Posted: May 4, 2010 in Reviewing the Reviewers, Uncategorized

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Ariel Hart

1. What really gets you interest in a mystery?

The initial premise usually. I
read the write up and if it catches my interest I may look at other books in the
series to get an idea of the author’s way with stories.

2. What bores the hell out of you?

Mysteries where there is far too much emphasis on
the designer labels and such details. I really don’t care what brand the handbag or
shoes are unless it is important to the plot. I always have to wonder why so many
books are hung up on such details because the average person reading the book
probably doesn’t know the designers or care since they can’t afford them. The
designer obsession not only bores me but turns me off. Then there is too much pop
culture references. I reviewed a book that had constant (I do mean constant)
references to pop culture. It was ridiculous and I began to feel like it was a
short cut rather than giving me more meat to describe the surroundings or the
character’s likes and dislikes. If the author was attempting to convey the
character it didn’t work. I compare this to a different author who used just one
pop culture reference to good effect – the main character was a devoted fan of
Magnum P.I. reruns and that was like comfort food for the character. That gave me
something more concrete about the character and wasn’t just distracting window
dressing. 3. What clichés would you really like to see go away? The female character
that seems to be obsessed with some man. That grows old extremely fast. I want
more personality in a main character than being “boy crazy” like a teenager. I much
prefer the smart female who may have a chink in her armor but is being mature and
responsible about her demeanor.

4. What topics, themes etc would you like to see more of in mysteries?

The old saying “there is nothing new under the sun” seems challenged regularly in the mystery
genre. I am truly enjoying the emergence of paranormal mysteries with positive
representations of Wiccan amateur sleuths. As a counter point to the cliché female
character, I love professional protagonists like Diane Fallon (by Beverly Connor),
the discontinued Gloria Lamerino (a retired physicist by author Camille Minichino)
in the Periodic Tables mysteries or Jamaica Wild a Range Rider for the BLM in the
Wild Mysteries by Sandi Ault.

5. What mistakes do you think authors make?

I give kudos to authors. It is a tough craft to master with routinely low pay (unless you hit “the big time”) and it is
very subjective what readers will like. What appeals to one reader will turn off
another. With that said there are those taboos that I think still apply to
mysteries: No last minute character revealed that was the culprit, give the
suspects and clues for the reader to enjoy the puzzle, make the main character
somebody the reader can relate to or better yet like that includes bringing the
character to life, and then make it an entertaining story with tension and suspense
and if at all possible throw a few twists into the storyline. Granted it is all
easier said than done. Any one of those elements can come up short and leave the
story a little flat. Writing is an art form but mystery writing is the art form
plus juggling.

6. Do you write? Would you like to?

Yes, I write. I have two projects going
currently. I am writing a non-fiction book and also a suspense novel. The suspense
novel has been put on the back burner to wrap up the non-fiction one and start
querying agents etc. I love writing and started my first serious story in High
School writing about an injured fawn being nursed back to health by a teen. It is
an incurable disease to be compelled to write :-0

7. Who are your favorites?

That is very tough because there are so many. I enjoy
Jeffery Deavers, Sandi Ault, Dolores Stewart Riccio, Juliet Blackwell, Hailey Lind,
Christopher Paolini (fantasy), Tony Hillerman (forever and always), and James
Rollins. There are many that are in my to-be-read list that I am betting will be new
favorites like Iain Pears and Donna Leon. Then there are what I call my mystery
family tree in which Phyllis Whitney was my favorite aunt with Dame Agatha Christie
as my mother.

8. If you really hate a book will you still
review it?

I started reviewing because I was doing all this reading already so I
might as well share it with other mystery lovers (as opposed to writing reviews on
Amazon) and secondly the publishing industry wants unknown authors to have some
sort of platform such as a blog with a good base of followers. I decided to take
the plunge and share what I was reading and hopefully build that platform now. In
the course of trying to further the blog’s appeal I have learned more about the
industry that I hope will aid me when I am looking for a book deal. If there is a
book that I can’t see some merit or entertainment value in, I won’t review it. I
try to find something that other readers might like. I have reviewed two thus far
that just weren’t my cup of tea but I could readily see how they would appeal to a
different audience, so I try to spell that out so the correct audience is being
drawn to that book. I realize my opinion isn’t the end-all-be-all by any stretch.
I just want the followers of my blog to have a feel up front if this is the sort of
book they are looking for. A few times I have started a book and I felt it was a
waste of my time, so I stopped and went to another book I was pretty sure would
keep my interest.

  1. As readers of my blog know, I am very interested in the new class of reviewers, which is why I love this series of Tom’s. I’ll check out your site, Ariel! Great interview, and best of luck with finishing the book(s) and landing a deal!

  2. Menzie says:

    TOm: I love your Review series, because I always get names of new authors to try out. My wish list is so full it isn’t even funny. I print it out and take it to the library and the used bookstores with me!

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