Today, I welcome author E.M. Munsch for some questions, answers, and maybe a little hot tea.. Elaine writes the Dash Hammond series and her newest book Old Sins, was recently released. I’ve read it and it’s wonderful. Dash Hammond does not disappoint. Elaine, thank you for joining me on my blog today.
What inspired you to create Dash Hammond?
Years ago, our Sisters in Crime chapter had a roundtable critique format where anyone could submit almost anything and solicit comments from the other readers/writers. While working in my garden I tripped and fell into my humongous rose bush. As I was slowly and painfully picking the thorns out of my body and clothes, I wondered how a writer would write this scene, anything to stop thinking of each thorn. After I finished, I went inside and sat down at the laptop. I had the picture of a woman trapped in a rosebush, but unlike me, she has a gentleman who comes to her aid. Dash Hammond was born. He is a combination of Magnum, PI, Rockford and my dearly departed husband.
What genre do you write and for what publisher(s)?
In the mystery section of the bookstore is where you would find my books. Some might call them cozies but generally the books don’t fit that description.
Mystery and Horror, LLC have published my last two books in the Dash Hammond series. The first five were self-published through Amazon, now called Kindle Direct.
When you begin your stories, do you go with the flow, or go with an outline?
As you might suspect from the first answer, I just ‘go with the flow.’ I generally get a scene in my mind and start with that. Sometimes I have a big picture, but most often, I’m connecting scenes, going back and rewriting. Occasionally I will make notes, not enough to call them an outline. My slap-dash method requires a lot of re-writing but generally I have fun along the way.
What favorite authors do you enjoy reading?
I have to start with Rex Stout who authored the Nero Wolfe series. I like to call his books the ‘Archie Goodwin’ series. I fell in love with Archie decades ago. His wit, his charm and his dancing shoes, what’s not to love. He has a sharp tongue that often gets him into trouble, like my man Dash.
Lawrence Block, grand master of the genre, also writes a protagonist who is witty and charming and a bookseller to boot, that is when he’s not being a burglar.
Since I’m a bookseller I have a whole store of authors to choose. In the last decade or so I’ve read Robert Crais and Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy series. I make it a point to buy their books.
A newish author who can spin a good tale is Trace Conger, an Ohioan with a wicked side.
Can you tell us a little about the path to publishing your first book?
My books have been classified as ‘comedic mysteries’ by a fellow writer. I haven’t tried to make them funny but there are times when the characters say or do something that makes me (and others) laugh. I began writing as a lark, with no real goal in mind. I was nearing my 70th birthday and decided a book would be a good present for myself. A fellow bookseller had self-published with Amazon and she volunteered to help me set that up. Having been a bookseller all my life and having had many conversations with authors about their path to publication, I felt that I didn’t have the time to pursue an agent, etc. etc.
Part of my job in the Sisters in Crime has been to help with several anthologies we published over the years. The latest one had to do with bourbon. When it came time to publish it, we asked two of our former chapter members who had moved to Florida to care for elderly relatives, and had set up their own small publishing firm, Mystery and Horror LLC, if they would consider the bourbon anthology. They did and it was a great success. I then asked if they would consider my, at the time, latest book which turned out to be A HAUNTING AT MARIANWOOD. It’s a Dash Hammond book set in Kentucky (the others are set in Ohio on Lake Erie) and deals with a ghost.
They were kind enough to also publish OLD SINS the seventh in the series.
Would you tell us a little about your writing process and what your work area looks like?
As the nuns would say, a messy desk speaks to a messy mind. And that picture is worth a thousand words. I wish I could report a daily disciplined routine but alas, that’s not me. If I’m working on a piece, I generally try to write first thing in the morning for as long as I can. Once I take a break, sometimes I get interrupted by life. All night long I have scenes and dialogue running through my mind. Sometimes I will get up and write just to get the thoughts down so I can get back to sleep.
My desk looks like a bomb went off. I am very disorganized, always losing bits and pieces. My daughter cringes every time she looks at it. And my files on my laptop make some of my friends cry when they see the scattered bits and pieces.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
I read, but not as much as I did before I started writing. I belong to a mystery reading group at my Barnes & Noble which gives me a wide range of authors to read. And I find myself scrolling through the internet looking for authors and books. When I have the money, I try to attend book-related conferences. As you might expect, I love meeting authors and talking about books.
What are you working on right now? What’s next?
The story I am writing now is a non-Dash book. It’s about my old neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1958. I had the opening prologue appear to me while sleeping. I jotted it down: “The streets I haunted as a child now haunt me in my dreams.” It’s taking quite a bit of time and I have no idea how it will end. I’ve three different endings in mind but pretty sure only one can be in the book.
After I finish that, I might jump back into the Dash series. I have several ideas but need to put fingers to the keyboard before I can definitely say what will be next.
Anything else you’d like to add? Where can we find you online? Where are your books sold?
Just thank you for inviting me to your blog. I’m hopeless when it comes to talking about my own books. Right now, I don’t have a website but you can check out the Derby Rotten Scoundrels website. That’s the Sisters in Crime website for our local chapter.
The last two Dash books are (or will be) on the shelves at the Louisville Barnes & Noble. But can also be ordered through Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
If you'd like to meet the author and pick up a signed book, she'll be at the Barnes & Noble on Hurstbourne Pkwy, Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday, March 24 from one until three. She'll also be at From the Ground Up Books & Resources on Main Street, Lagrange, Kentucky on Saturday, March 30 starting at noon.
Again, thank you, Elaine for joining me today. Let me say, I’ve read all of Elaine’s Dash Hammond books and they’re fantastic. You can find Elaine’s books, writing as E.M. Munsch, on the sites below.
Old Sins - Relatives - you can't choose them and you can't lose them... unless they die. And that's what Cousin Maud did.
The distant cousin of his Irish mother was never a big factor in Dash Hammond's life. As a child, he remembers her pinching his cheeks. As an adult, he rarely saw her as he traveled the world serving in the United States Army.
But Maud remembered him. "A good man, a reliable man....a seeker of truth and a finder of lost things." She leaves everything to Dash counting on his sense of duty and honor to do the right thing and make amends for her mistakes. If Dash finds Maud's abandoned daughter, how many lives will this impact?
As he drives back and forth from Clover Pointe, Ohio, to Cleveland, Dash curses her under his breath but refuses to back away from a challenge.
Dash learns that old sins do indeed cast long shadows.