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Interview: Mystery Writer M. E. Roche

Mystery Writer M. E. Roche

Today's interview is with mystery writer, M. E. Roche. She has published seven books and her eighth is to be released this month. Be sure to sign up on her email list for news about her latest book and read about the Nora Brady series at

Thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions. I think it is so fascinating to be a mystery writer and travel as much as you have. What is your background? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up the oldest in a big family in the Midwest. I am a nurse with a wealth of experience in many different areas from pediatrics to long-term care, home health to information systems. Staff nurse to administration. I always wanted to travel and I lived and worked in Dublin, Ireland on and off for 5 years, as well as having lived on both coasts and in the Midwest.

From what I understand, you worked with the coroner in your local sheriff's office for research for your Nora Brady series. How was that experience?

When I first decided to write, it was with the intention of re-creating the young reader books of the 50s and 60s about student nurses who solved mysteries. Nothing had been written in this vein in 50 years and mysteries were always my favorite genre.

When I decided to age my character and write mysteries for adults, I decided I needed some direct contact with law enforcement. I contacted the local sheriff’s department, interviewed some officials, and did a ride-a-long.

At the same time, I knew people who had worked with the coroner, which was part of the sheriff’s department. With my experience as a nurse, I felt I could easily apply there. At that time, we were the only coroner’s department in California that had volunteers, so this was a definite plus. I found I was more interested in the stories that brought someone to the coroner, than in the physiology of the autopsy. I also had the opportunity to do more ride-a-longs, including observation of a crash site in the hills. I volunteered for almost four years and considered it a fantastic experience.

How important do you feel research is when writing fiction?

Research is vital when writing. From my own experience as a reader, I think most readers can tell if something doesn’t ring true—from simple things like: was peanut butter or Wonder Bread around in 1930? Did they have tea bags? My new novel is set in Nebraska, during the era of homesteading, where the height and crash of wheat prices contributed to the Dust Bowl period. All I knew about the Dust Bowl was from Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

I became interested in all this while thinking about a great aunt of mine who had come from Ireland at the age of 10 and ended up marrying this guy from Nebraska, but how that ever happened, required research into the famine in Ireland, searching travel/immigrant records, family records, the whole story of homesteading, etc. It was a good two years of research, writing, and travel to see the farm in Nebraska. No one from that period who knew the characters was alive, and the story I had heard all my life about Toots, was not true.

Where do you live now? What is your favorite restaurant? I always like to ask about favorite food or coffee spots. Locals always know the best places and it tells a little bit about you as well.

I now live in southwest Florida and there are no little shops or restaurants nearby. I did, however, live in northern California for many years. My favorite restaurant there was Café Marina on Woodley Island. That marina was for working boats and one could sit outside on the deck or inside and watch boats coming and going. On a recent visit, that was the place I wanted to meet with friends. I loved being by the water.

What are some of your favorite things to do when not writing?

I walk about 4 miles every day, usually listening to audiobooks, except on Sunday when I walk at the beach. I love to read or get together with friends for breakfast or lunch. I also volunteer with several organizations, including a local clinic.

You have some paranormal aspects to your books. Have you had any experiences yourself?

While I have never had a paranormal experience, I am a believer—particularly in the idea that there are likely many things in life that we don’t understand and that defy explanation. I have friends who are sensitive to such experiences, and I have taken some classes to learn more about spirituality (not in the religious sense). In addition, I have been in a number of situations where people are near death, and see those who have gone before them. They often carry on lucid conversations. I think it’s comforting to think that when my time comes, there will be someone I knew there to help me.

Your main character, Nora Brady, not only solves mysteries, she is a nurse. As you mentioned earlier, you are a nurse. What things do you enjoy most about being a nurse?

Aside from meeting all kinds of people, I liked learning about the science of patient care. I loved patient teaching, when you could see the transition in a patient from anxiety to a calmness when they understood what was happening, or going to happen. And, of course, I loved seeing patients recover.

Where did you come up with the name, Nora Brady?

Both are family names on my father’s side

What is your favorite place that you have traveled?

I have traveled quite a bit, but now I seem to travel primarily to see family or friends, or to do research. What is interesting to me is that, for someone who doesn’t really like to drive much, I’ve taken 2 month-long trips, in the last 2 years. First I drove to

Nebraska—someplace I had only driven through in the past, but felt I had to see while writing TOOTS. I felt I had to see their homestead and I did.

Then this past year I went to Richmond, Gettysburg, and Bull Run. I never had any particular interest in the Civil War, but had discovered that I had uncles who had come from Ireland to fight on both sides. Both trips were amazing. They were also an opportunity to see family and friends.

When can we expect your next book and what will it be about?

This next book, TOOTS, should be out this month. It is loosely based on my great-aunt who I mentioned earlier. The saddest part for me is the fact that I don’t remember ever actually having a full conversation with Toots, and she probably had the most exciting life of all my relatives.


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