Author Spotlight Interview: Charlene D’Avanzo
Today’s interview is with award-winning environmental mystery author Charlene D’Avanzo. Her novels tackle real-life issues, in the context of fast-paced mysteries. We were honored to chat with D’Avanzo about her self-publishing journey, writing style, and what inspires her.
HG: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. You’re a marine scientist turned environmental mystery author. Take us back to the beginning… what led you to writing?
CD: A single event, a lecture by climatologist Ray Bradley, changed my professional life. I expected Bradley to talk about his ice-core climate research. Instead, he described being harrassed and humiliated by a group of Washington, D.C. political climate change deniers. I left the auditorium very upset and feeling that I needed to “do something”. The compelling inspiration to write mysteries with climate-change understories came out of nowhere as I stood outside the auditorium. At the end of the semester I retired early from Hampshire College and started on my journey to become an environmental mystery author.
HG: Incredible! Tell us more about what inspires your stories and why that’s important to you.
CD: Each book in the Oceanographer Mara Tusconi mystery series is based on an actual situation or event such as life-threatening harassment of climate scientists and loss of endangered species including great white sharks. I hope readers will better appreciate these issues in the context of an exciting, fast-paced mystery.
HG: That’s brilliant. What feeling do you hope readers are left with when they finish one of your novels?
CD: One of my key goals is to get readers on, in and under Maine’s marine waters so they better appreciate its astounding beauty and imminent threats.
HG: Tell us a little bit about your actual writing process. When and where do you write?
CD: My husband and I live in a cottage overlooking the ocean. From my upstairs office I can watch lobster boats come and go along with gulls, herons, and the occasional eagle. Writing my first book, I started at four A.M. so that I could sea kayak in the afternoon. These days I don’t get up quite so early, but it is important to consistently put in the hours when you are working on a project.
HG: Sounds lovely. What have been the challenges you’ve faced in your publishing career?
CD: Starting out, I knew no fiction writers who could guide me and nothing about the process of writing mysteries. Through associations like Sisters in Crime and their New England Crime Bake annual meetings I met other writers and took workshops which were extremely helpful.
HG: How great that you were able to connect with others. The Mara Tusconi Mystery series is available now. For readers that haven’t grabbed those books yet, what can you tell us about them?
CD: The series features Maine marine scientist Mara Tusconi who takes readers on an oceanographic research vessel to the blue waters of the Sargasso Sea, shark-cage diving off Baja, and sea kayaking up and down Maine’s pristine coast. A young scientist at the Maine Oceanographic Institute, Mara is tormented by the memory of her parents who founded MOI but died in a tragic submarine accident.
HG: Fantastic. Your most recent release, The Shark, The Girl, & The Sea addresses the issue of shark preservation. Can you tell us a little bit about the main characters and what readers will love about this story? Are more books planned in that series?
CD: The Shark, The Girl, & The Sea is based on an actual, very tragic event that took place on Maine’s coast not far from where I live. A young woman swimming off the rocks near her home was attacked and killed by a great white shark. Since shark attacks are extremely rare, especially in New England, I explore how and why this may have happened and also help readers appreciate that sharks have much more to fear from humans than we do from them.
HG: For fun, if The Shark, The Girl, & The Sea was turned into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
CD: Eva Longoria and Ryan Gosling?
HG: Can’t go wrong with those two! What can you tell us about any projects you have in the works?
CD: At this point, I am working on promoting the five books in my series and have no plans for a sixth one. Of course, until the shark attack off Maine I had no intention of writing a book featuring sharks!
HG: Switching gears, what do you enjoy doing when not writing?
CD: Sports I can enjoy here in Maine – sea kayaking, of course, but also cross country skiing, hiking, and pretty much anything that takes me outdoors.
HG: That’s awesome. If you could ask your author idol one question, what would it be?
CD: Does it get any easier?
HG: Great question. For fun, before we wrap up, let’s do a fast five! First one…coffee or tea?
CD: Tea – black and herbal.
HG: Bonfire or fireplace?
CD: Fireplace, of course.
HG: Are you a morning bird or night owl?
CD: Morning bird.
HG: eBook or paperback?
CD: Paperback or hardcover – nothing better than holding an actual book in your hand.
HG: Tropical beach or rustic mountains?
CD: Hmm. Since it is January here in Maine, the warm beach sounds pretty nice.
HG: Thanks so much for your time today. It was fun getting to know you! For readers that want to find out more about your stories and keep up with you, where should they go to connect or learn more?
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