I'd like to welcome Annette Dashofy to the blog today. Annette writes the Zoe Chambers Mystery series. Lost Legacy, the second in the series was released the 16th of this month.
Kathy: Setting plays such an important role in a mystery. How did you decide upon rural Pennsylvania?
AD: I’ve lived my entire life here in southwestern Pennsylvania. It’s home, so it was a natural choice. I have to do so much research on these books, at least I don’t have to research the location. I can simply take a drive!
Kathy: Zoe Chambers is a paramedic and you once worked as an EMT. Did your work experience serve as fodder for Zoe?
AD: Absolutely! But not the actual cases as much as the environment and the attitude of EMS workers. They’re a fiercely dedicated but irreverent group of people. To say we have an off-beat sense of humor would be an understatement!
Kathy: In Lost Legacy a recent death is tied to some that occurred over 45 years previously. How does working to solve a mystery from the past help and/or impede a current investigation?
AD: For one thing, the killer obviously had to be around 45 years ago if the cases are connected. But the fact that the killer has kept the crime covered up all this time makes things a little tricky. This character has gotten away with murder for decades and suddenly having the police poking around in it makes him/her a little nervous and a lot dangerous.
Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?
AD: As a kid, I loved The Hardy Boys. Then I graduated to Agatha Christy and Mary Higgins Clark. So I always enjoyed the genre as a reader. Plus I liked puzzles—both creating them and solving them. Writing them seemed second nature.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
AD: If nonfiction counts, then yes. Up until the time I signed my contract for three books with Henery Press, I was a regular contributor to Pennsylvania Magazine. As for fiction, when I was a kid, I wrote westerns and sci-fi, but once I wrote my first crime fiction story, I never looked back.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
AD: My series is about a small town Pennsylvania paramedic who’s also a deputy coroner, so she deals with life and death. In the course of doing her job, she frequently encounters Vance Township Chief of Police Pete Adams, helping—and sometimes hindering—his investigations.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
AD: In Lost Legacy my favorite character has to be Harry Adams, Pete’s dad. He suffers from Alzheimer’s as did my father. There’s nothing fun about this disease, but I had to find a way to make Harry entertaining. While he isn’t exactly “based on” my dad, I did borrow a lot of my dad’s quirks and sayings (Harry likes milkshakes and calls Zoe “Sunshine”), so I feel very close to Harry.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
AD: I had finished two books in a series that never sold and was looking for something else that I felt had enough potential storylines to go on for a while. I’d written a short story (A Signature in Blood) that had been published in Mysterical-e Magazine and had been nominated for a Derringer Award (2007). Someone asked if we were going to see more of Pete and Zoe. That was my inspiration!
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
AD: Probably my husband telling me to get a “real” job. Just kidding. Sort of. Seriously, I never looked at my writing as a hobby. It’s been my goal all along to get it published and earn some money at it. I’m not going to get rich, but those royalty checks keep my hubby from sending me off to get a job at Cabela’s!
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
AD: This question always gives me pause. There are so many! Lisa Scottoline, because I adore her and she makes me laugh until I cry. Hunter S. Thompson—I have no idea why except that I don’t think there could be a dull moment with him there. Tom Robbins—same reason as Hunter S. Thompson (and I can tell I’m in a weird mood by my choices here!). Finally Craig Johnson because I’m such a huge fan. I could sit and listen to him tell stories for hours.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
AD: I just started The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds by Katherine Ramsland. Not exactly a light beach read. I’m in research mode.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
AD: I love horseback riding, although I don’t do much of it any more. I also enjoy camping and biking. Of course I love to read. And I adore my two spoiled cats.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
AD: Coffee, peanut butter, chocolate wine (yes, there is such a thing and it’s fabulous!), and pasta. This is my deadline madness survival kit.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
AD: I’m about to start revisions on the third book in the series. Bridges Burned is scheduled for release in April 2015 and deals with Zoe and Pete examining their futures—individually and as a “couple.” Also, I’m taking notes and researching books four and five.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
AD: Being able to hang out with my imaginary friends without being carted off to the asylum!
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