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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Never-Open Desert Diner
    by James Anderson
    James Anderson's debut novel, The Never-Open Desert Diner, starts off as an entertaining ...
  • Book Jacket
    In the Country of Men
    by Hisham Matar
    Labeled by some as the "Libyan Kite Runner", In The Country of Men does share some ...
  • Book Jacket: Holding Up the Universe
    Holding Up the Universe
    by Jennifer Niven
    Jennifer Niven's spectacular Holding Up the Universe has everything that I love about Young ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves

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

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

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

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.