I'm thrilled to welcome Wendy Corsi Staub to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Wendy has just released the third book in her Mundy's Landing series.
WCS: When you’re a pantser like me (meaning I write by the seat of my pants, unlike plotters, who create a detailed outline), series books are progressively more difficult, because you have established parameters in the early chapters of the first book that may threaten to restrict the plot by the time you reach the final chapters of the last one. You don’t just have to stay true to the world you’ve created, you have to remember it! I am constantly fact-checking as I write the later books in any series. I’ve lost hours to searching manuscripts to find out a minor character’s eye color or middle initial, because those tiny details really matter to me. I write them months or even years apart, but readers are often reading them back to back, so they’ll pick up on inconsistencies.
Kathy: In BONE WHITE Emerson Mundy travels to her ancestral hometown to trace her past. Have you ever done any research of your own family's genealogy?
WCS: Yes! I’m a little obsessed. I’ve been on Ancestry.com for a few years now, and did the DNA testing so that I’ve been able to meet relatives from all over the world. My four grandparents were all born here in the U.S., but their parents all immigrated from Sicily and Italy around the turn of the last century. I’ve been piecing their story together bit by bit, but I have a long way to go. In fact, my genealogical fascination triggered the idea for my next books for Harper—more about that below.
Kathy: Setting plays such an important part in a book, especially in mysteries and thrillers. How did you choose to place Mundy's Landing in New York's Hudson Valley?
WCS: I live in the lower Hudson Valley—Westchester County, in the New York City suburbs. I’ve always been enchanted by the area that lies between here and the Albany/Saratoga area—scenic countryside rich in American history and folklore, picturesque villages, a vibrant arts scene, culinary wonders, majestic vintage architecture. My fictional Mundy’s Landing is based on Rhinebeck, which happens to be one of my favorite places—and my editor’s hometown.
Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries and thrillers?
WCS: Oh, my literary inspirations were highbrow indeed: Nancy Drew and Scooby Doo. Yes, really. I’ve just loved a good mystery yarn going back to second, third grade. I devoured Phyllis Whitney’s mysteries and kid detective series--Trixie Belden, Meg, Encyclopedia Brown, The Three Investigators. I graduated to Mary Higgins Clark in middle school. Never did I imagine that when I grew up I’d get to meet Mary as a colleague. I’m honored that my 2016 thriller BLUE MOON marks my third nomination for the Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award this year, to be presented at the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards ceremony in April.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
WCS: Some days, looking back, I’m certain I’ve written in most! I’ve been in this business for over twenty-five years, with nearly ninety novels under my belt. In my younger days, I wrote more quickly than my publishers were releasing my books, so I learned to diversify. I’m best known for mystery/suspense, where I focus my career these days, and the romance/women’s fiction I’ve written as Wendy Markham. I’ve also written horror, historical, young adult, short stories, paranormal, chick lit, middle grade, pop culture, biography, screenplay novelizations. I’ve ghostwritten novels for a number of celebrities.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
WCS: Mundy’s Landing, New York, is famous not for one, but two unsolved mysteries. One involves survivalist cannibalism among the first settlers in 1666; the other, the 1916 Sleeping Beauties Killer whose eerie M.O. resonates a century later. The books unfoled in the present day, where the crimes of the past trigger fresh bloodshed before they can be resolved. So really, each plot involves a mystery-within-a-mystery. This trilogy, like my others, is packed with twists and blindsides, and while the books unfold in consecutive time frames, they can be read as standalones. BONE WHITE features a very big twist I’ve been trying to pull off for my entire career. I hope that I have.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
WCS: My favorite character in BONE WHITE—in all three Mundy’s Landing books, really—is Ora Abrams. She’s the curator of the local historical society, a feisty octogenarian who lives and breathes Mundy’s Landing’s past. We first met her in BLOOD RED, leading Rowan Mundy’s third grade class on a tour through the museum, and she played a prominent role in BLUE MOON. In BONE WHITE, simply put, she broke my heart. No spoilers.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
WCS: I’ve always been fascinated by unsolved crimes, particularly historic ones. Particularly the Lizzie Borden case. I wanted to explore the dynamics of a town forever tainted by bloody murder that put it on the map, like Fall River. How are the residents changed when they realize that their safe little haven isn’t impervious to danger? A town like that will draw curiosity seekers, and when the crime is unsolved, amateur detectives. And perhaps—in Mundy’s Landing’s case--copycat killers.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
WCS: It was never NOT an option. All I ever wanted to be, from the time I was 8 years old, is an author.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
WCS: I regularly dine with my living author pals, so I’ll choose dead ones. I’d do a Girls’ Night Out with my childhood favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder, who I believe was a teetotaler, so I’d throw in Zelda Fitzgerald to loosen her up, and of course Dorothy Parker for laughs, and Agatha Christie because after a few margaritas, she might spill the beans on her mysterious disappearance back in 1926.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
WCS: George Saunders’ LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, the strangest, most hypnotic novel I’ve read in years, or perhaps ever. The characters are richly drawn, the premise unique, the writing sublime.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
WCS: I multi-task two of my favorites four or five times a week, swimming laps while listening to audiobooks on an underwater ipod. I’m a passionate cook and love to entertain—the more the merrier, big crowds of family and friends around our dining room table. I inherited my mom and grandparents’ green thumbs. I’m an avid traveler, embarking on a 50-state book tour a decade ago with my husband and sons. I have one state left to go: Wyoming. And so little time. And I crave the ocean and a beach when too much time goes by without saltwater in my hair and sand between my toes.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
WCS: Coconut water, Eight o’clock coffee beans, Marzzetta’s jalapeno-stuffed olives, and Frank’s Red Hot sauce.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
WCS: I just (literally an hour ago!) signed a contract to write three new psychological suspense novels for HarperCollins. The first one will be out next spring. The plotline woven among the three is pretty ambitious, and I’m in the thick of research now. This November, DEAD OF WINTER, the third book in my hardcover Lily Dale Mystery series, will be published by Crooked Lane.
Kathy: What’s your favorite thing about being an author?
WCS: That my livelihood is pure creativity! A close second: I don’t have to wear shoes to work. I hate shoes.
by Wendy Corsi Staub
on Tour April 1-30, 2017
“We Shall Never Tell.” Spurred by the cryptic phrase in a centuries-old letter, Emerson Mundy has flown cross-country to her ancestral hometown in hopes of tracing her ancestral past—and perhaps building a future. In Mundy’s Landing, she discovers long lost relatives, a welcoming ancestral home… and a closet full of skeletons.
A year has passed since former NYPD Detective Sullivan Leary solved the historic Sleeping Beauty Murders, apprehended a copycat killer, and made a fresh start in the Hudson Valley. Banking on an uneventful future in a village that’s seen more than its share of bloodshed, Sully is in for an unpleasant surprise when a historic skull reveals a notorious truth. Now she’s on the trail of a murky predator determined to destroy the Mundy family tree, branch by branch.
Book Details:Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Published by: William Morrow Mass Market
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 0062349775 (ISBN13: 9780062349774)
Series: Mundy's Landing #3 (Stand Alone)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads