An interview with Avery Aames

This lady reminds me a lot of the energizer bunny, although she’s not annoying =) I just don’t know how she gets it all done and done so well. If you haven’t been introduced to her work before, it’s high time because I know you’re going to be hearing a lot more about her in the future!

PJ: Avery, how long have you been writing?

Avery: I have been writing a long time. Lo-o-o-ng time. I started my career as an actress. I turned to writing television and screenplays, hoping that I could write something that I could “star” in. That didn’t happen, though I did sell a television show for which I created the format: OUT OF THIS WORLD. It was on NBC for 4 years in first-run syndication. I turned to writing mysteries and thrillers when my family moved out of the Los Angeles area (for my husband’s career). I’ve always loved mysteries. I grew up on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie novels. I even attempted to write my own “Nancy Drew” episode around the age of nine. Granted, you’ll never see that one published. J

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

Avery: When my first Cheese Shop Mystery came out, I felt “successful” as a writer.  Seeing the book sitting on a shelf at the bookstore was a major thrill! {Getting a copy of the cover, sans book, prior to publication was a “wheeeee” moment.}

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

Avery: Writing is still the same. I make deadlines. I write an outline. I write, write, write, and I enjoy the process. I love developing stories and characters. What is different is that I had NO IDEA how much publicity was required to help make a book a success. I had no idea of the time involved to do publicity and the expense. It’s exhausting. While there is help from my publisher, there is not enough to cover all the costs and time.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

Avery: Didn’t you know, I’m a millionaire?  We all are. LOL

PJ: Oh yeah! I keep forgetting that! Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

Avery: I’m so lucky and thrilled to be published by a wonderful, well-known publisher. What my publisher is able to do is get my book into the biggest stores, the chains and independents, and the publisher (certainly on the first in the series) did a big promotion to get the title out there so that bookstores and reviewers jumped all over it. I have a fabulously talented editor who is my great cheerleader. She has a good eye and has made my writing better. My print run was quite sizeable and nice. That offers me the chance to find more readers.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

Avery: A lo-o-ong time. Ten years at least. I wasn’t a bad writer; I didn’t have luck and that “it” factor when it came to my books. Agents liked my work but they couldn’t sell “that one” that I had submitted. They often asked for my next book. I have a number of previous manuscripts on my shelves. I intend to rewrite at least four of them (when I can find the time). I was crowned the “Queen of Rejection” by one of my writing groups. I like to think of that title as queen of perseverance. I was just about ready to give up, maybe go back to acting, but then along came an opportunity – the Cheese Shop Mystery series – and I was on my way.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

Avery: I would try to understand what a “hook” is (earlier) so that I could fashion a book better in that regard. I would work with an independent editor so that I could have had my writing at a top-notch level. And then there’s luck. I think I might have spent more time searching for lucky pennies and four-leaf clovers.

PJ: I’m glad to hear you say that. I don’t hear it enough. If you’re writing as a career move, you have to make some effort to write what publishers want to buy. Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

Avery: I try to write five days a week for at least two to four hours. I really need concentrated time. If I hit my mark on pages, then I can go do promotional things. There are times I find I don’t hit my number of pages (word count) and I’ll have to focus harder the next day. Some days are totally devoted to rewriting and outlining. But I create a schedule for producing a completed manuscript, and I try to keep to that schedule at all times. My family is very supportive. They don’t like when I’m pulling out my hair.

PJ: Must be working. You hair looks good. What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

Avery: Being published. Seeing my book in print. And then I was lucky enough to win the Agatha Award for best first novel in 2011. That was a huge high point, though I do have to admit that it was wonderful just to be nominated. There were some terrific writers alongside me, including Alan Orloff, Sasscer Hill, Laura Alden, and Amanda Flower. This year’s flock of new writers is just as outstanding. Janet Bolin, Rochelle Staab, Kaye George, Sara Henry and Kari Lee Townsend.

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

Avery: There isn’t a “single” thing. Constant rejection was hard. I had to continually buoy myself up. I got “close” many times with agents, as I said previously. Hearing “I like you, but…” over and over is a blow to the ego.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

Avery: What has been so much fun is meeting all my writing pals online. I have many. I adore them. The group has blossomed over the years. I started out by joining a group called the Guppies, an online division of Sisters in Crime. That group, which was small when I joined, gave me so much support. It continues to foster good writing and good conversation among writers. And then I went to conferences and met many of my friends in person. There’s nothing better. Friendships with those who understand the ups and downs of a writer’s life is invaluable. And then, of course, there are the fans. I LOVE hearing from and meeting fans. It’s so much fun connecting with them online and at conferences.

PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Avery: Cheese. Food. Good stories. Fun. Family. Good characters. Snappy dialogue.  A sense of pace.  But, honestly, lots of writers offer these same things, so really it comes down to luck again. And possibly beautiful artwork on the covers. I love my artist Teresa Fasolino!!

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Avery: Don’t give up. If you do, you won’t be published. And don’t sell yourself short. You have a voice. Nurture it. Develop it. Keep it fresh.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

Avery: There are so many opportunities: Facebook, Twitter, a website, conferences. I can’t point to any one that really works. I have sent out postcards, done radio spots, gone to book signings in lots of different states. I have a newsletter that I send out every three months. I’ve had contests.  Who knows, really? I know authors that don’t do any of this and they are successful.  Uh-oh, here comes that word again: luck.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

Avery: I can’t seem to figure out how to do things on Facebook so I’ve hired someone to help me navigate. I can post and add pictures, but all the specialty things on that site confuse me.

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

I love a couple of them around the country: Mysterious Galaxy, Mysteries to Die For, Book ‘em Mysteries, Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Murder by the Book, Mysteries & More, and Foul Play Mystery Bookshop.

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

The Long Quiche Goodbye, July 2010

Lost and Fondue, May 2011

Clobbered by Camembert, March 2012

To Brie or not To Brie, February 2013 (not out yet)

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

Charlotte Bessette—proprietor of Fromagerie Bessette, affectionately known in Providence, Ohio, as the Cheese Shop—is busy setting up her tent for the town’s Winter Wonderland faire, where she’ll offer fine wines and scrumptious cheeses. In the midst of the preparations, Charlotte meets an old friend of her mother, Kaitlyn Clydesdale, who has come back to Providence with plans to start a new honeybee farm. When Kaitlyn is found dead, suspicion falls on Charlotte’s assistant’s boyfriend, a honeybee farmer himself. Charlotte knows this beekeeper wouldn’t hurt a fly, so she decides to find the real killer.

Where can we buy it?

Barnes and Noble, online at B&N, Amazon, Walmart, Target, and all the independent mystery bookstores. To make it easy, here’s a link on my website that takes you write to an order page for all of those stores: http://www.averyaames.com/book_sellers.html

What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

A little tidbit about me…my real name is Daryl Wood Gerber. I’m very excited to announce that starting next year, I (Daryl) will have a new series out in July called The Cookbook Nook Mysteries featuring an avid reader, 
admitted foodie and owner of a cookbook store in picturesque coastal California. I have two websites: www.Averyaames.com and www.Darylwoodgerber.com  and two identities on Facebook and Twitter, but they’re both “me.”  And another “little known fact,” as an actress, I did a co-starring role on “Murder, She Wrote.”

Like I said, she’s one busy lady, and deserves much success on the heels of all that work. I love cheese, I love her books and I hope you will too!

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One thought on “An interview with Avery Aames

  1. Pat Reid says:

    Just reading this interview makes me hungry. The Cookbook Nook sounds intriguing. I used to buy a cookbook every place I traveled and made notes in the book as to where it was purchased, when and who I was with at the time of purchase.

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