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

PW Talks with Archer Mayor by Louise Jones

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" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Certain Age
    A Certain Age
    by Beatriz Williams
    Lovers of high-society gossip, there's a new set of players in town. A good 20 out of 23 of our...
  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...
  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Secret Language of Stones
    by M. J. Rose

    "A fantastic historical tale of war, love, loss and intrigue."
    – Melanie Benjamin

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    All Is Not Forgotten
    by Wendy Walker

    This is fast-paced psychological suspense/thriller at it's very best.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Spinster
by Kate Bolick

A bold, original, moving book that will inspire fanatical devotion and ignite debate.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!