This week we would like you to meet Mystery Author Mary Ellen Hughes.
1. What was the inspiration behind becoming a mystery author?
I was an enthusiastic reader as a child and devoured anything within reach. Happily, there were plenty of books at home, and the library was within walking distance. At a certain age, Nancy Drew became a favorite, then later on Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers and more. Mysteries intrigued me and made me want to try my hand at them. I write the amateur detective mystery, which means emphasis on character and motive rather than forensics, and I love creating my characters.
2. Can you take us through your creative process? How long does it take? Does everything you create make money?
First, I’ll come up with a basic idea for a plot, characters, and setting. I write character sketches and a loose outline as I develop the idea. As I begin to write, more ideas occur that shift my outline so that I’m often surprised by what my book has become by the end.
Since I usually have a three-book contract with a yearly deadline, I need to keep on schedule, aiming to complete the book within ten months, leaving time to polish. No, not everything I’ve written has found a publisher, especially in the early days, but tha’s what bottom desk drawers were designed for.
3. What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?
Probably that simply sitting down and filling three hundred pages or so with words, well-written or not, guarantees publication. Publishers are inundated with submissions. The book you send them has to somehow stand out.
4. When did you first become aware of copyright and why?
I became more aware of copyright when I began to get serious about writing and joined writers’ groups. There, I learned about the business side of writing fiction.
5. Have you experienced copyright infringement and, if so, how has it affected you personally and financially?
“Pirate ” websites have often reproduced my books in unauthorized ebook form and offered them for sale. When we become aware of them and my publisher contacts them, the site may get removed but often reappears under a new name. Much of this activity seems to originate outside the U.S. I’ve been told that the pirated books are badly formatted, so whoever buys them, besides getting a bad bargain, might come away with a bad impression of my books, which probably loses me future sales as well.
6. What is your biggest copyright related challenge?
The challenge is to keep on top of these pirate sites. The internet and technology make it all too easy for them to exist.
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