Everyone, please welcome Robert Snow back to Dab of Darkness. His first novel, Folsom Point, features private investigator Abigail Romero solving cases and finding missing items in northern New Mexico. Don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the end of the interview. Enjoy!
Having been a psychology professor for decades at Arizona State University, how does that feed into your current efforts at writing mystery novels?
I want my protagonist, Abigail Romero, to rely primarily on her intellect, although she is very athletic and a survivor. She majored in sociology and anthropology at University of New Mexico, and she uses that background well in Folsom Point. My intention is to bring social psychology principles into the stories at points that make sense in advancing the plot and solving problems.
One of your favorite hobbies is cooking. Care to talk about some of your favorite dishes?
Experimenting with cooking is one of my favorite creative outlets. Abigail will always cook, although I’ve been cautioned about bringing too much food into the stories. In part, the food influence comes from Nero Wolf (Rex Stout), who had gourmet dishes on a daily basis. As for personal favorites, my aim is to sample and enjoy all kinds of cuisine. But don’t look for Abby to get too daring. As a single woman, she is often too tired to cook up a storm, but she’ll always try to buy local and fresh.
In Folsom Point, your lead protagonist is Abigail Romero, a single Latina woman in her 30s. Did it take some effort to come up with this character, or did she sprout fully formed, more or less, from your mind, ready to go?
Having lived in Abiquiu for twelve years, and been fortunate to have formed many friendships with locals, it was easy to develop the character of Abigail. I also support women’s rights and wanted to develop a strong, independent woman protagonist. And, there are many role models for Abigail in the Abiquiu, El Rito and Ojo Caliente area.
How did you get into beekeeping and how long have you been doing it? Any tips or resources you would point out to beginners?
Bill Page, from Ojo Caliente, whom I met while serving on the El Rito Library Board ten years ago, asked me if I’d be interested in joining him in becoming a bee keeper. We jumped in with both feet. However, the past few years, we’ve experienced the same problems that a lot of beekeepers have suffered through, and now we’re down to just a few hives. It’s fun, but also hard physical work. As for advice to the beginner, the drought has reduced the forage to the point of disaster.
Who have been some of the most influential authors throughout your life?
This is a tall order, as there have been many. If I had to pick one author who I wish I could emulate in writing style and impact it would be F. Scott Fitzgerald. Among mystery writers: Rex Stout, John McDonald, Georges Simenon, Dick Frances, Tony Hillerman, and, of course, Raymond Chandler; and Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Nevada Barr, P.D. James and Jacqueline Winspear to name a few of the excellent women mystery writers. I lean more to protagonists who use their wits more than their fists or weapons.
Your wife is a yoga instructor. Do you yourself practice yoga and does your wife use you as a guinea pig when she wants to try out some new yoga form?
I take two classes a week, both of which are taught by my wife, and she treats me like any other student, including paying her going rate. No, she never uses me as a guinea pig. She’s very good at tailoring the class to fit the needs and abilities of the students.
Folsom Point is Book 1 in a series of Abigail Romero mysteries. At this point, how many books do you foresee in the series and will all of them take place in the northern NM area?
The series will have as many books as I can possibly do in the productive years that remain. The next one, Turning Point, should be out in June or July 2013. In this one, Abby witnesses a murder on Christmas Eve in Taos, and becomes entangled with a female assassin who could pass for Abby’s twin. The third book will take place in a monastery near Abiquiu and will involve a murder through shock caused by bee stings. The fourth may involve the Cumbres & Toltec train. All will feature Abigail as the protagonist, her cat Duster, and friends Carmen and Nick. Look for a love interest as well.
Please share with us any other ongoing or upcoming reading/writing events and projects you would like to chat about.
The stimulation to try my hand at mystery writing came from taking a workshop with Lesley Poling-Kempes of Abiquiu. As an accomplished historical and fiction author, and student of Tony Hillerman, Lesley knows the ins and outs of getting started and maintaining momentum. In addition to knowing how to craft a story, Lesley is also an excellent teacher who knows how to lead a beginner, like me, along. I’m sure all beginning writers know teachers and critics who fail at this. My hope is that readers will like Folsom Point enough to give Turning Point, which has a more complex plot and more drama, a chance. Turning Point also delves a bit more into the subtleties of northern New Mexico culture.
Here is a tantalizing little blurb on Turning Point, coming out Summer 2013.
A high profile politician is murdered on Christmas Eve at a sacred pueblo dance in Taos, New Mexico by someone wearing a monk’s robe. Abby is convinced the assassin is a woman and the hunt is on. Friends Carmen and Bob join in the intrigue involving a slick Santa Fe art dealer, a nefarious developer, and Mexican drug gangs. A psychological dilemma looms large, and Abby is forced to question her own motives in the hunt.
Places to find Robert Snow
A paper copy of Folsom Point will be given to one lucky winner. To enter, simply comment on this interview; enter the rafflecopter (see below) for additional chances to win.