I would like to introduce you to award winning author Mary McIntyre Coley. A few years ago at a writer’s conference someone came up behind me and called me by name. I kept thinking all day long she looked familiar, but I just assumed it was an author I met before. I was right. I’d met her many years ago (I won’t say how many years ago) in high school. Since that time we’ve become reacquainted and found we have something new in common. We are both published authors. Having lost track of each other for many years, I’ll let her tell you what she has been doing since 19 ___ (you know).
PC: First of all, Mary, tell us a little bit about you. What have you been doing all these years?
MMC: Wow. That’s a loaded question. __ years in ___ words? I graduated from OSU; I lived in the Oklahoma City area and worked for the Tourism Dept.; I got married; I moved to Ponca City; I had a daughter (Heather) and a son (Brian); I divorced; I worked at the local newspaper and as the PR director for the hospital; I went back to OSU and got my masters degree; I moved to Broken Arrow to work for the Nature Conservancy in Tulsa; I got married again (Daryl); I moved to southwest Tulsa; I went to work for the City of Tulsa’s communication dept.; I retired and switched careers; I am a full time writer/marketer/editor!
PC: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
MMC: I love to be outdoors, so hiking and enjoying nature is big on my list. My husband and I also love to travel; my favorite trips include two trips to Ireland, and a trip to Italy. We are semi-residents of New Mexico and spend about one-third of our time in northern New Mexico, traveling around and enjoying the sunsets, the mountains and the gorgeous scenery. If the weather is inclement, I read books of all kinds, but a lot of mysteries. I also love to watch movies.
PC: Your latest book is titled Beehives. Where did you get the idea for this book?
MMC: I am an environmental scientist/educator, so I’ve been very interested in the decline of honeybees, the primary species which pollinates the fruits and vegetables we eat. I wanted to incorporate a little ‘bee’ info into an Oklahoma mystery along with some of our state’s fascinating history. When I stirred it all together in my mind, I came up with the plot and characters for Beehives. That book is the third in a mystery series that began with Cobwebs (2013), continued with Ant Dens (2014) and concludes with Beehives (2015).
PC: What is your favorite piece you’ve ever written?
MMC: I was a feature story writer for the Ponca City News for four years back in the late Eighties, and I had a great time researching and writing those stories. Three of my favorites come to mind: a story about the Saturday morning English riding/fox hunting club in Marland, south of PC; a story about Spring Hill Farm natural area in Kansas; and my personal favorite, the story of my dog, Cindy, and life with a litter of seven puppies from birth until departure from home six weeks later.
PC: What would you call your writing style?
MMC: I try to write as if I was telling someone a story. I like writing in third person, because then you can tell a story from the viewpoints of several characters, but, in my mysteries, I find that writing in first person, as if I was the main character, provides a more emotional story, and adds to the suspense.
PC: Who is the publisher for your latest book?
MMC: Wheatmark, out of Tucson, AZ, has published all three of my mysteries to date. For more than a decade, I found the process of finding an agent or editor for any of my writing very frustrating and time-consuming, as is true for most writers. The mystery genre is an especially hard nut to crack. I ended up using one of the best ‘author-assisted’ publishers. But believe me, the books were all extensively edited and reviewed before they ever got to the publisher, and again after they had been accepted for publication. And they are quality books. Cobwebs won an ‘Oklahoma Creative Woman’ award for me earlier this year, and both Cobwebs and Ant Dens are finalists in the 2015 New Mexico/Arizona book awards in two different categories.
PC: Mary’s books always center around a cause that is near and dear to her heart. What is the cause your hero is up against in the newest book, Beehives?
MMC: You are right about the ‘cause.’ In Cobwebs, the main character, Jamie, was discovering her family’s hidden past and righting a wrong; in Ant Dens, she was searching for a missing step-daughter and unraveling her deceased husband’s secret life. In Beehives, it’s all about a secret from Jamie’s mother’s past, which might get both Jamie and her fiancé killed. And the reader gets to learn a little bit about the importance of bees.
PC: What’s next on your agenda?
MMC: Actually, I’ve got another book coming out soon, this one published by Wild Rose Press. The Ravine, another mystery-suspense, should be available in early Spring 2016. Briefly:
A neighborhood preoccupied by secrets and lies … a small child in peril … is a stray dog her only hope for survival?
And as far as new writing, I’m working on a companion book to The Ravine, set in the same neighborhood. It may become another trilogy or a series. Who knows?
The third in Mary’s family secrets trilogy Beehives is coming out this fall. I can’t wait to see what’s next. Check out her books and as always write a review if you love a book.