Linda Barnes, one of New England’s most celebrated mystery writers, author of four Michael Spraggue novels and twelve Carlotta Carlyle novels, has kindly agreed to talk to us about her newest novel, The Perfect Ghost.
Nancy: After your beloved and long-running Carlotta Carlyle PI series, what made you decide to write a stand-alone novel?
Linda: I’d wanted to go rogue for years, but decided to wait until Carlotta was in a good place and could be left to fend for herself for a time. Believe me, I love the series novel, and did not undertake this departure lightly. Carlotta is furious about the whole thing.
Nancy: How is writing a standalone different from writing a series?
Linda: There are fewer rules. The world of the standalone novel only needs to endure for a single book. When you write a series, you make a certain number of deals with the reader, chief among them that the main character will not die.
Nancy: Your newest protagonist, Em Moore, differs greatly from Carlotta Carlyle. Did creating her present any unique challenges?
Linda: Em started as a character in a different, unfinished novel, but wound up demanding a book of her own. She has a totally different voice than Carlotta’s; at times she was very difficult to live with.
Nancy: The Perfect Ghost is set on Cape Cod and involves the theatrical community and a local police department. How did you go about your research?
Linda: I went to Cape Cod on vacation, fell in love with the landscape, went back, visited friends lucky enough to live there. The research was not arduous; it involved a lot of swimming and beach walking. I toured one local police department, but decided to create a new town, slightly altering the geography of the Cape, so that my PD could operate in its own way. As for the theatrical troupe, Malcolm’s theater bears some resemblance to a summer theater in Michigan where I served as an apprentice many years ago.
Nancy: What surprised you as you wrote The Perfect Ghost?
Linda: How hard it was to get Carlotta’s voice out of my head. Now I’m having the same trouble with Em.
Nancy: You write cinematic scenes, which makes sense given your theater background. Can you tell us a little about that background and how it influences your writing?
Question: I studied acting, theater education, and directing, and have done a bit of each. So I tend to think in actor’s terms, in beats, scenes, and acts. I’ve also written plays; I’m always imagining the curtain lines.
Nancy: Have changes in publishing changed the way you go about the business of getting your books out?
Linda: I try harder to keep my website (http://www.lindabarnes.com/) up to date. And I have a Facebook page now. (Check it out! https://www.facebook.com/lindabarnesauthor?ref=ts&fref=ts )
Nancy: Thank you for spending time with us, Linda. Oh, and please tell Carlotta to stay strong! We’re glad she won’t stop whispering in your ear.