Friday, June 1, 2018

Sleuthing Women Authors: Meet Ava Mallory

Hello Black Words-White Pages fans and thank you for stopping by!! Ready to meet another Sleuthing Woman Author? Today we are featuring Ava Mallory!! Click on her name to follow her on Facebook!! 

Now to get on with the interview!!

Ava Mallory

What is the first book that made you cry?
The Diary of Anne Frank

Does writing energize or exhaust you?
When it’s going well, I’m energized. When it’s not, I’m exhausted and ready to pull my hair out.

What is your writing Kryptonite?
Perfect romances. It doesn’t feel authentic to me. I don’t want it to be easy.

Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Nope. Never.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Many different authors of all genres. I learn from their experience, their successes, and their resilience. Author friends are the best!

Yes, I read two or three books at a time.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A furry dog, any breed.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters? I was a hospice/dementia care nurse for 20 years. I’ve written them or parts of them into every book I’ve ever written.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Wow! I’ve published 85 books to date. I think I have a little over half of them available for sale now. (Cozy Mysteries, Sweet Romance Mysteries, Romantic Suspense, Police Procedurals, and Psychological Thrillers under two names, mine and a pen name)

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
Yes, absolutely. At the risk of sounding dramatic, writing saved me after tragedy struck.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
For me, the most difficult thing is trying not to make my male characters jerks. That probably says a lot about my life, but the reality is I didn’t have many positive male role models in my life. Specifically, I had one and he lived almost a thousand miles away from my family. I’m cognizant of the disconnect, so I make extra effort and utilize a couple of male beta readers to make sure I’ve not made them harsh, unless the character/story calls for it like in my thrillers.

How many hours a day do you write?
4 – 5 hours per day. I write in short 15 – 20-minute sprints while my kids are in school. On weekends, I wake up early to get my words in before my mom duties begin.

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
I learn something new in everything that I read.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I scan the obituaries for old names. I love them. If that doesn’t work, I’ll search through baby name books for a name.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I loved being a nurse. I think I’d go back to that if I had to.

Do you read your book reviews?
How do you deal with bad or good ones? I’m not obsessive about them. Every once in a while, I’ll peek at them, but I don’t make it a habit. Reviews are for other readers.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Yes, all the time. For instance, I have a common theme in all my books, all genres, that I hope one day a savvy reader will catch. (wink wink)

What was your hardest scene to write?
The hardest scene was in the first book I ever wrote. It’s a dark psychological thriller. I had to write about the pain of losing a child. At the time, I’d just lost my brother in Iraq. It was the most difficult thing to write because my emotions were still very raw. I worried that I’d taken it too far. Thankfully, my readers appreciated the authenticity of that gut-wrenching scene and the aftermath.

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
A social life. If I’m being honest, I didn’t have much of one to begin with. I’ve been a mom for more than half my life, but now that my children are in middle or above, I suppose I could get out more with friends, but I’d rather write in my ‘free’ time.

What is your favorite childhood book?
Little Women is the first one that comes to mind.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Constant interruptions. A lot of it is self-inflicted. I tend to over schedule myself, then, find commitments that interrupt my flow. I’m working on improving that.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?
If I stick close to my schedule, it takes me two weeks to draft a novel (50 – 60k) or three weeks to draft a longer novel (70 – 95k).

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Karin Slaughter, Harlan Coben, and the late Sue Grafton.

Who are some authors in your genre that inspire you?
Karin Slaughter, Alessandra Torre, Denise Grover Swank, Harlan Coben

What are some great books you’ve read recently?
Fractured and Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter, The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre, The Dry by Jane Harper

What types of books do you enjoy in your downtime?
I love a great, gritty mystery or thriller. I’m a big fan of twists and turns.

What sort of research did you do to write this book?
I have several ongoing series. I’m pretty well-versed in my fictional worlds. One series is based off a town I grew up in. I changed the name and some of the small details, but overall, it’s a place I know well.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?
The first book in my Mercy Mares series was set in a place I worked for many years. Although I took many liberties, much of what takes place in that book has a ring (or several) rings of truth.

What does a typical workday look like for you?
I wake up at 4 AM, seven days a week. After I get dressed and grab a bottle of water, I retreat to my home office to write for an hour – an hour and a half, depending on how quickly I’m moving that day. I wake up my youngest at 6 AM to get him going for school and focus on him until a little after 7 when I drop him off, then, I come home, grab a light breakfast, coffee, and another water bottle and head into my office to write or edit until 1 or 1:30 PM. I sprint for 15 – 20 minutes with ten-minute breaks in between. During that ten minutes, I do something physical like run up and down the stairs, run on a treadmill, walk around the house, dust, vacuum, etc., then, I go back to work. I take a break for school pick-up/errands/dinner/homework help between 1:30 and 6:00, then, I’ll work on the business side of things until 8 PM. It’s a long day for me, but the breaks help.  On weekends, I’m up at 4 and write until the kids wake up. Usually, I can get a good 4 or 5 uninterrupted hours of writing.

What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?
I want readers to connect with my slightly neurotic but lovable characters in my cozies and sweet mysteries. For the thrillers, I hope they connect with my main characters, not because they’re perfect, but because they have believable flaws and authentic reactions to what happens around them.

If your novel were being made into a movie, whom would you pick to play the lead roles?
For my Mercy Mares series, I’d love to see someone who is a cross between Salma Hayek and Julia Roberts. Strange, I know, but Mercy has so many layers. She’s strong, vulnerable, goofy, feisty, and sharp.

Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?
I’m somewhere in between. I love an outline, but I don’t often follow it. When I edit, I’ll go back through and reverse outline to make sure I’ve hit all the plot points I wanted to.

What do you do in your free time when you aren’t writing?
I read, play with stickers (I’m a planner addict), and binge-watch a gazillion different programs.

Do you put yourself in your books/characters at all?
I do. One character in particular is me on so many levels.

What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
Having readers. It’s so exciting to know someone has read something I wrote. What a thrill!

Out of all the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite?
Yes, but I’ll never tell. 😊

What are your top three favorite books of all time?
Rebecca, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Gone with the Wind.


Traveling nurse Mercy Mares accepts a new job posting at a psychiatric facility in a small California town that boasts rest and relaxation for Hollywood starlets and wealthy travelers, but Mother Nature and an elusive murderer have other plans in store for her month long assignment.

Before she's had a chance to settle in, Mercy finds herself accused of a heinous crime and discovers that nearly everyone from members of local law enforcement to Hollywood moguls have every reason to have wanted the victim dead. Now, it will be up to her and an unlikely ally to solve the murder or end up behind bars.

Without her trusty friends and beloved canine companion, Barney, by her side, can Mercy rely on one of her patients to help clear her name or will he make matters worse for her?

Find out what happens in this humorous, slightly irreverent Cozy Medical Mystery!

This is the second book in the "A Mercy Mares Cozy Mystery" Series.


Thank you so much, Ava, for stopping by and letting us get to know you!! This has been a lot of fun!! To know more about this author and her books starting on June 12, 2018, join the Facebook group HERE!!! There will be takeovers and lots of fun things to come!!

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