Thursday, October 3, 2019

Q&A with D.A. Bartley

D.A. Bartley is the author of the new mystery novel Death in the Covenant, the second in her series about Detective Abish Taylor, which began with Blessed Be the Wicked. She lives in New York.

Q: This is your second book about Detective Abish Taylor. How do you think she's changed from one book to the next?

A: Abbie is slowly opening herself up to life. She was still reeling from having lost her husband in Blessed Be the Wicked.

In Death in the Covenant, we get to see her flirt with the idea of romance. She and her dad are making inroads in their relationship, and Abbie’s made peace with living in a place where she’ll never quite fit in.

Q: Did you know when you were working on the first book that you'd be writing another one?

A: Yes and no. I don't think I'm different from most writers in that when I was working on my very first book, it was pretty much all I could see.

Having said that, when my publisher asked me if I had more ideas for other books, the answer was yes. There’s a lot in Mormonism that’s intriguing and unique for a mystery writer. And then there’s the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—a powerful, hierarchical organization that operates largely in private—how can you not play with that?

Q: The novels are set in Utah. How important is setting to you in your writing?

A: When I open up a book, I love being transported to some other place. I’ve lived in New York City for over 20 years—longer than I’ve lived anywhere else on the planet.

Before now, though, I moved a lot: I was born in Scotland, lived in France, Germany, and Utah before going to college in Boston. I spent a summer in Paris and a year in Leningrad/St. Petersburg. (Yep, I was there at the end of the Soviet Union). Then, I lived in Philadelphia for graduate and law school. 

Living in all those places taught me the magic of setting: the humidity in the air, when the flowers bloom, what kind of bugs are there, what does the dirt smell like, how tall are the trees, what color are the clouds when the sun rises and sets. I love all of it.

Q: Do you usually know how your novels will end, or do you make changes along the way?

A: When I got to the end of my first book, I knew when I sat down to my desk that I'd be writing the final scene, but it wasn't until I typed the last word that I knew exactly how the story ended.

Now that I work with deadlines, I do some rough outlining to make sure my ideas work, but I happily change course when the story wants to go another way.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: The third Abish Taylor.

In Blessed Be the Wicked, I was fascinated with the question of what happens when a community ignores—but doesn’t disavow—a violent doctrine. In Death in the Covenant, I became enthralled with how valuing faith and obedience above all else can lead to some very dark places.

For this book, I’m obsessed with how a community creates its own history and what happens when that shared memory collides with fact.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: If you love suspense and are going to be in New York City, please check out the calendar for the New York Chapter of Sisters in Crime. I’ve just taken over as president, and we’re doing a lot of exciting things. It’s a wonderful organization for readers and writers at all stages of their careers.

Our new website will be up—any moment now—at

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

No comments:

Post a Comment