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Interview with Mar Preston, Author of Rip-Off

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Mar Preston is the author of two mystery novels set in Santa Monica, California, featuring Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department. His girlfriend is a community activist, liberal in bent, which clashes with Mason’s traditional cop views. A third novel, set in a California mountain village features a County Sheriff’s Detective and an injured former Detective working as a patrol officer.

Thanks for this interview, Mar! When did your passion for crime and detective fiction begin?

Not until my forties until life settled down − and mostly importantly, after I wrote four unpublished literary fiction novels. I thought, well, mysteries can’t be as hard as literary fiction.  Silly me.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

When I felt comfortable that I could think up and tell a good story.

Tell us about your latest novel, Rip-Off.

High-tech burglary and murder are bad for business in the upscale, tourist-destination beach city of Santa Monica with its leftist politics, rich homeowners, its entertainment mega-businesses, and huge homeless population. Bad for Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department. 

A deadbeat burglar is found in the beach condo of a playboy studio exec. The dead body must link up with a string of high-tech burglaries, and the Chechens Mason keeps meeting must link up with each other somehow, but how?

The investigation involves Mason in the dark world of embezzlement and an explosion that almost kills him. The stakes rise when the investigation leads him to the Hollywood Russian community and he ignores a warning by the FBI and Homeland Security.

How long does it usually take you to write a novel?

Years.

Are you disciplined?

No, life is too interesting. Maybe that’s why it takes me years.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

One cup of coffee playing Spider Solitaire to warm up. Long sigh, then get at it. The first draft is agony. I love rewriting and making the story better.

I hear you’re quite inventive when marketing your books. Can you tell us about your latest marketing event?

Sell, pawn, mortgage all your possessions and hire a publicist. Few writers are good self-promoters. I comment on interesting blogs, praise and review other writers, search for opportunities to guest blog, publish short stories, support Sisters-in-Crime, arrange house readings, and spend a limited time on Facebook and Twitter. I wish I had a clone.

What are the three main ingredients of a good mystery?

An absorbing plot that keeps you turning pages, engaging characters, and a twist on the usual rules of crime fiction.

What is the most difficult part of writing crime fiction?

The reason why it’s so hard to get a cop to read a mystery is clichéd plots and characters. Authors really need to work to make a story realistic and founded in fact.  Cops consider CSI a comedy show.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an author?

Holding a book that you’re proud of in your hand. Then it’s like childbirth. You forget all the agony that went into making that book and you foolishly start another.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Write in whatever genre people are willing to read while you get the craft of writing polished to a high lustre.

What’s on the horizon for Mar Preston?

A New Adventure. I’m moving home to Canada after a 30-year vacation in California.

Connect with Mar Preston

On her website, Facebook or Twitter

RIP-OFF is available on Kindle and in print.

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About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.