I absolutely LOVE the Internet. It makes this huge world of ours so much smaller. I just met a mystery author from across the pond named Mira Kolar Brown that… Well, I’m sure you’re going to be like me after you read her interview and want to hear more.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Mira Kolar-Brown. I was born and grew up in Sarajevo, then Yugoslavia, now Bosnia and Herzegovina. I graduated in English Language and Literature and later took a postgraduate course at Manchester Business School. I came to the UK in 1977 and it has been my home ever since. I’m widowed, with two grown up daughters, one granddaughter and another grandchild shortly on its way.
Tell us something many don’t know about you.
- I once tracked down a wounded buffalo in the Zambian bush, beating the professional native trackers to it.
- I’m an honorary colonel, aide de camp to the Governor of Tennessee and have the Freedom of the City of Nashville.
- Even after over 33 years in the UK, I still speak English with thick Slavic accent. Hearing me speak, no one could possibly mistake me for a native.
L.L. Reaper here. Sorry to interrupt, but am I the only one who had to do a double take on the buffalo tracking? LOL. You go Mira. I want to be you when I grow up. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
What genre(s) do you like to read?
Mysteries, mainstream, historicals. However fictional or fictionalised, I feel that they need to be well researched. Sloppy research drives me mad.
What is your favourite novel and why?
That would have to be favourite novels, and even then I’d rather talk about their authors. In no particular order, P D James, Margaret Atwood, John Le Carre. Why? Because I can identify with their way of thinking. With each sentence I think, Yes, that follows. That makes sense. I’m a picky reader an tend to rise my eyebrows and rolls my eyes a lot when I come across something that I consider illogical or inconsequential. That trio never gives me any reason to do that. But, of course, equally important are their individual writing skills, the beauty of language and their superb story lines and characters.
What was the last novel you read that you enjoyed and why?
Just recently I’ve discovered the US crime writer, Leighton Gage. He lives full time in Brazil and his Inspector Mario Silva Mysteries series in set there. I’ve read the first two of his books, The Blood of the Wicked and Buried Strangers, and I’m on his third now, Dying Gasp. His novels have strong characters and story lines, and his style is characterised by certain hard-to-achieve simplicity. Very sharp and clear cut. Delightful. Besides, I admire the unobtrusive way in which he places his stories against the backdrop of the overall political and economic reality of his adoptive country. He makes no value judgements, another excellent trait, but he is an intelligent and uncompromising observer.
When did you begin writing?
My first poem about a rabbit was published in the children’s supplement to the daily Sarajevo paper when I was five years old. Loosely translated it went something like:
I’m a hoppalong bunny
Most people think me funny
But the hunters are after me
I don’t like that, not me.
After that profundity, I tried my hand at practically everything. While still at school I had my own radio slot and a column (and sometimes even the entire centre spread) in the Wednesday Supplement to the same paper that had published my bunny poem. I was writing plays and scripts for radio and drama groups; my poems were published in various magazines and, as a student, I wrote a theatre column in the students’ magazine.
What genre(s) do you write?
- Children’s stories
Where do your concepts for your novels come from?
My early work was always related to my preoccupations of the day. It can all be probably best called the rights of passage.
The mysteries – I’ve always liked reading mysteries of any kind, be they police procedurals, cosies, or private eye investigations. I often promised myself to write a murder mystery one day. Then, on an away day with one of my teams, you know, one of those bonding occasions, someone misread a word on a colleague’s sweatshirt and the idea was born. Later, when I started working freelance as an interpreter, that gave me an opportunity to see and learn police methods and practices first hand. The same is true of the justice system, court procedures, welfare, healthcare and emergency services. My paid work is also my research, as it happens.
How long does it typically take you to write a book?
Ah, you’ve got me there. A long time. It took me years to write my first mystery novel, HIDING THE ELEPHANT, mostly because I was changing my mind all the time. Also, real life was interfering with writing a great deal, and the half finished manuscript was languishing on my hard drive for months on end. But, I was determined to finish it, felt that I owed it both to the characters and myself. I managed to produce the sequel in about eighteen months.
I have given myself 6 months to complete FOR THE LOVE OF HONEY, the third book in the Simon Grant Mysteries series. There, I’ve said it. There’s no going back now!
Tell us about your latest book?
The latest book is LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS, the sequel to HIDING THE ELEPHANT and the second book in the Simon Grant Mysteries series. Where HIDING THE ELEPHANT is a very claustrophobic, tensely myopic psychological drama, LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS is much more open and mobile, with multiple story lines intertwined throughout. Like the first one, it’s written from two very different but complementary points of view. They’re both character driven.
What other titles have you written?
I’ve also written two children’s stories, A SOLEMN PROMISE, a tooth fairy tale for tooth-changing age, and TIMBUKTU, THE PERMANENT DOG, a chapter book for children 7-12 years of age. They’re both available on Amazon Kindle.
If you could change one thing about your writing career thus far, what would it be?
My focus. In many ways it’s good for a writer to have varied interests and experiences and I certainly value and cherish my own. But they do tend to take me away from my keyboard for quite a long time. I should learn to discipline myself better.
What do you find to be the best and worst part of being a writer?
The best part is writing itself. It’s hard work, demanding sweat, blood and tears, but it’s worth it. The only thing that’s possibly better than writing are readers saying that they’ve enjoyed the books.
The worst part is selling. I’m hopeless at it. Hate it! Hate it! Hate it!
What do you have on the burner for the next year?
As I’ve said before, I’m working on FOR THE LOVE OF HONEY, the third book in the Simon Grant Mysteries series.
And there’s always KLARA AND HER DRAGONS. That’s a mainstream/historical novel that I’ve started quite some time ago and I keep at it whenever I can. It’s loosely based on the life and times of my godmother, and covers the period between 1913 and 1975. It’s mostly set in Sarajevo, my home town, but it also covers Vienna and strolls into Italy and even the UK. It describes the fortunes and misfortunes of an unusual woman in a world that is seeing serial demise of four empires – Ottoman, Russian, Autro-Hungarian and British, and the onset and aftermath of two world wars. It’s way too long already, it will require a lot of ruthless editing, and I have to research practically every line before I can write it down with any confidence. But, for all the pain, it’s a joy to write.
How can readers reach you?
I love talking to people on all sorts of subjects; it doesn’t have to be just about books.
Mira, thank you for giving us this little peek into your world. I look forward to hearing more from you.