Angela M. Sanders claims to have an ordinary life, but also said she tells smart, quirky mysteries. In fact, the former congressional investigator is now the author of three mystery series. She’s one of those writers who is “part indie, part traditional.” Her current release is Blown Away, the first in the Kite Shop Mystery series.
How Blown Away started
Sanders said the idea for Blown Away wasn’t hers, but came from a former editor at Berkley Prime Crime. “Julie Mianecki, a former editor at Berkley, dreamed it up. She and her boyfriend were vacationing on the Oregon coast, and her boyfriend saw a kite shop and it would be a cute idea for one of her books. Julie worked up a series bible and floated it by my agent who, in turn, suggested I write a proposal.”
According to Sanders, the series bible, which is the document containing the most relevant information about the series, was a good starting point for her. However, she wanted to put her own stamp on the story. “I messed with the plot by changing the murderer and adding a couple of subplots. I also changed some of the characters.”
When she began the project, Sanders wasn’t completely sold on the idea of working for a traditional publisher, but she’s now changed her mind. “It’s turned out to be terrific to have a foot in each camp. They each have pros and cons, and I’m learning lessons from both methods of publishing that I can apply to the other.”
In Blown Away, Emmy Adler’s spirits are soaring sky-high the morning of her kite shop’s grand opening—until she stumbles upon a dead man washed up on the beach. Emmy takes it upon herself to follow the string of clues and solve the murder before the real killer takes flight.
The issue of issues
Sanders confessed she feels it’s important to write not only a great story, but also to touch on important subjects such as aging, loss, purpose, and friendship. She said, “As a reader, this is what satisfies me, so as a writer, this is what I want to give other readers. In Blown Away, I didn’t set out to address a particular issue, but as the story came together, certain themes did bubble up, including family and purpose. ”
When Sanders started writing Blown Away, she hadn’t flown a kite in years. She tackled the job of researching kite making much as she had in her days as a congressional investigator. “I learned that kite makers are fabulous people,” she said. “Kites can be astonishingly beautiful., but I also learned that the kite maker’s studio provides no end of potential murder weapons. Scissors, spray adhesive, fabric weights, spars, X-acto knives, and kite line can all be deadly.”
From congressional investigations to Zsa Zsa
Writing mysteries is tame business compared to working as an investigator, but Sanders said the experience was a dream job of a writer. At one point, she spent months in Southeast Alaska looking into how the Tongass National Forest was managed. “That might not sound scintillating,” she said, “but the scenery, quirky people, and interesting projects bring me back to it again and again. I remember breakfasts at the Juneau Bowl, vicious winds off the Taku glacier, taking tiny seaplanes to islands where grizzly bears crossed our paths, and testifying in front of the stern Senator Murkowski, who lead the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.”
Although she traveled to places like the Hanford nuclear reservation, a chemical plant in the rural Czech Republic, and the depths of the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory’s nuclear fuel rod storage unit where security measures require a retina scan to enter, she said the life of the writer suits her better.
A vintage girl at heart, Sanders likes dipping into the powder blue pages of Zsa Zsa Gabor’s book “How to Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man, How to Get Rid of a Man” for entertainment. Sanders said, “Did you know she lists husband material by nationality and profession? The American husband gets a thumbs up for generosity and courtliness, although she says American wives tend to be bossy, and warns, ‘Make sure your husband wears the pants, or his mistress will be wearing the sables.’”
Learn more about Angela M. Sanders at www.angelamsanders.com. For more on kites, Sanders recommends searching for online videos of the international kite festival in Cervia, Italy.