Archer Mayor Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Archer Mayor
Photo: archermayor.com

Archer Mayor

An interview with Archer Mayor

Archer Mayor answers questions about himself, and his long-running series featuring Vermont police officer Joe Gunther, including why he never writes about what he knows, and instead writes about what he wants to find out about!

PW: What's your background?
AM: I'm a global bum. I've lived all over the world, in 30 to 40 places. My mother is Argentine, my father was born outside Gloucester, Mass. My work background is nothing if not chaotically peripatetic—journalism, editing, historical writing. What sew it all together are the twin engines that fuel me as a writer—ignorance and curiosity. I never write about what I know, but what I want to find out about.

PW: Why do you write mysteries?
AM: I wanted to make a living as a writer and pragmatically if there was a chance to do so—and statistically there isn't—mysteries were a viable market then [the 1980s]. Mysteries were no longer about good or bad guys and car chases, they were about human beings who happen to be good or bad guys, and what they do. I don't like pure puzzle mysteries. I like mysteries about three-dimensional human beings who interact. When we can't make sense of the real world, we read a form of literature that's the same thing, but with a beginning, middle and end where the good guys win. It helps make reality more understandable.

PW: How much research do you do?
AM: A lot. I have a habit that continues to this day of poking my nose into interesting things. I feel most comfortable writing about a real world that exists. If I say I want to do something and the expert says you can't do it technically, I ask how I can. I've never met anyone who wasn't happy to help me out.

PW: Why did you set the Joe Gunther series in Vermont, and does that make you a regional writer?
AM: Without a permanent home, I needed to come home to my father's New England roots, best personified by Vermont. It's where I found my narrative voice. Reviews of my early novels said my strength was that I was a good writer writing about Vermont. Now that the sales are improving but I'm not a bestseller, they say it's because I'm a "regional" writer. It's unfortunate because Vermont can be treated as American society in microcosm in certain aspects. We lack cultural and racial diversity which could enrich the books, but given those differences, Vermont has a structure that is more easily described because it's a small state.

PW: Where is the series headed?
AM: My primary goal is that the series never becomes stale. I think people should write scared instead of writing safe. There's no reason to sever the Brattleboro root, but the next book, Flatland, is set in New York City. It's different in that it's a third person narrative with Willie Kunkle as the main character. Joe will step in later in the book. I wanted to write about Willie because my readers tell me that he's becoming more important to them. He's the dark side of Joe. Joe all by himself is too good to believe and Willie too bad to be a cop. Together they make a complete person.

PW: Have you thought of writing a nonseries novel?
AM: Right now it would be foolish to do that. My readers have certain expectations, I don't want to leave them high and dry, and I can do a lot within the context of the series. It would be fun to explore other types of writing if I could get off of the rigorous schedule I'm on. I write a Joe Gunther novel every year—with all the attendant research and publicity—but I'm also part of my community [Newfane, Vt.]. I'm a town constable, captain of the Newfane Rescue Squad, an interior attack fire fighter, moderator at the village of Newfane annual town meeting, on the board of trustees of a nearby hospital, and I've applied to join the state's assistant medical examiner program this fall. My wife and daughter tolerate me with generous grace.

Reprinted at Warner Books with permission from Publishers Weekly.  Reprinted at BookBrowse with the permission of Warner Books.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Archer Mayor at BookBrowse
Proof Positive jacket Three Can Keep a Secret jacket Paradise City jacket Red Herring jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Archer Mayor but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • P.J. Parrish

    P.J. Parrish

    P.J. Parrish is the New York Times bestselling author of ten Louis Kincaid and Joe Frye thrillers. The author is actually two sisters, Kristy Montee and Kelly Nichols. The series has garnered 11 major crime-fiction awards, ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    St Albans Fire

    Try:
    Dead of Winter
    by P.J. Parrish

  • Ian Rankin

    Ian Rankin

    Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    St Albans Fire

    Try:
    A Question of Blood
    by Ian Rankin

We recommend 4 similar authors

View all 4 Readalikes

Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
    The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
    by Dawnie Walton
    Within the general arc of many well-established and chronicled historical events is oral history's ...
  • Book Jacket: Monkey Boy
    Monkey Boy
    by Francisco Goldman
    Francisco Goldman's Monkey Boy exists in the liminal space between memoir and fiction. Like Goldman ...
  • Book Jacket: The Girl in His Shadow
    The Girl in His Shadow
    by Audrey Blake
    The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake is a fast-paced historical novel set in Victorian-era England...
  • Book Jacket: Whereabouts
    Whereabouts
    by Jhumpa Lahiri
    Jhumpa Lahiri's Whereabouts has seen numerous comparisons to Second Place by Rachel Cusk. These two ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Ariadne
by Jennifer Saint
A mesmerizing debut novel about Ariadne, Princess of Crete for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Morningside Heights
    by Joshua Henkin

    A tender and big-hearted novel about love in the face of loss, from the award-winning author of The World Without You.

Who Said...

It is a fact of life that any discourse...will always please if it is five minutes shorter than people expect

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

H I T Best P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.