Amy Beth Arkawy is the author of the Eliza Gordon Mystery series: Killing Time ( Hen House Press) and Dead Silent (Cozy Cat Press). She is also the author of several plays including: Psychic Chicken Soup (McLaren Comedy Award nominee);Full Moon, Saturday Night; Listening to Insomnia: Rage Amongst Yourselves; Crazy Vivian Doesn’t Shop at Bloomie’s Anymore; The Lost Mertz and The Postman Always Writes Twice. Her work has been produced in New York City and across the country and featured in several anthologies. She is also a creativity coach/writing teacher, radio talk show talk show host and freelance journalist. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and former Master of Fine Arts Fellow at the University of Massachusetts, Amy Beth also has a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling from Long Island University. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Dramatists’ Guild. She is working on a psychological thriller and the third Eliza Gordon mystery. And she bears an uncanny resemblance to my stepdaughter. Welcome, Amy.
So Amy, do you like ever sleep? Seriously, you do so many different things, how do you balance it all?
Ha! It’s a juggling act, for sure. Who knew learning to juggle for my high school circus would have such enduring benefits? But seriously, as a Jill-of many trades- I‘ve been fortunate to engage in myriad creative endeavors. Time management is key and I can’t possibly concentrate on everything at the same time or in the same measure. For a long time radio was my full time gig, with writing taking a back seat. Now writing and coaching are my main focus, but as a radio junkie I couldn’t resist putting it back in the mix.
It’s easy enough to figure out why you picked a radio station as a key location in your books, but what about Goodship, is it based on a real town? And what about Soup Opera… I assumed it was made up – although there is one in London – but then I saw the picture on your Facebook page. So is it a real place or photoshop?
Ah, you want me to reveal tricks of the trade? Of course, Soup Opera is real: as real as Goodship. I never saw a Soup Opera when I visited London years ago. Sounds like a brilliant place to do a book signing. Now if I can just prod my publisher into financing the trip! I always thought I’d make a jolly good Agony Aunt.
Oh, as for Goodship: it’s not consciously modeled after any town, but I suspect smatterings of Rye, NY, Greenwich , CT and Amherst and Northampton, MA have unconsciously seeped into the Goodship ethos.
Is Midge at all like you? (For those who haven’t read the book – yet – Midge is the DJ.)
Well, we both love music, have a quick wit, and know our way around the candy aisle, but I don’t have a philandering husband. And her passionate driving is modeled after my sisters. But don’t tell them.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’m not really sure. The first book Killing Time was rattling around in my head for months before I ever hit the page. But after I started it came out at a fast and furious pace. Dead Silent started to formulate, I think, while I was finishing the first, maybe second draft of Killing Time, so that, too, came pretty fast when I got down to the actual writing.
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Although I just learned the term (thanks, Kate!), before I started writing mysteries I was a certified pantster. I like everything-character, story, plot, scene,-to flow organically, But the mystery demands a unique precision in plotting, and the essential planting of clues, so I find myself planning ( not quite outlining) more than I ever have with other work.
Where do you think you are in your writing career and is it where you want to be or expected to be at this point?
I’m not sure what I expected all those years ago as an ambitious young writing student at Sarah Lawrence. But after the first story I ever sent out became a finalist in the prestigious Redbook Young Writer’s Contest, I thought my literary journey would be far less bumpy than it’s been. But the detours—especially my myriad misadventures in Marconi’s box -have been joyous. So at this point I’m not sure what I expect, but I am delighted with the response the Eliza Gordon series has received so far, and hope more readers tag along for what promises to be an equally enticing and unpredictable ride as my future writing unfolds.
If you could invite any writer, living or dead, over for a cup of tea and a chat, who would it be? And why?
Virginia Woolf. I’d want to find out why anyone would be afraid of her ( I’d love to chat with Edward Albee, too.) While it may not be that evident in my cozy mysteries, I am intrigued with the interior lives of characters and Woolf is certainly a pioneer in the stream of consciousness and the art of every day details. Mrs. Dalloway still holds a spot on my rotating list of favorite novels. I also have great admiration for her strength. Woolf toiled (as long she could), creating significant art while struggling with severe mental illness.
What is the best book you’ve read recently? Why?
Sharp Objects, it’s the first book by Gillian Flynn, author of the blockbuster best selling thriller Gone Girl. While she engages in a little more of what Elmore Leonard called the hoopdedoodle (too much description of settings, etc), for my taste, Flynn is a wonderful writer with an uncanny ability to draw in the reader. She also delves into the dark side with raw, authentic emotion and a literary finesse I hope I can pull off in my forthcoming psychological thriller.
Now three things that have nothing to do with writing that I ask everybody:
- What is your favorite food? Anyone ever answer kale chips? If not, I won’t be the first. Hard to narrow it down. As a Soup Opera loyalist I’m obliged to say Quiet as a Clam Chowder (no surprise I enjoy an array of soups.) But I also love grilled lobster tails, pizza and Greek and taco salads.
- What is your favorite TV show? Drama: Mad Men, Masterpiece Mystery, Downton Abbey and The Sopranos. Comedy: I Love Lucy; Frasier; Will & Grace.
- What is your favorite music? Alt-Rock-Folk-Country-Broadway-Blues. Love it all. Sorry, but you can’t pin a DJ down.
Thank you so much for being here today Amy, good luck with Dead Silent and Killing Time which I am going to have to read next. Before you go, is there anything else you would like to tell your readers or have them know about you?
The one thread that weaves my overlapping endeavors- writing, radio and coaching/teaching together- is storytelling. It has always been a big part of my life. The thrill of creating my own work is matched by the reward of serving as a creative midwife for other artists as they bring their “babies” into the world. It’s a tribute to the teachers and artists who have nurtured my talents at pivotal moments; it’s my way to pay it forward. You do that, too, Kate, by showcasing authors and bringing readers and writers together. Congratulations on your efforts, and thanks so much for letting me be a part of it.
It’s summertime, and in Goodship, New York, the living is anything but easy. Controversial radio shock jock Paul Hackett is found strangled to death with his headphone cord around his neck in the studio of local radio station WSHP. There’s little evidence beyond the initials V.O.S. scrawled across the studio window in red lipstick and a list of suspects that could easily fill the Goodship phone book. And that’s not all. Eliza Gordon, former soap star turned local soup aficionado and amateur sleuth and her pal and unwitting snooping partner radio DJ Midge Sumner must contend with in Dead Silent, the second in author Amy Beth Arkawy’s Eliza Gordon Mystery series. The locals are also on edge thanks to the rumors rolling across The Goodship Grapevine, a new toxic gossip site, and bemused by flyers heeding folks to follow an enigmatic cult known as “The Quiet.” Eliza’s instincts have her searching for clues and connecting the mysteries together, but they also put a strain on her burgeoning romance with Tom Santini, Goodship’s dishy police chief (who also happens to be her late husband’s best friend). The sudden reappearance of her elusive playboy brother-in-law, Jonas Gordon, sparks unexpected feelings in Eliza and may hold the key to connecting the mysteries and solving Hackett’s murder. Join Eliza Gordon and sidekick Midge Sumner as they embark on this intriguing and dangerous sleuthing escapade. Will they solve the mystery or wind up Dead Silent?
Just for the record, I don’t give everybody a good review, except for tours where someone may get a less than good review, I only blog about the good books I read. So here I go, adding another book to your TBR pile LOL. DEAD SILENT has all the ingredients for a good cozy mystery. Small town Goodship, local hangout The Soup Opera, friends Eliza and Midge, a dash of romance with Tom (or Jonas?)… You read this story and after you put it down you wonder, is there more? (Yes – there’s Killing Time and let’s hope there will be many more.) The story was great, the mystery kept you guessing until the end, the characters were likeable, on a technical level the editing and formatting were perfect and the only thing I need to say for certain people, there were recipes in the back. ♥♥♥♥♥