Kathy: DEATH BY ASSOCIATION is the first in the DIY Diva Mystery series. Are you a DIY kind of gal?
PD: Definitely! My DIY projects tend to be of the crafty variety, mainly sewing, jewelry-making, and textile art projects right at the moment, although I've also done French beading, needlepoint, embroidery, cross stitch, needle felting, and millinery. A few years ago, I became interested in making real silk flowers using the European method. I make brooches, hair accessories, and even textile art with these flowers and sell them in my Etsy store – https://www.etsy.com/shop/PaulaDJewelry.
Kathy: Laurel McMillan lives in the gated community of Hawkeye Haven, which also has a powerful homeowners’ association. Do you have personal experience dealing with homeowners' associations?
PD: I certainly do! When I first moved into my current home in 2002, I'd never lived in a community with a homeowners' association, so all the rules and regulations that come along with it were new to me. Although I've had minimal problems with the HOA, others who live in such communities haven't been as lucky, as I learned from local television news reports.. I began to realize how much grief could be caused by an HOA running amok, and that led to my idea of setting DEATH BY ASSOCIATION set in a community in which the HOA directors are unreasonable and demanding, causing plenty of conflict within Hawkeye Haven.
Kathy: Laurel also has a chocolate Labrador retriever named Bear. Are you a fan of dogs as well? Is Bear based on a real dog or is he purely fictional?
PD: Yes. I'm a dog lover, and Bear, Laurel's chocolate Lab, is based on my own two dogs. Teddy Bear was a yellow Labrador retriever I adopted when he was seven. He lived to be thirteen, and he was such a sweet boy. When it was time for dinner, he would get so excited that he always did a cute little dance. Rocky Boy is the other dog Bear is based on. He's now a ten-year-old, and he's starting to get some gray hair around his muzzle and on his chest. Rocky Boy is half Lab and half Great Pyrenees, so he's a very big boy at 110 pounds. He looks like a black Labrador, but he acts more like a Great Pyrenees. Bear's a fun combination of both Teddy Bear and Rocky Boy with a few of his own tricks thrown in.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
PD: Solving a puzzle probably drew me to mystery reading first, but since I don't enjoy reading the excessive, gruesome crime details that some mainstream mysteries concentrate on, I prefer to keep my murder mysteries cozy.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
PD: Besides cozy mysteries, I've also written a historical mystery set in Reno, Nevada, during the time when it was considered the “divorce capital of the world,” which I hope will be published next year.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
PD: DEATH BY ASSOCIATION, A DIY Diva Mystery, is the first of the series published by Cozy Cat Press. It features Laurel McMillan, a crafty entrepreneur who lives in Hawkeye Haven, a guard-gated community, who becomes involved in the lives and problems of her friends and neighbors there. Her curiosity leads her to seek answers whenever the safety of Hawkeye Haven's residents is threatened.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
PD: Laurel, the main character, is my favorite because she's a strong, independent woman who's been able to turn her crafty hobbies into a full-time business.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
PD: I had three inspirations for the series. First, the setting was inspired by my living in a guard-gated community governed by an HOA. Second, Laurel's crafty DIY interests and teaching were inspired by my interests and my own teaching experience. Third, Laurel's dog Bear was inspired by my dogs.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
PD: I've been a writer for a long time, but my focus was mainly on nonfiction articles in the past. For seven years, I was a contract fashion writer for About.com (no longer in business) and I've written many articles, which appeared in print publications. However, I've always loved fiction, so I decided it was time to write a novel.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
PD: Agatha Christie, James Patterson, Joanne Fluke, and Craig Johnson.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
PD: Right now, I'm reading YEWS WITH CAUTION by Kate Collins, and I just finished reading SEED NO EVIL by the same author. I often read books from cozy mystery series out of order. I think cozy mystery authors do a great job making each book understandable even when the reader hasn't read previous books in the series.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
PD: My interests include reading, watching British mystery series, sewing, jewelry-making, hat decorating, and many more. One of the latest interests I've developed is using felted wool to make textile art with the standing wool technique. One of my standing wool creations, called Desert Dweller, featuring a desert tortoise, was accepted for exhibit in a juried art show last year, and another, named Midnight Caller, featuring an owl, was recently accepted for publication in a rugmaker's magazine. I'm also on the board of directors of the Clark County Art Guild, and I edit its monthly newsletter.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
PD: Coffee and popcorn for my husband; tea and chocolate for me; dog treats for Rocky. Oops! That's five, but Rocky would never let me forget the dog treats.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
PD: I am currently working on DEATH BY DESIGN for the DIY Diva series and have another book, DEATH BY DENIAL, planned as the third book in the same series.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
PD: Storytelling is my favorite thing about being an author. I believe that the most important job of a fiction writer is to tell a good story.
Death by Association: A DIY Diva Mystery by Paula Darnell
About the Book
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Cozy Cat Press (January 1, 2019)
Paperback: 271 pages
DIY Diva Laurel McMillan learns that the high walls and guarded gates of Hawkeye Haven can't protect her community. When Laurel takes her pampered, chocolate Labrador retriever, Bear, for an early morning walk, she finds her friend, security guard Bessie, bleeding and unconscious at her guardhouse post. If the attack on Bessie isn't enough to set the residents' nerves on edge, the murder of Victor Eberhart, the unpopular president of the powerful homeowners' association, certainly does the trick. Despite teaching DIY classes and writing project instructions for her latest book, DIY for Dog Lovers, Laurel manages to squeeze in time for some DIY detective work. But as she gets closer to the truth, Victor's killer would like nothing better than for the DIY Diva to take a dive.
About the Author
An instructor at five colleges over the years, Paula Darnell most often taught the dreaded first-year English composition classes, but she's also been happy to teach some fun classes, such as fashion design, sewing, and jewelry making. Paula has a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a Master's degree in English from the University of Nevada, Reno. Like Laurel, the main character in Death by Association, Paula enjoys all kinds of arts and crafts. Some of her memorable projects include making a hat and a cape to wear to Royal Ascot, sewing wedding gowns for both her daughters, exhibiting her textile and mixed-media artwork in juried art shows, and having one of her jewelry projects accepted for inclusion in Leather Jewelry, published by Lark Books. She sells some of her jewelry and hair accessories in her Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/PaulaDJewelry. Paula's interest in DIY craft projects and fashion led to her writing hundreds of articles for print and online national publications. Living in a guard-gated community governed by a homeowners' association gave Paula the idea for the setting of Death by Association. She finds that residing in an HOA community can be both a blessing and a curse. A Happy-New-Year greeting from her community association called on residents to “start the new year by reviewing your Rules and Regulations booklet,” something unlikely to top anyone's list of New Year's resolutions. Paula lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband Gary and their 110-pound dog Rocky, whose favorite pastime is lurking in the kitchen, hoping for a handout.
Author's website - https://www.pauladarnellauthor.com/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/PaulaJDarnell
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18782445.Paula_Darnell
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/paulad0057/
Etsy shop - https://www.etsy.com/shop/PaulaDJewelry
Purchase Links - Amazon Amazon Paperback
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