, being a B&B owner is not in my future. I do have a friend who runs the Country Place Hotel in Fayetteville, Texas, and I like to visit her inn and pretend I am as domestic as she is and could pull it off. But I know better.

Kathy: Natalie cooks some wonderful dishes, especially breakfasts and baked goods. Do you like to cook?

KM: I do like to cook, and my family sometimes complains that I rarely repeat recipes, as I’m always experimenting. But I try not to bake too much, because I have a weakness for sweets!

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

KM: I grew up reading Nancy Drew and graduated to Agatha Christie, followed by Susan Wittig Albert, Diane Mott Davidson, and all the other great mystery authors out there. I guess I loved the genre, and it was the first type of book I read and felt, “I could do that!”

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

KM: I write a humorous mystery series, called the Margie Peterson mysteries, that features a stay-at-home-mom-turned-P.I. and is similar to Janet Evanovich in style; the first book, Mother’s Day Out, was released last month and is selling like wildfire! I also wrote a paranormal romance trilogy called Tales of an Urban Werewolf, set in Austin, and have lots of other ideas up my sleeve.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

KM: The Gray Whale Inn is set on a small island off the coast of Maine, and is a favorite fictional retreat for me as a writer. I love the characters, the community, the wild and beautiful setting, and the yummy treats Natalie bakes for her guests. The Margie Peterson series, on the other hand, is about a stay-at-home mom turned private eye who gets herself into all kinds of hilarious situations. They’re both fun to write, but very different!

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

KM: Margie Peterson is probably the favorite character I’ve ever written; I love how she responds to the crazy situations she finds herself in. As for the Gray Whale Inn series, I relate most to Natalie – she’s the most like me (fancy that). And I have to say that the island and the setting are almost a character in their own right, and I have a particular fondness for that part of the world.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

KM: I knew I wanted to write a cozy mystery, but couldn’t figure out where to set it until my parents returned from a trip to the Lost Whale Inn in California. As soon as I saw the recipe book they brought back and heard about the idyllic setting, I knew I was going to set my series in an inn.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

KM: Like most authors, I wanted to share my vision and my story with readers – to transport them to the world I had imagined.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

KM: J.R.R.Tolkien, Robin Hobb, P.G. Wodehouse, and Vladimir Nabokov.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

KM: What am I not reading, might be a better question? “You read anything,” according to my husband, “from caravan tales of African nomads to Janet Evanovich. And don’t forget to add a few parenting books.”

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

KM: I love, love, love to garden; it’s very restorative. Obviously I enjoy cooking, and reading. A few years back, I took up karate, and it’s surprised me how much I enjoy it – particularly sparring! I recently started a watercolor class, and I love it – I’m trying to do a little painting sketch each day.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

KM: Chocolate, wine, olive oil, and pasta.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

KM: Next up is probably another book in the Margie Peterson mysteries, and I am also working on a new cozy mystery series set in Buttercup, Texas, called the Dewberry Farm mysteries. It’s set in a beautiful part of the world, and I get to learn about Czech and German history and write about cooking AND gardening. There’s plenty of room for more stories in the Gray Whale Inn, too; in fact, I have so many potential ideas in my head I don’t know where to start. I suppose will write whatever is burning hottest when I finish my current project!

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

KM: Freedom to follow my fancy wherever it takes me!


  1. I must look for the first one in this series.

  2. Murder on the Rocks is the book that had me hooked on cozy mysteries. I read Mother's Day Out and laughed so much. I have been wondering when the next book was going to come out in that series.

  3. Gram, I hope you enjoy them! Melanie, that makes my day; I'm currently working on the second book to Mother's Day Out. Thanks so much for the opportunity to do this -- it was a lot of fun!