Mystery authors Joanne Dobson (of the Professor Karen Pelletier series) and Beverle Grave Myers (of the Baroque series) have collaborated on Face of the Enemy, book #1 in the New York in Wartime series. The authors graciously agreed to interview each other for readers of The Book Case. Here’s what they have to say—about their writing process and their new book, which is perfect for fans of amateur sleuths and World War II-era stories:
It’s December, 1941. With New Yorkers in a panic after Pearl Harbor, the FBI prowls the city snatching up Japanese residents. Troubles multiply for a sensitive Japanese artist when she’s accused of murder as well as espionage. Is Masako Fumi guilty? Or a victim of racial paranoia?
Joanne was born in New York City during World War II and has always been fascinated with that time and place. Her father was a cook on a Merchant Marine cargo ship, and her mother was a Park Avenue private-duty nurse. Joanne was inspired to recreate both the terrifying and the mundane in the city’s wartime experience. Maybe it’s a way of trying to bring her parents back.
Bev was inspired by the extremes of the World War II home front. We often hear about the Greatest Generation’s sacrifice and patriotism, but alongside that glorious myth, there’s also evil. Fifth columnists, sabotage, draft dodging, hoarding and profiteering all have fascinating plot potential.
A conversation between
Beverle Grave Myers and Joanne Dobson
Bev: Who’s your most inspiring literary character?
Joanne: Francie Nolan of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Like me, she survived a tough childhood in a New York outer borough (mine was the Bronx), found salvation in the library, and went on to become the first member of her family to attend college.
Bev: What is your worst writing habit?
Joanne: I’m scatterbrained. I sit in front of a blank screen in total panic with absolutely nothing to say. Then, drifting off to sleep at night—bam!—all hell breaks loose in my imagination.
Bev: What is my worst writing habit—the one that makes you want to tear your hair?
Joanne: Well . . . you’re pretty easy to work with. At first you resisted changing what we’d already written, but now I think you’re more comfortable with the story being in flux. By the way: Your Tito Amato series is also historical. What draws you to the past?
Bev: I’ve been allergic to the present since about 1970. I like a slower pace, fewer choices, and more predictability.
Joanne: What do you struggle with in writing?
Bev: The blank page—the white monster. I’d rather rewrite an entire chapter than start a new scene.
Joanne: Okay, I’ll bite: what drives you crazy about my writing habits?
Bev: Oh, hon. Your lovely right brain can create wonderful scenes, but they don’t always advance the plot.
Given the chance, what questions would you like to ask a favorite author?