How do you come up with a book title?
I agonize over naming my books. First of all, I list all the themes in the story then ask my friends and readers to vote on the one they like best. For the book that ended up being Healey’s Cave, even though the results were clearly for The Green Marble and The Disappearance of Billy Moore, my publisher upset the apple cart and said she wanted Healey’s Cave, LOL!
Sonia’s Note: Friends and readers also suggest titles based on a story synopsis Aaron shares
Your book covers are very dramatic; how do you choose them?
Since I have started publishing my own books (after 15 titles published through Twilight Times Books), I have had free reign on the designs. I’ve been working with a wonderful cover artist, Kellie Dennis, to create the last five designs. We both go through stock photos to find one that screams, “Pick me!” and then we work and work and work on them to make them absolutely perfect for the book they represent. It is so much fun. Kellie can be contacted at: bookcoverbydesign.co.uk.
Did you ever ‘kill’ someone in one of your books and later regretted it?
Oh, yes. As a matter of fact, I go a “do-over” a few years back with my second book, Upstaged. Here’s the scoop:
For years I’ve regretted murdering one particularly sweet character early in my LeGarde Mystery series, specifically in the second book, Upstaged, where a psychopath lurks backstage in the high school musical. The victim: Ethel Fox, who loves dogs, is a high school janitor, and volunteers to help with the drama club’s productions. Ethel also happens to have Down Syndrome. Looking back now, I realize I probably cast her as a victim to rile up my readers with righteous anger, and to make the villain scream “evil.”
While working at a facility for physically and intellectually challenged adults who love music, art, writing, and theater, my daughter Melanie invited me in to help during their summer festival. I arrived feeling quite virtuous, since I took a vacation day to volunteer, but instead of “helping” the folks there, I spent the day being humbled, time after time. The individuals radiated joy, and were delirious with excitement because they were about to put on a musical show for their visitors. Family and friends crowded the facility, and although I saw evidence of serious physical and intellectual “disabilities,” I was convinced these lovely people did not in any sense of the word felt disabled on that day.
They danced and sang in the hallways, held hands and giggled, painted gorgeous pictures from wheelchairs (some were displayed in local art shows), and delighted in the costumes in which they’d been dressed for the celebration.
While I snapped pictures for their scrapbooks, I fell in love with the people and teachers, was suitably humbled, and realized that after eight hours of fun, I had received much more than I’d given. A few days later, I donated Upstaged to one of the higher functioning members of the writing class, knowing that she loved musicals.
So, a year passed, and the writing teacher asked me if I’d come in and give a talk to her students who loved books and writing. Thrilled, I arranged the date. We had a blast, and talked for almost two hours. They asked great questions, and I delighted in their company. It was after the class while I was donating more books that I suddenly remembered I’d killed off a character with Down Syndrome in Upstaged.
What had I been thinking? Why did I donate the very book where I let the villain kill a character who represents so many people at this arts center? Was I insane? To be honest, it had been so long since I’d written the book, I really hadn’t remembered about Ethel, but when I did, I kicked myself. Repeatedly.
It was this experience that made me rewrite Upstaged and bring Ethel back to life. Not only did I prevent her murder in a way that didn’t goof up the original plot, but I gave her a cuter name. What kind of a name is Ethel for a sweet, helpful, loving lady? Her new name is Cindi. I think it fits her. Don’t you?
The Lord keeps me humble. It’s a good thing. There’s nothing worse than a big-headed fool. But frankly, he doesn’t have to work very hard at it. I give him lots of help.
I like all of your series, but my favorite is the LeGarde. I feel as if I knew all of the people who live in that series…If a movie were to be based on this series, who would be your choice to play the parts of Gus, Sig, Elsbeth, Camille, Freddie, Shelby, Millie, Oscar, Adelaide, etc...? Or would you prefer totally unknown actors to represent them?
I’ve thought about this a bit. What author doesn’t imagine his series on the screen? There are a few actors I’ve chosen who I’d love to see represent my main characters.
Male lead – Yannick Bisson (he plays William Murdoch in Murdoch Mysteries) as Gus LeGarde
Female lead – Jessica Brown Findlay (she plays Sibyl in Downton Abbey) as Camille Coté
You have also authored a third series you call the Tall Pines Mysteries -
How many titles so far in this series?
Four written so far. Two are released and two are almost ready to go. They should be out by fall, 2014. Here they are:
MURDER ON THE SACANDAGA (coming soon 2014)
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