Monday, May 14, 2012

Getting to know Marja McGraw

I’m pleased to have Marja McGraw with us today. I met her online and I’ve come to consider her a good friend. Not only that but she’s a fantastic writer.
Marja, let’s start at the beginning. Where did you grow up? Did your childhood contribute to your desire to be a writer?
I grew up in So. California, when times were simpler and things weren’t so crowded (before freeways), in the day when making a mud pie was big stuff. Although my childhood didn’t contribute to my desire to write, California became the setting for most of my books. I wanted a place large enough where multiple murders could occur and it wouldn’t be quite so far-fetched. I also wanted a place where you could lose yourself in a crowd. I found that place in California.
Where do you live now? Do you use that locale for settings in your novels? 
I live in Northern Arizona where it becomes so hot in the summer that you can fry eggs on the sidewalk. In the historic town of Oatman, they actually have an egg frying contest on the walkways.
Yes, I have used this area, and Arizona in general, in Prudy’s Back! and Old Murders Never Die. I let the parents of one of my characters move here so I can use the Arizona setting from time to time.
 What inspired you to write your most recent novel?
Honestly? I have no idea. Bogey’s Ace in the Hole just showed up and asked to be written. My characters have minds of their own sometimes. I included some Church Ladies in this story, and I had a great time creating them. They can be very pushy, but they’re funny and lovable at the same time. Church Ladies want to solve mysteries, too.
Name three of your favorite authors in the mystery genre.
There are so many! I’ve answered the question in other interviews, so I’ll try not to repeat myself. Rhys Bowen, G.A. McKevett and Clive Cussler come to mind. Also, I just read a new book by Patricia Gligor that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I’m not just saying that because I’m your guest.
What can I say? Thank you! What are your favorite things to do when you’re not reading or writing?
         Photography is a hobby I enjoy.
         ATVing out on the desert before it becomes too hot.
I’ve discovered that I really enjoy building book trailers, which can be time-consuming when you’re looking for graphics.
I’ve seen your book trailers and they’re fantastic! Tell us, do you like to travel? If so, what are some of your favorite places to go?
I have to be honest and say not really, because I’m terrified of flying. I was able to visit Australia once, and that’s a trip I’ll never forget. I do visit a few new places when I attend conferences. (I sure wish they’d bring trains back and lower the prices.)
How would you describe yourself personality wise?
I think I have a positive attitude about most things. I find myself watching out for the underdog more often than not. I can be generous when I have the resources. I can be funny, but it’s usually unintentional other than in my books. Hmm. Honesty is important to me, and I believe that what comes around, goes around. Injustice and dishonesty push me right to my limits. Most of all, I love a good laugh. Enough about me.
What’s your favorite color? Why?
Yellow has become my favorite color because it’s bright and cheerful. Somehow it represents joy and happiness in my mind. I even have a yellow trench coat in honor of one of my characters, Sandi Webster, P.I.
What’s your answer to this question – If I won a million dollars, I would ------
Interestingly, this is something my husband and I talked about recently. I’d pay off my stepdaughter’s house and buy my daughter a home. So many people are hurting in this economy, I’d help some of those I know personally – and I’d do it anonymously. There are some local churches helping people, and I’d contribute to them. The biggie is I’d like to find a struggling young, divorced mother who’s raising children by herself (been there and done that) and help her – again, anonymously. You might wonder why I want to remain anonymous. It’s because I don’t want anyone to ever feel obligated to me.
Okay, if anyone reads this and has someone help them, and they don’t know who it is, don’t look at me. I don’t have a million dollars. I do have a lot of good intentions though.
Thank you for having me on your blog site, Patricia. I enjoyed myself very much. You ask some fun questions.
I’ve enjoyed it too, Marja! Thank you! I also want to mention that I’ve read (and loved) “Old Murders Never Die” and I’ve ordered my copy of “Bogey’s Ace in the Hole.”
Here are links to both novels.
Old Murders Never Die:
Bogey’s Ace in the Hole:


  1. Very nice, enjoyable interview. I've read all of Marja's books and am looking forward to the next ones.

  2. Sweet! It's always interesting when an author reveals more about themselves. I love the notion of doing things anonymously because it feels good to help another without receiving the external bells and whistles. The gratifying feelings inside more than make up for any of all that! Thanks, Marja and Patricia.

  3. Hey, Pat (Palmaltas), So nice to see you here. Thank you for the plug. :) I enjoy your Tricia Lee books, too.

  4. Thank you, Theresa. Regarding being anonymous, I don't like feeling obligated to anyone and I don't want anyone to feel that way toward me. And you're right, it's what we feel inside that makes the difference.

  5. Patricia, Thank you so much for letting me visit today. You asked some fun questions.

    1. Thanks, Marja! You know what they say? "Girls just wanna have fun." :)

  6. Another revealing interview. Avid fan of your books. Always enjoy your books those Church Ladies were a hoot. Thank you both for a pick me up today. Marja's blog for today has limited my punctuation to periods.LOL

    1. Jake,
      I had to reply to your comment. I also read Marja's blog this morning and I made a "tactical error." I love exclamation points and I frequently use them in my emails and comments - but not in my novels. I put one at the end of my comment to Marja and, after I did it, I had to laugh. I hope it made Marja laugh too. (I'm using restraint now - no exclamation points.)

  7. Jake and Pat, Have you actually read my emails with all the exclamation points? LOL I'm not one to talk, although I do limit them in my books. I can talk a good game, but putting my "hints" into action is another matter.

  8. Patricia and Marja,
    Great interview! Patricia--good questions. Marja, I enjoyed learning more about your life and where you grew up.

  9. Thank you for stopping in, Marilyn. Patricia makes it easy to do a good interview.

  10. I absolutely love the Bogie novels. Keep writing them. Life is too hard without great stories.

    --John Brantingham

  11. Oh, John, you just made my day! Comments like that make it all worthwhile. Thank you.

  12. think of me when you win the million. Just saying. lol. I'd love to go to Australia!

  13. Great interview, Marja. We've also asked ourselves what we would do if we won the lottery. Hide, I think. Mostly, I think we'd just keep doing what we are doing, but without worrying - and look for the worthwhile cause that needed a shot in the arm (or bank account). But the closest we've come is to win a $15 prize once. But we are wealthy in other ways.

  14. Call a good estate planning attorney folks to avoid those pitfalls which arise with lottery win. Beware of scam artists with charities funding their own private life style.

  15. Stephen, You'd love Australia. We also had the opportunity to go on a three day driving tour all around Tasmania. It was a trip I'll never forget. If I ever will a million... Well, we'll see. :)

  16. James, I hope someday you do win a bundle. Wouldn't that be fun? Thank you for stopping in.

  17. Jake, Good advice. Now if I could only apply it to a big win. :)

    Sorry it took me so long to respond, but I had to work yesterday. Maybe I'd better go buy one of those lottery tickets.

  18. Nice interview, Marja. Always buy Lottery tickets, you never know and it should support something in your state.

  19. Thanks for stopping in, Pat. I guess I'll never win because I very seldom buy lottery tickets. Bad me. I should start buying them.