Meet D.A. Bartley

 We are thrilled to have D. A. (“Alison”) Bartley join us at Miss Demeanors and wanted you to get to know a little more about her, so we interrogated her for you. She sat unflappable under the hot lights for hours while we grilled her. She’s going to fit in just fine here at Miss Demeanors:   When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?  Alison: I should have always known, but I didn’t. It was only after I started writing my first mystery that I realized how much I loved being a writer.  I’m a lifelong mystery reader, so my mind gravitates towards puzzles. I started writing when my mom was in the final stages of Alzheimers. I was flying back and forth between New York and Utah all the time. On one of those trips I visited a friend in Pleasant View, where there was an enormous, brand-new house that was completely empty. I couldn’t get the house out of my head. One day I started writing about it. I had written about seven chapters when my daughter got a moderate concussion playing lacrosse. (She is completely fine now!) She had to stay in a dark room without a computer or books while she recovered. She didn’t like the audio books I got her and asked me to read what I was writing. When I finished reading everything I’d written at that point, she asked, “What happens next?” I told her I didn’t know. She asked me to go write some more. So I did. That story became Blood Atonement, which is scheduled to be published by Crooked Lane in 2018. Miss Demeanors:   What other careers, jobs have you had? Alison: I was a litigator with a large international law firm in Manhattan. Then I was a research scholar. My area of interest was state sovereignty and international law. I have a Ph.D. in political science and a law degree. In both fields your writing and ideas are constantly critiqued. You learn not to get too attached to words or thoughts because, generally, the critiquing process makes your writing and thinking better. In retrospect, it’s probably not a bad background for a writer. Miss Demeanors:   Who has influenced you as a writer?  Alison:   First and foremost, Agatha Christie. My mom and grandma were big mystery readers. Agatha Christie was at the top of their lists, so she was at the top of mine, too. There are so many other great writers who inspire me. On my nightstand and Kindle right now there’s some P.D. James, Terry Tempest Williams, Harold Evans, Elizabeth George, Linda Castillo, Craig Johnson, Dana Stabenow and Zygmunt Miłoszewski. I recently finished my first Tana French and can’t wait to read more.   Miss Demeanors:    What is your debut novel about? Alison:    Unquestioning faith. My protagonist, Abish Taylor, grew up in Utah, but moved away after high school. She has returned to work as the sole detective in a small town in the north of the state. Her father is a well-respected Mormon historian and Chair of the Church History and Doctrine Department at Brigham Young University. Abbie doesn’t go to church, so there’s tension between father and daughter. Both Abbie and her dad want a close relationship, but neither is very good with interpersonal connections.  Of course, there’s a body (maybe more than one), and it has hallmarks of a ritual dating back to the days of Brigham Young. Abbie starts investigating and uncovers a dark side of the quiet town of Pleasant View…  After that, I can’t say.  Miss Demeanors:    What is something about you that would surprise us? Alison:   I spent my junior year studying in Leningrad/St. Petersburg because I thought I wanted to be a Sovietologist. On second thought, maybe a better answer is that I completed Improv 101 at the Upright Citizens Brigade. I heard an interview with Amy Poehler where she spoke about how the world would be a better place if everyone learned the skills that make for good improv. I thought, “Wow, I don’t do any of those things very well.” I signed up. The two most important practices I learned there were how important it is to really listen to other people, and that it’s much better to say “yes, and” than to say “yes, but.” I wish I could say I’ve mastered those skills. I haven’t, but I know when I follow the improv rules, life flows a little more smoothly.  So now you’ve met our newest Miss Demeanor. Please stop by and ask a question we may have missed.   




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