Interview with Carolyn Marino
Carolyn Marino is a legend in the publishing industry, she has edited Lawrence Block, Lisa Scottoline, Diane Mott Davidson, Elizabeth George, Mary Kay Andrews, Tasha Alexander, Michele Martinez, Sujata Massey, Charles Todd, John Searles, Claire Matturro, William Lashner and countless other authors. In this exclusive interviews, she shares her insights and advice with us on what it takes to be a succesful author.
AFG: Tell us about your admiration for the mystery genre?
CM: I’ve been an avid mystery reader since I first discovered Nancy Drew as a child. I like all kinds of mysteries: cozies, such as The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson, which we’ve just published; thrillers, such as the forthcoming Black Horizon by James Grippando; historical mysteries, such as the two series by Charles Todd; and psychological suspense, such as The Sixes by Kate White. I also have a particular fondness for noir, procedurals, and books by British authors such as Peter Robinson with his Alan Banks series. I should also add that it’s nice sometimes to go back and reread the classics—mysteries from the Golden Age. It’s wonderful to have such a wealth of good books before us.
AFG: As a fan of the works of Agatha Christie, I was very excited to see that you’ll be reissuing many of her titles. Do you have plans on more books with her notebooks?
CM: At the moment we don’t have any more books on Agatha Christie’s notebooks coming along. John Curran, the author of the two we’ve published, is currently finishing his doctorate, but I’m sure he has something interesting up his sleeve. Meanwhile, we’ve just signed up a book about Christie’s plays, written by Julian Green, the producer of The Mousetrap. It’s called Curtain Up, and we expect to publish it next year.
AFG: What are some of the mysteries coming out this year that excite you?
CM: Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman, the daughter of the great Tony Hillerman, has just been published, and we’re thrilled that Anne is continuing the series. It’s wonderful to be back with Leaphorn and Chee. And the amazing Charles Todd has written an extraordinary novel about Bess Crawford and India titled A Question of Honor. I should also mention that we’re repackaging the mysteries of Dorothy L. Sayers in beautiful editions.
AFG: The world of publishing is changing with a lot of emphasis on digital publishing. How would you say the industry will look ten years from now?
CM: I wish I knew. I do believe that print books and e-books can thrive happily together and hope that e-books can help to grow readership. For instance, there are so many opportunities for backlist books in the digital realm. When a reader finds an author whom he or she likes, the backlist can be at that reader’s fingertips. There is also the possibility of bringing back into print gems that have been unavailable for years. I’m just delighted that mystery readers have many formats in which to find their favorite authors.
AFG: What’s the most time-worn cliché that you try to avoid when you publish a mystery/thriller?
CM: I try to avoid comparisons to whatever is the latest hot book. A manuscript that is trendy now may be old news a year later when it comes out. I like to think that the mysteries we publish stand on their own. I look for individual voice, interesting characters, a solid plot, and, being a Southerner, I’m drawn to a strong sense of place.
AFG: Finally, we lost a legend with the passing of Elmore Leonard. What are some of your thoughts on his place in the world of crime fiction?
CM: There’s so much I could say, but let me limit myself to this. First, he was an inspiration to so many writers. No one wrote dialogue like Elmore Leonard. Second, I love his rules on writing. Nobody said it better. Also, I’m not sure I believe that you should “write what you know.” I once edited an author of the most wonderful hard-boiled of hard-boiled private-eye novels, and though I’d never met him, I pictured him in my mind as being a big bruiser of a fellow, maybe a bouncer at a biker bar. Then he came to New York and we had lunch. He had glasses, braces, and the physique of a malnourished ten-year-old, and he’d never been near any kind of bar, nor did he know any PIs. Yet, he had imagination and talent a hundredfold.