Monday, November 7, 2016

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Peggy Kopman-Owens

Thank you Kathryn E. Jones for this opportunity to answer questions about my 16 published Paris Mysteries and, of course, about Paris.

You're welcome, it's a pleasure to have you.
Tell me about yourself:

Traveling rewards the explorer with a bounty of characters and a treasure of stories. As you guessed, this is especially true of Paris, where around every corner is a mystery. Throw in someone who looks like a spy and I can write all day! As most travelers have done, I recorded my life’s journeys in a diary with the hopes of penning a novel. While working as a crewmember onboard commercial and private jets, I began writing freelance articles for magazines, news articles, but dreamt of finding an agent and a traditional publisher. 
Self-publishing had been around for some time, but the digital age of publishing was not yet mainstream. During this time, I also co-wrote scripts for television and film with my husband, another aviation professional, whose passions include exploring still hidden parts of Paris, as well as reading and creating historic novels, when he isn’t in the kitchen creating soufflés. 
After several years, my literary properties began growing to over 25 stage plays, screenplays, and novels, but so far, no traditional publisher would read my solo mysteries without a literary agent submitting them. While spending most of a year in England, I had the good fortune of discovering (through a guild), Sandy Fisher, a London-based literary agent. Sandy took a leap of faith. Thanks to her energy and perseverance, a U.K. publisher was contracted to release seven of my books as eBooks within six months! Originally entitled The Apricot Tree House Mystery Series, the series was later rebranded as SEVEN PARIS MYSTERIES.

A pivotal moment in my writing career occurred, when Sandy decided to retire and I decided to make a break with traditional publishers. My writing career might have ended right there, if not for the generous encouragement of other established authors. They had made their foray into self-publishing and were encouraging me to follow in their footsteps, as they had seen a substantial increase in their royalties by taking a more active role in book production. 
Some were expanding into that brave new world of "downloadable" audio books. The challenges sounded at first daunting, far beyond my technical skills, but it was now my turn to take that leap of faith. Two U.K. authors were especially helpful during this chapter of my life. So, here, I would like to take a moment to thank them publicly and to introduce them to your readers: TIM FLANAGAN has become a bestselling author of children’s books, including sparkling new editions of two series: LAWRENCE PINKLEY’S CASEBOOK and THE MOON STEELERS.  DENISE GREENWOOD has three exciting new novels, which are keeping fans of her uniquely charming storytelling style wanting more! CRUSHED, STAR KEEPER, and TEMPTATION. “
How is the self-publishing going?
I love the process of creating books, eBook, print editions, and audio books. I love discovering through collaboration with the talented cover artist and photographer, ROGER KOPMAN, how books and art go hand-in-hand. Roger welcomes the opportunity to work with authors on how to best promote their stories through imagery. Embracing the goals of an author, Roger creates the perfect cover to visually translate and showcase the storyteller’s words."
My success as a writer has been the result of embracing and enjoying the process of writing. It’s not a chore, not a job, not a hobby. It’s my passion. I turn on my computer at 9:00 a.m. (or earlier) and turn it off at 5:00 p.m. (or later). With the usual coffee break at 10 and lunch at 12 and a short walk mid-afternoon, I can produce a steady number of pages every (work) day. 
In Paris, I’ve learned that enjoying family and friends comes first. Work, second. “Vive la France!” I prefer working at a desktop and keyboard, which may sound a bit old-fashioned. When I travel, a pen and paper will do. Some of my best ideas have arrived while waiting for trains, riding the Métro, or in crowded cafés. Some of my best ideas have come home in pockets, on matchbook covers and scribbled on serviettes! 
Where do you write?

I can write anywhere, but I prefer Paris and more specifically, a bench in a garden. Any attempt to standardize the process of storytelling, to enforce a formula, is incompatible with true expression of the art. Authors intentionally make broad brush strokes in their attempts to capture colloquialisms, accents, regional phrasing, which inherently excludes words found in a dictionary or a grammar textbook. They must color, if you will, “outside of the lines.” This is healthy expression. No one can know the creative limits of someone else’s mind, and to tether a writer to the ground, when he/she born to fly, is dangerous. 
For a serious writer, the sky is not the limit. It is only the first entry in the travel journal. Traveling and working in 35 countries on 5 continents taught me to embrace diversity. I have my parents to thank, first, for bestowing this gift of intellectual freedom, and then, my anthropology and linguistic professors for lighting the path. Creating characters, who reflect real people with all manners of cultural nuance, demands non-judgmental observation as well as imagination. If I am to tell their stories with any degree of authenticity, then my writing cannot read like a doctorate dissertation, but rather… like someone’s travel diary. Non? 

My latest book in the MRS. DUCHESNEY MYSTERIES series was released in November 2016. A BANK IN PARIS, Mrs. Duchesney’s Mystery along the Seine. 

Many authors are shy creatures, who would rather saunter along the shadowy banks of the Seine, than parade l’ Avenue des Champs-Élysées in bright sunlight.”
So there’s another great reason for writers to travel. Consider it research. My blog, “Mysteries for the Inspired Traveler” was written for anyone who has embraced travel as if it were a favorite book. Every place is a chance to write the next chapter in your diary, your novel, or your life. I’ve discovered that most mysteries are tapestries with layer upon layer of places, people, and passions cleverly woven together. In the beginning, no single thread determines the final design, but it hints at what one might expect. 
My initial story idea is like that thread, a clue as to how colorful the story might become. The outcome, often, is the result of as unexpected a journey for me - as it is for the reader. That’s the joy of writing. My books take, on average, three months to write. I would guess weaving a real tapestry takes much longer. 
Most authors will tell you, marketing is the most difficult part of the job, especially, if your goal is to make money. It is the creative process that keeps the passion alive for most writers. Selling a book requires authors to become someone whom many are not comfortable becoming, a merchant. 
Aversion to the spotlight is not unusual. Fortunately, in a real sense, social media sites provide a cyber version of the Paris street market, where anyone can set up and sell, while maintaining a degree of anonymity. 
However, as any Parisian vendor can attest, success still requires a commitment of time and energy. Web platforms are constantly changing. At first, not knowing, which of my efforts would produce the best results (i.e. sales), I found experimenting with social media venues to be exhausting and, yes, not a very productive use of my time. However, I eventually settled upon Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Pinterest because they had large audiences. Amazon, Audible, iTunes, where my PARIS MYSTERIES are available, provide their own marketing channels and tools. 
YouTube provided me with a channel for my book trailers, giving potential readers / buyers another great way to sample my writing. BOOK TRAILERS for 16 published Paris Mysteries can be found: 
Have any new Projects? 
There’s always a book idea on the back burner. The goal is not to leave it there so long it disappears in smoke! I tell new writers, write at least a page a day for you, for a sense of accomplishment. It will keep you thinking about the story, long after you close your eyes at night.
So you want to write a book, but you don’t know where to start? Do I need to tell you – how unique you are? You are. There is no one else like you on the face of the Earth. (No, Not even your twin.) That’s the good news. Whatever you write, however you write it, wherever you write it, whatever you write it upon… It will become uniquely yours. There will always be others willing to help, to type it, edit it, put a cover on it, publish it, sell it, but the story will always and forever be yours. The best news? Your grandchildren and their grandchildren will look back upon your life and think you were brilliant. Now, that’s the making of a bestseller. Could there be a greater reward for doing something you love? 
Learn more about Peggy and those she has worked with:
Send Peggy Kopman-Owens a message by signing up at LINKEDIN 
Examples of Paris Mysteries cover art by ROGER KOPMAN of can be viewed at his online gallery
People who love books are inherently generous in sharing knowledge and experience. Creating audio books has brought me the opportunity to work with some wonderfully inspired people. This is especially true of two brilliant voice actors and producers. 
IAN A. MILLER and STEVE EMBER are two gentlemen from opposite sides of the globe, who bring depth and breath to my Paris Mysteries that I could not have envisioned without them. Their distinctively intuitive interpretations and stellar performances have given these stories, characters, and words life and brought unexpected rewards. Through their brilliance and hard work, my mystery series are gaining new readers and a global audience. So, please, allow me introduce them to you.
IAN A MILLER. The rich, soothing baritone voice of this charming New Zealand actor is especially well known to readers / listeners of the SEVEN PARIS MYSTERIES series. Ian has narrated and produced four books in this series so far: THE PROMISE, YPŌSCHESI, THE SEASONS IN THE GARDEN, GAMAN, and THE CLUE - L’INDICE. I am delighted to announce that he will continue as the voice of this series when book five TOO RICH FOR RAIN is released later this year. (2016). Ian began his journey narrating for the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind. FREE SAMPLE & AUDIO BOOK TRAILER
STEVE EMBER, a talented and award-winning American voice actor, narrated and produced one of my favorite books, PARIS APARTMENT FOR RENT, a Paris Mystery Romance. (Sept. 2016). The richness of Steve’s baritone voice, with its intuitive inflections and instinctive expression of emotions, brought PARIS APARTMENT FOR RENT and its cast of international characters to life in a flawless performance. His expertise in French pronunciation and accents added to an already superb narration. Over a long career in fine arts radio and international broadcasting, Steve was able to utilize and refine his natural skills in the authentic pronunciation of multiple foreign languages, on a daily basis.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your kind words. I really enjoy narrating and it is always a pleasure to work with authors who take special pride in their work; Peggy is one such author.


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