Q & A with NY Times Author Margaret Coel! - Dark Streets
Margaret Coel is the author of nineteen award-winning mystery novels set among the Arapahos on Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation, including THE MAN WHO FELL FROM THE SKY, in what Booklist calls “the consistently strong Wind River series.” The novels feature Jesuit priest Father John O’Malley and Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden. She is also the author of two suspense novels set in Denver.
Margaret is a fourth-generation Coloradan. She resides in Boulder where she writes from a study that looks out over the Rocky Mountains. A herd of deer graze on the hill outside her window and from time to time, a mountain lion will wander past. “Everyday,” she says, “I drink in the West.”
NOR: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
I think I was born a writer. It is the only thing I ever wanted to do and, as it turns out, the only thing I’ve done. I got a degree in journalism and French literature, went to work as a newspaper reporter, graduated to writing magazine articles and non-fiction books. And finally landed where I had always wanted to be: writing novels.
NOR:Tell us about your Wind River Mystery series. What inspired that?
My first non-fiction book was a history of the Arapahos when they lived on the plains of Colorado, as well as a biography of one of their great chiefs. It is titled Chief Left Hand and is still in print after thirty-some years. The five years I spent researching and writing that book took me into the Arapaho world. I have never left.
NOR: Tell us about your other series, Catherine McLeod.
I’m a native of Denver, and I think of my McLeod series as love letters to the city. I wanted to write about an urban Arapaho, caught up in the day-to-day madness of city life. Since I had veen a reporter in Denver, I thought my urban Arapaho character would be a reporter. So Catherine McLeod was born.
NOR: Your series feature the Arapahos prominently. How did you become interested in them?
They were the people of the plains in Colorado. Half of Colorado once belonged to them and the Cheyennes. I’m a 4th generation Coloradan, and I was always interested in the people who had been here before my people and everybody else came and changed everything. I started reading about these tribes. You never know where you’ll go when you read a book, and pretty soon, I was researching and planning my own book on the Arapahos.
NOR:What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
Quiet. My own office. I’m not a writer who can write at Starbucks or on airplanes. I need a cup of tea nearby.
NOR: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
I am a seriously addicted movie fan, especially old movies. I love them all and spend wayyyyy too much time watching them, over and over again sometimes. Godfather, anybody? Any movie with Cary Grant and Doris Day? Count me in.
NOR: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
Maybe an appreciation of the American West and our rich and riveting history. Maybe a little insight into Arapaho culture and history. Most of all I hope they feel they had a good time reading.
NOR: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Write. You have to keep at it, no matter what. My guess is no writer gets published without a lot of determination and perseverance.
Thank you, Margaret.
Columnist: Toni LoTempio
By Toni LoTempio – As T. C. Lotempio,she pens the Nick and Nora mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. Her latest, Purr M for Murder, first in the Cat Rescue mysteries, debuts from Crooked Lane Publishing in May. She and her cat ROCCO do fundraising for Nathan Fillion’s charity, KIDS NEED TO READ, when they aren’t interviewing authors on ROCCO’s blog! You can keep up with all the latest interviews and news (including her 2014 releases!) at www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com