Interview with Mysteries & More bookstore owners Mary and Greg Bruss

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At the end of this week, Mysteries & More, the only mystery bookstore in Tennessee, celebrates its fifth anniversary with two birthday parties and book-signing events (see posting below). To help celebrate this very special occasion, Underground Nashville journeyed to Lenox Village for this exclusive interview with bookstore owners Mary and Greg Bruss:

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: How did the idea for a mystery bookstore first come to you?

MARY BRUSS: Greg and I were living in Macon, Georgia in 1995, and I was asked to help open a new Barnes & Noble store from the ground up. And I absolutely LOVED it! At about that same time, I read Death on Demand by Caroline Hart, in which the protagonist opens a mystery bookstore. “Wow!” I thought. “I could do that!” After that, it became our mutual dream. And at a certain point, years later, Greg said, “If you want to open that bookstore, you better do it now.” So we looked for mixed-development live/work units throughout the South, and Greg found Lenox Village online. When we saw this building, we fell in love with it. For us, it was like coming home, because we had lived in Franklin from 1978 to 1993 while raising our family.

UN: Were you worried about opening a genre-specific bookstore when so many “general” bookstores have faded away?

GREG BRUSS: In the five years in which we’ve been open, the market has actually shifted in our favor. When we opened five years ago, the #1 best-selling genre was romance. Now it’s what we offer: mysteries and thrillers. So that has helped. But more importantly, our attitude has been: We want to run a mystery bookstore. And as long as we’re having fun, and not losing too much money, we’ll continue to do it.

UN: You have a devoted, growing customer base. What is the secret to that?

GREG: For me, it’s Mary’s knowledge of mysteries. She is a great “hand-seller.” People come in the store all the time not knowing exactly what they’re looking for. Or the opposite, such as “I’m looking for an author who writes about Rhode Island in such-and-such way.” Mary is just excellent at helping both kinds of customers find the exact book they’ll love.

UN: Who do you believe are the “best of the best” mystery writers working today?

MARY: Louise Penny comes immediately to mind. She has written nine or ten books, and nearly all have won awards. She has a great way of turning a phrase, and we haven’t met anyone who does not like her books.

Of course, there are many others: James Patterson, J.T. Ellison, Jennie Bentley, and Catherine Coulter. As far as writers of thrillers, I’d say Vince Flynn and Michael Connelly, who is up there with John Grisham.

UN: Any final thoughts?

MARY: We consider ourselves very lucky to be doing this. Our customers are wonderful people and we’ve found, over the years, that most mystery authors are extremely open, friendly people, too.

GREG: That’s exactly right. For us, it’s not about money. It’s not even so much about books. It’s about people.

For more about Mysteries & More Bookstore, please visit:

http://www.mysteriesandmore.net/

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at XLibris.com. Dave also is a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

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Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit and “like” the page on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/EverythingMeansNothingtoMe?ref=ts&fref=ts

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Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

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Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

 

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