Through Sisters in Crime, I met Micki Browning and decided to read her book, Adrift. It was fantastic! The perfect beach read! So, I was really excited when I found out her second book was coming out this month . . . goodness knows, I need something that reminds me of warmer weather and beaches when I’m stuck in Missouri with ice and arctic cold temps! Because I loved her first book so much, I sat down with Micki to find out more about her and her new book. Help me welcome Micki!
In what genre did you begin writing?
Poetry. I was five or six-years-old and I wrote (and illustrated!) a poem called the Crocodile’s Tea. I came across it several months ago. The gist of the story was being invited to a crocodile’s tea and discovering that the crocodile intended to have me for tea. I escaped, but so began my women in peril stories.
How has your writing/genre evolved from that time?
My first sale was a non-fiction article on underwater sound that I had sent to a dive magazine. From there it was mystery short stories—and more really bad poetry. As an officer, I penned a local newspaper column about public safety. It took a long time before I screwed up my courage to tackle a novel. I’ve always been drawn to crime fiction—either police procedural or mysteries.
How long did it take from beginning to write seriously to seeing your book published?
I’d have to say six years. Like many writers I had a couple of practice novels. I learned structure by writing a story that didn’t hold together. I joined Sisters In Crime and took classes through their Guppy chapter. I honed my dialogue, learned how to flesh out characters. Then I wrote Adrift. It won the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence for unpublished mainstream mystery, and the Royal Palm Literary Award. I met my agent through the Daphne contest and signed with her shortly after winning.
What prompted you to write for publication?
Writing is its own reward in many respects, but I’ve always wanted to share my stories. I want to entertain readers.
Tell me about the moment when you realized you were a “real writer.”
Ha! If you’d asked that five-year-old poet, she’d have proclaimed herself a writer. It is only as we get older that doubt starts to edge out confidence. If you count police reports, I’ve written professionally my entire adult life. But despite having published some short stories, I think it was my first royalty check that had me sitting back in my desk chair amazed that thousands of people would read my novel. It is an awesome responsibility.
What did you do with your first royalty check?
I sunk it right back into my writing business. Writing can be a surprisingly expensive profession by the time you factor classes, equipment (in my case an ergonomic desk chair), office supplies, conferences, and myriad other things. My budget keeps expanding. Unfortunately, I have yet to figure out how to claim a massage as a business expense.
What book (that you wrote or read) had the biggest impact on you?
Gosh, this is a really hard question. I take something from every book I read. That said, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is a story I’ve returned to every five years or so since I first read it in my teens. It is responsible for instilling my belief that one person can change the world and that good and evil are in constant opposition—and someone has to fight the good fight.
What book are you the most proud of, and why?
The next one…. Adrift will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my debut. I believe Beached is a better book—at least structurally. I’m working on a police procedural now that is grittier than my Mer Cavallo books. I want to keep stretching. Each next book holds untold possibility—a challenge for me to improve my craft and give more to my readers.
If you could take a vacation with any of your characters, who would you choose and where would you go?
Hands down, I’d vacation in the Florida Keys with Mer Cavallo. We’d go diving, of course.
You suddenly find out that you have an entire day free – what are you going to do?
Wow. I just had about twenty things run through my head—everything from diving or kayaking to catching up on laundry. You know when you are presented with too many choices you become paralyzed with indecision? Yeah. Let me grab a cup of tea and I’ll get back to you….
Anything else you’d like to tell me about your writing?
Beached, the second Mer Cavallo Mystery, launches January 10, 2018, and I’m really excited about the story. Here’s a quick blurb:
Marine biologist Meredith Cavallo’s life unravels after she finds a plastic-wrapped bundle floating on the waves off Key Largo. Curious, she pulls it aboard her dive boat and lands in the middle of a storm of intrigue involving an obscure legend, an 18th century shipwreck and a modern pirate who’ll resort to murder to claim the booty first.
But even more important, I’m so grateful that there are people who enjoy my words. It is truly humbling. Thank you.
Thanks for taking the time to chat, Micki! Friends, I thought you might like a little background on Micki:
An FBI National Academy graduate, Micki Browning worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades, retiring as a division commander. Now a full-time writer, she won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Royal Palm Literary Award for her debut mystery, ADRIFT.
Micki also writes short stories and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in dive magazines, anthologies, mystery magazines and textbooks. She resides in Southern Florida with her partner in crime and a vast array of scuba equipment she uses for “research.”
Make sure you check out Micki’s books – I’ve read Adrift and can vouch for how good it is, and I can hardly wait to start on Beached!