Where Gable Slept

My guest today is Irene Bennett Brown, best known for her historical novels such as The Bargain, The Plainswoman, and Haven. Irene’s latest novel is a departure for her, a cozy mystery, Where Gable Slept.

This is an entertaining, fast-paced mystery with a blossoming romance. Celia Landrey leads tours through a historic mansion, where Clark Gable reportedly stayed, to attract tourism to her struggling community. The owner’s death and the shadow of murder threatens to spoil its appeal. Then a mystery woman appears and buys the property out from under the town’s preservation group, with plans to burn it down. Celia is a well-characterized and sympathetic middle-aged sleuth, and I enjoyed the story very much.

Irene, after specializing in historical fiction, what made you decide to write a mystery?

As I got older, eyesight problems made intense research difficult for my historical work. I decided to try something light, fun, set in the present day, and for the most part—my own backyard, thus requiring less research. I’d turned to reading cozy mysteries, and after studying several I became excited at the prospect of writing one.

Did you find it more difficult to write? Not really, although in the long ago past I was convinced that writing a mystery would be impossible for me–I was sure I didn’t have the intellect/analytical mind a mystery puzzle would require. Maybe years of writing gave me the necessary confidence to at least try. In any event, after I had created a small-town cast of characters I loved and could work with, each with their own personality, motives, and agendas, I had a great time working out “whodunit” and “how come” in Where Gable Slept!

Which genre do you prefer? Gosh, hard answer. I love both so maybe no preference? At this time, though, I am more involved in the mystery genre.

Are you planning another cozy mystery? Yep. Where Gable Slept begins a planned series. Celia Landrey, walking-tour guide, who one reviewer referred to as “charming and indomitable” will remain as my main character. Plots will also involve other characters the reader met in book one. I’m working now on the second book, with the working title Where Danger Danced.

Why did you decide to self-publish this book? Chiefly, I did it myself because I wanted to see the book in print when and how I wanted it to appear. At this stage in my career I have less patience waiting for a traditional publisher to make a decision, which in some cases can be years. Fortunately, I have great help in that my computer-expert husband takes care of the mechanics, formatting and such, to get the book ready for the printer. My daughter is a professional artist and she designed and illustrated the cover of Where Gable Slept. I had the book professionally edited as well.

How did you get started with your writing career? I’ve known since I was twelve years old that I wanted to be a writer. I began very small, writing brief anecdotes and articles for newspapers, then short stories and longer serials for children’s Sunday School papers. That led to writing children’s book-length fiction. I wrote nine books for children and young adults. Many were book club selections and/or were printed in both hardcover and paperback.

What were some of your early influences? Easy answer; books like Little Women and Caddie Woodlawn in the children’s field, and adult novels by Frank Slaughter, Janet Holt Giles, Edna Ferber, Robert Penn Warren, Jessamyn West. Countless others, I’ve always been a reader.

What was your first published book? To Rainbow Valley is a children’s book and my first. It is a dust-bowl era story about a family who makes a new life in Oregon, much as my own family did. The book was published by David McKay in 1969 and these 40-odd years later, is still available as an easy-reader from an educational publisher, Perfection Learning.

How many books have you had published?  I have had 15 children’s and adult novels published by a wide range of traditional publishers—Atheneum, Ballantine, Five Star/Cengage to name a few. My two latest, The Bargain, and Where Gable Slept–making it 17–were published by my own imprint, Riveredge Books.

Do you have some tips to share with pre-published authors?

Read tons in the field in which you want to write. Revise and rewrite until your manuscript is your very best effort. Submit your work and don’t let rejections get you down if this is what you truly want to do. Attend writer’s conferences, learn from the speakers and network with other writers. As author Robert Fontaine said, “To be a writer is to reach, however awkwardly, for the stars, and move however haltingly, in that direction.”  In other words, writing is work, no doubt about it. But if a writer is what you’re meant to be, nothing will give you more satisfaction and enjoyment.

Irene’s books are available through her website www.irenebennettbrown.com and through local bookstores and from most on-line bookstores. Many are also available as audiobooks through www.booksinmotion.com and on-line bookstores such as www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com

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