Her Dying Day, by debut Mindy Carlson
Author Interview + Book & Author Info + Author Pet Corner!
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Her Dying Day
Perfect for fans of Shari Lapena and Hannah Mary McKinnon, a mystery writer’s sudden disappearance leads a budding filmmaker down a dark road to treachery, murder, and long-buried sins.
Aspiring filmmaker June Masterson has high hopes for her first documentary, the true story of the disappearance of famed mystery author Greer Larkin. June learned about the vanishing at age fourteen, locked down on her family’s isolated commune. Now, the deeper she digs into the project, the darker the story gets.
Everyone has a theory. Greer’s mother, Blanche, and her best friend, Rachel, believe that Greer’s fiancé, Jonathan, is the culprit. Greer’s agent is convinced that Greer committed suicide after a debilitating bout of writer’s block. And Jonathan claims it was either Greer’s controlling mother or Rachel, whose attachment to Greer went way beyond friendship.
In desperation, Rachel gives June a suitcase full of Greer’s most personal writings in hopes of finding proof against Jonathan. Then Rachel turns up dead. As June pores over Greer’s writings, she makes a devastating discovery that could finally reveal the truth about the author’s fate. But now, June finds herself in the sights of a killer who’ll stop at nothing to keep their darkest secret.
To purchase Her Dying Day, click any of the following links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Swamp Fox Bookstore
Mindy Carlson — The Interview
Her Dying Day centers on filmmaker June Masterson. What should readers know about your heroine?
June is a loud and sarcastic and fun 24-year-old. She’s obsessed with Converse All-Star shoes and 90s grunge bands. She’s escaped being kept in isolation on her parents’ goat commune to the biggest city in the country—New York City. She thinks she’s a rebel, but what she’s doing is trying to grow up.
Because they were so overprotective, June’s making all these social mistakes and is willing to ignore certain moral boundaries in the name of being a rebel. At her core, though, she wants to do the right thing, but wrestles between doing what’s right and doing what feels good. You meet her at one of her lowest points and get to follow her on the journey of maturity while she’s making a documentary about the disappearance of her favorite mystery author.
What was your inspiration for Her Dying Day?
I was reading an article a few years about the 90th anniversary of the disappearance of Agatha Christie. Not many people knew about it then because once she was found (after 11 days of being missing) she never spoke about it again. She didn’t even put it into her autobiography. In the last couple of years a few fictional accounts have been published. There’s even a movie about it that came out on a streaming service.
But back then it wasn’t part of the public consciousness and I thought, “What if Agatha Christie had never been found? What if a modern mystery author disappeared? How would our society be talking about it twenty years later?” Of course someone would be making a documentary.
What has been the most satisfying aspect of your debut publication journey so far:
How ridiculously proud my family is. I come from a long line of readers and my mom was the director of our public library for about twenty years, but no one had ever written a book before. But writing Her Dying Day has inspire them to start writing their own stories.
Even my kids, who are now 16 and 13, are writing short stories and fanfic. My mom is especially proud that her daughter’s book is going to be on her public library’s bookshelves. I think she might come out of retirement so she can add it to their catalog herself.
Holding my book in my hands the first time was also incredible. I still can’t believe I wrote all the words that are behind that cover. I have a copy on my desk next to the pictures of my kid because I need to be reminded that this is all real.
What would you like to be asked about Her Dying Day that no one has asked before?
Why interlace excerpts from the missing author’s books inside the main story of your book?
I wanted Greer (my missing author) to have her voice in the book. Since she’s not present to speak for herself I thought the best way would be to bring in pieces of her writing. All writers bring in their own life experiences into their writing; they leave pieces of themselves on the page.
It meant writing in a completely different style with a different voice, but I think those brief sections provide the reader a glimpse of Greer’s side of the story.
Your philosophy for relating to children combines Montessori theories and Swiss parenting philosophy, tell us about that.
Both Montessori education and Swiss parenting foster independence in the child and lets them struggle with tough situations or tasks. One of the biggest buzzwords in parenting right now is “Grit.” Parents want to develop gritty kids, but that’s kind of an oxymoron. We can’t develop grit in our kids. Grit and determination can only take root if we become more hands off and let our children become more self-directed. It’s hard, but we must let them struggle.
Our family moved to Basel, Switzerland for two years when my kids were 9- and 5-years-old. The 9-year-olds in Basel were riding the trams, going to school, and doing shopping errands all by themselves. Even the kindergartners were walking to the local school by themselves. The society was, in part, structured around allowing children to be independent and to be there to help them when they needed it or correct them when they were out of line.
I’d been—and still am—the administrative head of school for a Montessori preschool in Maryland and I felt like Swiss parenting fit hand-in-hand with the Montessori philosophy. Montessori is about allowing children choice and independence inside a loving structure. It felt like the Montessori classroom had become our entire neighborhood.
When I looked at the differences, I realized that in America we have begun to parent from a foundation of fear and mistrust of our neighborhood. We had become a society of helicopter and snowplow parents, swooping in to save our child from potential failure or consequences. So, I began writing about parenting bravely and positively while examining family and society systems and connection. What I’ve learned about connection between people actually helps me write a compelling mystery.
What are you working on now?
I am working on two books. One is a Friends meets And Then There Were None mystery which is under submission with my publisher Crooked Lane. The second is a cold-case mystery where three sisters investigate the murder of their father that happened when they were children.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
Never give up on your dream. Never hesitate to ask for help. Never be afraid to tell your story.
Author Pet Corner!
I love animals. My college degree is in Animal Science and Pre-Veterinary Medicine.
I foster pregnant cats for a rescue organization in the DC Area so I typically have about ten cats in my house during the spring.
Because of the timing of the release of Her Dying Day I don’t have a litter right now,
but I do have my resident felines Albus and Durin Orc Slayer.
They are usually about five feet away from me at all times.
I think I’m their emotional support human.
Mindy Carlson is a mystery writer, knitter, baker, reader, and Administrative Head of School of Rock Creek Montessori in Kensington, MD. She also happens to be the mother of two spirited boys and the wife of an amazing economist.
After growing up on a farm in Iowa, she bypassed veterinary school to begin a winding journey that took her to UC Berkeley, Washington, DC, and Basel, Switzerland. Switzerland changed how she viewed parenting, travel, food, and the United States — all for the better! She combined the Swiss parenting philosophy with her Montessori experience, developing a new philosophy of how we better relate to children.
Inspired by the change in her own relationship with her children, she decided to inspire others through a series of parenting articles. You can find these articles at such outlets as AFineParent.com, Big Life Journal, and The Washington Post.
To learn more about Mindy, click on her name, photo, any of the following links: Twitter, Facebook & Instagram
Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell
All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio.
Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Investigator 2020
Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery 2020
The Foundation of Plot, a Wait, Wait, Don’t Query (Yet!) guidebook. Out July 19.