Murder is No Joke - One of the reasons I choose this short story for winning was the unique title and of course the plot. It reminded me a lot of the characters that I grew up reading who thought nothing could touch and little did they know it would. Get to know Phylis Warady!
Tell Us Where Your From?
Born in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, but haven't been back there since age 5. My Mom was born there, too, and thus has roots. But my stepfather was in the Coast Guard, so we were always on the move. As a child I lived in Sandy Hook, NJ; Staten Island, NY; Orchard Beach, MD; Boston, MA; Cape Cod, MA; Oakland, CA; Wilmington, CA. Then as an adult I lived in NYC but visited my family in Solon, ME. Married I lived in Pittsburgh and Altoona, PA; Norton, KS; Simi Valley, CA and finally in Grass Valley, CA. So I'm what's know as a service brat as a child, then a nomad until I married and wanted my three kids to have what I'd never had, namely ROOTS so we stayed in Simi Valley until they were in college and then moved to the Sierra Foothills where I now live in an ex-gold mining town that is blessed with lots of cultural outlets which is why I love it!
In High School I took Journalism (back then there were no creative writing classes offered) and when my kids were toddlers began to write a feature column for the local paper, plus occasional featured articles, but I wanted to write fiction. So I took a correspondent course in short fiction and have been writing seriously for almost 50 years. I wear many hats. I've six published historical novels all set in Regency England; plus a collection of award-winning short stories, most of whom are multi-published. For amusement I write light verse and have many 1st place plaques as well as prize money as a result. And last but hardly least, I write articles dealing with either the writing craft or on career tips. But my dearest love is writing a great short story.
What in inspires me to write?
I started writing seriously with 3 kids under age 5 to save my sanity. In downturns I've often tempted to quit writing altogether, but then realize that I might as well quit breathing because to me writing almost daily is like clutching my 'life saver'. In other words, I must write even if never paid a red cent for my efforts.
Rarely does my muse take over, but when it does, it's magical. But mostly I rely on sheer persistence and that pays off as well.
What inspired Murder is no Joke?
I read an article on a practical joker and that idea fascinated. Trying to get the right blend of the combination of humor and murder took me 18 months. (Could've written an entire novel and half of another in that time span.)
What are you currently working on?
Currently I'm hard at work revising an historical novel circe 1853 set where I live.
Advice to aspiring writers?
Get all the outside help you can. Listen carefully to critiques but only take the advise you understand and agree with. Spend at least an hour a day writing! If you write first, then everything else seems to fit in. On the other hand, it you do all those pesky chores first, there never seems time to write. (The only exception should be a family crisis.) Write the kind of work you enjoy reading. Faking it never pays. Be yourself. And Be Persistent! It pays dividends.
I'm reading 9 Dragons by Michael Connelly. I adore suspense and thrillers but have no desire to write one. I also love Georgette Heyer's and Jane Austen's regencies. I'm an insomniac. A bad night is 3 novels and its dawn. A good night is 1 novel and 5-6 hours of blessed sleep.
I don't think I have a favorite word, but I do adore finding and using one that startles. For instance, in Heyer's novels 'ejaculated' is used as a synonym of 'exclaimed' so I've had fun using it thusly in my own novels, but always have sense enough to delete in before I send in the finished manuscript. It's just too startling a word. I also deplore the shrinking of the meaning of 'gay'. I miss titles like "Our Hearts were Young and Gay". And male names such as Gaylord and Galen unfairly besmirked!