Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mitch Malone Mondays: Marja McGraw

I stayed up all last night doing some research for this review. I'm a little blurry-eyed but hoping after a few doughnuts and I'll snap out of it. It was a Humphrey Bogart marathon. Today Marja McGraw talks about her writing.

Marja, your main character thinks he is Humphrey Bogart. Does he need to be checked into a facility with rubber walls?

Chris Cross bears a very strong resemblance to Humphrey Bogart, but he doesn’t actually believe that he is Bogey. He also enjoys vintage mystery movies. As a postman he was a little bored, and he began to imitate Bogey for the fun of it. As time went on, he began thinking that it might be interesting to become a private investigator like Bogey was in some of his movies. I think he just got carried away with the Bogey persona, and he found that it took him to places he hadn’t expected.

I write two series, including the Sandi Webster Mysteries and the Bogey Man Mysteries. Sandi is a young female P.I. In the latest Sandi Webster Mystery (The Bogey Man), Chris started watching her because some of her cases had gained quite a bit of notoriety. He thought he could learn from her. When Chris, the Bogey Man, became involved in a real murder case, Sandi helped him realize that just maybe he wasn’t quite cut out for the life of a private eye. The readers liked this character so much that I decided to give him his own series. Now he becomes involved in mysteries whether he wants to or not. He’s been joined by a new wife, a stepson and two Yellow Labrador retrievers.

Does his wife become involved in the mysteries, too?

Actually, the stories are told by Pamela Cross, so you see her point of view as well as the Bogey Man’s. While she does become involved, she also spends time trying to keep her seven-year-old son from being touched by the situations. In the meantime, their two Yellow Labs always seem to be front and center, and they do add a little humor to the stories. While Chris and Pamela Cross aren’t a modern Nick and Nora Charles, they do manage to create a stir when they look into crimes. They own a forties-themed restaurant, and it often becomes a setting for parts of the story.

What happens in your newest book? It just was released from Oak Tree Press, right?

Bogey Nights will be available in March of 2011. I’m pretty excited about it, to put it mildly.

In Bogey Nights, Chris and his wife, Pamela, lose their forties-themed restaurant to a fire. After buying a 1920s brick house to convert into a new restaurant, they discover a body buried in the basement that’s rested there since 1942.

Because of Chris’ notoriety from the case he was involved in earlier, the victim’s family approaches him and asks him and his wife to find out what happened all those years ago.

You’ll appreciate this, Mitch. Bogey Nights includes a young female reporter who keeps sticking her nose into the case while Chris and Pamela try to keep her in the dark. She’ll be a semi-regular in the series because she hooks up with a friend of Chris’.

Anyway, it turns out that in the forties, when the victim was killed, the old house was used as a boarding house. There are plenty of suspects and twists and turns in this story.

Goodness, you know how to turn up the heat by mentioning a female reporter. Speaking of heat, you live in the desert. How does that help your writing process?

It doesn’t, really. Well, maybe when the temperatures are up in the 120s, which they frequently are. When it’s that hot I have plenty of incentive to stay indoors and work on my books.

How did you decide to write with a Bogart slant?

Oddly enough, I’m not really sure. I was looking for something different to write about and decided to include this character in one of the Sandi Webster books. I had so much fun creating someone who walked and talked like Bogey that I kept going with him. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I’m a Humphrey Bogart fan. The dialogue is fun to write, but it did require a lot of research to come up with the forties slang. Also, Mr. Bogart has some very distinct habits – at least in his movies. For instance, he’d roll his upper lip under every once in a while, or he’d rock back on his heels in a way that only Bogey could do.

What are your plans for a new Bogey Man book?

I recently forwarded the new book to my publisher, Oak Tree Press. It’s about four little old ladies, known as the Church Ladies, who ask Chris and Pamela to find a missing friend. One thing leads to another, and before long they’re involved in a Murder for Hire plot. The Church Ladies want to be involved every step of the way, and Chris would like nothing more than to lock them in their rooms (so to speak), but of course he can’t. There’s a lot of action and fun in this one.

Any future plans?

Right now I’m working on a new Sandi Webster story. She and her partner, Pete, are stranded in an old ghost town. I’m having a great time with it.

Thank you, Mitch, for sitting down and talking to me. I’ve been reading about some of your adventures, and you’re quite a guy. W.S. Gager has done a fine job with you, and I appreciate her time, too.

Thank you for telling us about a Bogey look-alike. Wish I'd known that before the marathon movie night. For more on the Bogey books,


  1. Great interview, Wendy, as always. Love hearing more about you and your writing, Marja.


  2. Wendy, or I should say, Mitch, really does do a good interview. Thank you for stopping in, Marilyn.

  3. Loved this interview! I've read all of Marja's novels and am looking forward to the next ones.

  4. Thank you! It's such a rush when someone says they enjoyed my books. Thank you so much for stopping in.

  5. What fun! I'm a Bogey fan (the original), so this sounds like a good read to me. I'm looking forward to it.

  6. Hi, Marja,
    Great interview. I enjoyed reading about 'Bogey".

  7. Thank you everyone for stopping by and reading more about the Bogey Man. Makes me want to spout great quotes like "See ya later, Sweetheart..."

  8. Betty and Ellis, Thank you for stopping in. I have to say that Bogey is a log of fun to write about, although he's probably not quite as cool as the real deal. I think you'll enjoy this series.

    Wendy, I can picture Mitch saying that. I'm reading A Case of Accidental Intersection right now, and enjoying the heck out of it.

  9. Wendy, Just wanted to thank you for sending Mitch my way. Great guy, and he doesn't mince words. My kinda reporter.

  10. Marja, thanks so much for introducing the Bogey Man. Now I finished my rough draft of the third book for Mitch, I might find some time to read and your book is next on my list. I can't wait!