September 8, 2021

Husband and Wife Writing Team

Rosemary & Larry Mild

How did the book/idea come about?

Death Rules the Night is the fourth in our Dan & Rivka mystery series. The Shermans bought The Olde Victorian Bookstore in Annapolis, Maryland, thinking it would be a fun, serene life. Instead, they’ve become reluctant sleuths embroiled in violence.

I conjure up all our plots, and for this book I created the prominent Atkins family and their eighteenth-century house in Annapolis. Copies of a tell-all book about the family have disappeared, not only from the bookstore, but from all local libraries, and even from the dead author’s bookshelves. The old house holds hair-raising secrets, but what are they? The three unhappy Atkins sisters don’t have a clue. Dan’s investigation leads to stalking, break-ins—and murder. Rivka fears for his life. I love history, so I invented scenes involving the Atkins family’s involvement in the Revolutionary War, the Underground Railroad, and Prohibition. I also included Lord Byron, the Shermans’ wily, heroic cat, who sleeps in the bookstore’s poetry stacks (where else?). He figures importantly in all four Dan & Rivka mysteries and our fans love him.

The ups and downs of writing—and writing together.

Rosemary: Mystery and suspense novels require tremendous concentration: intricate clues; characters that come alive; and convincing, logical solutions. Larry has a much longer attention span than I do, not only inventing our plots but also writing the first drafts. He can write for three straight hours—the only part of his body that’s moving is his fingers on the keyboard (which is one reason he’s in physical therapy). We’re the hare and the tortoise. I take his manuscript and tackle it as if carving a marble sculpture, molding flesh-and-blood characters, sharpening dialogue, adding scenes. I often find an appealing episode, a raw gem, but told in past tense, so I’ll turn it into real time for high suspense.

But what’s tough on Larry is my other creative life: I write personal essays. When Larry finishes his first draft, he hands it over to me. It’s hard for him to sit back and wait until I finish my current nonfiction project, especially my new collection, In My Next Life I’ll Get It Right. These essays are quirky observations on everyday life, ranging from the hilarious to the serious.

I love tackling my first draft of a novel or story. After writing a sketchy synopsis and doing research, if necessary, the words tumble out in a cascade. The tough part is making every facet of a plot “fit.” We always keep our promise to the reader. We never contrive or throw in a villain from left field just to create a surprise ending.

The great advantage to co-authoring is that you’re never working in a vacuum. After we finish our final draft, we read the book aloud to each other. It slows down the word rate to a point where the typos and errors literally jump out at us. It’s so necessary to hear what we wrote—what it sounds like. We might discover Clara walking into the room in a sequined gown and leaving in cut-off jeans. It’s during the reading process that our individual writing styles blend into a single seamless product.

Rosemary: Writing fiction with Larry, and seeing our books in print, is exhilarating. It’s our legacy. But that’s just the beginning. The real exhilaration comes from our fans like this one: “I just finished reading Honolulu Heat and had to email you to tell you I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved how you continued from Cry Ohana and included places on Oahu.

Our “office” is our second bedroom. We write back-to-back on our dueling computers. When I tell my women friends about our office arrangement, they stare at me in disbelief: “How can you stand working in the same room? I'd go bats if I had to spend that much time with my husband.” A Baltimore Sun reporter once asked us: “How can any couple spend so much time together and not produce real-life mayhem?” It’s chemistry, for one thing. And Larry’s my soul mate. I’m convinced we knew each other in a previous life!

How the pandemic affected your writing?

Larry & Rosemary: In one sense, we’ve been lucky. Our writing is our “job.” We wake up every morning with our writing as the structure to our day. Of course, we’ve been fully vaccinated, and when we do go out for groceries or even have family members over, we religiously wear masks. But COVID has turned our writing world upside down. ZOOM meetings with speakers have replaced our monthly gatherings of Sisters in Crime/Hawaii and the National League of American Pen Women/Honolulu Branch. Hawaii Fiction Writers has canceled its meetings.

But the toughest thing for us has been the cancellation for two years now of our favorite in-person annual craft fairs, where we had excellent sales. At the Hawaii Holiday Gift & Craft Fair at Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, we always took a booth for the 2-½ days. We also sorely miss the holiday craft fair at our synagogue. Here in Honolulu, sadly and scarily, there seems to be no end in sight to COVID.

Meanwhile, we keep at our work as a happy writing team, we’re thrilled with a recent review in the Seattle Book Review. “It is not often that a reader picks up a book and gets sucked into the story from the very beginning and held in a trance until the very end. Death Rules the Night is one of those books….”

Rosemary and Larry Mild, cheerful partners in crime, coauthor mystery and thriller novels and short stories. Many of their wickedly entertaining stories appear in anthologies: Kissing Frogs and other Quirky Fairy Tales (2021); Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha; Mystery in Paradise: 13 Tales of Suspense; and Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays. 

In 2013 the Milds waved goodbye to Severna Park, Maryland, and moved to Honolulu, Hawai‘i, where they cherish time with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren.

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  1. I loved reading about your writing life! Keep at it!

  2. How great that you have such a wonderful relationship even unto the writing.