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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Author Interview with Giveaway: Mary Burton Author of No Escape


       Mary Burton enjoys the hunt. This New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist, whose work has been compared to that of Steig Larson*, Lisa Gardner**, and Lisa Jackson***, has been intrigued by investigative work and the people who do it since Virginia, her home state, was stung by a string of serial killings that spanned more than twenty years. Not surprisingly, many of her suspense novels are fueled by the acts of multiple killers and the people who pursue them, as is NO ESCAPE, Mary's latest novel and the second in a trio of stories set in and around Austin. There she calls upon the people and resources of the state's lead investigative team, the Texas Rangers.

       NO ESCAPE's predecessor, THE SEVENTH VICTIM quickly became a USA Today bestseller. It was praised by reviewers, including Publishers Weekly, which says it "delivers action-packed suspense" and calls it "compelling.” Suspense Magazine hailed it as “an excellent thriller” and a “saga that readers will find unbelievably hard to put down.”
      Mary's admiration for the work of law enforcement and the skills, insights and tools necessary to do it, is evident even in her earliest forays into suspense, such as In Dark Waters, in which a romance evolves when the Sheriff's office is called upon to solve a murder in rural Virginia. Future plots explored arson investigation, flaws within a witness protection program, and the reopening of a cold case.
       Beginning with her novel I'm Watching You, Mary started connecting several cases and characters within the same department or agency. For I'm Watching You she invented a homicide unit for her hometown of Richmond, defined its strengths, weaknesses and resources, and kept those characters and elements in place through two additional stand-alone, but related, books, Dead Ringer and Dying Scream.
       The three-book arc provided numerous creative options, especially as regards character development. This larger canvas allowed her to incorporate more of the forensic and procedural detail that fascinates her and her readers, and created new opportunities to explore dynamics unique to investigators working together over time.
       Her other "connected" novels are Senseless, Merciless and Before She Dies, all set in Alexandria, and THE SEVENTH VICTIM, NO ESCAPE and YOU'RE NOT SAFE, which is being published in April 2014.
       Mary's research has led her to interview a wide range of law enforcement personnel, to attend forensic seminars and to handle weaponry at the firing range. She is a graduate of the Henrico County Citizens Police Academy and the Richmond FBI Citizen's Academy, and has attended Sisters in Crime's Forensic University program and the Writers Police Academy in Jamestown, North Carolina, where the focus was on undercover work, autopsies, and the theories behind why people kill.
       Despite her emphasis on hard facts related to the crimes she writes about, Mary's approach to each new novel is psychological. She backs away from details, whether it's forensic research or a plot point she's already fixating upon. To begin her story she needs answers to three questions about her killers: why do they kill, what demons drive them, and how do they choose their victims. The answers are critical to her plot, she says, just as they are for detectives solving a murder.
       A Richmond native whose family roots run as deep as the nation's, Mary has lived there for most of her life. She graduated from Virginia's Hollins University and worked in marketing before deciding to write full time. Her first manuscript, a historical romance, was published in 2000.
       Mary wrote several more romance novels and three novellas before embracing the dark world of suspense. She even managed to bring danger to her holiday novella, Christmas Past, which appears in the New York Times bestselling holiday anthology Silver Bells.
       The author of twenty published novels and four novellas, Mary is a member of Thriller Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, for which she is president of the Central Virginia chapter. She travels frequently for signings, speaking engagements and other appearances. She is a frequent speaker at conferences, book festivals, book stores and libraries regarding writing and genre fiction, and is frequently asked to present her "Unraveling Romantic Suspense" workshop or her day-long program "Writing Your Book...The First Step."
       An avid baker and an accomplished cook, Mary's discovered that the creativity of the kitchen entwines with her professional routine in unanticipated ways. It’s her ideal retreat when the writing hits a rough spot. Once there, she's working out dialogue, untangling plot lines and figuring out how to trap a killer before the oven has a chance to preheat.
       When not committing murder, Mary pursues her Baking & Pastry Arts Certificate at the University of Richmond's Culinary Arts Program, and continues her involvement and appearances on behalf of Coordinators2inc, a lifetime adoption resource organization. She and her husband spend time alternately enjoying and lamenting their newly empty nest and spoiling their miniature dachshunds Buddy and Bella.
       Mary is currently at work on her next novel, set in Nashville, and anticipating the November publication of her new Union Street Bakery novel, Sweet Expectations, written as Mary Ellen Taylor.

*Publishers Weekly, **Library Journal, ***Library Journal

NO ESCAPE by Mary Burton
Zebra Books/Mass Market Original/Fiction
November 2013/On Sale 10-29-13/$7.99 ($8.99 Canada)

I was pleased to ask Ms. Burton a few more questions about her writing:

Q1. What inspires you to write the different genres you write– Romantic Suspense, Historical Fiction and Women’s Fiction? Do you have plans to write in any other genres?
MB:  I love to write and sometimes a story just fits into a certain genre.  Some are fast-paced mystery/thrillers and others are more introspective and emotional. If a story really excites me I’ll find a way to write it.
Q2. Is there a big transition in your writing style from one genre to another?
MB:  There is a huge difference between my suspense and my women’s fiction stories. The suspense novels are written as edgy page turners and have some real dark moments. The women’s fiction novels are a little slower paced and I can take more time to explore emotions.
Q3. Do your characters live with you or haunt your dreams as you write?
MB:  They haunt me. I’m always thinking about the next story and, as they take form, the characters seem to get louder and louder. I know that sounds a little crazy but I think most writers will tell you that their characters are constantly tapping them on the shoulder and shouting for attention.
Q4. What is one of the best tips you’ve received on writing?
MB:  Write every day. When you write every day your skills really sharpen and you don’t lose the thread of your story. When I take long breaks I lose the habit of writing so I’ve learned to keep the breaks short.
Q5. What is the single most important thing you've learned about managing your career?
MB:  Be a professional. Write the best stories you can but be mindful of your deadlines and be kind and polite to the folks you meet along the way.
Q6. What is the craziest thing you've done to research a story idea?
MB:  I attended a shallow grave seminar at the Writers’ Police Academy. It was a fascinating afternoon and it inspired NO ESCAPE.
Q7. What do you hope your readers get out of your books?
MB:  I want to pull them out of real life and take them on a great ride. My hope is that the story keeps them up way past their bedtime and maybe they forget to cook dinner or switch the laundry along the way.
I have to say that Ms. Burton succeeded in her goal by pulling me into NO ESCAPE!

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  1. Great post! I didn't realize that Mary Burton was also Mary Ellen Taylor. With Mary being a writer and an avid baker and an accomplished cook , she must be fairly busy.

  2. I like that she attended a shallow grave seminar at the Writers’ Police Academy

    tiramisu392 (at)

  3. I found this to be a very interesting post. Mary's books are wonderful reads and her life seems very full. I'll be reading her latest No Escape.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  4. Wow... what a great interview! Thanks for sharing! Didn't know she wrote under another name. Definitely going to have to check out the other books :)

  5. Sounds like a scary seminar to attend

  6. WHat a great interview! I've seen this book around and it looks totally intense! Can't wait to read it!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  7. Great interview! Great books definitely keep me up past bed ime and make me forget to switch the laundry!


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