What’s So Funny About Murder? Gina Conroy Talks Her Use of Humor in Crime Fiction

Digging Up Death

…and Her Latest Release, DIGGING UP DEATH

I hear author Gina Conroy has been keeping a diary since second grade. I think a lot of writers start out writing in some manner at a very early age. I love to chat with writers who have been in love with the written word for years and I’ve been looking forward to this interview simply because the subject interests me a great deal: humor in murder mystery writing.

Nike: So, I’ll just get on with it and get to the questions. It’s great to have you here on the hot seat.

Gina: Um, hot seat? Thanks, I think…

Nike: Your heroine, archaeology professor Mari Duggins, has an awful lot going on in her life. It seems she’s in a whirlwind. Did you find that frantic pace lent itself to utilizing humor in the story?

Gina: Honestly, when writing the story I didn’t consider the frantic pace would lend to humor. In fact, I think the subject matter and hectic life Mari leads is anything but funny. Instead, it’s weighty, but it’s the characters and their personalities that make the story humorous. It’s their unique perspective and dialogue and reactions to their world around them and how they cope with that world that brings out the humor. I believe it’s human nature to find the funny in a life that can be burdensome, especially in this story. So I guess the answer to your question is yes, the frantic pace did lend itself to humor in the story.

Nike: The cover is wonderful and intriguing. Makes me think this is going to be a fun murder mystery. Is that what you had intended?

Gina: I did not envision a cartoonish cover, but I love it! When the designer asked for ideas I sent pictures of real life models in stylish dresses in grave yards or holding shovels. That was my idea, but I think the cover captures the humorous side of DIGGING UP DEATH.

Nike: How did you come up with your main character Mari Duggins? Does she resemble anyone in your real life?

Gina: Mari is a compilation of every working mom with a dream, including myself. Though most of her circumstances are different from my own, I was able to pull her emotions from my life and from others. Though I don’t work outside the home, I am a mom of four trying to build a writing career and I often feel pulled in many different directions. Many times mom guilt rises when I focus on my writing, and when I’m focusing on family, I sometimes feel I’m not working my writing career hard enough. So she’s not crafted after anyone specific, but you can say she represents all moms struggling to find balance in their lives.

Nike: What inspired you to write this story? And what would you like readers to get out of it?

Gina: At the time I was homeschooling my children and we started on an ancient Egypt unit, we stumbled upon the fascinating Pharaoh Hatshepsut who though a woman crowned herself pharaoh. Her history and the fact her name was etched out on most of her cartouche’s in an effort to erase her from history and her mummy was missing told me there had to be something more to her story. So we dug into her history and about that time Egyptologists thought they found her missing mummy. It was the perfect backdrop to a modern mystery. Then Mari Duggins showed up with all her baggage with Fletcher and Jack, her ex husband, an idea was born.

After reading DIGGING UP DEATH, I hope readers will take away with them that while life is hard and crazy, we don’t have to do it alone. We have friends, family, and a God who loves and forgives us even if we can’t forgive ourselves. We don’t have to hide behind masks because we’re afraid to show people who we really are. We just need to know who we can trust and who brings out the best in us. And though our lives may not go according to our plans, they are our lives, and we can find the good in it amidst the chaos and ugly.

Tell us about your novel, DIGGING UP DEATH.

DIGGING UP DEATH is about a single mom struggling from the emotional turmoil of a divorce she didn’t see coming as she tries to balance a career and raise her three children. It’s about a woman who wears masks to hide her pain and who she really is from the world and from God. On her journey to self discovery, forgiveness, and healing she stubbles upon a murder, a stolen Egyptian artifact and must wrestle with the pull of an old lover and an ex-husband who’s wanted by the FBI. Mari Duggins seldom makes the right choices, but comes to learn she can’t keep fighting on her own and must surrender to God to find her self worth I know the subject matter seems heavy, but I hope it’s infused with enough humor, faith, mystery and quirky characters to balance that out.

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