Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Today's Sisters in Crime/Hawaii guest, Frankie Bow,
is a Big Island resident and the author of
now available at Audible.com! The link is: 

Sisters in Crime: The narrator and main character of The Musubi Murder is Molly Barda, an unmarried college professor. Is “the job” the most important part of her life?

Frankie Bow: Molly herself would say yes, although in The Musubi Murder life throws her a few distractions (the most distracting of which is probably the handsome local entrepreneur Donnie Gonsalves). Molly takes great pride in her teaching. She wants to give her students—many of whom have never been off the island—a real college education. This seemingly admirable goal puts her at odds with her  bottom-line-focused dean (‘having standards is fine, but don’t make a  fetish out of it!’) and with the powerful Student Retention Office.
Molly is not interested in making an easy life for herself, as her next-door colleague Rodge Cowper has done. “Dr. Rodge” hasn't published a word since he got tenure. He gives no midterms or finals, assigns no homework, and spends most of his class time showing entertaining videos. Every year, the Student Retention Office nominates Dr. Rodge for the campuswide teaching award.
Rodge’s embarrassing self-affirmations  are clearly audible through the thin  wall that separates his office from Molly's. The worst part is when Molly  has a student in her office, and they both have to listen  to Rodge reciting, "I am a potent, powerful, and sexual male! I am well groomed, and my hair is attractively styled!"
Sisters in Crime: You could describe Professor Molly Barda as a fish out of water. How did this self-described “big city girl” end up teaching at remote Mahina State University?

Frankie Bow: Molly’s dreams ran into the reality of the academic job market. She describes her journey this way:

 I earned my doctorate in one of the top ten literature and creative  writing programs in the country. I’m not saying that to brag. I’m  putting it here as a warning to anyone who starts a Ph.D. in English  thinking that they’re going to end up with a full-time job leading  graduate seminars on Kafka or something. 
 My dissertation advisor was devastated when I told him that I had  accepted a position in the Mahina State College of Commerce, teaching  business communication. He lamented that Hawaii was thousands of miles  from anywhere that mattered, and that “trying to teach a room full of  slack-jawed baseball caps how to pad their resumes” would be a  grievous waste of my fine critical mind. I pointed out that the last  full-time English department job I’d applied for had nearly a thousand  applicants, and my “fine critical mind” was telling me that after a  year of fruitless job-hunting, I needed to start earning a living  wage.  He accused me of selling out for the money. Of course I sold out for  the money. Why else would you sell out?

Molly has had to readjust her priorities a little. But that doesn't  mean she's willing to compromise. For example, she'll never trade in  her 1959 Thunderbird. No matter what the  judgmental and unimaginative  Earl Miyashiro of Miyashiro Motors (who is the only mechanic on the  island who will go near her car) says about it. 

Sisters in Crime: With amateur sleuths, the question tends to be, “why her?” What’s so special about Molly Barda? What’s her superpower?

Frankie Bow: Molly’s superpower is her lifelong love of books. We know that reading literature helps you to “read” people better. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/i-know-how-youre-feeling-i-read-chekhov/ Although she’s an introvert, and can be socially awkward and unintentionally tactless at times, her reading habit has equipped her to take others’ point of view and to reason from their perspective.
In addition, Molly’s occupation puts her in a perfect position to investigate. Research is an important part of Molly's job. That means that she's not just allowed to poke around and ask questions--she's expected to.  Because her field of business communication is so broad, she can ask anyone anything and make a convincing case that it's for her research. In the course of her work she's managed to dig up, sift out, and stumble over more than her share of trouble. 
Sisters in Crime: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?

Frankie Bow: The Musubi Murder is the first of the Molly Barda Mysteries. 
#2 is The Cursed Canoe, which takes the reader into the competitive world of Hawaiian canoe paddling and  the excitement around the big Labor Day Race.  
#3 is Molly Barda and  the Black Thumb, in which Molly reaches out to a grad school frenemy, an act of hospitality she comes to regret when she ends up getting involved (to put it mildly) in a murder investigation. 
#4 is Molly Barda and the Invasive Species, in which Molly is thrilled to get a grant to investigate attitudes toward biotechnology--and immediately finds herself embroiled in the bitter fight between big biotech and anti-GMO activists.  
I am currently writing a prequel, tentatively titled The Case of the Defunct Adjunct.

Sisters in Crime: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?

Frankie Bow: I believe that The Musubi Murder is the first campus murder mystery set in Hawaii. While it does address some serious issues, the overall goal is to provide an engrossing, entertaining read. I hope to make the reader burst out laughing at least once!
While all persons and events in The Musubi Murder are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental, I do work at a public university. Much of what you'll read in The Musubi Murder is the product of observation, rather than invention.

Bonus: This isn’t a Fast Five question, more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why?

Frankie Bow: I love living and writing in Hawaii. We have a vibrant creative community, with talented and generous artists, musicians and writers, including our own terrific Sisters in Crime chapter!

Where can readers follow you?

Frankie Bow
Preorder The Musubi Murder on Amazon. Ships August 2015

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for participating in this author interview, Frankie! We look forward to reading your novel. It sounds wonderfully entertaining. Aloha!