Although I had a career in law and technical writing, currently I spend full time writing novels and playing music (harp) and singing (member of two groups, MasterVoices and Phoenix in NYC). I have written twelve novels, eight of which are published or in process of being published by Black Opal Books.
SR: What’s the first book you remember reading that had a huge impact on you? How did that story affect you? How do you think it shaped your desire to be a writer?
RM: First book that had a tremendous impact on me was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The main protagonists were women, and the author was a woman. So I realized that I too could be a successful author. I have always loved to write, for as long as I can remember. Every book I read reinforces that.
SR: What’s your new book/work in progress about?
RM: Currently, I am writing book 5 of my mystery series, entitled Sex on the Beach.
SR: What inspired you to write it?
RM: After putting my mystery series aside to write four unrelated books, I wanted (and my readers begged me) to go back to my characters in the mystery series and write about how their lives are progressing. I am enjoying being “reunited” with my characters in this new book!
SR: What do you think the hardest emotion to elicit from a reader is? I like to think that it is eliciting tears, either sad or happy tears. Why? I think people tend to enter stories with a cynical point of view – how can I react to this author’s newest story? If I can make a reader cry (and if I can cry myself while I’m working with the editor), I feel as if I have succeeded.
SR: Tell us something about you that isn’t common knowledge.
RM: My “bucket list” has always included a desire to learn to play the harp. I was a cellist all my life, but over the past few years I have started to study the harp, and for the past six months, I have been learning and playing the Colombian llanera harp, after meeting several Colombian musicians and falling in love with their music.
Fun Fact: I am a harpist, and I play both the concert harp and a Colombian llanera harp.
SR: Do you listen to music when you’re writing? How does music/art influence you creatively? RM: It depends. For the first few books I wrote, I listed extensively to Yo Yo Ma playing Ennio Morricone’s compositions. Having played cello for many years, I love Yo Yo Ma, and for some reason these very schmaltzy tunes brought out a great deal of emotions in me, and enabled me to infuse emotion into my characters.
SR: If you have to live in a potential natural disaster zone, would you pick blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions?
RM: I have always lived on the northeast East Coast of the U.S., so I’ve lived with hurricanes all my life, and I guess I’m used to them. The thought of earthquakes is pretty scary to me, and although I lived through many blizzards, I did many hours of snow shoveling, so blizzards are not my favorite.
SR: Why? If you had to describe your protagonist as a weather system, what would they be?
RM: Dana Cohen is probably best described as a white tornado! She is incredibly energetic, and she will not give up on any thorny problem until she has solved it.
SR: What detail in your writing do you obsess over the most? Character names? Locations? Description? Dialogue? Research?
RM: Because writing has always come very easily to me, I obsess most over research. I try to be punctilious about correct research, because I realize that no matter what I write about, some of my readers will have deep knowledge of that, so I want my details to be correct, and I try to do very careful research to ensure that is the case.
SR: What strategies do you use to keep your books fresh? Particularly if you write a series character, how do you keep them consistent without retelling the same content book to book?
RM: After four books that took place on the North Fork of Long Island, I moved my protagonist to a completely new locale – Cape Ann in Massachusetts. I felt that Long Island was “done” after four books, and I wanted a fresh viewpoint for the readers and for my characters.