Becky Masterman – The BOLO Books Interview

From the Booking Desk:

I am thrilled to welcome Becky Masterman to the blog today. She is the author of the Brigid Quinn series and if you haven’t yet met Brigid, please do yourself a favor and get a hold of these books. The BOLO Books reviews of Rage Against the Dying, Fear the Darkness, and A Twist of the Knife can be found by following the links.

And now, here is Becky!

BOLO Books: Much of A Twist in the Knife centers around the death penalty. Did you have strong feelings on that topic before the book idea came to you?

Becky Masterman: Having worked as an editor for authors in forensic science and branches of law enforcement, I had heard a lot of stories about mistakes and outright fraud. Like the bite mark analyst who, 30 yrs after putting a guy in prison, admitted no, he really wasn’t even sure that was actually a mark made with teeth. Could have been something else. Then I started researching wrongful convictions and yes, I got riled up. But I want to make it clear that my primary objective was to tell a good story and not fulfill an agenda. When an author does that it’s pretty obvious.

BOLO Books: The last paragraph of the novel is so gut-wrenching and honest. I wonder with a piece of writing like that, how much revision goes into just a small section like that? It was almost poetic in its beauty.

Becky Masterman: I’m glad it spoke to you. The final paragraph was greatly edited. The editor thought it was fine but we both agreed that the book was better served this way.

BOLO Books: Brigid Quinn ranks very near the top of my favorite characters in all of literature. Through three books – which cover not really that much actual time – we continue to learn new things about her. Does she live in your mind constantly, telling you new things about herself?

Becky Masterman: She does! I was in a Pottery Barn and saw a sign that said, “Want to add drama to any room?” and I heard Brigid say jokingly, “Shoot somebody in it.” But this is normal, right?

BOLO Books: Brigid’s family relationships have never been easy. Briefly – since some of this in central to the new novel – how do you feel those interactions have shaped who she is today? And what changes does her marriage to Carlo bring to the table?

Becky Masterman: When I first created Brigid I thought, “What if Jack Reacher was a female?” Then I thought, “What if the female was approaching sixty but still vibrant in every way?” Then I thought, “What if she finally fell in love and started to grow up?” There you have it.

BOLO Books: While these three books are very much a series, they each are unique in not only the story they tell, but also in the way the story is told. Tell us a bit about how you mold a novel. Pantser or Plotter?

Becky Masterman: I think of the big What If. Then I create characters with enough detail, throw the problem at them, and they figure things out scene by scene. So I guess the answer is both. As for making each story very different, I’m glad you noticed.

BOLO Books: Sara Peretsky recently wrote a short story that showed readers what V. I. Warshawski was like as a child (review of “Wildcat“). Have you ever had the urge to go back to explore Brigid’s history?

Becky Masterman: I do incorporate little snippets, like playing Drug Bust Barbie with her sister, or the times she has toyed with justice in the search for it. Maybe someday I’ll do a whole book on her entry into the FBI or the case that ruined her reputation.

BOLO Books: Please tell me that you are working on another Brigid Quinn novel now. I simply cannot wait to see what happens next. Any hints?

Becky Masterman: My 4th book is another Brigid Quinn, and I wrote the closing paragraph on the day A Twist of the Knife was released. Life is difficult but a day like this…it’s so worth it.

BOLO Books: You have always been such a strong supporter of the blog and I really appreciate that. I’d love to hear about some books that you have been enjoying recently.

Becky Masterman: Did I tell you I read I’m Thinking of Ending Things? That was your recommendation, right? (BOLO note: Yep, that was me – singing the praises of that novel everywhere.) It was what I’m always looking for, a book so fresh in its style and story that it’s like no other I’ve ever read. Same with The Nix, like Pynchon with less pretension and more heart. I’m a third of the way through and in the back of my mind I’m saying to the author Nathan Hill, oh, please keep holding me like this, don’t drop me!

BOLO Books: If forced to choose only one format for all your future reading, which would you choose: Hardback, trade paperback, mass-market paperback, or e-book? And why?

Becky Masterman: Tough when talking about pleasure reading, because ebook is perfect for traveling but I try not to stare at a screen before bedtime. I’ll go with hardback, because of research. I need to mark pages, flip back and forth, and some research books only come in hard cover.

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