FAST FIVE: Welcome, Bev. Please share with us some insight into your first novel and the research for Murder in the Second Row?
BEV ROBITAI: Research was easy because the novel is set in a small historic theatre that I practically lived in for ten years. The characters are loosely based on real people, so writing it was like spending time with good friends in a place that I love. I want readers to feel as comfortable in the place as I do, enjoying the location as well as the story. Each book is based around one show – this one is Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death.
FAST FIVE: What a unique concept, basing each book on one of Agatha Christie's works. In your protagonist's line of work, is “the job” the most important part of her life?
BEV ROBITAI: The job is managing the theatre, so Jessica needs a wide variety of strengths and skills. She is passionate about it and it does tend to overshadow her home life. She’s good at handling people, which is essential as theatres are full of egos and emotions. She may have to placate a snooty opera diva or discipline a boisterous teenager so she’s tough but fair, warm-hearted and intelligent, and uses humour as her favourite weapon.
FAST FIVE: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?
BEV ROBITAI: I’m not sure if I should confess this here but the murder is really secondary to the main story, which is the survival of the theatre. Clearly my priorities are somewhat skewed! My unique twist is the world the mystery is set in, with recurring characters that readers will find in later books, and things that will be familiar to theatre people everywhere.
FAST FIVE: How does your main character’s profession draw her into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?)
BEV ROBITAI: Finding a stabbed body in the auditorium makes Jessica’s life VERY complicated. Looking after an elderly theatre that is in danger from predatory developers is fairly suspenseful as well. Will the show succeed in making money? Will the escalating threats turn deadly? Oh yes, Jessica is right in the thick of all kinds of suspense.
FAST FIVE: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?
BEV ROBITAI: Yes, it’s the first book in the Theatre Mystery series, and Book Two, Body on the Stage, has just been published. Book Three is in pre-planning. I have the show, a rough plot and some characters, and am just waiting for one of them to put their hand up to demand the lead role. Jessica was secondary in Book Two but she may leap back into the spotlight in Three.
FAST FIVE: This isn’t a Fast Five question, more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.
BEV ROBITAI: If I’m doing the creative side of writing (as opposed to editing and polishing) then a hotel room somewhere dull is ideal. Getting away from the distractions of domestic chores makes staying at the desk so much easier. My best daily word count was achieved in a spartan hotel room in Hamilton (NZ) – a city where not much happens so there was no compulsion to wander the neighbourhood. A desk by the window, coffee on hand, and nothing else – perfect. Paris would be far too tempting a distraction!
Where readers can follow you:
I post most often on my Facebook writer page and welcome any new followers. https://www.facebook.com/BevRobitai
Or you can find me through my website, firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find my books in print or as ebooks on Amazon. http://tinyurl.com/Murder2ndRowAmazon
Thanks for the opportunity of completing the Fast Five questions – I enjoyed the process!