WD: Charmaine has a unique skill that emerged at an early age. She’s a fictional version of one of those very rare people who are extraordinarily attuned to detecting non-verbal cues. Because of my research in what I found to be very interesting subject matter, I think that I’m better at reading people than I used to be. But no one will ever hire me for my lie detecting skills, which is just as well—I’d much rather create fun stories about a human lie detector than actually be one.
Kathy: One of Charmaine's past careers was that of a pastry chef. Have you ever considered being a pastry chef? Or are you an avid home baker? Or do you just enjoy eating pastries?
WD: I would consider a career as a pastry chef seriously dangerous to my hips! I do love to bake though. I have ever since my grandmother, a pie baker extraordinaire, took me under her wing to show me the ropes, and oh, did we ever bake some of the best pies! The yummiest cookies, too! Yep, it’s no accident that I feature pies and cookies at Duke’s Cafe.
Kathy: I love Duke's diner. Do you have a similar place to go to when you need comfort food and coffee?
WD: I have a favorite coffee stand, but unfortunately, there isn’t a Duke’s kind of diner in the Seattle suburb, where I live. Duke’s is the kind of small town diner I seek out when I travel, especially when my husband and I are in the mood for breakfast. I can always count on him ordering pancakes, and he can always count on me stealing a bite!
Kathy: Would you rather go to Tango Tuesday at the Senior Center or Friday night bingo?
WD: I think Tango Tuesday at the Senior Center would be a hoot. It certainly was when I wrote that scene. I’d be one more female in need of a Tuesday night dance partner though. Maybe we could talk Char’s cop buddy, Steve Sixkiller, into dancing with me. I doubt that he’d be crazy about the idea, but I sure like it!
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
WD: As a lifelong lover of mystery and romance fiction, some of my favorite stories have been set in small towns or neighborhoods that are populated with quirky characters. When I first starting writing, all my stories were populated with multi-generational families, busy bodies, and picturesque small town settings. Plus, my themes were light-hearted. Once I “killed” my first character, I knew the cozy mystery subgenre was the right fit for me. My small-town characters could feel at home there, and since all the blood and gore is “off-scene,” I as a writer, can breathe a little easier, too!
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
WD: I have two romance novels, one of which will never see the light of day. My romantic roots are strong and show up in Char/Steve relationship in the Working Stiffs Mystery series. I have a couple of romantic suspense book ideas that I’d like to pursue, but Char’s stories come first right now. Maybe next year I’ll have information up on my website about a romantic suspense or new series, so stay tuned.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
WD: Book One of The Working Stiffs Mystery series, Trudy, Madly, Deeply, introduces deputy coroner Charmaine Digby, a young woman with eyes for lies and a nose for trouble as she investigates her first murder case.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
WD: I love all my characters, but I have to admit that I have a special place in heart for Duke. He’s a man’s man with a salty exterior, but at his core, he’s my dad—no longer with me except in my heart and mind, and now in my books.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
WD: Book one was inspired by a Sixty Minutes feature about a doctor in the UK who had been very quietly killing his elderly patients. Shortly after that story aired, I met someone who was a “Truth Wizard” (a human lie detector). My brain didn’t take long to connect some dots and start cranking on a story idea. I set that idea aside to percolate while I worked on another project. Then, in the couple years that followed I had the good fortune to meet and interview a Prosecutor/Coroner in a neighboring county here in Washington State. Once she told me that she’d hire my character, Charmaine, I knew I had the makings of a mystery series. I then dropped everything else I had been working on and started writing.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
WD: I’d been working toward the goal of publication for fifteen years. After submitting to Corvallis Press and receiving an offer of publication, it was an easy decision. With all the great reader feedback I’ve received on Trudy, it’s also a decision I’m happy to have made.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
WD: Janet Evanovich, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Diane Mott Davidson, and Richard Castle. Okay, Richard Castle is only a famous author on TV, but I love the guy and he’d be great fun to have at that dinner party.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
WD: I have a huge TBR stack. I’ve been reading Pamela Beason’s The Only Witness. Next up is Tempest in the Tea Leaves by Kari Lee Townsend.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
WD: Writing and baking are at the top of the list along with football. Go Seahawks! Plus, I love to travel—something my husband and I hope to do a lot more of in the coming years.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
WD: Milk, butter, mayonnaise and pickles. And I’m on a diet right now and can none of those but the pickles. Sigh….
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
WD: Yes, books two and three in the Working Stiffs Mystery series should come out in 2014 with two or three a year to follow. There are no plans for a new series as yet. Check back with me next year.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
WD: I love hearing from readers, especially when they tell me that I kept them up all night, reading. That means that I did my job! :)
Trudy, Madly, Deeply By Wendy Delany
The 1st Working Stiffs Mystery
Charmaine Digby needs a new job. She’s returned to Port Merritt, Washington and is living with her grandmother and helping out at her great aunt and uncle’s diner, Duke’s Café. With the help of her special ability (having a knack for reading people, she’s a human lie detector) Charmaine gets hired as a deputy coroner. When a tip comes in that the deaths of older patients in the hospital may not be natural Char starts investigating on her own, especially since some of her relatives believe that something fishy is going on. In addition to her investigation Char has to contend with her flighty mom who has also returned to town (and kicked Char out of her room), her good looking childhood friend (who is also a detective with the police department), assorted friends and relatives, and Tango Tuesday.
Trudy, Madly Deeply is a fun read filled with lots of laughs and characters you’d like to know better. Charmaine has the perfect blend of strength, determination, and self deprecation. Faced with quirky relatives, two gorgeous guys (who give conflicting signals), and a possible serial killer on the loose, Charmaine handles it all, with humorous results. There are laugh out loud moments, but enough solid characterization that the characters are still real and the story still compelling.