When I asked Alison Golden to allow me to interview her, I had no idea just how accomplished she was. I must admit that I was awed by her fame, once I got into my research on her.
Alison has several mystery series in publication. I am very behind in my reading, but have started the first of the Inspector David Graham and the Reverend Annabelle Dixon stories, which are proving to be top of the line cozy mysteries.
Let’s start right in with our questions.
Welcome, Alison, thank you so much for joining us.
Two of your series are based in England, although neither are based in your hometown; another series is based in Vancouver, although you live in San Francisco. Can you tell us why you chose these locales and how you did your research on them?
The Annabelle series is set in Cornwall, England. I spent idyllic farm holidays there as a child, the kind where you bring the cows in for milking and drink the milk while still warm, ride tractors, and visit the cat’s new kittens. I wanted a serene, beautiful setting for the series and Cornwall was the place that jumped into my mind.
The Inspector Graham series is set on Jersey, an island off the coast of Britain. I wanted another small town setting for the series, but wanted to differentiate it from the Annabelle series so chose an island. I also am interested in military history and Jersey has the unusual distinction of being a British territory occupied by the Germans in WWII, a backstory I thought I could incorporate in the stories.
The Diana Hunter series is set in Canada because I wanted to distinguish it from other thrillers that typically use CIA/MI5 centric stories.
Detective Inspector Graham is a man in his 30s, Diana Hunter is a very young woman, and the Rev. Annabelle Dixon is a vicar. Are any part of them from your conscious personality?
I’m sure that’s true, although I didn’t consciously write them that way. It is what I know. Like Annabelle, I can be a bit scatterbrained but with thought and effort can work my way out of most muddled situations to a successful conclusion.
When I was Diana’s age, I was very much like her although I think my British manners made me a little less smart mouthed. Also like Diana, I am very driven and I have to consciously force myself to slow down. I’m introverted and hyper-focused like she is.
Graham is more like someone I know.
Annabelle’s life-long best friend is a Catholic nun. Are you religious? How have you gained information on the duties of the two women?
I was christened and confirmed into the Church of England. I also went to school at a time when we sung hymns and said prayers at morning assembly. Those experiences gave me an understanding of the way the Anglican Church works. I still attend church when I’m home in England. I don’t have much experience of Catholicism but I have friends who do. (I often tap my friends for information.) And of course, there is always Google.
The Diana Hunter series has lead you away from cozies deeper into suspense. Is this where your work is headed, or do you foresee doing more cozies?
Yes and yes. The recent publication of Exposed, #5 in the series, made me realize that I want to branch out beyond the confines of the cozy mystery genre and this year I have been working to reorient my brand as an author to allow for that. In the future, I want to be able to write in other genres if I choose, although I can’t imagine writing anything too gritty. There are definitely more cozies coming, too. I have more books planned in all my series and also a new cozy series in development.
Have you written in other genres? Is there some type of writing that you’d like to tackle?
I have written non-fiction. I wrote a book on strategies for eating a paleo diet when others around you don’t. It is called The Modern No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo and you can still get it on Amazon.
As far as my fiction is concerned, I imagine writing more thrillers, perhaps some chick lit, and literary fiction, but my biggest goal is to write a series set in the 1940’s.
All of your series have been co-written with different authors. Can you tell us about your experiences working with your co-writers? Did you write literally together? Correspond? Meet at set times? Make continual phone calls? Tackle different elements?
Gosh, that is a difficult question to answer concisely. It varies from book to book, writer to writer. Everything is done via email. I don’t like the telephone and avoid it wherever possible. We constantly send manuscripts back and forth with new sections written and many comments in the margins. We typically work together on the first draft and then I take it from there. I also write books by myself if the writer isn’t available.
We will write the parts that depend on our individual specialist knowledge like a geography or historical facts. I often write the children. Every book partnership is different, but however we get to the end of the early draft, I always take over to see the project through to the end.
I add pacing, color, description, details. I will reorganize scenes, add red herrings, and clues. I’ll amend the plot and change the murderer if I think the story isn’t working. I write whatever is necessary to bring the story to a point that satisfies me. My standards are very high. I write 7-9 drafts of every book.
I enjoy working with other writers. We put our egos aside and learn a lot from each other. I am very grateful to them. I am a better writer because of them.
Do you have any hobbies?
Hah! I try. I’m something of a workaholic, although I’m getting better. The closest thing to a hobby for me is reading. I try to take two days off a week to read. I like spending other free time with my family. I walk everyday, alone or with friends. I’m also trying to get into making handmade cards. My sister-in-law makes them and I’m always so impressed. I’m hoping that by the time you read this, I’ll have made my first batch of homemade holiday cards.
Please tell our readers about your life in America with your husband and children.
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve lived in the US for 22 years. My husband is American while my sons and I have dual US/UK citizenship. I work at home. I visit the UK at least once a year and going forward will spend part of the year there rather than simply making flying visits. One of my twin sons is a freshman at college. We are adjusting. My other son is taking a gap year and will go away to college next Fall. We go out to eat, to the movies, escape rooms. Like most mums, whatever my boys like to do I’ll follow along for as long as they’ll let me while carrying the coats.
How can our readers learn more about you and your work?
You can visit my website at: http://alisongolden.com.
If you sign up for my newsletter, you will receive the first books in each of my three series for free.
I have a very active Facebook page at http://facebook.com/cozymysterybks
If you would like to send me a message, please do so here:
Thank you so much for being our guest, Alison Golden
Alison Golden is an award-winning mystery writer and author of the bestselling Inspector David Graham Mysteries and Reverend Annabelle Dixon Cozy Mysteries. As A.J. Golden, she writes the Diana Hunter thriller series.
Alison was raised in Bedfordshire, England. Her aim is to write stories that are designed to entertain, amuse, and calm. Her approach is to combine creative ideas with excellent writing and edit, edit, edit.
Alison is based in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and twin sons. She splits her time between London and San Francisco.
You can learn more about her and her books at: www.alisongolden.com