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Penny Mickelbury Penny Mickelbury Penny Mickelbury


Penny Mickelbury
Sisters in Crime

I live in Atlanta, Georgia—my home town—though I often feel very much like one of the many tens of thousands of new-comers who have combined to make this one of America's largest and most vibrant cities. I moved back home after several decades away. Like many young people, I left right after college to seek my fame and fortune because I thought opportunities would be greater elsewhere...and in many ways that proved to be true. I learned a lot about a lot of things, and I lived in some of the country's greatest cities: Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

I began my writing life in D.C.—not as the novelist and playwright I am today but as a journalist. I was a newspaper, radio and television reporter in the Capital City of the nation and the world. Those incredible years laid the foundation for the work that I do today, first and foremost by requiring that I write every day, and that I do it fast and get it right, and I will be forever grateful for the lesson and the experience...and for the place that is D.C. My first two mystery series are set there: The Mimi Patterson/Gianna Maglione Mysteries and the Carole Ann Gibson Mysteries. The third series, the Phil Rodriquez Mysteries, is set in New York City. I grew up in those cities—as a person and as a writer—and they grew on me. In fact, each of the cities I've lived in has left its imprint on me, none stronger or more powerful, however, than that of my hometown.

My new novel, Belle City, is my first non-mystery to be published, and it is set in and around Atlanta, beginning in 1917... and no, I wasn't born then! In the novel, I call Atlanta Belle City because it is beautiful—I had not realized how beautiful until I returned home. I must say, however, that Belle City was not written in Belle City. Nor were the several of my stage plays that are set in Atlanta. I don't really know why I set those plays here when the mystery novels were set in the cities where I lived when I began writing the different series. And though this place has aspects every bit as mysterious as those found in New York and D.C., I doubt that I'll be setting any mysteries in Atlanta, and I think it quite likely that there will be different settings for plays. I also found that I very much enjoyed writing a story set in a different time. One of my plays is set in Atlanta during World War II (I wasn't born then, either!) and I remember how much I enjoyed doing the research. So...perhaps I'll be writing more historical fiction. Whatever the form, though—novel, play, short story—it is the story telling that fascinates me, that draws me, that compels me. I love where the stories take me, and I invite you, the reader, to journey with me!


Q: You have lived many places. Do you have a favorite city?
I absolutely loved D.C. and New York! They are very different from each other and each provided exactly what I needed when I needed it. I think I could live in D.C. again, but I don't think I could live in New York now.

Q: Why did you move around so much?
I love cities, but it was only after I traveled in Europe that I realized how HUGE America is! And other countries may have two or three great cities but we have a dozen! I decided that I wanted to live in as many of them as possible. Of course, I'd also love to live in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin...

Q: You're known as a mystery writer, yet your new book is not a mystery. Is that deliberate?
Yes. I had a story to tell and I set out to tell it.

Q: Will you continue to write mysteries?
Definitely! I love mysteries—reading and writing them! In fact, I'm already at work on a new Phil Rodriquez.

Q: When did you start writing plays?
Before I started writing mysteries!

Q: Is there a difference between writing novels and writing plays?
Oh, yes! Both, however, are engaging and rewarding experiences. I couldn't choose one over the other.