Thursday, November 3, 2011

Marja McGraw's Bogey Nights

Marja McGraw, author of Bogey Nights, is my guest this morning.
Marja, tell us a little about yourself.                              

I write two series and both are lighter with a little humor. One is about a young female P.I. in Los Angeles, the Sandi Webster Mysteries. The other is about an amateur investigator who bears an uncanny resemblance to Humphrey Bogart, the Bogey Man Mysteries.  I've had one book in each series released this year. This was the fifth book in the Sandi Webster series, and the first in the Bogey Man  series.

Tell us something about yourself that readers might be surprised to learn.

If life had turned out differently for me, I would have studied and become an archaeologist. I guess in a way, my mysteries are somewhat like making a find at a dig because I have to find and figure out what the artifacts, or clues, are.

How many books have you written?

To date I’ve had eight books released. I self-published my first two books, and admittedly they’re not bestseller material. The next five are part of the Sandi Webster (female P.I.) series, and the first book in the Bogey Man Mysteries just came out in March.

What has been your most rewarding experience during the writing process?

Honestly, the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made. And discovering that I have the talent to put a mystery together that people enjoy reading. Somehow, it all goes hand in hand.

Tell us about your latest releases, Bogey Nights and Old Murders Never Die.

It’s been a good year because two books were released, one in each series.

 Bogey Nights came out in March from Oak Tree Press.  You know your day has taken a turn for the worse when you buy a vintage house to convert into a restaurant, and your two yellow Labrador retrievers find a vintage body buried in the basement.

Chris Cross, who bears a striking resemblance to Humphrey Bogart, and his wife, Pamela, are about to learn that a seven-year-old son, two Labrador retrievers and seniors are all forces to be reckoned with in the course of this case.

Old Murders Never Die was released in July by Wings ePress. P.I. Sandi Webster is in for the adventure of a lifetime when she and her partner, Pete, become stranded in a ghost town inhabited by a mysterious cowboy and haunted by some unsolved Old West murders.

Are they available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?

Both books are available in print and Kindle, and Old Murders Never Die is also available in most ebook formats.

Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others?

Old Murders Never Die was both the most challenging and the most fun. Although the story takes place today, there are portions that took place around 1880. There was plenty of research to be done, and I tried my best to let the local sheriff speak in his own uneducated 1880s voice. I hope that makes sense, but honestly, an uneducated man in 1880 simply didn’t speak the way we do now.

What are some of the problems you faced while plotting a series with ongoing characters?

I have to let them grow throughout the series. It would be easy to let them stagnate, but that wouldn’t be very realistic. Also, I think each book allows the reader to learn something new about each character because of their growth. I’ve also tried to write each book so they can be read out of order without confusing the reader.

The Sandi Webster series showcases a single female P.I., her partner, and various family members and friends, and a half wolf/half Golden retriever dog named Bubba.

The Bogey Man series revolves around a man and wife, their son, and two yellow Labrador retrievers. Can you tell I like dogs? (By the way, everything about Labs that you might have read about or seen in the movie Marley & Me by John Grogan is absolutely true. We have two yellow Labs.)

I too, have a huge Yellow Lab we calle the gentle giant.

The two series present very different problems and situations. Sometimes I have to take a step back so I don’t mix them up.

How do you develop characters?

By paying attention to people in my real life. I develop a character to suit his or her purpose in the story, and then try to give them characteristics that fit actual people.

How do you choose your setting?

The setting is often almost one of the characters in the stories, so it has to relate to what’s going on. Once I know what kind of story I’m going to work on, I chose a setting to match the story. An example would be Old Murders Never Die, which took place in a ghost town. I had to do a lot of research on ghost towns, and I’m still not sure I got it all right.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

I have a website at online, as well as a blog site at . Lately I’ve had several authors presenting guest blogs on my site, so I’ve been volunteering to do blogs on other sites, like yours (which I really like, by the way). I also belong to several online groups such as Goodreads, Sisters in Crime and others.

When possible I do presentations at libraries, to social and business groups, and anywhere else that’ll put up with me. I really enjoy meeting new people, and if I can make the group laugh, it makes my day.

Can you tell us about current or future projects?

I have a Bogey Man book waiting in the wings right now about some Church Ladies (who scare Chris Cross, the Bogey Man), and who want him to find a missing friend. In the process a Murder for Hire scheme is uncovered.

And at the moment I’m working on one more Bogey Man book. This one involves a long-deceased bestselling author who wrote gothic novels and who has apparently left a treasure hidden in her old home.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Just visit my website at, and while you’re there you might take a look at the Vintage Movie Page and the Photo Page, as well as Events and Books and other fun stuff.

Susan, thank you so much for allowing me to visit today. I had a good time, and I hope one day I can return the favor.

My pleasure, Marja. Continued success with all endeavors!


Patricia Gligor said...

I really enjoyed this interview. I admire Marja. I'm working on one mystery/suspense series and that presents enough challenges for me. I can't imagine writing books in two series at the same time. Plus, both of her series sound fascinating.

Marja McGraw said...

Patricia, What a lovely compliment. Thank you. I have to admit that I sometimes worry about a character in one series sounding just like the character in the other series. Thank you for stopping in.

Marja McGraw said...

Susan, Thank you for having me in today. You really have a terrific site.

Theresa Varela said...

I'm also amazed that you are able to write two stories simultaneously, Marja. I'd need one really big poster board to keep things straight in my mind. Great interview, Susan. I am tempted to include a lhasa apso or a yorkie-poo in one of my books. I'll have to ask my dogs if they'd mind.

Susan Whitfield said...

My pleasure, Marja. Patricia and Theresa, thanks for visiting. I, too, am writin both a series book and a non-series book, but I'm not pulling it off as well as Marja. I need her inspiration.

Marja McGraw said...

Therea, I'm just finishing a Bogey book, and I'll start a Sandi Webster book in about a month. That's about as simultaneous as it gets. I do have to keep copious notes though. Thank you for your for your comments.

Susan, I don't know how inspirational I am, but I'll admit I'm having a lot of fun.

Just a note: There will be a new Bogey book, Bogey's Ace in the Hole, out in February, 2012. Woohoo!

Anonymous said...

Love you comment "If life had turned out differently for me, I would have studied and become an archaeologist."

As an archaeologist myself, I think you hit the nail on the head - mysteries ARE like making a find! I think that's why I enjoy reading and writing mysteries.

William Doonan

Marja McGraw said...

Thank you, William! I'm so glad you agree with me. I love solving all the puzzles. I'll bet you write a great mystery because as an archaeologist you understand the idea of the clues and puzzles.

Cindy Keen Reynders said...

This is a very interesting interview and helpful. Thanks!

Marja McGraw said...

Thank you for stopping in, Cindy. I'm glad you enjoyed it.