A: Dear Ann,
No, I don't base my characters on any people I know, although some readers here on the island are sure that I've done exactly that! They see people they know as the prototypes of characters in my books when I've never even thought of those people! My characters come out of my imagination. Often they create themselves. I introduce them, thinking they're certain kinds of people I need for my story, and then they become people I never expected them to be. This happens to writers all the time.
Q: I enjoy your writing very much and I'd like to know what your favorite book of all time is.
My favorite novel is "The Brothers Karamazov," by Dostoevsky. I guess my favorite book of all time would be "The Complete Shakespeare."
Q: Do you live on Martha's Vineyard year round? If so, do you find solace and creativity in the winter months as well as the bustle of the summer months? Do you have children? And do they love the Vineyard as much as you do? — Rebecca
A: Dear Rebecca,
I do live on the Vineyard all year, and I write all year, too, both in summer and winter. During the winter there are fewer tourists but the island is rich with activities, including concerts, theater productions, etc. … My wife and I both sing in the island chorals society and otherwise have more to do than time to do it. My son and his children live on the island. My daughter and her children live in Colorado. They, too, love the island.
Q: What do you think makes a great mystery? What does the author need to have in the story in order for it to be an engaging mystery?
Dear Sarah, You, as a reader, know the answer at least as well as I do. I think you need to create major characters whose lives are of interest to readers. Readers have to care what happens to them. If they don't care, they don't finish the book. Mystery novels are like all other novels. They have to deal with interesting characters and circumstances, and resolve those circumstances satisfactorily. Some smart person once said that the appeal of mystery novels is that justice triumphs in the end, which is unlike what happens in real life.