25 Women to Read Before You Die

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Elizabeth Peters

Describe your latest project.
I'm doing the research for a new Amelia Peabody mystery but I refuse to say more for fear of jinxing the project. I usually change my mind about plot development half a dozen times before I've finished.

  1. The Laughter of Dead Kings: A Vicky Bliss Novel of Suspense
    $5.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist
    "Armchair travelers and amateur Egyptologists alike will enjoy Peters's expert narration....Highly recommended." Library Journal

    "An over-the-top adventure yarn whose potent brew of mystery and romance should make it another hit among the Peters faithful." Kirkus Reviews

  2. Night Train to Memphis
    $2.95 Used Mass Market add to wishlist

    Night Train to Memphis

    Elizabeth Peters
    "[A] clever plot combined with an exotic setting, well-crafted writing, wryly funny humor, interesting factoids about Egyptian antiquities....[V]intage Peters at her entertaining best." Booklist
  3. Borrower of the Night (Vicky Bliss Mysteries)
    $4.95 Used Mass Market add to wishlist
    "An ancient European castle...secret passages...a mystery several hundred years old...and danger, make this Elizabeth Peters's best book!" San Francisco Examiner
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Terry Pratchett. To label his books fantasy does not do justice to their complexity — social satire, laugh-out-loud humor, and a way with words that leaves me green with envy. I started with Mort, but almost any of them will turn you into a fan if you have that sort of mindset.

How do you relax?
Reading a favorite book; talking by phone or in person with close friends, children, and grandchildren; working in my garden; listening to music and pounding on the piano. I play very badly but nobody hears me except the cats, and they have no taste to speak of.

What is your idea of absolute happiness?
Sitting in my garden in the spring, watching daffodils succeeded by the extravagance of peonies and old roses, with all the accompanying flowering shrubs and trees. Every sense is satisfied: lilac and mock orange scent the air, birds and frogs serenade one another, a cat occasionally condescends to be stroked and stick its claws into my knee. Oh, yes, I do occasionally sip on a beverage as I sit by the lily pond. It's as close to heaven as I ever expect to get.

What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
All my indulgences are wicked — smoking, gin, chocolate. If they were benign they wouldn't be indulgences, would they?

Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
I have some great readers. I correspond regularly with one couple, who share my fascination with Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. I recently received a letter from a gentleman who (politely) differed with me on several points concerning Richard III (see below); he inspired a two-page response, which I hope will lead to further discussion.

Who are your favorite characters in history? Have any of them influenced your writing?
I have several favorite characters: Akhenaton the Heretic, Hatshepsut the Female King — and Richard III. He's a mystery writer's dream. Did he or didn't he? (Murder the princes in the Tower.) The clues are inconclusive and subject to endless debate. My fascination with him led me to write a book called The Murders of Richard III, concerning a group of modern-day Ricardians, as they call themselves, who have met to discuss their theories. The book offended the Richard III Society of England; they actually threatened to sue, and my British publisher caved in. They have now forgiven me, but to tell the truth I was rather thrilled to have a book that was too hot to be published.

Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
I assume this question applies to my pet preferences. I've always had dogs — the present occupant of the position is a very large, very furry mix of golden retriever and God knows what — but I am unquestionably a cat person. I have five at the moment — three Maine coons, a solid black shorthair who wandered in one day and refused to leave, and a blue-eyed white. Like many cats of that coloring he is deaf, but it hasn't prevented him from behaving as if he rules the universe.

Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.

Books I Read Over and Over Again:

1. Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien. I read it when it was first published and haven't stopped. And yet, I thought the film was splendid.

2. Emma, Jane Austen — and all the other Austens, even Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park, which I don't like as much as the others.

3. Did I mention Terry Pratchett? Any and all of his books.

4. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë.

5. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins. For sheer technique, in plotting and characterization, Collins is one of the best.

There are lots more, but I've already met your limit.

÷ ÷ ÷

Elizabeth Peters was born and brought up in Illinois and earned her PhD in Egyptology from the University of Chicago's famed Oriental Institute. Peters was named Grand Master at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986 and by the Mystery Writers of America at the Edgar Awards in 1998, and given the Lifetime Achievement Award at Malice Domestic in 2003. She lives in a historic farmhouse in western Maryland.


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