Welcome Reader, to November’s Second Saturday Author Interview.
My guests today are the mother-daughter team who write as Maureen K. Howard, Maureen Kovach and Brigette Howard.
Thank you for joining us today, Maureen and Brigette. I know my readers are eager to learn more about you and how you create your charming characters. Just to give our readers who may not have read your books an idea of your style, here’s an excerpt from my review of Sunny Side Up from this past March:
Sunny Side Up lives up to its title, as the main characters are indefatigably cheerful, even when enmeshed in the most devastating situations.
Fans of zany, madcap female amateur detectives will love boating on Lake Erie with BFF’s Francie and June, an unlikely match-up whose friendship holds fast as they leap into one ill-advised adventure after another.
Now, let’s learn more about this dynamic duo:
Maureen and Brigette, when did you publish your first book, Sunny Side Up?
Sunny Side Up was published on November 21, 2014, just in time for the holidays.
How long did it take from the first glimmer of an idea until publication?
Brigette and I toyed around with the idea of writing a book for about three years before we finally decided to quit talking about it and do it. Once we got it going, the actual writing took about six months, and then we had to figure out how to get it published. That was probably more work than the writing because it was all brand new territory. I Skyped with my sister’s friend in England who gave me a road map for the journey. From there, we joined lots of online author support groups and asked lots of questions. All told, I’d say close to four years. Seeing that first novel in print and holding it in my hands was unlike any feeling I’ve had since Christmas Day when I was four years old.
I know exactly how you felt, Maureen. You and your daughter write as a team. I’m curious about how this duet of words works. Can you explain the process?
It’s unusual, or so they tell me, but to us it’s the most natural thing. I can’t imagine doing this on my own. Brigette is the idea girl. We plot out a rough outline together. She comes up with so many creative scenes and puts her thoughts down in a shared Google Doc. I then stretch, expand, and polish the material. We both go over and over the whole thing, adding and refining all the time. I love writing the scenic descriptions and creating realistic dialogue. We’ve been told we have a unique voice, and I suppose that’s due to two voices melding into one.
As a retired English teacher, what are your thoughts on the current crop of independent authors, as far as grammar, punctuation and the mechanics of the written word are concerned?
I am proud to be in the company of so many independent authors who are meticulous about what they publish, but as in all fields, there are those who are in a rush and will sacrifice quality for quantity. I love to promote other independent authors who exemplify superior skill and craftsmanship. If an author writes a good story, her readers won’t care who published the book.
Do you think your teaching background helps in the editing process?
Without a doubt! I am obsessive when it comes to sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation. (Notice the Oxford comma-LOL). I see errors even when I’m not looking for them. They’re everywhere. They haunt my dreams. After I have edited our manuscripts to death, I do it again, and then send it to a professional editor.
I noticed your publisher is listed as Silver Phoenix Publishing. Is this the same Silver Phoenix Publishing best known for comic books and trading cards? If so, how did you make the connection to have them publish your cozy mystery book?
There is no connection, darn it. I checked out the name when we were forming our partnership and since there wasn’t one in Ohio, we used it. It was the code name for my youngest daughter’s unborn child-but that’s a story for another day. (She since gave birth to my wonderful granddaughter, Evelyn Lilith.)
You bring the Lake Erie neighborhoods to life in your stories. Have you lived in Ohio all your life?
No. I lived in Michigan for my first forty years. I now reside in Ohio, and my family has been enjoying the beautiful shores and islands of Lake Erie for over twenty years.
Do you have an agent?
No. We are doing the Indie thing.
Is Francie’s personality a combination of yours and your daughter’s?
I have pondered this question myself. She definitely has personality traits that we share, such as fierce loyalty, a sense of humor in the face of adversity, and the love of all cheese and fine wine.
Do you have a work in progress or new release you would like to tell us about?
Yes! We are so excited for the release of Deviled. Book 2 in the Lake Erie Mysteries series will be available for purchase any day now.
Where can readers learn more about you and your books?
Please visit (the sites below). We love interacting with our readers!
At left is a photo of Brigette with her dog, Isabelle, and me with Joe, the golden doodle.
It was a pleasure answering your questions, Jonna. I can’t wait to read all your other author interviews and gaining insight into their lives and writing process.
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Maureen. I’m sure we all look forward to more entertaining, egg-titled adventures with Francie and her friends.