I'd like to welcome Amy Metz to the blog today. Amy writes the Goose Pimple Junction Mystery series. The first, Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction, was re-released on September 6th, 2014.
Kathy: Goose Pimple Junction is quite a unique name for a town. How did you come up with it and why choose it as the setting for your series?
AM: In 1985, I visited a relative who lived in Abingdon, Virginia, and she told me about a nearby town named Goose Pimple Junction. I thought the name was great, and she eventually took me to see it. I took a picture of the real town’s sign, and twenty-seven years later, the artist used it on the cover of the book, although we changed the state to Tennessee. I didn’t want anyone thinking my GPJ was a real town.
I love to laugh, and I knew I wanted my murder mystery to be humorous. There’s nothing humorous about murder or killers, so I made the town and the characters humorous. The name Goose Pimple Junction had stuck with me all those years, and it seemed right for the name of my fictional town. The whackiness of the name perfectly captured the community I was creating.
Kathy: Many mysteries are set the Southern part of the United States and have a special Southern flavor. Aside from being set in the South, what makes a mystery truly Southern?
AM: It’s got to be deep fried and slathered in butter. J Seriously, I’m not sure how to put it into words. There’s a certain tenor, a feel to a Southern book. The South has an undeniable warmth—both in its people and its temperatures! I’m not saying all Southerners are warm and friendly and all Northerners are mean and unpleasant. Not at all. But Southern characters have a particular charm. They’re friendly, laid back, family-oriented, and God-fearing. They speak in a distinct dialect, which tends to make things less serious. There’s nothing particularly Southern about a mystery; it’s the people, the setting, and the feel of the story that makes it uniquely Southern.
Kathy: In Murder and Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction Tess begins looking into a 75-year-old murder. How does working to solve a mystery from the past help and/or impede a current investigation?
AM: Mostly, time is the major impediment. All of the evidence and witnesses are long gone—hence the term “cold case.” Tess and Jack had to rely on research. They searched online and found old newspaper articles, and they talked to relatives of the people who were involved in the murder, looking for the slightest memory that might trigger a breakthrough. They had to do a lot of digging to figure out who was the killer.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
AM: I actually didn’t know I’d written a cozy mystery until I submitted the manuscript to a publisher and an editor called it that. Cozies don’t have much, if any, violence or sex, they usually have a woman sleuth, and they’re set in small, socially intimate communities. Often, there is a dog in the story. By those standards, Murder & Mayhem is a cozy. But I stumbled on the genre by accident!
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
AM: I have started writing (but put on hold for the time being) a mystery/thriller and also a chick lit book. I’ve written a semi-autobiographical novel about a mother/daughter relationship and the trials of being a caretaker for a parent with dementia. I’ve also written a children’s book that needs illustration. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish the thriller, publish the novel about my mother, or find an illustrator for my children’s book, but each one of them served a purpose in my writing journey. Here’s a little known fact: I had a poem published in an online magazine. But no, I am not a poet.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
AM: The Goose Pimple Junction series will always have the same characters, with a few new ones thrown in with each new book, but each book will have a different main character. There will always be a murder to solve, a budding relationship, and lots of laughter.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
AM: Well…that’s a tricky question, because I killed off my favorite character in Murder & Mayhem. He was a lot of fun to write, but fate had other plans for him. I don’t really have a favorite, but I do enjoy writing Lou’s lines. Lou is the opposite of me: she’s a take charge, outgoing, loud, sociable person, and she has an encyclopedic knowledge of goosepimpleisms (Southern euphemisms). Plus she owns a bookstore.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
AM: The inspiration for the first book in the series was my family history. The murders that occur in the book actually happened to members of my family in the 1930s. But the root of the goosepimpleisms is my father. He spouted off funny euphemisms all the time. He also told me a lot of stories that are intermingled throughout the books.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
AM: A publisher offered to publish it!
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
AM: I’d invite David Rosenfelt because he’d keep us laughing and I love his work; Robert B. Parker because he’s my favorite author; and Mark Twain and Rick Bragg because they’re Southern, brilliant and funny. Of course, I’d be too intimidated to talk to any of them. If Mark or Robert couldn’t make it, I’d invite Michael Lee West because I wish I could write like she does, and Dennis Hart because I know he would keep us laughing.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
AM: Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
AM: I love photography, and I love turning my pictures into coffee table books. Of course, my favorite subjects are my sons, daughter-in-law, and granddogs, but besides them, I shoot mostly landscapes, trees, flowers, and birds. I really like designing page layouts for the photos I take and producing books with them. I also love to bake—or maybe I just like to eat desserts—in any event I do both—bake and eat. And I love to attend my son’s concerts. He’s majoring in music performance and it’s pure joy to watch him play. It’s a bit harder to do now that he’s in college and the concerts are two hours away instead of twenty minutes, but I wouldn’t miss one.
Kathy: Name 5 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
AM: Chocolate chips, plain M&Ms, peach Joe Tea, Club Cracker Minis, and Pepper Jack cheese.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
AM: Yes, the second book in the Goose Pimple Junction series, Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction, is almost ready for release, and I’m currently writing the third book, Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
AM: I like getting lost in my work. That’s what got me started writing the series, and it’s what makes me continue to write (aside from the fact that I love to write). I escape to Goose Pimple Junction where all the problems are someone else’s and life is good.