“Three Graves Full” was a mystery thriller with a hint of humor I’m still thinking about months after I read it. More than a year ago, mild-mannered Jason Getty killed a man he wished he’d never met. Then he planted the problem a little too close to home. But just as he’s learning to live with the undeniable reality of what he’s done, police unearth two bodies on his property—neither of which is the one Jason buried. You can access my original blog here.
“Three Graves Full” falls into the rare category of books I would read again, so I was thrilled when author Jamie Mason agreed to talk about it with me. I loved hearing how her own approach to physical pain inspired her protagonist, and can’t wait for her next book to be released. Enjoy!
Thank you Jamie for taking the time to describe your inspirations in writing “Three Graves Full”. Let’s get to the interview.
Dana, Thanks so much for inviting me onto the blog!
What books are on your nightstand?
I got lucky and received an advance copy of Chris Pavone’s THE ACCIDENT. I’m about halfway through it and this, my friends, is a twisty ol’ plot. I can’t wait to see where it will go. I’ve also got a non-fiction book going that I’m finding very interesting – THAT’S DISGUSTING: UNRAVELING THE MYSTERIES OF REVULSION, by Rachel Herz. Science, baby. Up next I have Maria Semple’s WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE, and VAMPIRES IN THE LEMON GROVE by Karen Russell.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh, there are so many. Sometimes writers with only just one book. Did you know that Hugh Laurie wrote a tremendous novel? He did. Go find THE GUNSELLER and don’t say I never did anything for you. And then I’ll just throw a few names out there, but it will mostly serve to show how scattered I am – Barbara Kingsolver, Kazuo Ishiguro, Tana French, Stephen King, Michael Pollan, Jeffrey Eugenides, Ron Rash, Peter Straub — so many wonderful writers even yet to be discovered by me. I wish I read faster, but I’m a savorer.
What inspired you add a humorous element to “Three Graves Full?”
I couldn’t help it. I’m one of those people who laughs when I get hurt. I bang my knee and it feels like I have to cackle and ride a little swoon of awe at just how bad something can hurt while simultaneously somehow not killing me. Jason Getty’s predicament is absurd at the outset – and he just keeps banging his metaphorical knee.
Is there a character who shares any of your traits? If so, what are they?
Detective Tim Bayard sounds like me in my head somewhat, but a good bit more manly, thank the stars. There’s very little in the book that hooks directly onto real events or personalities, but there are inevitable bits of me and my observations throughout.
Did you like any of the characters more than others?
You know, I actually liked them all, in their own way. Gary Harris and Boyd Montgomery are terrible people, but I enjoyed the trajectory of their logic. It was a set of rotten rails they rode, but they were straight rails. They made a wrong sort of sense.
I do love Jason. I know that he is seen as often weak, but for me, it’s not unforgiveable weakness. It’s just garden variety lack of spine, in the way that so many of us think up a good comeback eighteen hours after we’ve been insulted. In Jason’s case, as we find him at the beginning of Three Graves Full, his workaday shortcomings just happen to have had disastrous consequences. His trials turn a key in him and he learns about himself as we watch him tap dance in a minefield.
Did you know how the book would end when you started writing it?
I knew how it would end, but not how we’d get there. Perhaps it wasn’t as specific as all that, though. I guess I knew how I wanted it to feel at the end. What would actually stir and bake that feeling was quite an exercise in patience and daydreaming.
Are you working on any future projects? Can you give a hint as to what it is?
I just turned in the manuscript for my next book, which should come out in early 2015 from Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books. I don’t know how much I’m supposed to say at this point, but it has to do with a woman who has always been at odds with her upbringing, which played like the very picture of suburban tranquility on the surface. But nothing is really quite what it seems when your mother was a Cold War black ops asset for the government. As far as our heroine has tried to distance herself from anything remotely cloak-and-dagger, she finds that the memory of her mother and their family’s formative games gives her quite the leg up in unraveling the tangle of her life once she begins to suspect that her husband wants to have her killed.
Jamie Mason was born in Oklahoma City, but has always named Alexandria, Virginia and the greater DC metropolitan area as her hometown. She grew up in the shadow of the Pentagon (a shadow that is somehow darker and longer than the shade given off by lesser five-story buildings.) This might explain a few things about her suspicious nature. She enjoys writing, reading, films, Formula 1 racing, NFL football, drinking whiskey, talking about things, and driving. She is addicted to coffee, and although her habit demands only two to three cups per day, let’s just say you wouldn’t want to be left standing between her and the carafe first thing in the morning. She is conflicted about time spent sleeping and resents speed bumps. Ticking clocks make her very irritable. Currently, Jamie lives with her husband and two daughters in the mountains of western North Carolina where she writes in a little room full of lovely things. And hopes.