Friday, October 19, 2012

A Series to Die For


by Jean Henry Mead

Former news reporter and broadcast host, award-winning author Radine Trees Nehring sold her first article when she was 50. She now writes the "To Die For" series.

Radine, how did your To Die For series come about?

After my non-fiction book, DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow, was published, I began looking for a new writing project and thought -- "I enjoy reading mysteries, why not try writing one." So, I did. The title came when my publisher wanted a change in the working title for the first series book. An agent had suggested I link a mystery series together with a single motif in the title, and at that time, everything grand or great in the female world seemed to be "to die for." (Oh, my dear, that diamond was to die for.) The "To Die For" series was born.

Tell us about your latest novel in the series.

A Fair to Die For was such fun to write, though, to be honest, I always say that about my most recent novel! I was familiar with the War Eagle (Craft) Fair in Northwest Arkansas, and had attended it many times, beginning when we lived in Tulsa. The fair has been going strong since 1954, and now draws up to two hundred thousand visitors each year. Craft work certainly suited my series's most popular secondary character, Shirley Booth, so I "saw to it" that she became an approved vendor at the fair, selling her baby quilts and "Cuddlies." Carrie, her best friend, and my female protagonist, would be helping her. Another visit to the fair last year, for observation and interviews, and I was off and running. Carrie's mysterious cousin, Edie, and the possibility of drug dealing at the fair showed up as I was planning the story.

How did your broadcasting career and news reporting careers evolve?

For about ten years, my writing was in the form of essays and feature articles about the Ozarks sold regionally, nationally, and even internationally. I also reported local news for a Northwest Arkansas newspaper, and was eventually asked to research, write, and read the same type of news for an area radio station. At that time I wanted the feeling of a "regular job" so I accepted. That's how "Arkansas Corner Community News" was born. The fifteen-minute twice-weekly program ran for ten years until the station sold. By then my mystery series had taken off, so news broadcasting and I parted company.

Why did you decide to write senior sleuth novels?

I'm not exactly a sleuth, but I am a senior, and felt I understood "Prime Time" adults, as someone has so graciously put it. I also wanted to write about a strong woman, and created Carrie McCrite, a woman who has been sheltered all her life and, after her husband is killed, decides it's time for her to prove her own strength. So, she "jumps into the water," so to speak. She moves from Tulsa, OK, to land in the Ozarks that she and her husband had purchased for a retirement home, and begins life on her own. You know, women who are widowed and facing an entirely new life style often need to find themselves just like teenagers sometimes do. That was Carrie's quest.

You've won quite a few writing awards. Which one means the most to you? Why?

Two awards are equal. The first, in 2010, is the National Silver Falchion, awarded at Killer Nashville. Winners area chosen by their peers for (I am told) excellence in writing and service to the writing community. I am still awed by this award, and deeply honored. The second is being chosen as the 2011 inductee into the Arkansas Writer's Hall of Fame. This means so much because it is an for an Arkansas author! (And who won this honor the year before? Charlaine Harris!. Others area also "up high" names in my view.) I am awed to see my name on this list.

How do you feel about your celebrity status in your home state? Has it caused you any problems?

My only regret is that my mother didn't live to see this. She is probably somewhere saying" I told you so." For most of my life as an introvert )I even sometimes spent part of my birthday parties reading in my room) she was my big encourager, and went foverba9ord with praise and believing I could do whatever I wanted. I discounted her feelings because, after all, she was my mom. And now . . .

Otherwise, of course it's a great feeling, it would be for anyone. What's especially fun (since my picture has been in newspapers and magazines and elsewhere) is to be sitting in a restaurant and see people looking at me, then turning away if I notice them. I have done this myself so many times--and still do--when I recognize a person! If a certain degree of celebrity has caused any problems, it's increased requests for talks and from writers who are seeking help. I do what I can, but I can't say "yes" to everyone. That makes me sad."

What do you enjoy most and least about novel writing?

I really enjoy the writing part. I love being in a story with my characters, and inventing all kinds of things. It's almost like play, though one must, of course, take it more seriously than that. (I think?) I'm used to this kind of creating. Since life circumstances meant I played alone most of the time as a child, I invented imaginary playmates. Guess I am still doing it.

Least would have to be Internet promotion. Living in Spring Hollow means we have absolutely no access to high speed Internet, yet I must communicate and promote in many places--Facebook, my blog, and much more. I spend at least half of my Internet time waiting for connections, and, on some days, can't connect during much of the day. Frustrating, which, of course, means that, though I like connecting with people this way, the end result is frustration and a "least enjoyable" experience.

Advice for novice writers.

MAKE FRIENDS. You never know when a previous contact, or someone you chat with at an event, will be willing to help you with research, publicity, or more. Notice what others write, buy their books, and comment on their work if you enjoy it. If it's not to your taste, don't comment at all. And, of course, perfect your craft, learn the business, go to conferences if you can, join a critique group, write, write, write, and DON'T GIVE UP.

You can learn more aboutr Radine at the following and


Jackie King said...

Radine Trees Nehring is one of my very favorite cozy mystery writers. I have my copy of FAIR TO DIE FOR and it's next on my TBR list!

Jaden Terrell said...

Wonderful to hear from you, Radine. Your advice is spot on.