We at Murder Books are delighted share our guest author interview with Micki Browning. A graduate of the FBI National Academy, she worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades, retiring as a division commander. Now a full-time writer, Micki 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.”
When did you decide to become a full-time writer?
If you can believe my mother, it was around age five, but as I recall, I was also toying with becoming a racecar driver, pioneer, girl detective, barrel racer, and princess. I could make the case I became a full-time writer the moment I was sworn in as a police officer—sure, they lure you into the job with the fun stuff, but practically everything has to be documented. Fiction writing had to wait until I retired from law enforcement.
Has any particular author influenced you?
One author? No. I learn something from every book I read. When I was younger, I read high fantasy—Tolkien, Zimmer-Bradley, mythology—which was great for world-building. Dennis Lehane and Daniel Woodrell proved to me that the darkest subjects could be described lyrically. Christopher Moore is my go-to for dark humor. Lisa Gardner, Meg Gardiner, Tess Gerritsen, and Sue Grafton all left their marks on my writing.
What kind of books do you enjoy reading? What are you currently reading?
I don’t stick to a specific genre. I recently read The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill, which won the Newberry Medal for American literature for children. I’m fond of biographies and historical fiction—especially Celtic. Of course, I read mysteries and police procedurals. The Dry by Jane Harper is an amazing debut. I just finished Alafair Burke’s The Ex. Next up is Let Me Die in his Footsteps by Lori Roy.
Do you have a writing routine that you stick to?
I sometimes wish I did, but other than pouring a cup of tea, walking into my home office every morning, and sitting down, the answer is no. Writers nowadays wear many hats, and my schedule varies. With my recent book launch behind me, it’s great to focus on my current story again.
How much of you resides inside your protagonist Mer Cavallo?
I think authors inhabit every character they create. That said, Mer is not my alter-ego. We do, however, share a love of diving, an appreciation of the ocean, and a reluctance to open champagne bottles.
I really enjoyed reading your debut novel, Adrift. I was specifically intrigued by the dive sequences at the Spiegel Grove. Were those scenes based on your real life diving experiences?
Yes. The USS Spiegel Grove is my favorite wreck dive. She’s a massive dock-landing ship that was purpose-sunk as an artificial reef off the coast of Key Largo in 135 feet of water. Adrift was inspired by a medical emergency that occurred at depth on the wreck. The diver recovered, but the incident got my what-if gears grinding.
You were a cop for more than two decades, retiring at the rank of captain. Do you find your law enforcement background assists you in constructing believable mystery stories?
Absolutely. An investigation unfolds just like a mystery and the training I received certainly lends authenticity to my stories. But stories are about people, and as a police officer I interacted with all levels of society. The insight I gained regarding criminal behavior has been particularly invaluable as a writer. After all, a mystery doesn’t start until a crime has been committed.
Tell our readers about your new mystery Beached.
Mer’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. Of course, shenanigans ensue.
What is next for Micki Browning? Do you plan to continue the Mer Cavallo series?
I do. The third book in the series, Chum, is on the drawing board. But first…
Have you given any thought to writing a procedural?
I’m working on a police procedural right now that is set in a small town in the dead of winter. It’s my first foray into multiple points of view and I’m really excited about how the story is unfolding.
What advice would you give to a writer hoping to be published?
First, don’t give up. Nothing happens overnight in publishing. Second, don’t go it alone. The writing community is incredibly generous, and it’s nice to know you aren’t the first writer to receive a rejection letter. Finally, if you are writing mysteries, plot from the point of view of the antagonist, but write from the perspective of the protagonist.
Is there something you’d like to share about yourself that most readers wouldn’t know?
My grandmother swore I was destined to be a nun. Instead, I became a cop. In many ways it’s the same job, but with a much better uniform.
If you could have a drink with three people living, dead, or even fictional, who would you choose?
Wow, this is the toughest question yet! I’m going to cheat and expand my answer to encompass each category and chose four people. First, Mrs. Simon, my high school English teacher. I probably drove her to drink, so it seems only fair I should buy her one. Queen Elizabeth I, because she had an entire “Age” named after her. Finally, the ever-witty Nick and Nora Charles—those two know how to party.
You can learn more about Micki Browning and her books at the following links:
Adrift ~ A Mer Cavallo Mystery
Beached ~ January 2018