IFOA: You work as acquisitions editor for a publisher that specializes in forensic science. How did this lead to writing crime fiction?
Masterman: Picture this: you’re sitting in an elegant old restaurant with a medical examiner. You want to talk about a book contract, she wants to talk about how well preserved heads are when they’ve been encased in concrete. The waiter comes up to take your order and apologizes for interrupting your conversation. You say, “Oh, no problem, it’s just girl talk.” With stuff like that happening at every moment, how could I write about anything else? Also it’s awfully convenient to be able to discuss gunshot wounds with the author of, for example, Gunshot Wounds.
IFOA: You’ve said you’re nothing like your protagonist, Brigid Quinn. Who or what inspired her?
Masterman: A woman in my book club who’s eighty years old, has one lung, and still passes notes to lone male diners in restaurants. A detective specializing in sexual homicides who talks so tough but whose eyes still look haunted 30 years after retirement. A forensic anthropologist who looks like a grandmother, plays jazz piano, and investigates mass graves. And I confess, maybe a tablespoon of me, a sheep in wolf’s clothing.
IFOA: When and where do you write?
Masterman: Makes me remember a cartoon of James Thurber, a writer from the 30s, standing at a cocktail party holding a highball and staring straight ahead. His wife is saying, “Thurber! Stop writing!” But fingers are actually pounding the keyboard Friday through Sunday starting at 5 am. As I write this, I’m at the dining room table looking out the back window at a ten thousand foot mountain…with snow on it…in southern Arizona. The longer I live here the more beautiful it becomes.
IFOA: What are you most afraid of?
Masterman: I have two mosts. First, I have post polio syndrome so on a personal level I’m most afraid of falling down in parking lots or being chased and unable to run. I’m working on it, though. I nearly fell at the gym while doing step-ups and my trainer said, “Now give me five more fast before the fear sets in.” I love that guy because he treats me like I’m Brigid. Second, I’m afraid of the possibility of my daughter ever having to face tragedy in her life. Beyond that, bring it on.
IFOA: Finish this sentence: I wonder when…
Masterman:…my books will catch on so I can quit my day job and still be interesting. But my husband says now I have my writing to turn to; if all I’m doing is writing, what can I turn to then? He’s very wise.
Masterman will take part in Authors at Harbourfront Centre’s Crime Showcase on March 20.