Wednesday, August 02, 2006

BookEnds Talks to Deb Baker

Deb Baker
Book: Murder Passes the Buck
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Pub date: August 2006

Deb Baker is the author of two debut novels this year—Murder Passes the Buck, a Michigan Yooper Mystery featuring local amateur sleuth Gertie Johnson, and Dolled Up for Murder, the first in the Dolls to Die For series with Gretchen Birch, a Phoenix doll restoration artist.

Awards: Best of Show in the Authorlink International First Novelist Contest

Author Web site:

BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Deb: When Chester Lampi gets shot dead in his deer blind on opening day of deer hunting season, sixty-six-year-old Gertie Johnson seizes the opportunity to become a detective. Gertie bends the rules and creates havoc in what was once a quiet, backwoods Michigan community.

BookEnds: 1. How did you come to write this book?
Deb: I really wanted to follow that sage advice—write what you know. But what did I know? I wasn't a medical examiner, a detective, or a forensics specialist. I didn't have an underprivileged childhood and I wasn't from an exotic country. I didn't even have a unique hobby. How could I write what I knew when I didn't know anything? After thinking about my problem, I realized that I might have something special to write about after all. I had been raised in the Michigan Upper Peninsula with the Swedes and Finns who settled the area. They were a rugged bunch and they had adopted an unusual way of life. That setting and those characters were the right ones for me because from the first page the story just flowed. Gertie, my protagonist, took over.

BookEnds: How long does it usually take you to write a book?
Deb: My writing life was so simple before signing two contracts and having dual deadlines. Experienced multiple-series authors tell me to write two different books at the same time! They say it helps with writer's block. If one isn't working, switch to the other. But I haven't been able to do that. I also can't mosey along. Every morning by seven I'm at the computer writing. That was the hardest part—forcing myself to a strict schedule. At 5,000 words per week, I have a first draft in three months. And I really try to have that draft as clean as possible. Then I have a few months to edit before starting another one. Afternoons are spent marketing.

BookEnds: What's your next book? When and where should we look for it?
Deb: The first in the Dolls to Die For series will be out in October. It's called Dolled Up for Murder. Here's a little about it: A message clutched in the fist of a doll collector found dead at the bottom of a Phoenix cliff implicates Gretchen Birch's mother. All evidence points to her as the killer, but Gretchen knows she's innocent. The problem is, her mother has disappeared—and she's left an urgent warning that Gretchen is in danger, too. . . .

BookEnds: Besides getting your first book published, what would you say have been some of the highlights of your writing career so far?
Deb: At one time I had so many rejections I decided to stop writing and run for political office. It was the only other career where I could continue to make up stuff. Then I won the Authorlink International First Novelist Award, first in the mystery category, then going on to win Best of Show. After an all-expense-paid trip to the Harriet Austin Conference in Athens, Georgia, I received the award at a special luncheon. That honor was the turning point in my writing career.

BookEnds: Do you have a manuscript that you'll never let anyone else read? Tell us a little about it.
Deb: My first mystery writing attempts were short stories. After reading the first three, my husband pointed out that they all focused on the same type of plot—women killing their husbands. Since we had recently increased my husband's life insurance, he was understandably worried. I reassured him and came up with other plotlines. Looking back, those stories were awful.

To learn more about Deb Baker, see Our Books at

1 comment:

Kate Douglas said...

I loved reading Deb's bio, especially the part about killing off husbands. I couldn't plot or write a mystery to save my life, but I do believe the ability to occasionally kill my husband off in fiction has kept our marriage healthy for the past 35 years. It's also kept me out of prison.