Monday, April 28, 2014

Another chat with P.M. Carlson, author of 'Murder is Pathological'

What do you do to relax?
If I’ve been writing, something active like walking the dog relaxes me.. We climb hills, visit waterfalls, hike by the lake, or play Frisbee. If I’ve been out shoveling snow or toting groceries, I’m ready to curl up to read a good mystery by someone else.
Do you write about what turns you on?
Of course I write about what turns me on. If I don’t care about the problems I write about, why should my readers care? In the sixties and seventies, Maggie and her friends deal with war, PTS, abortion, homophobia, women’s reproductive rights, fraud, domestic violence, kidnapping, rape, child abuse-- problems that drove me to take action too. And sadly, despite some small steps of progress, most of these injustices are still with us today in slightly different form, and I still get fired up about them..
If we were to come to your house for a meal, what would you give us to eat?
I like to serve meals that follow a theme-- for example, when we gave a cast party after an Ibsen production, I served Scandinavian yellow pea soup and red fruit pudding. So if you were coming over to celebrate a Maggie Ryan mystery, the food would probably be French, because that’s what she loves after her year in France. In MURDER IS ACADEMIC, she prepares a daube de boeuf; in MURDER IS PATHOLOGICAL; she enjoys bouillabaisse; in MURDER UNRENOVATED she prepares madeleines for Nick. On the other hand, as a mostly-penniless student in AUDITION FOR MURDER she only has one French meal, and more often survives on hard rolls and boiled potatoes smuggled from the dining hall by a friend. I wouldn’t ask you over to celebrate that!
Tell us about your latest release.
The Mystery Company/Crum Creek Press is issuing all the Maggie Ryan novels. As of this writing, the most recent one is the fifth book, REHEARSAL FOR MURDER.

In it, actor Nick O'Connor is hopeful about his role in a new British musical, playing Gladstone opposite the famous Ramona Ricci's Queen Victoria. But Ramona's diva-like behavior infuriates the cast members, and there are problems on the home front too. Nick and his wife, statistician Maggie Ryan, both adore their five-month-old daughter, but the baby demands so much attention they hardly have time for each other. Then, doing a favor for another hassled parent, Maggie begins to suspect a plot against his little girl. When someone guns down the bitchy Ramona, Maggie and Nick have to struggle to find the solutions to the crimes, and to the problems threatening their marriage–– all while keeping the baby fed and her diapers changed.

Murder is Pathological
P.M. Carlson


MURDER IS PATHOLOGICAL (Maggie Ryan 1969) The exploding wastebasket is a prank, but slaughtered lab rats have graduate student Maggie Ryan, Monica Bauer and the rest of the lab on edge. When the custodian is murdered, actor Nick O'Connor goes undercover to investigate, help that Maggie does not appreciate-- or does she? While Nick and Maggie search for the killer, Monica struggles to connect with a veteran who was shot in the head in Vietnam.


About MURDER IS PATHOLOGICAL (Maggie Ryan 1969) 
"[Carlson's] work offers a unique combination of empathy for her characters, her sense of history, and her ability to weave the social and political currents of the '60s and early '70s into the stories." –– The Drood Review of Mystery "The vandal is elusive. When at last the mystery is solved, the conclusion is stunning."––The Armchair Detective


P.M. Carlson taught psychology and statistics at Cornell University before deciding that mystery writing was more fun. She has published twelve mystery novels and over a dozen short stories. Her novels have been nominated for an Edgar Award, a Macavity Award, and twice for Anthony Awards. Two short stories were finalists for Agatha Awards. She edited the Mystery Writers Annual for Mystery Writers of America for several years, and served as president of Sisters in Crime. 

Author Website

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  1. It's great to be back at Andi's to chat about MURDER IS PATHOLOGICAL-- or anything else you want! Thanks for hosting.

  2. This really sounds like a great series. I really like the excerpt.

    1. Thanks, Rita and MomJane! I always enjoyed reading series that had good independent mysteries but also had a detective who changed over time-- had romantic attachments, mourned deaths, made friends, argued with colleagues, etc. It was like getting two stories in one. So I wanted to write a series like that too.

  3. Food and mysteries kind of go together, for some reason...


    1. Food is a good way to define ourselves, and our characters. Vegetarians and fast-food junkies seem different to us even if they share hobbies, fashion sense, incomes, etc.
      Also, talking about food gives us mystery writers the opportunity to sneak poison into the plot. So we have good reason to write about it!

  4. I like that you write about things that still get you fired up! I love a good mystery because it keeps me hooked and reading. Thanks!

  5. Yes, LhasaLuma, maybe the problems attract me as a writer because I have a strong sense that things should be more fair. If we can, we should give a helping hand to people who need it, so that all of us can be the best, most productive people we can be. Maybe one of the reasons I like mysteries is that they are about a struggle for justice.


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