Debut author Alexis Gordon hits the right notes with MURDER IN G MAJOR. Stranded without luggage or money in the Irish countryside, African-American classical musician Gethsemane Brown accepts a less-than-ideal position turning a group of rowdy schoolboys into an award-winning orchestra. The perk? Housesitting a lovely cliff-side cottage. The catch? The ghost of the cottage’s murdered owner haunts the place. Falsely accused of killing his wife (and himself), he begs Gethsemane to clear his name so he can rest in peace.
Alexis Gordon won her first writing prize in the 6th grade. After establishing her medical career in El Paso, she returned to writing fiction. Her other interests—the symphony, art collecting, embroidery, and ghost stories—are star attractions in her novels.
MURDER IN G MAJOR features a small town in Ireland. Do you have a special connection to the area?
I am a Hibernophile. I love all things Irish—the music, the pubs, the whiskey, the accent, the language, the landscape. I visited the eastern part of Ireland several years ago and I’m returning to visit the southwestern parts this month, a present to myself to celebrate the publication of my novel.
Sounds as if Gethsemane Brown might be taking a road trip in an upcoming novel. I understand you love descriptions that transport you into the story. Can we expect to find your Irish town becoming a character in your books?
I do love stories where the place is as much a character as the people. Where would Alice be without Wonderland? Yes, I see my village as a character. I want readers to feel as if they are actually in Dunmullach with Gethsemane, O’Reilly, Grennan, and the others.
How are you managing the juggling act, balancing your medical practice and writing?
Luckily, I now have a day job with set hours. Having a definite end time to my work day makes it easier to find time for writing. The only downside is my work day starts at 6:30 in the morning. I’m a night owl and prefer to stay up late to write. Having such an early start time makes staying up late rough. I do a lot of catching up on sleep on weekends.
Any time management skills you’d like to share?
I’m a procrastinator since way back when, I’m embarrassed to admit. Ask my mother how many school projects she had to help me finish with a day’s notice. Deadlines help.
I suspect many of us can relate to the need for a deadline. Music is another key element in MURDER IN G MAJOR. Is a violin tucked into your busy background as well?
My mom enrolled me in piano lessons from elementary school through high school. Unfortunately, instead of appreciating the lessons I viewed them as chores, something Mom wanted me to do to compensate for not having the opportunity to take piano lessons when she was growing up. I quit playing the piano as soon as I could, i.e. when I went off to college. I also, briefly, played the violin and saxophone (not well). I realized my talent lay in supporting music rather than performing it so I became a patron of the arts. Creating a musically gifted protagonist was wish fulfillment. Taking piano lessons again is on my bucket list though.
Henery Press has a wonderful reputation as an up and coming mystery press. Can you share your “road to publication” story with us?
When I moved to Dallas, TX (from Anchorage, AK where I discovered just how bad winter really was) I found myself working regular hours for the first time since residency. I’d put writing on the back burner for years but having evenings and weekends free prompted me to take it seriously again. I’d participated in writing workshops and seminars off and on which were helpful but never resulted in a finished manuscript. I wanted a structured, long-term non-degree program. My goal was to finish writing a book, not earn an MFA. I found The Writer’s Path at Southern Methodist University which offered to help students write a novel from start to finish. If you completed all steps of the novel-writing track in sequence you’d end up with a finished manuscript by the end. I took the courses and did the work and ended up with a first draft of MURDER IN G MAJOR that I wasn’t embarrassed to submit to agents and editors.
In the midst of pitches and queries and endless waiting I discovered DFWCon, sponsored by DFW Writers Conference. The rest I chalk up to divine intervention. I registered for the conference on a whim not knowing what to expect. I signed up for the two pitch sessions included with the registration fee. During the conference, attendees were given the opportunity to purchase additional pitch sessions. I hesitated, thinking two were enough, they were only for “practice,” nothing was likely to come of them but something prompted me to stand in line and buy a session with Kendel Lynn of Henery Press. Kendel happened to be looking for a cozy mystery with paranormal elements. And I happened to have written a cozy mystery with paranormal elements. Some emails and phone calls later and I had a book deal.
Hooray for divine intervention—or maybe some ghostly assistance. Either way, congratulations on your debut! Any sneak peeks on the next book in the series?
Thanks! The next book is called Death in D Minor. Some of Gethsemane’s family members are going to come visit her in Dunmullach. There’ll be stolen antiques, art fraud, ghosts, and, of course, a murder or three.
Alexia Gordon won her first writing prize in the 6th grade. She continued writing through college but put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. She established her medical career then returned to writing fiction. Raised in the southeast, schooled in the northeast, she relocated to the west where she completed Southern Methodist University’s Writer’s Path program. She admits Texas brisket is as good as Carolina pulled pork. She practices medicine in El Paso. She enjoys the symphony, art collecting, embroidery, and ghost stories.
To learn more about Alexia, please visit her website.