Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Interview with Author Mary Stanton, Angel's Advocate

I am always up for a good paranormal mystery and so when offered the chance to be a part of Mary Stanton's virtual book tour for Angel's Advocate through Mystery Books News, I jumped at the chance. This is not your usual sort of paranormal cozy, a fact that intrigued me even more. With only two books in the series available for sale at the moment, I decided to purchase and read a copy of the first book in the series, Defending Angels as well. I had time to read both before the tour and can honestly say that I have added another series to my list of must-read series. Be on the look out for my reviews of both books later this week.

Summary of Angel's Advocate (provided by Mystery Books News):
Money's been tight ever since Bree Winston Beaufort inherited Savannah's haunted law firm Beaufort & Company along with its less-than-angelic staff. But she's finally going to tackle a case that pays the bills representing a spoiled girl who stole someone's Girl Scout cookie money. But soon enough she finds that her client's departed millionaire father needs help too. Can she help an unsavory father/daughter duo and make a living off of the living?
Author Mary Stanton was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about Angel's Advocate and her series, featuring the Beaufort & Company. Please join me in welcoming Mary Stanton to Musings of a Bookish Kitty!

Literary Feline: I love the concept for your Beaufort & Company series, which is up to two novels now, Defending Angels and The Angel's Advocate. Where did the idea come from?

Mary Stanton: The idea evolved over time--and to be truthful, I sort of backed into it. I had a request to do a proposal for a ghost hunter series. And I'm like a dog offered a biscuit when someone asks for a proposal. I always say yes. But ghosts didn't interest me very much, so I substituted angels. And then I saw my little sister, who is a terrific lawyer, in court for the first time and all I could think of was: good grief--I used to read this woman stories when we were little kids, and here she is--an advocate! And for some insane reason, that line of Mark Antony's from Julius Caesar kept running through my head: 'the good that men do is oft interred with their bones'.

So the idea for an advocate for the unjustly condemned dead came into being all of a sudden, and there I was.

Literary Feline: You've written a variety of different books over the years for varying age groups. Do you find writing one type of book over another easier or more difficult?

Mary Stanton: It's a matter of mind set, more than anyone else. I envision my reader, first. For the middle grade stories, it's my youngest step child, when she was six years old; for the suspense, it's my little sister (not the lawyer, the other one); for the Hemlock Falls and the McKenzie cozies, it's my mother in law, who is 95. The I adjust my tone and get to work.

Literary Feline: When did you first take up mystery writing and why?

Mary Stanton: I sort of backed into that, too. My first two novels were adult urban fantasy novels. Then, in 1993, my agent at the time said Berkley was starting a mystery line and would I do a proposal. I LOVE doing proposals. And I LOVE mysteries. So they bought three of the Hemlock Falls novels, which startled me, because I only did a proposal for one.

Literary Feline: If Bree won an all expense paid vacation to anywhere in the world, where would she go and what would she most like to do?

Mary Stanton: Hah! She'd go to Rome and look at all the Renaissance paintings!

Literary Feline: I love your eccentric cast of characters. Did you find any of the characters difficult to write? Who was the most fun to put onto paper?

Mary Stanton: Bree was the hardest. Payton the Rat and his evil boss John Stubblefield are the easiest. Although Sasha's not bad. And I love Beasley and Caledcott, the evil attorneys for the other side.

Literary Feline: I have such fun figuring out how chapter quotes fit with the chapters they come before. How do you choose your chapter quotes?

Mary Stanton: All kind of stuff bumps around in my head when I work. Bits of songs, half-remembered bits of poetry, old plays. So I stick whatever's been mumbling along in my head in after I finish the chapter. And then I have to go look it up, because I've always mis-remembered it.

Literary Feline: What do you hope readers will take away from your latest book, Angel's Advocate?

Mary Stanton: My latest book is actually #3 AVENGING ANGELS, which I sent off to Berkley last week. So I'll have to think about ADVOCATE for a bit--I know! It would be:

Never take money from a Girl Scout.

Literary Feline: Very sound advice!

Some authors have a designated work space in their home where they spend hours writing while others prefer to settle in at a local cafe. A few authors swear by writing with pen and paper and yet others prefer the modern technology of the computer. Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

Mary Stanton: I sit in a recliner with my lap top on my knees, a yellow pad and pen next to me, and with a pile of cookies and a large cup of coffee next to that. Sometimes I substitute Hershey bars with almonds for the cookies. And I begin by playing Hearts on the computer. I have to win two games before I start to write.

Literary Feline: I do that too! Only it's usually a review I'm writing and Minesweeper or Big Money I end up playing with water by my side.

What is one of the more memorable experiences you've had on a book tour?

Mary Stanton: Scholastic arranged a tour for me for THE UNICORNS OF BALINOR . A little nine year old girl marched up to me, slapped the first book in the series down for a signature (it was "Sunchaser's Quest' ) and said: "Can you make these more interesting?"

So that's been my number one Writer's Rule ever since: Make it interesting.

Literary Feline: She sounds like a reader who knows exactly what she likes and isn't afraid to say it.

I can't help but ask: are you reading anything at the moment?

Mary Stanton: I read five or six books a week when I'm not working. Right now I'm reading Steven Saylor, Lee Child, and a really cool biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt called THE FIRST TYCOON. It'll be different next week, because I have to start a new Claudia Bishop novel, TOAST MORTEM.

Literary Feline: Is there a question you have not yet been asked by anyone that you wish someone would ask?

Mary Stanton: Gosh, I don't think so. These questions were really fun to answer!

Literary Feline: Thank you so much, Mary, for joining me here today!

* * *
Mary Stanton’s career as a fiction writer began in 1984 with the publication of her first novel, The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West, a beast fable similar in tone and theme to Watership Down. The sequel to that novel, Piper at the Gates, appeared in 1989.

Mary sold her first mystery to The Berkley Publishing Group in 1994, and has since published three series with them under the nom de plume Claudia Bishop. In all, Mary has written twenty mystery novels, two adult fantasy novels, eleven novels for middle-grade readers, including the successful series, The Unicorns of Balinor. In addition, Mary has written three scripts for a television cartoon series, Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders, and edited three short story anthologies.

You can learn more about Mary Stanton and her books at her website. And be sure and stop by Mary Stanton's Book Tour Schedule for a look at her various tour stops in the next couple of weeks. She will be making other guest appearances and you can get an idea of what others are saying about her books.

Giveaway Opportunity: Mary Stanton is giving away a signed copy of her book, Angel’s Advocate, to one lucky tour visitor. Go to Mary's book tour page, enter your name, e-mail address, and this PIN, 2122, for your chance to win. Entries from Musings of a Bookish Kitty will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow (so hurry!). No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on Mary’s book tour page next week.

Many thanks to Mary Stanton and Mystery Books News for the opportunity to be a part of this tour!


  1. Thanks for sharing the candid interview. I'm more familiar with her children's literature - looking forward to reading her adult work.

  2. I've heard about this series (of course, I can't remember where) and I love the idea. I'll do anything paranormal...it is little release from the reality of war and destruction!

  3. These are great interviews, Wendy! It might be your subjects too. Nah. The reviewer. ;) Her Angel series sounds right up my alley - good thing that 9 year old gave her that good advice! lol

  4. I agree - GREAT interview!!! I also agree with your assessment about the idea for the series being good. This was definitely a good niche for the author.

    By the way ... I liked the quote you use at the top of your blog. Each person gets something different from what they read.

  5. Great interview, Wendy! This is a new-to-me author and the book sounds good to me.

    I must try reading Lee Child's books one of these days too.

  6. Thanks for the wonderful interview! These books are a little out of my usual reading, but I really enjoyed them and will looking for the next one in the series.

  7. Nice interview! I just picked up her newest yesterday.

  8. Great interview, Wendy! I've got to check out Mary's books. :)

  9. Great questions and interesting answers! If I had a plate full of cookies or hershey's bars next to me when I wrote I would never stop writing!

  10. What a fun interview! I missed out on the giveaway but I definitely have these on my radar. I love mysteries and a bit of paranormal activity doesn't hurt :)

  11. Thank you everyone for stopping by! I had such fun with this interview. Mary Stanton is such a nice person and I really appreciate the time she took out of her busy life to answer my questions.

  12. Oh now that's a cool idea. The unjustly condemned dead advocate sounds so neat! I'm seriously surprised that no one has thought of something like this before. Cute puppy by the way!

  13. Jen - I think so too! It's a fun series. I think her dog is adorable too. :-)


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