photo: Geoff Green
Julia Spencer-Fleming's mysteries featuring Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson and police chief Russ Van Alstyne have won the Anthony and Agatha and have been Edgar and Romantic Times Reader's Choice award nominees. The eighth book in the series is Through the Evil Days (Minotaur, November 5, 2013). Spencer-Fleming is on Twitter, Facebook and readerSpace, and she blogs with the Jungle Red Writers.
On your nightstand now:
Lee Child's Never Look Back, Paul Doiron's Massacre Pond and Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal. A perennial favorite, a recent favorite and a new find.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Freddy the Detective by Walter R. Brooks. What do you get when you give a brilliant, slightly bored pig the Complete Sherlock Holmes? A porcine Nero Wolfe, with Jinx the cat as his daring Archie Goodwin.
Your top five authors:
Lois McMaster Bujold, who has the most brilliant characters. Steve Hamilton, whose prose I deeply envy. Charles Dickens (but not Oliver Twist!). Margaret Maron, who has been a role model for my own writing. May I include a poet? John Donne.
Book you've faked reading:
You know that Very Important Book that comes out every year from some daring MFA graduate who lives in the Village and gets profiled in the Style section of the New York Times? Yeah, I fake all of those.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Archer Mayor's Joe Gunther series. This Vermont-based police procedural begins with Open Season; the 24th novel, Three Can Keep a Secret, was just released this October. Tough and tender hero, twisty crimes, unsentimental rural settings. Hands down, the best mysteries you're not reading yet.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Coming Out by Danielle Steel. What a gorgeous cover--like a John Singer Sargent painting. As for the novel inside... after the first three paragraphs I donated it to the library book swap table. Kept the cover, though.
Book that changed your life:
A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony by John Demos. I read this as a sophomore at Ithaca College. It (and the seminar) so captivated me, I went on to change my major from acting to history (with a concentration in 17th-century English and American history.) From there, I went to a master's program for museum studies/history, where I met a student from Maine... well, you get the picture. If not for Demos, I might be an unemployed actor in New York City instead of an author in New England. I think the Puritans would have approved.
Favorite line from a book:
"All children, except one, grow up." --From Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
I find most good books just get better with rereading. The anticipation of what you know will happen is half the fun. That being said: The Sergeant's Lady by Susanna Fraser, one of most original romances I've read in recent years. I honestly didn't know if the Napoleonic-era infantryman and the earl's daughter would come to a happy ending after their adventures, and it made my first reading intensely emotional.