Today’s guest is J. Michael Orenduff. I’m happy to say that he’s my first ever male author interviewee. He’s a talented writer who’s an Eppie Award winner. He’s also been compared to the late Tony Hillerman. Find out more about Mike and his books at his Web site www.orenduff.org
Susan Palmquist (SP)-Many people who write mysteries also love to read them too. Is this true for you and who are some of your favorite authors?
J. Michael Orenduff (JMO)-Yes, I am an avid reader of my own genre. I think we learn to write by reading. My favorites – in no particular order – are Tony Hillerman, Michael Bond, Simon Brett, Lawrence Block, Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christy, Lawrence Saunders, and Robert Parker.
SP-You’re an Eppie Award winner. Were you are the award ceremony? What’s the first thing you thought about when you heard you’d won?
JMO-Yes, I was at the awards banquet, and two other finalists were at the same table. When they announced the winner, I was looking around to see who stood up and then realized belatedly that it was my name they had called.
SP-You live in New Mexico and your books are set there. Many people believe that setting can be used as an extra character. What do you think? And how important is setting to a book, especially to a mystery?
JMO-I don’t live in New Mexico now, but I have lived there several times over the years and plan to return as soon as possible. Setting is not only an extra character, it determines how your characters think and act.
SP-What a great honor for you…to be compared to Tony Hillerman. Were you a fan of his?
JMO-He is first on my list. But I don’t take the comparison seriously. First, he was a much better writer. Second, I write light humorous mysteries whereas he wrote very serious stories. Hillerman transcended genre.
SP-You also write for the stage, what type of plays?
JMO-I write both comedies and serious plays that I think of as existential.
SP-How does that process differ from penning a novel?
JMO-This may be an oversimplification, but I see a play as simply a novel where everything except the dialog has been stripped away. Many fans have told me my dialog is their favorite part of my writing. It is also what I enjoy most.
SP-Any tips for writers for crafting an engaging mystery?
JMO-Three tips: read mysteries, read mysteries, and read mysteries.
SP-There are two schools of thought regarding mysteries, plot versus character, what’s more important in the genre?
JMO-Character because the plot should turn on the facets of the protagonist’s persona.
SP-What are you working on right now?
JMO-I just finished the fourth book in the series, The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier. So what I’m working on now are the things I have neglected while writing that manuscript – laundry, exercise, paying back bills, etc.
SP-Any plans to write other genres?
JMO-I’ve completed rough drafts of a suspense work and a non-fiction work. Who knows what they may lead to. I certainly have no clue.