Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Anne Marie Stoddard's Murder at Castle Rock Interview

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As the manager and booking agent for Atlanta’s famous Castle Rock concert venue, Amelia “Ame” Grace is ready for the most exciting week of her career: she’s booked three shows and a live DVD-filming for the comeback tour of none other than the eighties Pop Rock Prince himself, Bobby Glitter! Before the rock star can take a bow on the first night, however, trouble steals the show as Castle Rock’s owner takes a deadly tumble from atop the venue’s rear tower. To make matters worse, the police suspect foul play—and all signs point to two of Castle Rock’s own employees. Ame is in a race against time to clear the names of her friends and uncover the truth before the killer decides it’s curtains for her too!
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Today I have Anne Marie Stoddard stopping by RYWBR. We’re going to talk about her and her new book, Murder at Castle Rock. Hi Anne Marie, thanks for stopping by and answering some questions for me.
It’s my pleasure. Thank YOU for having me, Kim!
So we can read about you in the “Author Bio” section at the end of this posting. Tell me something about Anne Marie that isn’t widely known, yet.
Well, here’s a little confession for you: Until “Murder At Castle Rock,” I hadn’t written fiction in 16 years. I used to write short stories in elementary school, but I stopped after sixth grade when I began playing the saxophone in our school band. I didn’t pick up writing again until after college, but it feels oh so good to be back!
Murder at Castle Rock is your first published book. What was release day like for you? Were you on pins and needles or was it just another day?
To be honest, it was a little bit of both. It was a Tuesday, and since I’ve got a day job, most of the day was spent in the cubicle of my 9 to 5—but I did sneak a couple of peeks at Amazon every now and then to see when the title would go live. Seeing it available online made me giddy J Of course, I did escape work at quitting time to go celebrate with some of my closest friends, and, by coincidence, the following day I left for a trip to Las Vegas. Woohoo!
Your background consists of working behind the scenes in the music industry. How much of your background was put into use in writing this book?
I’d say a decent amount. I’ve always heard the saying, “write what you know,” so I chose to write about a setting I was familiar and comfortable with. I spent a couple of years in college as a booking intern for the 40 Watt, a venue in Athens, Georgia, and when I moved to Atlanta, I worked in radio and got to work tons of events at the venues around the city. When tapping into all of those experiences and memories, the words came pretty easily.

Here’s another little confession for you—there is actually one scene in the book, involving an incident with a radio station van—that is based on an event that happened to me in real life the first time I ever drove one of the station vehicles. I’ll leave it at that so I don’t spoil the scene for you. (smile)
Tell me about Ame Grace. What’s she like and how does she manage to clear her friends and not get herself killed in the process?
Amelia is a little shy but a loyal friend, and she loves music. She’s a hard worker and is very focused on her career; she wants the week of Bobby Glitter's performances to go off without a hitch. Of course, chaos ensues and things get in the way. While Ame has the mentality that "the show must go on," she is sensitive to what is happening in the lives of those around her as well and is quick to come to their rescue when they need her. Even though Amelia wouldn't initially be a target for the killer, she puts herself directly in the path of danger by sticking up for her friends and doing what she thinks is right by trying to solve the mystery on her own. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I will say that she has to rely on the help of a few others to save herself and her friends.
Do you have a favorite scene from the book that you can share?
My ultimate favorite scene is the one where Amelia solves the mystery. The showdown is a little intense, and I wrote the entire scene in one sitting, unable to stop until I had it resolved. The scene wrote itself—I typed furiously for two hours, and when I was done, I could hardly believe how it ended myself. What you read in that entire chapter is technically the original draft (without the typos, haha!)

Of course, I can’t share that scene here, so here is one of my other favorites. This is the scene where Ame’s boss, Parker, literally drops dead at her feet:
Sighing heavily, I flipped around to lean my back against the door and stared out into the open courtyard. The vast green lawn stretched on for at least a quarter-mile and was enclosed by a grey ashlar wall that matched the structure of the castle. The wall was lined with alternating hickory and maple trees, each spaced about twenty feet apart. The trees were my favorite part of the courtyard, especially during the fall. During the spring and summer, their leaves made a solid wall of vibrant green, and in the winter the brittle, bare branches jutted in every direction like protective barbs to ward off those punk neighborhood kids who might dare to climb the wall and sneak in the back door for a free concert. It was in the fall, however, that the trees gave their most breathtaking display. As the red maple and orange hickory leaves danced in the wind they looked like a moat of fire hovering above the castle wall.

Most of my co-workers took their breaks from work in Piedmont Park just a few blocks away, but not me—this courtyard was my own private park. I often took walks along its perimeter when I needed an escape from my constantly ringing office phone. Sometimes I’d pretend that this was my castle and courtyard, and I’d pace the length of the fence, mapping out in my mind the additions I would love to make. Lately I had been envisioning an outdoor stage along the wall, facing inward to the lawn. While our capacity in either High Court or the Dungeon was one thousand, we could easily fit up to two thousand or more concert-goers in this space. This would allow us to book bigger, better acts and maybe even double our business. I had been working up the nerve to pitch these concepts to Parker, and if all went well with Bobby Glitter Week, that success might be just the thing to butter him up before I approached him with my ideas.

Sometime later I could feel the bass and the roar of the crowd vibrate through the door as Bobby and his band returned to the stage upstairs for their encore. One show down, I thought, pulling a cigarette from my jacket. Two to go. I fished a lighter from the depths of my jean pocket, then lit my cig and took a long, slow drag. It felt good to finally have a few moments to myself, just me and my thoughts in this dark and peaceful courtyard. I blew a smoke ring and tilted my face upward to watch its progress as it slowly drifted higher and higher into the night sky. Through the haze, a dark object appeared to be falling from the heavens—no, it was falling from the rear tower! What the..

Time screeched to a halt, and in an instant that felt like a lifetime, the shape of the dark, falling mass came into focus. It had arms and hands with open palms and splayed fingers. It had legs that were eerily limp even as they moved downward in a rapid free fall…and in the moonlight, I could just make out a head of thinning chestnut hair…

Before I could react, Parker Deering’s body careened into the flat ground of the loading dock with a sickening splat, a mere fifteen feet from where I was standing. The horrible sound of bones crunching upon impact sent my lunch on a mad dash back up from my stomach.

I doubled over and retched.

Then I screamed.
I understand that you’re already working on a sequel. Can you tell me anything about it?
I don’t want to give too much away about which characters are around for the next book, but I will say that in Book 2, Ame and her friends are taking a little vacation from Castle Rock to go on a road trip to a music festival. Of course, the trip isn’t going to go quite the way they planned..
Morning person or night owl?
Never a morning person, but I like to think of myself as a weekend night owl (and sometimes during the weeks, when there are good concerts in town!)
Favorite song.
There are too many to count! It changes depending on my mood, the season, which side of the bed I woke up on that morning…I’m a huge Daft Punk fan, and so my current favorite is the single they released in April. It’s called “Get Lucky” and features Pharrell Williams and Nile Rogers. I play it on repeat…a lot!
Ice cream or Gelato?
I literally just finished a pint of Ciao Bella Toasted Hazelnut gelato, which is amazing! BUT, I’m going to have to say ice cream over gelato—when you have a roommate that makes the world’s best homemade ice cream, it’s really no contest. How can you argue with coming home to homemade Neapolitan or cheddar maple bacon ice cream? (It sounds strange, but trust me, it is delicious!)
Left handed or Right handed?
Right handed! I would love to be ambidextrous, but I am not that coordinated.
Spring or Summer?
Summer—it’s the best season for outdoor concerts and music festivals!
Introvert or Extrovert?
I have introverted moments, but don’t we all? I’d like to think I’m mostly an extrovert. Having been voted the “Most Talkative” girl in my high school senior class, I think people would be inclined to agree with me.
Thank you Anne Marie for stopping by. I’m looking forward to see what kind of trouble Ame gets herself into. Is there anything I missed that you would like to add?
Thank you again for having me, Kim! I’ll just add that you and your readers are welcome to reach out to me at any time with questions or comments about the book—just visit and submit through the contact form. It was a blast to answer your questions. I really hope you all enjoy “Murder At Castle Rock”!
Author Bio:
Aside from my friends and family, I’m passionate about two things: writing and live music. When I can bring the two together, my life feels complete. I hadn’t written fiction since 6th grade until 2011 (because, of course, I’d replaced this creative outlet with live music performance while I played the saxophone from 6th grade through the end of college). I was fortunate enough to win the 2012 AJC Decatur Book Festival & BookLogix Publishing Services, Inc. Writing Contest with my manuscript for “Murder At Castle Rock,” and as a result, the novel will be published in March 2013. Being published has been a dream of mine since I began writing stories about the Easter Bunny in kindergarten–so, needless to say, I am beside myself with joy over this opportunity! I am currently working on several other projects, including a sequel to “Murder At Castle Rock” and another mystery series that takes place in the art world.

Connect with Anne Marie Stoddard:


Anne Marie is offering up an eBook copy of MURDER AT CASTLE ROCK to one lucky Read Your Writes Book Reviews visitor.  Follow the Rafflecopter instructions for your chance to win.  Here’s a question for you....What concert have you attended that is your ALL TIME favorite and why.
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  1. My favorite concert was put on by a Beatles cover band named (I think) 1964. They did spot imitations right down to mannerisms and voices, everybody in the audience knew the words to all the songs and was up dancing--it was great! Plus nobody fell from a tower and died, which is always good. :)

    Enjoyed the excerpt!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Christine.

      I should probably get the reference to the tower, but I don't.

    2. I think she's referencing the scene from the book where Parker falls out of the tower ;)

  2. Ooh! I love the Beatles AND I love cover bands--that sounds like an awesome show, Christine!

  3. My Absolute favorite has been Pink Funhouse tour....I see so many concerts and she puts on an amazing show and it's so physically challenging. I was in AWWW for sure!!


    1. Hey Josie!

      Thanks for stopping by. Good luck!

    2. So jealous, Josie! I've always wanted to see Pink live!

  4. it was a garth brooks concert my husband surprised me with!

    1. Awesome, Cristina! Garth Brooks is another artist I've never gotten to see. Jealous!


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