Interview with Mary Koppel by Melissa Brooks

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Mary Koppel is an Episcopal priest, who has served many congregations that are right off of Route 66. She has written fiction and non-fiction books and is the author of the Denise Reed Mysteries series. I interviewed her to find out more about her inspiration, her writing and what she is currently working on.

 1. Have you always been interested in writing?

Yes! I have always been interesting in writing. When I was in about 2nd or 1st grade, my mother bought me a diary for Christmas. I loved it! I started writing then and continued to today.

 2. What inspired you to start writing mysteries?  

I love to read mysteries. I enjoy trying to figure out why or how something happened. I also like interesting characters. In 2011, I was between positions, raising a young child and living at my mother’s house. I needed an outlet. The idea for my mysteries came from another author who wrote that she would take an experience in her life and ask the question: “What if this happened instead?” She would reframe a real event or situation and toss in something unexpected. Suddenly, something sad or difficult can be worked out on a page. I love a happy ending as well!

 3. What is your writing process like? How does writing a story start for you?

I try to write daily. Sometimes an idea will start to form and then I will really start writing. I think that if I write every day, even something small, it helps me with ideas and helps improve my writing.

 4. Do you get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

My high school English teacher taught this- just write anyway! I will sometimes go back through my writing and do a little revising if I feel that or I will just start putting things down. I also like doing those mind maps. I can dump out ideas that way.

 5. How does your work as a priest contribute to your writing?

I have to write a lot as a priest. I also have to listen a lot. Listening helps me learn about people. I think it helps me understand what motivates us as humans. I like to write about those things.

 6. How did the character of Denise develop as you wrote her? And how much does she have in common with you?

At first, I wanted to create a character nothing like me, but after writing I found out that Denise and I had a lot in common. Denise is a lot bolder than I am. She does not take herself too seriously, but I think that her confidence is building, and she is realizing just how resourceful she is.

 7. Are you working on anything right now?

I am working on what my third Denise Reed Mystery will be. I am also working on a book of romantic suspense, but I have to admit that is difficult.