Sunday 27 February 2011


Before kicking off, I'd like to offer many thanks to Richard Godwin for this:

I'd also like to thank him for reading his novel. I'm at page 70 of Apostle Rising on my first evening of writing and I'm loving it.

And here's a deadly duo for you. Take good care, folks:

Mike Nettleton and Carolyn J. Rose are a husband-wife writing team with 5 jointly written novels to their credit: The Hard Karma Shuffle and its sequel The Crushed Velvet Miasma , The Big Grabowski and its sequel Sometimes A Great Commotion (a third book in the series is on the way) and The Hermit of Humbug Mountain. The first four are mysteries and Humbug is a young-adult fantasy. Carolyn has also published four mysteries as solo projects.

Mike: So Nigel is giving us the opportunity to ask ourselves the questions we’ve always wished an interviewer would pose.

Carolyn: Let me start. What’s that stain on your shirt?

Mike: Clam chowder. Maybe. But I don’t think that’s what Nigel had in mind.

Carolyn: Of course not, I just needed to know before you dropped it in the laundry. Pre-treating means never having to say, “That shirt is now a dust rag.”

Mike: Point taken. Here’s a question for you. In the course of the novels we’ve written together and the four you’ve written by yourself, how many people have you murdered?

Carolyn: About a dozen.

Mike: Doesn’t that make you some kind of literary serial killer?

Carolyn: Cute. Well, I do sometimes wonder if I’m tapping into a very dark place in my psyche when I’m planning some of these mysteries. Which real-life people are these fictional victims surrogates for?

Mike: I’ll continue to sleep with one eye open. Your turn.

Carolyn: Do you think you’d have written a novel if you hadn’t run into me? (She bats her eyes seductively)

Mike: Probably not. I’ve always written—short stories, essays, Rod McKuenesque poetry and the like—but it took someone as focused and single-minded as you to nag—

Carolyn: I prefer the term verbally incentivizing.

Mike: Okay, what you said. But, because you were so serious about your goal of getting a novel published I found myself drawn in. After winning a couple of short-story contests I was pretty firmly hooked.

Carolyn: And did you enjoy the process of team writing?

Mike: Enjoy might be a little strong. Sometimes, I’d write something really creative (or at least that was my estimation), only to find myself defending it in relation to its value to the overall story. And when we’d cut it because it didn’t contribute, the little voice inside would scream, “Wait that’s my baby you’re killing!”

Carolyn: Don’t forget I sacrificed some children too.

Mike: True. Have you always been so focused and goal-oriented? You certainly have in the 26 years I’ve known you.

Carolyn: Yeah, I have.

Mike: Why?

Carolyn: Because I grew up in a small town and, for as long as I can remember, I wanted to leave. Working hard, paying attention, and getting good grades in school was my ticket out.

Mike: Why was it so important to get out? I’ve been to Bearsville, New York. It’s a beautiful and scenic spot in the Catskills, certainly not a hell-hole.

Carolyn: Anyone who grew up in a small town knows there are expectations about what you’ll do with your life, who you are, and what you’ll become. Most of those expectations center around getting married, having kids and living within miles of where you grew up. I wanted to create my own identity.

Mike: I guess I experienced some of that, too, although I grew up in a larger town. But I did leave home at 17 and never went back.

Carolyn: The fact that your parents changed the locks may have had something to do with that.

Mike: (shoots her a look) I could have crawled in my bedroom window. That’s how I got in and out of the house most nights anyway when I was a teenager.

Carolyn: I’m a Virgo and I like schedules, lists, predictability. I like knowing where I’m going to be the next day, what I might wear, who I might encounter. You on the other hand . . .

Mike: Am a poster child for the Chaos Theory.

Carolyn: You’ve gotten somewhat better, but yeah. Haven’t you ever said to yourself, “My life would be much better if I got more organized?”

Mike: Briefly. In fact I even wrote it down. But then I lost the slip of paper. I would have to say, you’ve made me a believer when it comes to color-coded index cards. They’ve made our team writing much more manageable. I think it’s interesting how things change through the years. I used to listen to music, turned up to, as another Nigel, the guitarist with Spinal Tap once said, “to eleven. It’s one louder than 10 you see.”

Carolyn: I remember. The walls of the house would shimmy and the dogs would hide under the bed.

Mike: But you always minimized distractions.

Carolyn: I’ve always immersed myself in the writing. The click of the computer keys were plenty of sound for me.

Mike: But now you have something else on when you write. A Seattle Mariners game on your tiny portable TV.

Carolyn: You really don’t have to pay attention to that. If they have a season like last year, they’re probably losing, so what’s the point?

Mike: And you even listen to music sometimes, while I tend to work without sound. What happened?

Carolyn: For one, I think you lost most of your hearing.

Mike: There’s that.

Carolyn: Works to my benefit when I tell you something I don’t really want you to hear. Like, for example, “I’m cutting that section you wrote.”

Mike: Huh? Well, I think we’re almost out of space here. Do you have a last question?

Carolyn: What are you working on now?

Mike: A rewrite of a hard-boiled I wrote years ago. I had it with an agent but no one snapped it up. Now I’d like to try to market again. It’s called Shotgun Start.

Carolyn: So you’re just cleaning it up a little? Taking out a little, adding a little?

Mike: I just lost chapters six through nine. I’m really rethinking the whole book. Interesting what some time away from a book can do to your perspective. How about you?

Carolyn: The sequel to my Five Star mystery, Hemlock Lake.

Mike: I thought that was a stand-alone novel?

Carolyn: So did I. But, apparently I forgot to tell Dan, Camille, and the others who live around the lake. Turns out they had another story to tell.

Mike: Thanks for the interview, Sweetie.

Carolyn: You’re quite welcome. And, Mike?

Mike: Yes

Carolyn: Don’t you dare wear that shirt to work tomorrow.


  1. I wanted to thank Nigel for having Carolyn and I on (wait, doesn't that have a different meaning in the U.K.?) and hope you'll toss us a comment about the collaborative writing process.

    We have a trip planned to Great Britain in September and would also love some insider tips on some "must see" things in England, Wales and Scotland. We've been warned off Stonehenge and Stratford. Any other thoughts?

    Mike Nettleton

  2. you can come and sleep on a couch at mine in Scotland's Sunny Dunny (Dunbar), that's for sure. it's also a promise.

  3. Nigel, many thanks for the offer - you never know when or where we might turn up. It's always been my dream to go to Scotland.

  4. Damn it. Why, oh why do writers have to be so darn charming? I'll tell you why! I now have to go and get their books. As if I don't have enough to do (I mean dusting mice is a full time occupation that won't stand for many interruptions . . . not to mention the cat). But that's what I'm heading out to do. These two are making an alarming amount of smoke starting to ooze out of my Kindle. I think the blasted thing is going to blow a rear end because of them. Grumble.

  5. Nigel: Thanks for the offer of your couch. I've slept on more than one in my day. We're pretty pumped about our visit in the fall, both of us being huge readers of British (and Scottish)mystery fiction. Had the opportunity to hear Ian Rankin speak at an event a few years back and love his work. Also Val Mcdermid is a favorite.