Interview with M. J. Williams, Author of the ON THE ROAD Series

[MJ Williams]Today, I’m pleased to have as my guests Peggy Williams and Mary Joy Johnson, who together write under the pen name M. J. Williams and are the authors of Books One and Two of the “On the Road …” mystery series, On the Road to Death’s Door and On the Road to Where the Bells Toll.

Q. Welcome to you both. Mystery is a genre that seems to appeal to both young readers as well as adults. Personally, I love them, though I haven’t written one myself. So, tell us what’s unique about your stories.

A. Our “On the Road …” mystery series features a retired couple, Emily and Stan, who travel in an inherited, second-hand RV. The most frequent comments we get about our main characters are that they are the kind of people our readers would “love to sit and have a drink with.” We’ve sort of flipped traditional roles and put Emily in the lead when it comes to investigating, because of her law enforcement background. Stan, a retired history professor, is research oriented and more contemplative than his action-oriented wife. They are also grandparents, and in our second book, On the Road to Where the Bells Toll, which takes place in Boston, reviewers have consistently mentioned enjoying the interaction between Emily and Stan and their granddaughters, one of whom is a typical—if moody—teenager.

Q. That’s funny. So, it sounds like you are really contrasting the two generations which, I’m sure, makes for some interesting conflict. Since there are two of you, can you tell us a little bit about the writing process?

A. The process of writing is actually an evolving process of learning how to write as a team. We do all our initial brainstorming and plotting together, something we happened onto while writing our first book, On the Road to Death’s Door. We depend hugely on outlining—using a day-by-day and scene-by-scene outline format that we’ve designed. And we’ve just started using Google docs so that we can work simultaneously side-by-side or from wherever each of us happens to be at the moment. However, once we have a detailed enough outline, we each take a chapter and begin writing solo, often leapfrogging one another from one chapter to the next. When the first draft is done, we sit down together again and our individual voices pretty much automatically meld into one voice as we revise and edit subsequent drafts, just as we’ve done for this interview.

Q. Wow, you’re both way more disciplined than I am! In terms of the theme, what are the one or two things you are hoping the reader will come away with in each book?

A. Because we set our stories in colorful, current-day settings with the mysteries having historical connections, we hope the reader comes away with a deeper curiosity of a time and place, as well as the satisfaction that comes with a good whodunit. Relationship is another important theme for us. We find ourselves exploring the transitions that come later in life. However, readers of all ages can empathize with the interactions between Emily and Stan and between the couple and their friends and family.

Q. What are you working on now, and is it in the same vein as your current mystery series?

A. We are hard at work on the third book in our series, On the Road to the Deadly Apostles, which takes Emily and Stan and their RV up to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Lake Superior, just off northern Wisconsin. There they become ensnared in a sting involving Native American artifact trafficking. We are not quite sure how it all turns out yet.

Q. That sounds exciting! Best of luck to both of you, and thank you.

Book Blurb

[On the Road to Where the Bells Toll Cover]

In this second book in the “On the Road …” mystery series, Stan and Emily pack up the RV and head to Boston for some R & R with the grandkids and a chance to immerse themselves in colonial history. But their Fourth of July celebration comes to an abrupt halt when they stumble over a body on the Boston Esplanade and then another hanging in the tower of the Old North Church. Now the couple must unravel a tangle of forged clues and flush out the perpetrator before their own untimely epitaphs are written onto the historical landscape.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About the Authors
M. J. Williams is the pen name of sisters-in-law Peggy Joque Williams and Mary Joy Johnson (nee Williams). Peggy is an elementary school teacher and freelance writer. Mary Joy is a retired college professor and professional quilter. Their “On the Road…” mystery series features RVers, Emily and Stan Remington. Both writers live in Madison, Wisconsin.

You can find Peggy on Twitter, and both Peggy and Mary Joy on Facebook, as well as on their Amazon author page.

Linda S. Browning—Rediscovering the Writer’s Life

Guest post by Linda S. Browning

[Linda S. Browning]I started writing fiction again following retirement. I wrote constantly as a teen. When life interfered and required I get a job to pay my own bills, I worked in office management and later in geriatric social work. In 2012 I discovered a writing contest sponsored by MaryChris Bradley at Buddhapuss Ink, a publishing company in New Jersey. I wrote a comedic mystery that runs two widowed heroines, Leslie and Belinda, triumphantly ragged. The short story was entitled “No Wake” and won first place in Mystery Times Ten 2013. Published in the book of the same name, “No Wake” was well received, and I signed with the publisher to write at least three eBooks for the Leslie & Belinda Mystery series.

The first book in the series is entitled Daredevil and is available at Amazon. The short story, “No Wake,” is reprinted as the lead-in for Daredevil. When asked about the characters and the stories, I often tell people they are like Murder She Wrote meets Laverne & Shirley, a cozy nonsense mystery action series. The second eBook in the series will be out by mid-summer. In Shanghaied the two friends and Riff-Raff become embroiled in another mystery seemingly connected by coincidental events; mystery + adventure = a Leslie & Belinda Mystery.

Do the author a favor and write a review following the read on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other reviewing site you may prefer. I will be so very grateful.

Book Blurb

[Daredevil Cover]

Move over, Miss Marple; step aside, Jessica Fletcher—there’s a new gal on the case, well, two gals, that is. This pair of sassy, senior sleuths, Leslie and Belinda, are on the hunt for a missing girl; and it leads them on a crazy chase through a dark graveyard with Leslie’s eight-pound-dog, Riff-Raff, right in the middle of all the action. Buckle up and keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times; it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

When the granddaughter of a deceased church member goes missing, the two best friends are determined to solve the mystery and rescue the young woman. It seems no one, including the girl’s father, is all that concerned by her vanishing act, but this pair just know something’s amiss. Throw in one wandering bear, a flirtatious undertaker, a dustup with a TBI agent, an overweight corpse, and a trip to the Dollar Store for stakeout supplies and you have all the ingredients for one wild adventure. Sticky situations and comedic antics abound when these meddling senior citizens let their curiosity get the better of them.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About the Author
Linda S. Browning was born in 1952 to a stay-at-home mom and a civil servant father. For twenty years she worked for the State of Michigan. Relocating to Tennessee in 1989, her career continued in the Social Work profession. She resides in a retirement community in Middle Tennessee with her husband of forty years, a thirty (plus)-year-old Amazon parrot and an eighteen-year-old Finch. You can find Linda on Twitter, on Facebook and at her website, lindabrowning.net.