An Interview with mystery writer Marilyn Leach

Donna Wichelman Uncategorized

As part of my author spotlight, today, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to my friend and fellow writer, Marilyn Leach. At the age of nine, Marilyn wrote her first play with a childhood neighbor–a mystery called The Ghost and Mr. Giltwallet. Since that time, she has been writing in various formats for various audiences, as a hobby and as a livelihood. In addition to teaching art, she’s had the opportunity to co-author several plays that have been performed on both church and secular stages, as well as two screenplays. Marilyn has had the good fortune of “discovering her roots” while visiting England where she developed lasting relationships with wonderful people.  It has greatly impacted her writing. A fervent fan of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and David Cook’s Hetty Wainthropp series, Marilyn was inspired to write her Berdie Elliott Mystery series. The series takes place in a small English village where the vicar’s wife, Berdie Elliott, is the divine sleuth. Marilyn lives lakeside in a cottage on the outskirts of Denver near the foothills.

Interview Questions:
What is the genre of Into the Clouds? Why did you choose this genre? 

Into the Clouds is an English cozy mystery.  When I was nine years old, my neighbor and I wrote a play, The Ghost and Mr. Giltwallet.  It was a neighborhood hit when we presented it amid blankets pegged on wash lines to create a stage.  Trixie Belden mysteries were my favorite read as a child, and I never out grew the “guess who did it” instinct.  My mystery series is a good brain tickle with inspiration and high energy humor to move it along.

What inspired you to write Into the Clouds? Are there sequels planned?

I love reading and watching Agatha Christie’s Miss Marpel series, a fun model to write from.  Actually, Into the Clouds is the third mystery in the Berdie Elliott mysteries.  Because my sleuth is a vicar’s wife, the mysteries are tied to liturgical holidays.  Candle for a Corpse is an Advent mystery.  Up from the Grave is a Lenten mystery.  Into the Clouds is an Ascension mystery.  And my fourth book in the series, Enigma of Fire: A Pentecost Mystery is due out in 2016.

How is your protagonist the same/different from you?
Berdie Elliott is a hoot to write.  I love her optimism, practical thinking, and ability to puzzle out the truth amidst the rubble of lies.  She’s very high energy, I’m relaxed.  She speaks her mind, I’m often a bit more timid.  She’s fearless, I’m cautious.  But we both have personal faith at the core of our world view.

What/who inspires you when you feel writer’s block coming on?
I pour a cup of tea and pop a British mystery DVD into the player, then watch with a “how can I learn from this?” mentality.  It often does the trick.

What advice would you like to give aspiring writers?
Learn your craft.  So many people have fantastic ideas buzzing around in their heads.  But until you learn how to present them in a dynamic way, really study the masters, read “how to” books, and review your old high school English grammar book, it is not likely to reach readers in an effective way.  Give your story wings by grounding it in excellent practices.  And go for it!

Blurb: Into the Clouds

When the small English village of Aidan Kirkwood              
gathers for the great Ascension Sunday fete, it’s found that one hundred released balloons are not the only thing vanishing into thin air. A well-to-do widow has gone missing.  Enlisted by the family to  find the woman, Berdie Elliott, the local vicar’s wife and sleuth extraordinaire, flies into action. Adventure rises when zealous cat fanciers, a  clandestine informant, Portuguese intimations, and the home with an odd tree all lead Berdie to grasp the truth. Youwon’t want to let this whodunit out of your sight.

Enigma of Fire a Pentecost Mystery, Berdie Mystery #4  will release in 2016
Into the Clouds an Ascension Mystery, now available at
Candle for a Corpse an Advent Mystery  
Up From the Grave A Lenten Mystery 
Threads of Love: a romance