Mar Preston – Mystery Author

FJ: When did you decide to become a writer?

Mar: No decision involved. I slid into it. Being a wordsmith had been important in my working life in academia. I thought everybody could write. Widowed after only 4 days in our retirement home, I had a vast sea of empty time. Silly me. I thought writing a mystery would be easy because I was a passionate reader of crime fiction. I laugh now that I know just how hard it is.

FJ: What brought you to write mysteries?

Mar: Sometimes an idea chooses you and it has to be an idea that keeps the flame burning bright for a year or two. I don’t “chase the market” and write about what’s hot now. What’s hot can change next Wednesday, including all the “rules” of writing crime fiction. What made me write a series of 7-EBooks on “Writing Your First Mystery” was that I wanted to share what I’d learned the hard way in writing crime novels with new mystery writers. Maybe I could prevent somebody from making the lunkhead mistakes I’d made.

About Mar’s Mysteries

FJ: What interesting facts have you learned when writing your mysteries?

Mar: I had the pleasure of reading gossip magazines and calling it research. By Accident, currently with my publisher, is set in the Hollywood celebrity circles in Santa Monica, and follows on from six novels with Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department. Dave Mason and his activist girlfriend have me by the throat. I thought I’d written myself out with these characters and the Santa Monica setting. Not so.

FJ: What are you trying to achieve with your books?

Mar: Oh my gosh, I don’t have any soaring ambitions about changing the world with my writing. I try to sneak in observations about the way I see life and all its peculiarities, the things that amuse me, enrage me, perplex me. I write to entertain myself and other people.

FJ: What got left out in the final draft?

Mar: An extended version of an orgy scene. It was all from my imagination, which made it seem pretty naïve and unimaginative once I began research on orgies. Uh … online research.

Where Do Your Ideas Come?

Mar: Ideas come from everywhere. I was reading People while I waited for my haircut. An idea leaped off the page at me. Who isn’t fascinated with celebrity antics if they’re truthful with themselves? These are our gods and goddesses, and talk about feet of clay! We love to see them brought down. When an idea comes to you, bright and hot, you play the “What if …?” game. What if this happened, or that? It leads you down dark pathways sometimes. People say they laugh out loud reading my books. I don’t write them to be funny, but I dearly love preposterous characters and situations.

FJ: What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

Mar: What are you working on now? I’m taking blogging seriously until the impetus returns to finish the third in a series of crime fiction novels set in the tranquil village where I’ve lived for 20 years in the Southern California Mountains. I’ve started a new blog titled “A New Life in a New Country.” I’m moving back to Canada after a 50-year absence, Ottawa, Ontario specifically. As Ottawa is Canada’s capital, I’m writing about the experiences that a 75-year-old author can make happen. What’s different about Canada?  What is the same in both countries? Click here to sign up to follow my blog.

FJ: Do you have any advice for new authors on marketing their books?

Mar: New authors should realize that writing “The End” is only the beginning. In some ways, after the manuscript is written, edited, and professionally proofread, the real work begins. It’s disheartening to read this, I know. I like engagement with real people at festivals and readings. Other authors are not your competitors. When they like you and your work, they can help create a buzz word of mouth that can make your sales zing. Online marketing through blogs and Facebook groups helps less extroverted authors

become visible. Do as I say, not as I do, I remind myself. Marketing never ends. Setting realistic marketing goals, for example, three Facebook posts a day, one comment on another author’s post, is realistic for most people. At other times you can schedule readings, go to conferences, and after long research-purchase publicity. Yes, marketing costs money.

FJ: How do you get book reviews?

Mar:  I beg shamelessly. Sometimes it works. When this move to Canada is over and the dust settles, I will put into practice the advice I read in Anne Allen’s blog, or take Jane Friedman’s There are times when your life when all the will you can summon to do more and more and more just can’t overcome the limitation of time and energy. But can’t you do at least three Facebook posts a day, even then? Some days you will tackle more.

FJ: Which authors inspire you?

Mar: I read a lot of crime and literary fiction, almost every evening. Sometimes I get tired of US settings, so I’ve launched into new Scottish and Scandinavian authors. There will be lots of Canadian writers I’ll want to catch up on. I don’t read a lot of bestsellers in which the commercial formula leaps off the page at you.

FJ: How can Fat Jack’s readers learn more about you and your work?

Mar: My website can be found at My author’s Facebook page is MarPrestonAuthor.

FJ: How can Fat Jack’s readers learn more about you and your work?

Mar: The kindest thing you can do for any author whose work has given you pleasure is to leave a review, tell a friend, or post on an Amazon book site. I’ve written short directions for leaving a review on Amazon, using my books as an example. But you can use these directions to review any product or any author.

How to leave a book or product review on Amazon

  1. Go to Amazon and in the box at the top of the Amazon page type my name, or the name of any author or product you want to review. Click on the search button at the end of the box.
  2. The next screen shows the image of the book or product.
  3. Click on “Customer Reviews”
  4. You’ll see “Share your thoughts with other customers”: and “Write a Customer Review”

All the reviews will pop up.

  1. The title or product will pop up with a row of stars. 4 or 5-star reviews are the best. Write your review in the box and choose a word or two for the title. Amazon suggests “What did you like most? What did you like least?”
  2. Up will pop every product you’ve ever bought on Amazon with an opportunity to review them.
  3. Notice the box at the top of the page that says “Your Public Name.” You have an opportunity to review anonymously by clicking “Change.”

You can review my books here. Reposted with permission from Fat Jack’s Coffee