Shirley McCann has produced “solve it yourself” mystery stories and a teen mystery, and her writing has appeared in Woman’s World, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery, The Forensic Examiner, and many other publications.
The Springfield, Missouri, resident’s newest release, ANONYMOUSLY YOURS, is a cozy that comes with a whiff of romance, a missing corpse, and the threat of more bodies appearing or disappearing. At the time of this interview, Shirley was working hard on edits for her YA novel. THE SCARRY INN will be released by Black Opal Books but is still cloaked in secrecy, so we focused on ANONYMOUSLY YOURS.
ANONYMOUSLY YOURS started as a YA book and evolved into a cozy mystery. How long did the writing process take and how did you manage the transition?
Considering it started out as something else, the process took quite a while. But once I knew what I wanted to do with it, the re-vamp took very little time. The story line remained the same, but the characters had to grow up, plus I had to incorporate a bit of technology that wasn’t around when I first wrote it.
Can you tell us which elements of the characters and mystery you carried over, and why?
It didn’t work for me as a YA. I wanted the characters grown and planning careers for themselves. And I wanted them to be able to carry weapons legally. The only people who were actually changed were the main characters, Denise and Justin. But I also added a lot of character development and story line to the original.
Previously you produced some very interesting “solve it yourself” mystery stories in the collection GOT TIME? 13 SOLVE IT YOURSELF MYSTERIES and the teen mystery THE NECKLACE. Which is your favorite mystery mode to write in?
I’m not sure I have a favorite. I enjoy the mystery, whether it’s a short story, YA, middle grade, or adult. I’ve recently signed a contract for a YA suspense. I also think a lot of adults read YA, so it’s a very fine line there. I know I still read them. I think it’s just whatever the mood strikes me at the time. I don’t want to limit myself.
And what are your favorite mystery-thriller reads?
Mary Higgins Clark is my favorite. I also enjoy reading her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark. I also can’t get enough of David Baldacci and Harlan Coben.
Two of your lead characters share a love of cop shows. Do you share this love and what are some of your favorite shows?
Of course I do. I still watch reruns of Murder She Wrote and Colombo. Law and Order is another favorite, as are NCIS and Bones.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process? What is a typical day like for you?
I play at a real job part of the week, so sometimes writing is just a hit and miss game. I do enjoy getting up early on my days off and writing when the world around me is quiet and dark. I’m not much of a night person. At home, I have my laptop handy and open so I can sit and jot things down as I think of them.
In ANONYMOUSLY YOURS, Denise Thomas finds a body and runs. What would you do if you found a dead body?
I’d probably scream or faint or both. I definitely wouldn’t remain in the house while I phoned the police. Denise would have if circumstances had been different. She’s braver than I am.
I would really like to see more of Denise (and Justin Banks!). Can you tell us if you are planning more books in this series?
I hadn’t thought about that. I’m getting ready to start the edits on a YA series, which I’m hoping will be released sometime this year. But Justin and Denise together again? I kind of like that possibility. We’ll see.
Shirley McCann’s fiction has appeared in Woman’s World, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, The Forensic Examiner, and many other publications. She enjoys reading and writing all genres. She lives in Springfield, Missouri. Her newest release, ANONYMOUSLY YOURS, is a cozy mystery. Her YA Novel, THE SCARRY INN, will soon be released by Black Opal Books.
To learn more about Shirley, please visit her website.