Nope, and I’m glad for that because I’ve heard from a lot of people that I’ve gotten better with practice 😉 A Harvest of Ripe Figs is a “cozy mystery” (in other words, a mystery low on the violence and gore) in a tropical fantasy setting based on my childhood in South Florida. In this little paradise full of palm trees and mangoes, a young lesbian with a partner and a baby rules over a nation of mostly happy farmers. Queen Shulamit sees “investigating crime” as part of her royal responsibility to see justice done, so when a music star’s priceless violin is stolen after her public recital, Shulamit jumps in with the help of her two loyal bodyguards. Where’s the violin, and who could have wanted to sabotage poor Esther?
Are you a plotter or a free writer?
Definitely a plotter. In fact, if I don’t have a skeleton, I can’t even start writing something. That’s not to say things can’t change in the middle, but unless I know where something goes and how to get there, words won’t come.
Is your book part of a series or a standalone?
It’s part of a series, but I purposely write all my books such that they stand alone as discrete and separate stories that can be read without the others. When I read myself, I like not being trapped into some 12-book saga where 11 of the books end with cliffhangers. It just makes it harder to even start. (I feel the same way about television. I like the old episodic shows where you don’t have to binge-watch in order to get a satisfying ending.)
Do you require silence when writing or do you listen to music?
I often put on specific music intended to “write the scene for me.” If the characters are scared, I put on tense music. If they’re passionately in love, probably Tchaikovsky. It’s also helpful to put on innocuous music that won’t distract me too much, like Vivaldi concertos. (It’s usually classical because that way it won’t have words that I might listen to instead of the voices of my characters. If it’s vocal, it’ll be opera in another language for that reason.)
Are you writing your next book? Can you share a little about it?
The Olive Conspiracy is the next book after Figs about the same characters, and it’s due out from Prizm Books in 2016. In this book, Shulamit and her “family-of-choice” confront an international terrorist plot to sabotage their country’s economy that may or may not involve her old straight-girl crush from when she was a teenager, the beautiful but ferociously classist Crown Princess Carolina of Imbrio.
How long were you writing before getting a publishing contract?
I started writing when I was six, so… twenty-five years? But most of that time I was doing other important things like growing up, and a lot of my early writing was fanfiction and therefore uncontractable. I think it was good practice.
When does your book release?
We don’t have an official date for Olives yet, but Figs came out in January 2015, and you can check it out here:
She and her agender same-sex spouse live in north central Florida, where the alligators are mostly harmless because they’re too lazy to be bothered.
(also available on Smashwords and all the other book sites.)
Her blog: http://shiraglassman.wordpress.com
Her twitter: http://www.twitter.com/shiraglassman