I'm happy to welcome Terry Ambrose to the blog today. Terry writes the Seaside Cove Bed and Breakfast Mystery series. Clues in the Sand is the second book in the series and was released March 15th.
Kathy: Your Seaside Cove Bed and Breakfast Mystery series features a single dad and his young daughter. How did you decide on a father/daughter pair for a crime solving team?
TA: Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog! I seem to be drawn to the idea of male-female pairs in my writing. The dynamics between men and women fascinate me and lend themselves to so many subtleties. But I also enjoy writing about kids. I’ve paired a child with an adult in previous books. When I do that, there’s always an undercurrent of a challenge between the two. After all, kids frequently test their boundaries, which is one way they learn how society works. I had not, however, used a father and daughter. Because I wanted to create something different from the normal single-mom sleuth mystery, I chose to reverse the roles and make my protagonist a single dad.
Kathy: In Clues in the Sand, the primary suspect is an archaeologist. Do you have an interest in archaeology?
TA: I studied archaeology in college and was constantly bombarded with the same question from my parents while taking classes. “What are you going to do with that degree?” The answer turned out to be—not much. I ended up in business, but always felt the insights I’d gained in studying other cultures gave me the ability to understand human motives just a bit more than I might have if I’d have gotten a degree in business. When I started working on the first Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery, I realized it was an opportunity to revisit my early interest in archaeology.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
TA: I started out writing thrillers and suspense, but could never bring myself to write lots of blood and gore. In my reading, I grew tired of the constant cycle of murder and mayhem in the genre. With that said, I did enjoy the faster pacing of a thriller, and so I attempt to keep that pacing in my stories.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
TA: I write the Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mysteries, which are set in Hawai’i. I also have written the first two books in my License to Lie thriller series. I’ll be bringing out the third in that series in early 2019.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
TA: I chose the tagline “Mysteries with Character” for my blog and my writing because I believe a good story is all about the characters. Like many cozies, the town itself is integral to the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mysteries. It’s a quaint little place that has built its reputation based on hunting for buried treasure. With the discovery that there may be a sunken Spanish galleon off the coast, the once peaceful Seaside Cove is now known as a quaint little town where murder meets the sea.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
TA: For this series, my favorite character is Rick’s daughter Alex. She’s young, precocious, and fearless. It’s those very traits that get her into trouble. You see, Alex has a habit of overstepping her boundaries, something she does far too often for her dad’s liking. Alex also has taken to writing in her journal—something I’ve never done—but that process somehow feels kind of natural when I make her entries. Oh, and did I mention she has a habit of sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong? Yeah, that’s why I love Alex.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
TA: I don’t know that it was inspiration as much as it was serendipity. I’d been working on the first book and had written thousands of words, but wasn’t satisfied with where it was going. My wife made a comment, something like, “You need a treasure hunt. Everybody loves a treasure story.”
The idea intrigued me almost immediately, so the little town of Seaside Cove became the center of a search for the San Manuel, a Spanish galleon that sank in the 16th Century. The other factor came about during my research into treasure hunters. It turns out treasure hunting is a cutthroat business, which is a mystery writer’s dream. Oddly enough, having a serious subject as the background for the series also freed my characters up to be much more fun.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
TA: I’m a very challenge-oriented person and publication is the ultimate test for a writer. I say it’s the ultimate test because publication is the only way to get truly impartial reviews. Your friends and relatives will always gush over the great story you’ve written. But, once it goes to people who don’t know you, everything changes.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
TA: Jana DeLeon, who writes the Miss Fortune Mystery series—her first book kept me in stitches almost the entire time I was reading. Sue Grafton because I loved those early Kinsey Millhone mysteries. Dorothy Sayers because I would love to hear about what it was like to blaze new ground as a writer. Isaac Asimov, who wrote in several genres, though primarily in science fiction. I was a huge fan of his Foundation Series.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
TA: I’m currently reading an advance copy of Plum Tea Crazy by Laura Childs. The next book I’d like to read for pleasure is Andrew McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, which was the first in that series.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
TA: I’m very interested in photography and publish a weekly photo on my blog. I also enjoy cooking, but am not nearly as talented as some of my culinary mystery writer friends. Because writing is such a sedentary activity, I also enjoy walking and try to do a minimum of a mile a day. Just like my writing goal, that’s a minimum and if my day permits, I’ll go much further.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
TA: Dark chocolate, coffee, almond milk, sugar!
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
TA: I typically try to plan my writing about a year in advance. The next Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mystery has the working title of The Scene of Waikiki. It will be out in July. The next Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery will be coming out in November — it’s a Christmas mystery. After that, I’m going to complete the License to Lie series. That book is still in the early planning stages, which means I have no clue what it’s about. You might say I’m “actively waiting” for the theme to bubble up in my daily life.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
TA: I love the process of creating a story. To me, it’s a very cathartic process. When I don’t get the time to write, I get cranky. My goal is to write a minimum of 500 words a day, but I usually do more than double that. It’s a comfortable goal that lets me be creative for the first couple of hours of my day, forget the surrounding craziness, and then approach my day with a fresh perspective.
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