AUTHOR: Frankie Bow
BOOK TITLE: The Musubi Murder
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
PUBLISHER: Five Star/Cengage
Please tell us about yourself.
Like my fictional professor Molly Barda, I teach at a public university. Unlike my protagonist, I’m blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, a loving family, and a perfectly nice office chair. The Musubi Murder is my first novel.
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I still have my day job—It’s my main source of material, not to mention income. To fit everything in, I’ve simply repurposed my leisure time. Instead of goofing off online, reading blogs, or shopping on eBay, I write, revise, update social media, and browse KBoards and Absolute Write. I also listen to writing podcasts at night—Joanna Penn, Simon Whistler, the Sell More Books Show, the Self Publishing Podcast, Ani Alexander, the Author Hangout, and more! I’m hoping some of that wisdom will seep in as I sleep.
What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
One of my characters, Pat Flanagan, was inspired by a dear friend. This friend had lived near me for a few months, and during that brief time he went through several broken-down used cars. He'd buy a car on Craiglist for $500 and drive it until it stopped working and just buy another one. Well, I thought that was funny, so I put that in the book. And then I made the mistake of letting him read it. He was so offended that he quit at chapter three! He wasn't a hypersensitive guy, but I think he felt that I was disparaging his auto mechanic credentials. There are some lines you just don’t cross, I guess.
The best compliment is when someone tells me they burst out laughing reading my book. I love that.
Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
I would definitely think twice before modeling a character on a friend. Or if I did, I certainly wouldn’t tell them.
What is your marketing plan?
Right now I have a website and I’m on social media, and I’m getting the audiobook and the ARCs into the hands of reviewers. I only have the one book out now, but for the future I’m considering releasing a promotional-price prequel to draw readers into the Molly Barda Mysteries series.
What do you plan for the future?
Next up is The Cursed Canoe, which moves between the dimly-lit halls of academia (they removed half the fluorescent tubing in the building to save on energy costs) and the competitive world of Hawaiian canoe paddling.
Molly investigates a mysterious paddling accident, and realizes that it isn’t just business majors who cheat to get what they want. Whether it’s moving up in the college rankings, getting a seat in the big canoe race, or just looking out for themselves, some people will do whatever it takes-including murder.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
Follow me on Tumblr
or visit my blog
Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
The Musubi Murder is, to the best of my knowledge, the first campus murder mystery set in Hawaii.
Professor Molly Barda just wants to keep her head down and stay out of trouble until she gets tenure, but there’s a problem. A grisly prank at a donor banquet pulls the introverted (and untenured) Molly into a stew of corruption,revenge, and murder. Along the way, she finds herself drawn to the too-good-to-be-true Donnie Gonsalves, an enigmatic entrepreneur with a few secrets of his own.
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
I’m definitely a plotter rather than a pantser. Right now I outline the story on paper, but I do have Scrivener installed on my computer and I will learn to use it. I swear.
Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
The more awful the characters are, the more fun they are to write. The dim but well-intentioned apparatchiks from the Student Retention Office are constant thorns in Molly’s side. Molly’s bottom-line-obsessed dean refuses to alienate paying “customers”, and forces Molly to give students who were caught cheating a penalty-free do-over—which, of course, makes the honest students mad at her. Molly discovers that her charming love interest has a loutish adult son, whom she must pretend to like.
How did you decide how your characters should look?
The characters took shape in my mind as I was writing them, but for the audiobook I took it one step further: I did a character table for my narrator, with photos. Some characters were easier to illustrate than others. Molly’s love interest Donnie, for example, was the toughest. I didn’t have any luck finding a plausible photo of a handsome local businessman of Hawaiian-Portuguese descent in his early 40s. So the “Donnie” in my character table is a ‘shopped composite of a football player and two male models. At the other extreme, Molly’s lazy, cheating student Davison was dead easy. I googled “mug shot neck tattoo” and there he was, on the first page of search results.
What advice would you give a new writer starting out?
Listen with an open mind and don’t take anything personally. Easier said than done, I know. But paying attention to others’ opinions can help you to improve your writing. Rejection letters can be very helpful. On the other hand, sometimes people will just drive by and leave you a one-or two-star review with no explanation. You should let it bother you for five minutes maximum, and then you move on.
What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
I look for something either humorous and escapist (Sarah Caudwell, Gail Carriger, E.F. Benson) or so compelling that I can’t stop turning the pages (Michael Connelly, Deborah Blum).
What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
Like most readers, I can’t stand obvious Mary Sues. I also find it hard to stick out a certain type of literary fiction, where you spend four hundred pages with someone’s tense, dysfunctional family, reliving their childhood traumas. No matter how well-written the book is, I find that grueling.
Amanda Cross’s Kate Fansler holds court in a richly-appointed office in stately Baldwin Hall. Joanne Dobson’s Karen Pelletier sleuths at the leafy and exclusive Enfield College. Professor Molly Barda, reluctant amateur detective and narrator of The Musubi Murder, works at a remote regional university where working air conditioning is a luxury. She sits on a yoga ball because there is no budget for office furniture. Her dean, unwilling to lose paying customers, won’t let her report cheating students.
Molly just wants to keep her head down and stay out of trouble until she gets tenure, but there’s a problem. A grisly prank at a donor banquet pulls the introverted (and untenured) Molly Barda into a stew of corruption,revenge, and murder. Along the way, she finds herself drawn to the too-good-to-be-true Donnie Gonsalves, an enigmatic entrepreneur with a few secrets of his own.