Beyond the Jacket Copy: An Interview with Author Missye K. Clarke, Part One


Here’s a quick opportunity to get to know me as an author, a writer, and an average Jane Palooka. I hope this gives you some insight in more to me than being a mere storyteller. Like you expect a fantastic story to let you forget life for a little while, that can’t happen unless you know about the author beyond the jacket copy. So, without further ado, here’s The Interview, Part One.

Who were your favorite authors to read during your childhood?

Hmmm. So many to list, it’s almost impossible to narrow the field. When I was seven, it was Syd Hoff’s Danny and the Dinosaur (An “I Can Read!” book), The Story About Ping, The Case of the Cat’s Meow, and Where the Wild Things Are. At eleven, it was Jenny and the Cat Club; at thirteen, it was Susan (S.E.) Hinton’s The Outsiders, Tex, and Jane Emily, by Patricia Clapp. Evntually, although they’re for children, The Great Brain Series is a fantastic collection of hilarious stories about a Catholic family in Mormon country, Utah, in 1898, with a clever boy named Tom Dennis who was as much a money cheat as he was in breathtaking intelligence in lessons and solving some town dilemmas. Of course, find these tales on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Strand Bookstore, and other outlets where fine books are sold.

You mentioned one of the titles, The Case of the Cat’s Meow. Did that spark your love for mysteries?

Partly. I thought it a very cool story (no spoilers here!), but it was my mom who got the mystery bug in me. I’d tried reading Nancy Drew, but found myself drawn to Joe and Frank Hardy, instead. More action, adventure, and BOLD protagonists. Nancy was a girly-girl, her mom’s girl. For the time, it was expected for a girl to “know her place” as a female, and when she was done with solving mysteries, keep her skirts clean, and go for an ice cream sundae to celebrate. YEEECH!! Totally not me. Besides, I was too much a tomboy to enjoy Nancy, oo I read The Hardy Boys mysteries. Four, I think. Might be time to pay the fellas another visit. And my mom, God rest her, read Ellery Queen magazine often. I tried to read them when I was sixteen, but torn between a quartet of loves–reading, budding writing, music, and raging hormones over boys–(**laughs**) that took a backseat, unfortunately.

In your perfect world, what’s an ideal mystery  you’d read?

Fantastic question! I think I’m crafting one now. Called The Threesome Of Magic Mysteries, I’m blurring genre lines with mystery, fantasy, and lots of–shall we say for the sake of G audiences reading this–adult face time involved with the plot (**she winks slyly**). I’m one for bending rules into pretzel forms to the point they don’t break, and if it does … then so it does. But this is more speculative fiction than anything else, as not only is the plot based on a dream I’d had, but that I’m also a character (Missye Maroon, at your service) in the story–and another of my characters from my Casebook mysteries is my  fellow amateur sleuth. No, I won’t tell you who it is, that’s cheating. And–in the voice of “Isaiah Edwards” from Little House on the Prairie–“I won’t stand for no cheatin’!”

…But seriously, I’d like to read and write a mystery with as original a plot as I can find, with characters  I’d love to have as real-life best friends, and o let adults go on these fantastic adventures as kids do when they first discover the joy of reading and the wonder the stories hold. This magic shouldn’t ever stop just because we kids have grown up and started worrying about home financing and keeping the light bill paid.

I ask this out of respect for you, but … you seem–how to put this nicely–so energetic on the page. Do you worry this might alienate your readers?

Not at all. Apart from the fact I’m born under the astrological sign Gemini (another topic for another post!) I was Netflix-binging on Ken Burns’s documentary about the Roosevelts, earlier this year, and saw, to my surprise, Teddy (known then as T.R.) was boundless with energy. In the above photo of Theodore Roosevelt, his hands are  fisted. He doesn’t do this from anger, but he’d had such energy, he had to hold his hands still for photographs. I’m much the same, as is one of my McGuinness boys. I’ve had unchecked A.D.D./A.D.H.D. for as long as I can remember, and it’s impossible for me to contain my energy some days. Others, I’ll sit quietly or work on falling asleep, but my mind’s still racing, thoughts flying, and I can’t type or write as fast as the thoughts go or drift off as I’d like. With my A.D.D., is it a job to get my ducks in a row for a novel? Brother, you’re not kidding; I’m half-shocked I can sit still long enough to finish such a project, let alone do another! (**grin**). Which is why I’m begging my husband to get me a swim membership for the Y, in addition to organics to corral this energy. Or I’m good with a trampoline, that works, too. And more adult face-time. And like Teddy R., he read everything, got into exercise, and just never stopped going, going, going. You could say without a hitched eyebrow Theodore Roosevelt could’ve been the Original Energizer Bunny.

What’re your thoughts on the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia

Oooo, another good question! Wow, you can’t get more pelican brief, can ya? A high U.S. official, dead in his bed, unrumpled bedclothes and pajamas with a pillow over his face, no investigation, no detectives, no DNA, no autopsy, bodily fluids extracted before toxicology panels could be run, secluded ranch, the “official story” kept changing over the course of a few days, and the cause of death is declared by a federal official, (huh?!?), landmark cases to soon be decided on and he’d be one of the swing votes, maybe … Come on (she says in her heavy New York City accent), this is the stuff supreme mystery novels are built on, only it’s real. And scary as hell, especially since the family members, when asked about Scalia, were zipped tighter than a body bag on the topic of how their family member, just checked by his doctor a week before, suddenly died on a remote Texas ranch. That ranch, by the way, two hours outside of cell or Internet service and in one of the more corrupt counties in the Lone Star State.

This reeks of a full-out cover up of a murder. And it’s taken a supermarket gossip rag to bring out the truth the once-proud mainstream journalism would’ve been falling all over itself to investigate and compete for prizes for. An even deeper mystery: why is the mainstream press so silent on this? Do they know something we don’t–or shouldn’t? What are they hiding to keep Scalia’s death as a “Nothing to see here, move along, please!” attitude about it.

Yes, it’s a mystery, every aspect of it. Yes, I suspect Justice Scalia had been assassinated. No, I don’t believe the “official story,” anymore than I believe OJ didn’t kill Nicole and Ron. Yes, something shady went on and why we’ve not read anything more about it, especially under suspicious circumstances, is fully confounding as the reasons behind the SCOTUS’s death in the first place.

So find it no surprise why more authors than ever before are writing mysteries. Truth is stranger than fiction, of course. But as long as truth like this keeps coming at society, the fiction will continue.

~ Missye

Part Two of this Interview will be posted on Thursday.serveimage


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