Mug Shot: Deb Pines
Deb Pines, an award-winning New York Post headline writer and former reporter, is the author of three Chautauqua-based mystery novels, one novelette, and a stand-alone short story. A mother of two, SoulCycle fanatic and lover of Scrabble, cooking, hiking and show tunes, she lives in New York City with her husband, Dave. "If you enjoy an old-fashioned whodunit, it's perfect," The Jamestown Post-Journal said of Pines' 2013 debut novel In the Shadow of Death.
Tell us about your latest work.
Beside Still Waters: A Chautauqua Murder Mystery is the third novel in a series of old-school whodunits set in Chautauqua, a quirky, churchy, lakeside summer arts community in western New York State. This time, series heroine Mimi Goldman, a small-town newspaper reporter — who's sort of me but younger, braver, and prettier — is asked to find a missing person: Jenny Van Alstine, a feminist artist who is her dear friend's granddaughter. Instead, Mimi finds a surprising number of Jenn-emies: haters, lovers, secret-keepers and one killer determined to stop Mimi before she stops them.
When and how do you find time to write?
Since I left full-time reporting for a three-evening-a-week job on the New York Post copy desk, it's easier but not easy. Now I write on my days off. On workdays before my 3:30 p.m. shift. And at work where we typically start with downtime, waiting for stories to chop, edit, and top with snarky tabloid headlines before we finish with frenzied, can't-even-get-up-to-pee editing up to our 9 p.m. early deadline.
How much and what kinds of marketing do you personally do?
I'm self-published, so any marketing is done by me. Mostly, I target my niche audience: the 100,000 people who visit Chautauqua each summer for some or all of a nine-week season of concerts, lectures, church services and other events. There, I run modestly-priced local newspaper ads, speak to any group who will have me — the Jewish Center, Women’s Club, day-camp teens, book clubs — teach classes, sign books, solicit reviews and keep writing. Combined, the efforts + good luck = more book sales each year. I’ve had less success reaching an audience beyond Chautauqua. But I keep trying with Amazon and Goodreads book giveaways, guest-blogging, twice-a-year MailChimp newsletters, radio shows, etc.
What fictional detective would you like to be and why?
I admire fearless, badass private eyes and cops like Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski, Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone, and Law & Order: SVU's Olivia Benson. But they'd be tough to be. So I'd rather be an underestimated, in-over-her-head amateur sleuth, especially a funny one like Rosie Meyers, Susan Isaacs' suburban English teacher sleuth in After All These Years. Rosie not only figures out who killed her estranged husband, she also has two love interests, a boy toy and a more suitably-aged partner. And Rosie gets the great lines like when she praises the conciseness of art over real life. "In English-country-house murder mysteries, for instance," Rosie notes, "someone finds the body and says, 'Egad, the vicar!' No slogging through sixty more pages while you wait for the police to show up."
In five words or less, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?