- Your main character in your newest novel is a dust buster a person who vets political appointees and candidates, this is seem a unique choice for a mystery series what inspired you to have given her that job?
I’ve always been intrigued by the people who do oppo research—whether they’re working for or against the subject of their investigation. Probably, that comes from all of my years working for the public library (in a previous life)—and all the years I spent working as a research assistant in college. I spent so much time below ground, mired in the dark stacks of academic libraries, I began to resemble a Sumerian. So I began to wonder what that life would be like for the people who do this kind of research for higher profile clients and much higher stakes. So Evan Reed was born.
- Your newest novel seems to be inspired by recent political events, was this the reason your crafted the book or did the current political climate influence you as you were writing the book?
After I wrote Dust (the first Evan Reed novel) in 2011, I knew I would write a second book—and I had already determined that Evan’s next case would concern child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. I felt this would give me the opportunity to explore more of Evan’s conflicted relationship with the church and her own faith—not to mention her close relationship with Tim Donovan, the priest who is Evan’s best friend. Nature hates a vacuum, so other projects intervened. It was when the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing the widespread sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests was released that I knew the time was right to tackle Evan’s next journey. Most of the research for Galileo had been completed by 2018—and I actually wrote the novel last April, during a two-week, self-imposed retreat in Vermont. As a survivor of child sexual abuse myself, the themes in Galileo were important and deeply personal for me. In this book, I probably spoke more through the character of Tim Donovan than Evan. Tim’s crisis of faith mirrored my own and, I would imagine, that of many others who found—and find—themselves involved in difficult issues like these.
- You have done novels and short stories collections, is there other formats you would like to try, maybe a dust movie screenplay?
You know—graphic novels have great appeal to me. Probably because I worked professionally as a graphic designer for most of my adult life. I’m intrigued by the economy of the storytelling. I also think it would be engaging to write for television or film. In fact, that quickness in conversation—in dialogue—is something I try to replicate in my books. I often feel like an observer when I’m writing—like I’m a stranger at the next table in a restaurant, eavesdropping on a conversation. For me, that’s what writing is: an ultimate act of voyeurism.
- What do you do to stay inspired, what other authors do you like to keep up with?
The great southern writer, Doris Betts once quipped that her job was to “pay attention.” I find inspiration everywhere. At the post office. In line at the grocery store. Listening to people talk about their everyday lives in unguarded ways. Part of writing means I don’t get to read as much as I would like any more. That’s why long summer vacations are so important. Salem West and I pack up two huge bags of books and spend the better part of a month, sitting on Adirondack chairs beside Lake Champlain, reading. Just. Reading. Well. Maybe reading and drinking good wine. LOTS of good wine. Authors I like? Wow. So many. Ann Patchett. Dorothy Allison. Elizabeth Sims. Michael Nava. Lisa Alther. Julia Alvarez. Nicola Griffith. Malinda Lo. Donald Barthelme. Italo Calvino. Michael Cunningham. I also reread books a lot. I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens . . . those books never get old for me. They remind me what good storytelling looks like.
- What is the next project you will be tackling, are there plans for any more Evan Reed books?
My current work-in-progress is the fourth book in the Jericho series, Covenant. After that, I’m planning a second collection of Diz and Clarissa stories—Six and Change. Covenant will publish in December of 2020. Six and Change, with luck, will debut a tad earlier in the year. Writing about Diz, Clarissa, the three little boys they always seem to be caring for, and a psychotic Siberian husky is like a vacation for me. Working on a fresh set of stories about their tribulations will be the way I treat myself after I finish Covenant, which will be exhausting (as all of the Jericho books are).
- You seem very connected to your fans even skyping in for book club readings, do you think it is important for an author to maintain a rapport with their audience?
Oh, I absolutely do! You asked earlier about where I get inspiration—I should’ve mentioned readers right off the top! Getting to interreact with the people who actually care about the books is the best part of this business. They always have such energy, enthusiasm and strong opinions about where a story should go—or should’ve gone! The day I’m too busy to meet and talk with readers is the day I should hang up my pen and invest in a better cable package.
- If people want more information about you where should they go, where are your books available?
I have an all-new web site: http://www.annmcman.com. There, you may learn more than you ever needed or wanted to know about me . . . except maybe details about any outstanding arrest warrants. My books are pretty much available wherever books are sold. I am published by Bywater Books of Ann Arbor, MI. All of my titles are available, too, at bywaterbooks.com.
Final four questions we ask everyone:
When the zombies take over the world where will you be?
Probably in a back room someplace, designing their book covers. Zombies have a right to promote their own literature, too . . . .
How do you identify Jedi, lesbian, Ninja, gay, vampire, bisexual, were-wolf, transgender, pirate, asexual, fairy, aromantic, sith, intersex, Spartan, non binary, furry, queer, pastaferian …?
I’m not sure what “pastafarian” means—but I definitely want to find out. I think they could be my people.
What one piece of art, be it music, book, film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?
Oh, my. Do I only get to choose one? I’d have to say that if you’ve never been to a performance at The Metropolitan Opera in New York City, do that. It’ll change your life in wonderful ways. You’ll discover a sensory universe of color and sound that you never knew existed.
Give one fact that most people would not believe about you?
Twenty-five years ago, I did contract design work for Donald Trump.
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