Today I’m glad to present Robert Colton whose book “Murder Most Convenient: A Mrs. Xavier Stayton Mystery” I have just finished reading. I’ve attached my review at the end of this feature.
Hello Robert, and welcome to my blog.
Please tell my readers, how did you come to writing?
“I am a story teller, writing comes as natural to me riding a bike, I have crashed a few times at both, but you just get up and keep going.
How did you come up with your stories?
“Everyday situations inspire little ideas that grow and grow. Often, a random comment heard, or a funny observation will linger in my thoughts until it weaves itself into a story.”
Is there a message in your novels you would like your readers to grasp?
“Presently, no. My books are pure entertainment. I suppose since they are all mysteries, one could say that my message is –there is no perfect murder!”
You have created great characters. Which one is your favorite?
“Right now, Mrs. Xavier Stayton is my favorite character. Living in the present, her mind set is where I am in life. We have both had our disadvantages and our losses, yet we are pleased with life, she and I share a glass that is half full.”
How much of your books are realistic? Are the experiences based on someone you know or events in your life?
“Well, the laws of gravity apply to all my stories, so there is a start into realism! When it comes to writing a series of books featuring an amateur sleuth, you must first give your reader a wink and hope they are kind enough to suspend disbelief, after you accept that this sweet young widow finds herself embroiled in murder after murder, everything else is quite realistic. Mrs. Stayton shares a few similarities with my grandmother. They wear the same perfume, Mrs. Stayton’s brothers are named after my great-uncles’, little things like that. We all anticipate Alfred Hitchcock’s cameo when we watch his films, I believe that when my grandmother reads my Mrs. Stayton books, she is waiting to find some nod to her.”
Who would you cast to play the characters in a movie?
“If I can escape the bonds of reality and pick actors from different eras, Joan Fontaine at age 24 would play Mrs. Xavier Stayton, Joanna Lumley, at 55, would play Mother Stayton, and Rachel Weisz, age 25, would play Lucy Wallace.”
Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?
“I share some traits with Mrs. Stayton; I like a good mystery, I am adaptable, and observant, and have an active imagination. Most importantly, we are both resilient.”
Were the plot and subplots completely planned from the start or did they change during the process, and if so, how?
“The beauty of writing mysteries is that all you need to start a story is a victim. Next, you need a killer and a motive. Once that is done, you have your basic frame work and you can wander a bit with your red herrings. I let my secondary characters grow as I write them, they need to be as real as the whodunit or they do little to deflect suspicion from the murderer. The secondary characters create the subplot, we have to give them a background so we can wonder why they might have had reason to commit murder most foul, too.”
What is your main reason for writing?
“Perhaps I should make up a great answer, rather than admit –I don’t know. Writing makes me happy, I am inviting others to step into my imagination and see the story playing out in my head.”
What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?
“I have never given that any thought. I guess the best part of writing is the fun of crafting an entertaining story and bringing it altogether. The worst part of writing is that there is never enough time to write all the plots floating about my head.”
Please share a little of your current work in progress or ideas for your next novel?
“Right now I am working on Mrs. Stayton’s 8th Novella. “Murder Most Residential,” Mrs. X, as the press has dubbed her, has acquired a little place in a sleepy village, where nothing of much interest ever happens –until she comes along. The story is set on an old country estate that is being parceled off by the owner. We have a gardener and his daughter, a beekeeper and his wife, a helpful estate agent, and of course, a suspicious young woman renting the boathouse, as neighbors (and potential victims or murderers!”)
How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?
“I am not sure that I do! The best advice that I have ever had was, keep writing more books. I have two series of mysteries, and I concentrate on marketing only the 1st book of each. If people enjoy the 1st book, then it has done my marketing for me, and they’ll go on to read the rest.”
What do you do when you don’t write?
“I am the Director of Operations for a large non-profit organization, this keeps me fairly busy. Otherwise, I am walking my greyhound or reading mystery novels.”
Who are your editors and how do you quality control your books?
“Melissa Gray proofreads and edits my books, professionally, and two friends give them a read through as well, both for errors and continuity. As you can plainly see that without their help I am the king of run-on sentences. A friend of mine read an early manuscript of Pompeii: A Tale of Murder, and remarked to her husband, I think that Robert is afraid of periods.”
How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?
“I have found self-publishing to be very empowering. I have learned a lot about marketing, working with freelance artists, and things that I would have never learned before. I don’t think I have low.”
What is your advice to new indie writers?
“Don’t stop writing, foremost. And, do not rely on your friends to read your work and give you critical feedback. Have you ever told a close friend that their baby was ugly? Well, they aren’t going to tell you that your book needs help. Hire someone to objectively read you book. I hired an author coach to tell me what worked and what didn’t work with my 1st book, “Pompeii: A Tale of Murder in Ancient Rome.” Based on his feedback, I changed the pacing of the book and shifted around much of the action so that the book was a true mystery, rather than a story with a mystery.”
Who are your favorite authors and what is your favorite book?
“Robert Graves and Daphne du Maurier. du Maurier’s novel, Rebecca, is my favorite book.”
What books or authors have influenced you the most? Is there a writer that you consider a mentor? Do you have a favorite?
“I have dissected the work of Agatha Christie and Steven Saylor, reading their books over and over to understand how a really good mystery is fashioned together. I love all of their books.”
“I read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca at least twice a year, the book is simply perfect, and it reminds me time and time again how beautiful and engaging fiction can be.”
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
“I am reading Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers. I am reading it in eBook format. Sayer’s work is marvelous stuff. Her Lord Peter Wimsey is like a crime solving Bertie Wooster.”
Do you work with an outline or do you just write?
“I start with an outline. After coming up with the victim and murderer, I write out the various plot points that have to happen on 3×5 cards, this way I can move them around until everything fits. Most of Mrs. X’s stories end with the standard gathering of the players together in a parlor and pointing a finger at each person as to why they might have done the heinous deed. This type of ending requires perfect timing, so the clues have to be set just into place at the right time.
What (not who) would you like to take to a lonely island?
“As long as I can figure out how they made electricity out of coconuts on Gilligan’s Island, I would bring my smartphone. I would be able to write books, read books, listen to audiobooks and keep up with kith and kin.”
Who would you like to invite for dinner?
“The English actor, Edward Petherbridge. His voice is amazing. I think he could make a grocery list sound like a piece of fantastic literature. I would bore him, and he would have little to eat as I asked him pointless question after question to keep him speaking. If you enjoy audiobooks, I suggest you listen to him narrating The Attenbury Emeralds by Jill Paton Walsh. He is a master of his craft.
What would your friends say are your best and your oddest quality?
“I think it is the same answer, I am quirky. I am a little obsessive compulsive and when I like something, I really like it, and you are going to know about it.”
Tell us about your other books please.
“I have written 6 other books set in Ancient Rome. They are all mysteries involving poor Marcellus, a well to do lad accused of committing a crime he did not commit. He is watched over by his slave, who luckily has a bit more wit than he. Think Jeeves and Wooster in Ancient Rome.
How do you handle criticism of your work?
“Who criticized my work?! —Well, my first bad book review did nearly bring about the end of the world, but I have moved on. If the critique is respectful and objective, I try to learn from it. For instance, the first two Mrs. Stayton mysteries are introduced as manuscripts to be reviewed by agents. Within, I have little side notes directed to the reader. In the Mrs. Bradley Mysteries television series, Dame Diana Rigg breaks the fourth wall from time to time and speaks to the viewer. I love that, and wanted to do something similar. Well some people liked it, but others did not, so I left the little digressions out after the second book. However, I have stopped reading any reviews that are mean spirited or ugly. If someone doesn’t like my book, well then it simply wasn’t for them. Personally, I don’t care for Charles Dickens, but that doesn’t mean that his books are bad. I am a little amazed when someone gives me a scathing review, I am not sure how my warm hearted little cozy mystery can generate such furry. I feel that Amazon has empowered their customers to say whatever they feel, even when it isn’t objective. Luckily, most of my reviews are good, and every time I publish a new book, it starts selling the day it comes out –so, I think I am doing something right.
My Review: Murder Most Convenient: A Mrs. Xavier Stayton Mystery
I have just finished reading “Murder Most Convenient: A Mrs. Xavier Stayton Mystery” by Robert Colton.
First a narrative Colton wrote on Amazon:
“It’s the Golden Age of Detective Novels, and Mrs. Xavier Stayton is convinced she can pen the best! Ripping fun at her late husband’s family estate turns to tragedy when murder most foul is committed. Once the inspector arrives, motives abound, and Mrs. Xavier finds herself the chief suspect. If she can avoid the gallows, the hopeful author may walk away with a manuscript that is the cat’s meow; if not, a dastardly killer has committed a perfect frame-up job. Journey with Mrs. Xavier Stayton and her loyal friend, Lucy, from the safety of Holland Park to the perils of Pearce Manor, where a sinister figure awaits them.
What do the critics have to say?
“The best whodunit I’ve ever read.”
-Mrs. Viviane Stayton, the author’s mother-in-law.
“A true masterpiece in the field of mysteries.”
-Miss Lucy Wallace, close friend and assistant to the author.
“The woman is a hack. Every word is lie; I’m suing her.”
-Mrs. Joan Stayton, litigant.”
The story starts off with a young widow, Mrs. X., who thinks she is a good mystery writer. Although there is a real murder mystery involved, you will find yourself laughing in places. Colton has written a fast read and the story in itself in highly interesting in this lighthearted read.
This book needs a lot of editing due to grammar and spelling errors and as such I would normally give it four stars. However, Colton doesn’t address the need for a future editor so I can only give it three stars. If Colton has this book edited in the future, then I will change my rating appropriately.
Robert Colton is a resident of Saint Louis, Missouri. A lover of all animals, he has been a vegetarian his entire adult lifetime. Robert has a retired greyhound who loves to be doted upon. Despite aspirations of being an international hitman, Robert has worked as the Director of Operations for a non-profit organization since 2002. In addition to writing more books, he does hope to one day conquer the world. Robert’s books are historical mysteries, those involving Marcellus and Tay in Ancient Pompeii take place during the reign of Nero. The Mrs. Xavier Stayton mysteries take place during the interwar period.
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All Book Titles:
Pompeii: A Tale of Murder in Ancient Rome
Pompeii: A Conspiracy Among Friends
Pompeii: Hazard at Bay
Pompeii: Pluto’s Maze
Pompeii: Boudicca in the Arena
Murder Most Convenient
Murder Most Posh
Murder Most Egyptological
Murder Most Decorative
Murder Most Haunting
Murder Most Plagiaristic
Murder Most Cosmetic