Thursday, March 30, 2006

Pro-File: Marcia Muller

A native of the Detroit area, Marcia Muller grew up in a house full of books and self-published three copies of her first novel at age twelve, a tale about her dog complete with primitive illustrations. The "reviews" were generally positive.

Her literary aspirations were put on hold, however, in her third year at the University of Michigan, when her creative writing instructor told her she would never be a writer because she had nothing to say. Instead she turned to journalism, earning a master's degree, but various editors for whom she freelanced noticed her unfortunate tendency to embellish the facts in order to make them more interesting.

In the early 1970s, having moved to California, Muller found herself unemployable and began experimenting with mystery novels, because they were what she liked to read. After three manuscripts and five years of rejection, EDWIN OF THE IRON SHOES, the first novel featuring San Francisco private investigator Sharon McCone, was published by David McKay Company, who then cancelled their mystery list. Four more years passed before St. Martin's Press accepted the second McCone novel, ASK THE CARDS A QUESTION.

In the ensuing twenty years, Muller has authored 32 novels, three of them in collaboration with husband Bill Pronzini; four short-story collections; and numerous nonfiction articles. Together she and Pronzini have edited a dozen anthologies and a nonfiction book on the mystery genre. The Mulzinis, as friends call them, live in Sonoma County, California, in yet another house full of books.

Marcia Muller:

1. Tell us about your current novel.

It¹s titled VANISHING POINT and is coming out in July. Another Sharon
McCone. In it she is hired by the daughter of a woman who vanished
twenty-two years ago to look into the disappearance and provide her family
with closure. In the middle of McCone¹s investigation, the client also
vanishes, and she finds herself working two cases.

2. Can you tell us what you¹re working on now?

It¹s another McCone, THE EVER-RUNNING MAN. Someone has a vendetta against
RKI, the security firm in which McCone¹s husband, Hy Ripinsky, is a partner.
Several of their offices have been bombed, and they hire McCone to
investigate. But before she can even get started, RKI¹s San Francisco
headquarters are blown up and she narrowly misses dying in the blast. She¹s
now in Chicago, investigating yet another explosion, and after that...who
knows? Not I!

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

The writing itself. And hearing from readers who understand and appreciate
my work.

4. The greatest DIS-pleasure?

Being involved in a high-stress industry that no one--even those who run
it--can really figure out.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Nurture your authors. Don¹t kick them out because they¹re not instant
bestsellers. I¹ve been fortunate to have this experience with
Mysterious/Warner, and I wish more writers--especially the new ones coming
into the field today--could have it.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you¹d like to see in
print again?

Thomas B. Dewey, who wrote wonderful private eye novels, comes to mind. And
there are a whole lot of writers, not necessarily forgotten, whose early
work I¹d like to see rereleased.

7. Tell us about your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

I¹d submitted a manuscript to Michele Slung at David McKay Company because
I¹d heard she was looking for my kind of material. She rejected it, but
said she liked the character and if I did another, she¹d like to see it. I
was finishing EDWIN OF THE IRON SHOES at the time and shipped it off. She
wrote, said she wanted to buy it, but was going on vacation for a month. I
waited, getting more and more panicky as two months went by. Then one
evening the phone rang. Michele, confirming the sale.

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