Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Selina Marcille, author of CORPSE ARTISTE, a young adult mystery, releasing October 15, 2020. See below for information on the book, preorder links, my exclusive interview with the author, and a link to add it to your Goodreads TBR.
About Book 1 – Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
Title: CORPSE ARTISTE
Author: Selina Marcille
Publisher: Cypress Canyon Publishing
Release Date: October 15, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR
Eunice Griggs does not want to spend the summer working in her family’s mortuary, but her parents give her no other choice. Dead bodies and the smell of formaldehyde is not what she was looking forward to the summer before her senior year.
Despite her hatred at first, she quickly finds her calling as makeup artist for the dead. With the summer coming to a close, she is looking forward to finishing her job and celebrating with friends as she tries to grab the attention of Shawn Linden.
But when a body goes missing on her watch, Eunice is racing against time to get it back, lest a zombie outbreak be her fault.
1) I love me a young adult mystery. They’re so much fun. And CORPSE ARTISTE sounds especially entertaining. What is the story behind this book?
I think any good story involves some sort of mystery! The origin of this story comes from me sitting on a ping pong table in the middle of winter in the white mountains of New Hampshire. I was at my MFA residency and had just come back from a critique group. A good friend, Ted Flanagan- an amazing writer, had used the word “daguerreotype” in his recent piece. A faculty member didn’t like it but the concept intrigued me. A daguerreotype is a Victorian death portrait- a way for the living to have a physical memory of the dead. And these things are creepy! They would take the dead body, dress it up to look as lifelike as possible, pose it (usually in some semblance of an “action pose”), and then take a photo. Photos then are nothing like digital photos now, so it would take a long time to take… though they didn’t have to worry about their subject moving and causing a blur… most of the time.
After chatting with my friends and getting a bit snarky, the idea for Eunice and her work as a modern daguerreotype architect was born. It started as an elaborate joke piece mostly to try and prove that the word was awesome, but it turned into Corpse Artiste!
2) The setting sounds like a blast. What kind of research did you have to do to get all the details just right? I mean, hanging out in a mortuary isn’t something most people do.
Perhaps this is morbid, but I WISH I had taken the time to scope out a real mortuary! I have always found that type of work fascinating and thought it would be one of the least desirable places to be when you’re trying to fit in during high school. The research was a lot of time scoping out Google Images and reading articles and real life accounts of morticians. A colleague connected me with her friend who worked in the business and I was able to develop a basic understanding of some of the work. You’ll note I focus on the make-up… not the science! I didn’t want to get too technical, but just enough to come across as true to the work they do. I did take some liberties for the sake of the story, so I don’t want anyone to assume that the “cremation station” comes standard in every funeral home!
3) I absolutely adore your main character’s name. How did you settle on Eunice? It’s so old-fashionedly hip!
It started off as a joke! I tried to think of a really uncommon name that is out of fashion and is seen in a much older generation. It was really an in-joke for myself, but I liked the idea of my Eunice having deceased (very old) Eunices coming across her make-up table. Since her family is in the funeral business, I had this made up story that her father’s first funeral he did himself was for a lady named Eunice and he decided to name his daughter after her. Kind of creepy, right?
4) Based on the description, the book sounds like it has a fair amount of comedy in it. Do you find that writing comedy comes naturally to you?
I think so! I am the sort of person who really struggles when something is serious. The struggle comes in my inability to keep it serious- I am always thinking of something to try and lighten the mood. Comedy is tragedy plus time, and I find that it takes me very little time to try and see the humor in something and I think that is reflected in all of my writing. As for being funny myself- I know my dad would say that, at the very least, I look funny! Gotta love those dad jokes…
5) Is CORPSE ARTISTE the first in a series? Because I have a feeling these characters are going to become huge fan favorites.
Maybe? I haven’t ruled out the idea of a sequel, but I would want to settle on a really good story. One thing I don’t think there is enough of in YA Lit is older lit… like freshmen in college. Since my primary day job is working directly with college students, I think I could see something playing out for Eunice and company when she goes off to college. Perhaps something Halloween themed this time around?
6) I love that cover SO much. Who designed it?
The cover artist(e) is LaSquizzie. The cover is just the perfect combo for this book and definitely has the Scooby Doo vibe I was going for. Look closely and you’ll notice some alignment with those famous characters…
7) I see based on your Twitter profile you’re a fan of the Oxford comma (I mean, who’s not), but please give our readers your best argument for using it.
In my day job, I teach writing. My favorite example comes from strippers! I love to show this image when I am teaching my college freshmen about commas. They are always so surprised to hear this silly example, and I hope the oxford comma idea sticks because of it!
8) You’re a mom of small children. Any advice on balancing Mommy time with writing time?
Audiobooks. Any good writer knows that in order to become a better writer, you have to read. Carving out time to read is a huge challenge when you have other things to think about- laundry, dishes, daycare drop off and pick-up… So I am an avid audiobooker whenever I am doing something that doesn’t require full critical thinking. From there, I find that I am able to draw inspiration for writing and make sure that I have dedicated writing time. For me, that is keeping a notebook next to my bed and being sure the last thing I do every night is write at least one sentence. Handwriting takes longer than typing, but by committing to writing at least one sentence per day in the notebook, I am finding I write more that way than I ever have on the computer. I promised myself to write every day back on November 1, 2019 and haven’t missed a day yet. Sure- several days where I spew out a 3 word sentence and that is it, but 3 words is better than 0!
9) Instagram tells me you dove head-first into the quarantine baking experiment. How did that go?
I have always loved spending time in the kitchen. One of my favorite hobbies is meal planning and reading cookbooks. With quarantine, I opted to focus more on some of the more savory options so that I didn’t gain the covid-15 (that’s a thing, right?). I inherited a sweet tooth from my mother and have passed it down to my daughters. We made a couple of batches of Oatmeal Choco-Scotchies (Oatmeal cookies with butterscotch and chocolate chips) and 6 dozen of those cookies are gone in two days in my house. To avoid this temptation, I, like many others out there, made some sourdough. All good sourdough starters should have a name! The one my daughter and I have kept alive so far is named Jean-RalphiDOUGH in honor of the greatest TV show of all time- Parks and Rec. Unlike Jean-Ralphio in the show, Jean-RalphiDOUGH has matured nicely and makes a killer loaf of bread. Next on the baking list is figuring out something else to do with sourdough starter that isn’t bread. I have a lot of good ideas and am looking forward to the colder weather to make more savory goodness. Any suggestions?
10) So what’s next from you?
I have this bad habit of “double booking” myself, in the sense that I work on two projects simultaneously. I think the project I am most serious about right now is a project I started back in 2015 called “The Night Virus.” It was inspired by the board game “Pandemic” and is just too fitting for the world we’re in right now. It is about a group of teens who get locked in the children’s section of the library while everyone else on their island community is infected with “The Night Virus,” a virus that causes anterograde amnesia and evening rage. They have no way of communicating with the outside world apart from the few open children’s websites on the ancient library computer. They have to figure out a way to save themselves and their whole town before the “Night Virus” consumes them all.
About the Author
Selina Marcille has been getting lost in books since before she could read. It was in 7th grade when an unsuspecting language arts teacher told her that she was a good writer. This bit of encouragement was all she needed to start putting her own adventures to the page.
She currently lives in New Hampshire with her husband, two daughters, and two cats. She teaches writing and listens to audiobooks to an almost obsessive degree and tears out more magazine recipes than she’d ever be able to create.