Thursday, December 8, 2011

Heeeere's...ALICE DUNCAN!

Today is the last stop on our blog tour, and we’re fortunate to have as our  guest award-winning author Alice Duncan. Alice lives with a herd of wild dachshunds (enriched from time to time with fosterees from New Mexico Dachshund Rescue) in Roswell, New Mexico. She's not a UFO enthusiast; she's in Roswell because her mother's family settled there fifty years before the aliens crashed. Alice no longer longs to return to California, although she still misses the food, not to mention her children, one of whom is there and the other of whom is in Nevada. Alice would love to hear from you at And be sure to visit her Web site at http//

I sent Alice my list of questions, inviting her to answer a couple, or a few, or…and she answered them all! With good answers too, I might add. Here they are:

John: What is the relationship between fiction and truth?

Alice: I don’t know about other writers, but I tell the truth in my fiction more directly than I do in “real” life (whatever that is). My books are full of my opinions about the world and its problems and inequities, but filtered through my characters’ minds and mouths. That’s probably because I live in fear that people will get mad at me and figure they won’t if I give them my personal truths via fiction.

John: We’re often advised to write about what we know about. How does this work for the mild-mannered mystery writer who never saw a corpse or has never been hassled by the cops?

Alice: Personally, I like to write what want to know. I mean, my books are all historical, and my mysteries are set in Pasadena, CA; Los Angeles, CA; and Roswell, NM (although I call it Rosedale in the books). Since they’re historical, I have to do a good deal of research, but that’s fun stuff. I think I write historical novels because the world looks better through a mist of time. The people who lived then were undoubtedly no happier than we are today, but it’s fun to pretend.

John: Are you proud of your style? If so (and let’s hope so!), why? What’s special about the way you use language?

People tell me I write the way I talk, so I guess writing is a very personal means of communication for me. According to me, I write the way I write, and I can’t help it. I love the English language and try to treat it well and gently in my books.

John: Can you name six essential ingredients of mystery plot that begin with C? (Extra credit for more C’s.)

Alice: Um . . . no. J

John: Which is more important to you as you write: memory, research, or imagination?

Alice: Oh, imagination, definitely, although research is fun, too. There’s nothing I like better than visiting the Pasadena Public Library, going downstairs to the Periodical Room, and immersing myself in magazines from the 1920s.

John: What makes your protagonist unique? What are his or her passions? Does she or he have flaws?

Alice: At the moment, I have three female protagonists, and they’re all flawed to one degree or another:

Daisy Gumm Majesty (GENTEEL SPIRITS), who’s an excellent, if phony, spiritualist in post-World War I Pasadena, CA. Daisy’s main aim in life is to support her war-injured husband the best way she knows how, even though her husband is a cranky invalid.

Then there’s Mercedes Louise Allcutt (FALLEN ANGELS), Boston Brahmin, who heads west to live with her sister Chloe and Chloe’s moving-picture-producing husband in Los Angeles. Mercy longs to leave her ivory tower and discover the “real” world. She’s terribly innocent, but she goes to work (which horrifies her stuffy family) as secretary to a jaded ex-policeman P.I. named Ernie Templeton. Mercy’s greatest ambition is to write hard-bitten detective novels.

Annabelle Blue (PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL) lives in Rosedale, NM, with her mother and father and obnoxious 12-year-old brother. Annabelle is stuck in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the desert, and she wants an adventure or two with, say, Allan Quatermain or Rudolf Rassendyll, before she marries her gentleman friend and fades into the wallpaper. Not that she’d do anything improper with either gentleman, you understand.

John: What are your feelings about love and sex in fiction? Are they essential to plot and character development?

Alice: Hmm. I have no objection to love and sex in fiction, although when I stopped writing historical romance novels, it was mainly because I was sick to death of writing sex scenes J

John: Are there accepted rules of good writing that you enjoy breaking?

Alice: I like to make up words. This, in spite of my adoration of the English language. Go figure.

John: Who is your favorite writer? What book made you want to be a reader? What writer made you want to be a writer?

Alice: HALF MAGIC, by Edward Eager, read for the Altadena Public’s Summer Reading Program in the summer between third and fourth grades, prompted me to become a reader. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I was a kid and someone asked what I wanted to “be” when I grew up, I’d say, “An author.” Guess I’ve just always liked to escape from reality. I don’t know that I have a favorite author, per se, although I believe THE ROOTS OF HEAVEN, by Romain Gary, is probably my favorite book of all time. I’ve always had a thing for elephants (well, except in the political arena—maybe you’d better not leave that part in)

And now a word from our sponsor—

Alice Duncan has published three books this year! (How does she find the time? And that’s not all that keeps her busy.) Here are links to this year’s list:


For more information about Alice Duncan, take a look at her impressive website:

Also, I suggest you check out Alice’s author page on Amazon. You’ll be impressed by what you see there:

Alice, many thanks for dropping by. I hope this has been an enjoyable tour for you, and I join your many fans in wishing you good luck with all your books.

A final note from John: During the Mystery We Write Blog Tour, I will be keeping track of the comments left for the guests on my blog. After the tour, I'll draw one name out of a hat, and that lucky person will be given a copy of my new book, Behind the Redwood Door, as well as a copy of my short story collection, Generous Helpings. But I'll need to contact the winner, so if you're interested, leave your email address at the end of your comment.


  1. That was truly interesting, Alice. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to "meet" you and learn more about your books.

  2. Thanks for having me here today, John!

    And thanks, Marilyn. This has been a fun tour, mainly because I got to "meet" the rest of you!

  3. I love your interview, Alice, and am looking forward to getting to know you better as well as reading all your books.

  4. Wonderful post, Alice, liked your statement "I love the English language and try to treat it well and gently in my books."

    Have a lovely picture of you and your dachshunds in my mind from this tour--hope to meet you in person one day soon.


  5. Good interview, Alice! You've been properly grilled.

  6. Alice, I'm glad to know you write like you talk. That's the way to have an honest voice. Thanks to all of you who are dropping by and leaving footprints.

  7. Oh Alice, Once again your post made me laugh. I, too, always tell the truth (as I see it) in my fiction. In real life, not always, mostly because telling the truth is so dangerous.

    For instance, "Yes, those white slacks do make your butt look broad as a barn..." I'd never say that. I'm too much of a coward.

  8. Thank you very much, everyone. Thanks for having me, John. And boy, ain't THAT the truth, Jackie!

  9. Alice, your characters and settings are very inviting. I envision curling up near the fireplace with your books and getting away from the everyday world.
    John, I've loved this tour. Thanks.

  10. Alice: I love your honesty and it makes perfect sense to write how you talk. I also love that you couldn't come up with the Cs in writing. I couldn't either!
    W.S. Gager on Writing

  11. Thanks to all who visited and commented today. This was our last stop on the Tour, but tomorrow I'll be back with an epilogue.

  12. Hey, Alice, you're in good company when you make up words. Shakespeare did it all the time!

  13. Wow, I've never been in any sort of category with Shakespeare before, Anne! You made me very happy. And so did you, John. Thanks for hosting me!