Today Professor Molly Barda is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about The Influencer, the latest novel in the Professor Molly mystery series.
Welcome, Professor Molly. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
I’ve never heard myself described as living inside a novel, but I have to admit, it’s kind of nice! You see, I’m a literary sort at heart. I earned my Ph.D. from one of the top ten literature and creative writing programs in the country. With that degree, I expected to end up at a leafy campus in a vibrant city, instructing rapt young scholars in the appreciation of literature.
That’s not exactly how things worked out. After a futile year of trying to land a full-time position teaching literature, I decided to broaden my horizons (a polite way of saying, “lower my expectations.”)
My dissertation advisor was crushed when I finally accepted a position in the College of Commerce at remote Mahina State University. He lamented that “teaching a roomful of slack jawed baseball caps how to pad their resumes” was “a grievous waste of my fine critical mind.” Easy for him to say. He had tenure, a pension, and health insurance.
The Influencer is Book 10 of the Professor Molly Mysteries. A lot has happened in all that time. But some things haven’t changed: I still love living in sleepy Mahina, Hawaii; Biology professor Emma Nakamura is still my best friend; and Mahina State University’s powerful Student Retention Office continues to make our lives difficult and our jobs impossible.
Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?
She lays out the plot points, but I’m the one who tells the story. Yes, I’m aware of the “unreliable narrator” allegations. I just ignore them. I mean, who’s to judge who is reliable and who isn’t? There’s no right or wrong. We all have different points of view, that’s all. (Except Melanie Polewski from grad school. Don’t believe a word she says.)
How did you evolve as the main character?
I was an only child, so I’m kind of used to being the main character. It’s kind of exhausting, to be honest. There are a lot of expectations placed on you (sorry I’m not a “real” doctor, Mom!) In The Nakamura Letters, Emma takes center stage. It’s nice to have a rest now and then.
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
Emma Nakamura and I make a good team. We’re best friends and we have a lot in common. But unlike me, Emma is fearless. I’m not talking about murders and dead bodies. After you work through solving a few cases you kind of get used to all of that. But I’ve never seen anyone stand up to the Student Retention Office like Emma does. Of course her defiant attitude keeps getting her sent to Mandatory Faculty Development. Which she calls “De-education camp” because as she says, “you come out dumber than when you went in.” She’s been through Mandatory Faculty Development so many times I think she could lead a session herself by now.
What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
In The Influencer, my husband Donnie and I have just invested in building a little rental unit on our property. The idea is to save up for baby Francesca’s college fund. We were lucky-or so we thought-to have a well-known social media influencer sign a six-month lease, paid in advance. All my celebrity tenant wants is some privacy and quiet, and you can’t get much quieter than Uakoko Street (especially the side that we live on, next to the cemetery). But now everyone wants to get close to my famous tenant, and things are starting to get weird.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
You can read the Professor Molly series in any order. If you want to start from the beginning, or just try out the series, you can start with Trust Fall, a free Professor Molly short. It’s also available in audio format!
Thank you for answering my questions, Professor Molly, and good luck to you and your author, Frankie Bow, with The Influencer, the latest book in the Professor Molly mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Frankie Bow: Like Professor Molly, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining. In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.