What are the most important things to keep in mind when writing a mystery?
Think about what age group you're writing for. Characters are based to a degree on life experience and a 55-year-old reader will understand a character thinking about being overweight, smoking too much, wrinkles, and not having enough time for a grandchild, while a 25-year-old wouldn't consider those things necessarily as important as child care, clothes, boyfriends, or the like. A character who is "over the hill" has already lived through those problems as has her audience. A young P.I. with a younger slant on those shared problems of child care, clothes, and boyfriends is much easier for the younger audience to identify with and understand. So once you decide to write a mystery, decide the audience, then think about plot and characters to appeal to them.
I understand you’ve also ventured into the world of children’s books. Your picture book, Jeremy and the Dragon, was recently released by Twilight Times Books as an ebook. What compelled you to switch genres and what was your source of inspiration for this particular story?
I really have no idea where Elvis the dragon or Jeremy came from unless you accept my explanation that I have a muse that looks like the blob and lives in a swamp with all sorts of weird critters like himself. Or, if you prefer, the story was written to show that kids can use their minds to make decisions. Do you remember being seven years old and being treated like you were dumb as a rock? The dragon is something that fascinates me as much as it does kids and serves well as a symbol of the unknown or a challenge. Lastly, like other things I write, it was an idea that wouldn't go away until it was written. The real charm of the book, however, is the artwork. Lewie Francisco had created dragons with real personalities and writing another story for Elvis and Jeremy will be something I look forward to doing.
Young children never seem to get tired of dragon stories. What makes dragons so fascinating for children?
As I said above, I think dragons represent the unknown and a challenge. A child who controls a dragon in his imagination has taken the first steps into decision making and thinking independently of what an adult tells them. A child who can face a dragon and not run away in his mind can feel pride at his own bravery. Dragons represent danger, freedom, and a way to surpass one's physical limits by using one's imagination. For many, it is also their first foray into escapism in fiction to make a daily routine more fun.