Mallory Pierce is the pen name for one of my all-time favorite rom-com authors Tracie Banister (no relation). In our recent Q&A she discusses the new chapter of her writing career, along with important subjects including her favorite way to procrastinate, why self-publishing was the best route for her, and how her beloved pup frequently derails her train of thought.
Her latest novel That’s the Spirit! is a paranormal cozy mystery.
Christa Banister: For over a decade, you were the queen of super funny women’s fiction, releasing Straight from the Hart, In the Swim of Things, Blame it on the Fame and more under the name Tracie Banister. What made you want to take the plunge into cozy mysteries as Mallory Pierce with That’s the Spirit!?
Tracie Banister: After years of writing rom-coms, I was looking to expand my horizons and challenge myself with something new. Cozies are one of my favorite genres to read and I felt like the genre was the perfect fit for my lighthearted style. I was advised by several cozy authors to use a pen name to write these new books and that’s when Mallory Pierce was born. Having two personas has been a blast although I confuse myself sometimes! LOL
CB: How did the idea for That’s the Spirit come about? Will this be a one-time genre diversion, or do you think it’s something you’ve got the taste for now?
TB: When I was working on Straight from the Hart, I wanted to have a character who was an actress be the star of a hit paranormal show on Netflix. I wracked my brain trying to come up with a clever premise that hadn’t already been done and that’s when the idea of a spunky female ghost solving murders with the horror writer living in her family’s Victorian house popped into my head. I loved the idea so much that I told several author friends and every single one of them said, “You need to turn this into a book!” My rom-com readers have really supported me in this new phase of my career, and I’ve connected with lots of wonderful cozy fans as well. They’ve been requesting more Gwen and Nolan stories, so that’s what I plan to give them.
CB: You have forged a successful career on your terms through self-publishing. Why is that the right move for you and what would you say to other authors who want to give this route a try?
TB: I feel strongly about having creative control over all aspects of my work, so going the indie route was the right choice for me. I do warn authors that it is a tremendous amount of work, and you have to hire professionals to do the things you can’t (design cover art, format your manuscript, etc.). If you don’t have the time to invest or you don’t want to worry about anything other than writing, then being an indie author probably isn’t for you. What’s great about today’s publishing industry is that there are so many options for authors and there’s no wrong way to go about releasing your books. You just have to explore the different avenues and decide what’s best for you!
And now for the Banister Questionnaire..
What’s the first book that made you crazy about reading? If we’re going all the way back to my childhood, then I’d say that I was enthralled by Dr. Seuss books (so colorful and fun and they rhymed!).
Characters or plot? I think they are equally important, but I’m probably more of a character-driven writer due to my study of psychology in school. I write in-depth character profiles before starting work on any book.
Which authors’ books do you always buy no matter what the story is about? This is by no means an exhaustive list because I have so many favorites, but off the top of my head: Traci Andrighetti, Melanie Summers, Ada Bell, Annabel Chase, Sophie Kinsella, and Jenn McKinlay.
Are you a plotter or a pantser and why does that method work best for you? I am both and often refer to myself as a plotty pantser. I couldn’t write an outline if my life depended on it, and I always say that the best stuff in my books are things I didn’t plan. I always have a beginning and an end in mind when I sit down to write my books as well as several key scenes along the way, but I like to put the characters down on the page and let the story develop as organically as possible.
Actual book or digital download? I am a slave to my Kindle. I do the majority of my reading on the treadmill, so it’s e-books all the way for me.
What’s your favorite bookstore? Location, please. I feel like a bad bibliophile admitting to this, but I haven’t been to a bookstore in a very long time. There was a huge Borders about five minutes from my house that I absolutely loved, but alas, it closed down in 2011.
Describe your ideal writing environment. At my desk in my office with a glass of iced tea and no noise! That last part is the most important. I must have complete silence in order to hear myself think so that I can write. Naturally, my dog doesn’t care about that, and he derails my train of thought with barking episodes several times a day. 😉
Coffee or tea? Definitely a tea drinker thanks to the British blood on my mother’s side. Hot, iced, herbal, I love all of it and have quite a collection of mugs.
What’s your favorite way to procrastinate when you know you should be writing but don’t feel like it? I can very easily fall down a “research” hole on the internet. And social media is a major time suck that I have to limit my time on or I’d never get any writing done!
What are you working on at the moment? Book 2 of the GhostWriter Mystery Series. I keep changing my mind on the title for this one, so I’m afraid I can’t announce that just yet. However, I can say that this book will be released later this year and I’m super excited about it!
About the Author: Mallory Pierce is a third-generation graveyard enthusiast (tombstones tell such interesting stories!), reader of Nancy Drew, player of Clue, devout dissectologist (look it up!), and the owner of several fetching trench coats. So, it makes perfect sense that she spends her days writing stories about a plucky, crime-solving ghost.
Despite having visited haunted houses from San Jose to Savannah, Mallory has yet to have a close encounter with anyone from the Great Beyond and that’s probably for the best because she’s sort of a wimp. Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.
That’s the Spirit! is the first of what will hopefully be many Paranormal Cozy Mysteries penned by Mallory Pierce, which is a pseudonym of award-winning Romantic Comedy author Tracie Banister.