Alice Duncan is a much published, award-winning author who also happens to edit mystery novels for Five Star/Gale/Cengage. I’ve personally had the pleasure of working with Alice who edited five of my Five Star/Gale novels.
For my review of this novel, go to: http://www.amazon.com/Spirits-Revived-Alice-Duncan/dp/1432827987/ or https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18351876-spirits-revived?ac=1
Thanks, Jacquie! I appreciate you inviting me.
Question: Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine of SPIRITS REVIVED?
Daisy Gumm Majesty, heroine of SPIRITS REVIVED, is my very favorite character of those who’ve shown up in my brain during the past twenty or so years I’ve been writing. She began her career as a phony spiritualist when her Aunt Vi was given an old Ouija board in Daisy’s tenth year. She had such success with her family that she branched out, and by the time the first book in the series, STRONG SPIRITS, was published she was the primary support of her family.
Her husband, Billy Majesty, died a little more than a year before SPIRITS REVIVED starts, and Daisy, who’s been through an ordeal of grief and guilt, is finally coming to terms with his loss. Daisy (I think) is actually me, only without the crippling neuroses and with a supportive family. In SPIRITS REVIVED, for the first time ever, Daisy actually conjures a real, live (or dead) ghost in one of her séances. This both shocks and scares her. Then she has to figure out who killed the poor boy without letting on to anyone how she discovered he’d been murdered and hadn’t committed suicide.
Question: I know that this novel is part of a mystery series because I’ve read and very much enjoyed the previous novels. Could you tell readers about the series? How did it originate? What inspired the series?
Let me see . . . For one thing, I was born and grew up in the Pasadena/Altadena area, and have always loved it. Even now, when it’s overcrowded and smoggy,
and Altadena are lovely. I’ve used a lot of my own life
in the Daisy books. In fact, I’ve used many, many names and locations. For
instance, Daisy and her family live in a house I used to own (only my house was
on Michigan Avenue and not
Marengo). And I grew up in Mrs. Bissel’s house! It’s still there, on the corner
of Altadena Drive (used to
be Foothill Boulevard) and
Maiden Lane. I also took my kids to Dr. Benjamin when they were little, and
took my very first dachshund to the Pasanita Obedience Club in Brookside Park,
where he did very well. Miyaki’s Restaurant, where Daisy and her family dine in
SPIRITS REVIVED, was a real Japanese Restaurant, only it was called Miyako’s.
Mijare’s Mexican Restaurant, which opened in 1920, is still going strong and
still serving fabulous Mexican food. I used my late son-in-law’s name in the
book, too. Keiji and my daughter Anni were married for years before his
As for the series itself, from the start I wanted it to be an historical cozy mystery series. My publisher at the time (Kensington) decided they wanted me to take out the dead bodies, add a subsidiary romance (because Daisy’s already married) and then marketed them as romances, which they weren’t. Of course, by that time they weren’t mysteries, either. They tanked. The late, great Kate Duffy actually called me to apologize for mis-marketing them, but by that time it was too late, and I had to write more historical romances. I didn’t want to, but there you go. In fact, I was downright depressed when I wrote my first post-Daisy book, A PERFECT STRANGER. I hated writing that book and have only recently overcome my loathing of the book itself.
I was overjoyed when Five Star picked up the series under their women’s fiction line. Then that line closed. I managed to squeeze the sixth book, ANCIENT SPIRITS, in as a romantic suspense novel, but from now on they’re mysteries. Whew! Daisy’s had as rough a life as I’ve had.
Question: Can you tell us about some of your other published novels? I know there are quite a few and that many are now available as both audio and e-books.
Oh, my goodness. There are, literally, dozens of them. I’ve written historical romances under my name (Alice Duncan), Emma Craig, Rachel Wilson and Anne Robins. I also wrote a couple of westerns in the “Trailsman” series under the pseudonym Jon Sharpe, but the less said about them, the better. My very first book, ONE BRIGHT MORNING, came about because I used to get migraine headaches. They were terrible. I got to wondering what a young widow woman with a baby and a ghastly migraine would do if she lived in the 1880s in
and a gunshot stranger showed up at her door. My second book, TEXAS LONESOME,
contains dachshunds. I attract dachshunds kind of like a magnet attracts steel
shavings. I think it’s a curse. Daisy Majesty gave her husband a dachshund
named Spike, and Mercy Allcutt (in another series) has an apricot toy poodle
named Buttercup. I love dogs J Anyhow, I’ve had something over fifty books
published under a whole bunch of names, and nobody’s ever heard of any of them.
Well, that might be a bit of an understatement, but not by much. New Mexico Territory
Anyhow, all my out-of-print backlist, and some of my in-print books, and a short story, which is part of my Pecos Valley series (another cozy mystery series set in the twenties, only this one in New Mexico in 1923) are available on Kindle and Smashwords. You can read all about them here: http://aliceduncan.net/page5.html . My Daisy books have recently undergone a facelift and are being published as e-books and trade paperbacks by ePW. You can read all about them here: http://ebookdiscovery.com.p8.hostingprod.com/AliceDuncan.html
Question: Did you always want to be a writer? What made you start writing?
Yes. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. From the time I could listen to stories, I knew I wanted to write them. Life got in the way (as it has a habit of doing), and I didn’t begin writing books until the nineteen-nineties. I tell you, life was *hard*. Sometimes I hear people say (generally disparagingly about people who say they want to write but don’t have time) that “writers write.” That may well be true, but writers also have to live, rear children, and earn livings.
Question: As an editor for Five Star, how do you suggest writers contact your company?
Here’s the web site for Five Star, which will show you what kinds of books they like: http://www.gale.cengage.com/fivestar/
Question: What advice would you offer to those who have novels they would like to submit for consideration?
The publishing world today is fantastically different from what it was when I first published. Nowadays, authors have an abundance of ways to get their books published and don’t have to depend on five or six big name in
New York City. Having said that,
however, an aspiring author has to be careful his or her work is worth
publishing. You need to LEARN YOUR CRAFT before you publish anything (or you’ll
look like an idiot). I’ve seen a whole bunch of self-published garbage lately.
I’ve also seen a lot of well-written, well-edited books being put out. But you
really, really, REALLY need to get a handle on the language, which is the tool
of your trade, before you tackle writing and publishing a book. Please.
Thanks, Jacquie! I appreciate the opportunity.
Those of you who have comments, please know that they are very welcome. So feel free to join the conversation. Don’t be shy. Go ask