Audrey Keown is an author known for her historical mystery novels, the Ivy Nichols Mystery series. Here’s what she had to say!
Welcome, Audrey! I absolutely adore Ivy Nichols and I was so excited when your sequel came out! What inspired you to write your most recent novel?
My latest is a sequel to my first novel, a murder mystery, so the period-themed hotel setting and recurring characters were already in place. For this one, I wanted to write about a murder that someone might commit to replicate one in fiction, which sparked the rest of the plot. The idea to have a group of taphophiles, or gravers, visit the hotel also sounded fun to me, and new characters sprang from that.
What is your writing routine?
After I get my son to school (that is, when we’re not in the peak of a pandemic and in-person school is a thing), I get my writing day started. I usually start off in my cozy living room with my laptop and move to my home office at some point during the morning. I know that doing the same activity in the same place everyday can be good for the writing brain, but I don’t always do what’s good for me, and moving around to different locations helps refresh me. When I get stuck or sleepy, I take a walk around my neighborhood. I do my best to treat it just like a job and sit down to do the hard work every day.
Which authors inspire you?
Agatha Christie is maybe too obvious an answer, but she did so much to shape the mystery genre and has to be paid homage for that. I harbor an undying affection for her Hercule Poirot--he is arrogant, fastidious, nearly unlikeable at times, and yet principled, devout, and good to his core. Alan Bradley is a more recent favorite. I’ve been following his sleuth, the child chemistry prodigy Flavia de Luce for several years, and she charms me. I love his small English village setting too, and the complex recurring characters. I’m a fan of the way that Flavia grows and changes over an arc that spans the entire series, unlike many traditional mystery protagonists.
I’ve also enjoyed mystery writers P.D. James, Kerry Greenwood, Dorothy Sayers, Elly Griffiths, Laurie R. King, and so so many others. I despair when I think how many good books and authors there are and how little time I have to get to them.
What are you currently reading?
I’m hosting and participating in a challenge to read all 66 of Agatha Christie’s mystery novels in a year. You can follow along with the hashtag #AgathaAllYearLong on Instagram.
Do you use any life experiences to inspire your writing?
To me, it seems inevitable that the author’s experiences seep into their writing. My first novel, which is unpublished, drew from my experience living in South America and growing up in a haunted house.
The Ivy Nichols series is less obviously inspired by my own life, but there are aspects of character and location that are somewhat autobiographical. Ivy lives in my town; George and Mr. Fig both share my affinity for high standards, although it manifests differently in each of us.
How did you get into writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
Writing was always an interest, but I didn’t always believe that I could be a writer, that I could do it well--as if writers were born and not made. But in my twenties, I realized, maybe for the first time, that there are books out there that aren’t perfectly written but still tell a great story. That realization welcomed me into the craft of writing. Knowing that I could start somewhere and not be perfect was freeing. I began looking into the craft of fiction writing and learning everything I could about how to do it better.
What’s your experience marketing your book? Do you have any tips for other authors?
Connecting with readers and other authors was definitely the best part of the marketing process for me. I interviewed several fantastic authors who write in my genre for Instagram, so I could produce good content and not have to talk about myself, which is something I don’t love (although I am doing it right now!). I believe the best marketing is authentic and original, and if an author’s marketing can be both, they’ll feel good about the time and effort they put in.
What’s next for you? Do you have any other projects in the works right now?
I’m working on book three of the Ivy Nichols Mystery series, in Ivy must identify a murderer before her boss becomes their next victim. The search also puts her on the trail of an unknown treasure reportedly hidden in the hotel by her family.
Thank you for taking the time to chat, Audrey!
Audrey Keown is the author of the Ivy Nichols Mystery series, set in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the place she calls home. For ten years she wrote professionally for periodicals, which sharpened her storytelling skills for cutting into fiction writing. Themes of redemption and connection to history find their way into her work. Like her protagonist, she battles anxiety and writes about mental illness in her fiction in hopes of helping lift the stigma.
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