1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?
Finally, I was about to take a spring break worth repeating at faculty meetings. André Duman (a hunky French professor) and I were taking a group of students and colleagues abroad to Paris, France. 13 to be exact. Being superstitious, I worried the number might not bode well for travel, but I never thought murder would ensue before I uttered my first bonjour. But it did, and I was left with an unstamped passport and a crime to solve.
2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?
I knew I couldn’t leave the solution to the police department. First of all, the detectives were too busy with other crimes; second, they couldn’t solve the murder from a distance; and third, their only suspect was André Duman, my good friend and colleague. When we arrived back at Copper Bluff, it was up to me to solve the case. I knew the people on the trip; I started there. My sleuthing was risky (considering my untenured status), but it paid off.
3. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?
No, never. In fact, I thought living in a small college town, buried in books, would keep me as far away from crime as possible. Who knew being an English professor could be so dangerous?
4. Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?
The chair of the English Department, Jim Giles, is not pleased with my sleuthing. He thinks all my spare time should be spent grading papers. But the truth is a girl cannot live on papers alone, especially those written by freshmen.
5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I’m a passionate researcher, which helps when it comes to figuring out these perplexing cases. I also care deeply about my students and the campus of Copper Bluff. I’d do anything to keep it crime free. Unfortunately, I’m also a bit idealistic, which makes dating—and anything else that requires aggressive compromise—hard. Reading historical romance novels hasn’t helped, but despite what Lenny Jenkins (my dearest professor friend and sidekick) says, I refuse to give them up. After all, he has similar dating problems and has never read a romance in his life.
6. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?
I would repeat the best advice a professor once gave me: don’t be afraid of something because it’s hard. Sometimes the most challenging endeavors prove to be the most rewarding.
7. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?
I learned life is about the journey, not the destination. Although I didn’t get to France, my lifelong dream, I did get justice for my colleague. Besides, Lenny and I did share a bottle of wine from France, and I have the feeling that what happened between us might prove very important to my future.
8. If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?
Lenny says it would be “Magical Mystery Tour” by the Beatles, but he’s a Beatles fanatic. He has all their records. I think “Girl on Fire” is more fitting, but he says it’s just these questions bringing out the feminist in me.
9. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?
As we all know, the holidays can be murder, but I didn’t think they’d involve a real murder. I thought the only problem facing me in December would be the weight gain from Mrs. Gunderson’s fudge. I guess even professors can be wrong sometimes. Just don’t tell my students.
Mary Angela is the author of the Professor Prather academic mystery series, which has been called “enjoyable” and “clever” by Publishers Weekly. She is also an educator and has taught English and humanities at South Dakota’s public and private universities for over ten years. When Mary isn’t writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. For more information about Mary or the series, go to MaryAngelaBooks.com.