Welcome to Author Dorothy James
Dorothy James was born in Wales and grew up in the South Wales Valleys. Writer, editor, and translator, she has published short stories as well as books and articles on German and Austrian literature. She has taught at universities in the U.S., England, and Germany, makes her home now in Brooklyn and often spends time in Vienna and Berlin.
She wrote A Place to Die in her attic apartment on the edge of the Vienna Woods. She has travelled far from Wales, but has not lost the Welsh love of playing with language; she writes poems for pleasure as does Chief Inspector Büchner, the whimsical Viennese detective who unravels the first mystery in this new series of novels.
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If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
I would go back to the past, but to my own past, and only if I could change things, and if I could, I would be quite young again and value time more.
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
My favorite thing to eat for breakfast is what I call “porridge,” in other words, Quaker Oats. I make it quite thin, and stir it a lot so that it is smooth. I eat it every day; it is the best comfort food in the world. (But why would anyone want to know this?)
Night owl, or early bird?
I love to get up early. I like the feel of the world around 6 o’clock in the morning, when it is quiet, and, in the winter, dark, and I can drink my tea, listen to the radio (WQXR) and think of all the things I have to do during the day. I live in Brooklyn and often in the early morning I walk up to the Promenade and walk all the way along to the Brooklyn Bridge, watching the rising sun reflected in the Manhattan buildings – the greatest view of the New York skyline at the greatest time of day.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
You should read my book only if you like mysteries that work themselves out at a leisurely pace, that make you laugh a little, cry a little, think a little, and look a little into the psyches of the characters.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I have almost finished a sequel to A Place to Die. It is called A Place to Live, and though it is still set in Vienna, it also plays in New York (briefly) and in Berlin (quite importantly). This time the huge changes that have taken place in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall and of the Iron Curtain are something of a backdrop for the plot.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
My favorite book when I was a child was “Anne of Green Gables.” I loved the character of Anne and read all the sequels. I read it before I had any idea that there was a real place called Prince Edward Island—I thought it was the most wonderful place I could imagine. I lived myself in the coal-mining valleys of South Wales, and Green Gables was my idea of heaven.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Start writing as soon as you think you want to. Don’t wait for a better time. Don’t think it will be easier somewhere else. Don’t be distracted. If you really want to do it, make it your top priority and do it wherever you are.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I would go back to live in the little apartment in Vienna where I wrote my novel “A Place to Die.” I have never lived in a place where I was happier. I had a balcony with flowers. It looked out at the Vienna Woods. I took the picture on the front cover of my book from that balcony at sunset. It was a magical place for me.
How do you react to a bad review?
I read it very quickly then put it away and try to forget it. O.K., I can’t, so I take it out again to see if it is as bad as I thought the first time. It is. Then I feel annoyed, and think, the reviewer really didn’t get the point. Then I think, well, everyone’s taste is different. Too bad. And I think of all the good reviews. And forget it.
What’s your favorite season/weather?
I love the fall. The colors, the often mild weather, “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,” a time to think back on the year past, still some time left to make something of the year that still is. A lovely time in the country but also in the city when the leaves fall into the streets, and color the asphalt gold.
Write a Haiku about your book
Big black birds in snow
Perching on cold balustrades
Waiting for answers
A Place to Die blog tour site:
A Place to Die
Eleanor and Franz Fabian arrive from New York to spend Christmas with Franzs mother in her sedate retirement home in the Vienna Woods. Their expectations are low: at best, boredom, at worst, run-of-the-mill family friction. But when the wealthy, charming Herr Graf is found dead in his apartment with an ugly head wound, the Fabians are thrust into a homicide investigation.
Some residents and staff have surprising connections to the dead man, but who would have wanted to kill him? Inspector Bchner tracks down the murderer against a backdrop of Viennese history from the Nazi years to the present day. Witty, suspenseful, lyrical, this is a literary whodunit that will keep you guessing till the last page.
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