I'm pleased to welcome Loretta Ross to Cozy Up With Kathy. Loretta writes the Auction Block Mystery series. Today is release day for Death and the Red Headed Woman, the first book in the series.
Kathy: Wren Morgan is an auctioneer. Although interested, I've never attended an auction. Do you participate in them?
LR: Oh, I wish I could take you to an auction! They're such fun. I've been going to auctions since I was a child, though I don't have time to attend a lot of them these days. That's probably for the best, though. Once, at a consignment auction, I bought an antique pump organ that was about five feet long, probably four-and-a-half feet tall, and weighed at least a hundred pounds. I didn't have a truck and wound up taking it home in the back of my little Dodge Shadow. I couldn't close the hatchback, of course, and it stood up well over the top of the car. I thought the car was going to sit up on its back wheels like an elephant. I couldn't resist it, though. It went for just $25. It's broken, but I don't know how to play the organ anyway, so that's okay.
...That makes sense, right?
Kathy: Wren is cataloging the contents of an ante-bellum mansion with a Civil War-era lost jewels legend. Are you a Civil War buff?
LR: I'm more a general history and a Missouri history buff. I like learning about the ordinary people who lived in the past and I'm always curious to know their stories, but I hate to think of the terrible things that happened during the war.
Kathy: Death Bogart (pronounced “Deeth”) has quite an unusual name. How did he get it?
LR: I named him Death as an homage to one of the classic heroes of detective fiction, Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey. Lord Peter's full name is Peter Death Bredon Wimsey. He says, in Murder Must Advertise, that most people saddled with the name pronounce it to rhyme with "teeth" but he prefers to rhyme it with "breath".
Kathy: In Death and the Red Headed Woman Death and Wren will have to solve two mysteries spanning a century and a half. How does working to solve a mystery from the past help and/or impede a current investigation?
LR: I think understanding the past can only help you understand the future. Personally, I find old mysteries to be the most fascinating. I read cold case files and unsolved murders and I want to know what happened and who did it and why. The problem with old mysteries, from a writer's perspective, is that you need a stake to create tension. There has to be danger and there have to be consequences to failure beyond the frustration of simply not knowing the solution. Tying the old case to a new case can be a way to add that missing element of suspense.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
LR: I think, for me, the big attraction of cozy mysteries is that they're usually part of a series. I've loved reading for as long as I can remember, and I've always been drawn to mysteries, but I've always hated to finish a good book and say goodbye to the characters. I also like that cozies don't tend to get dark or violent. If I'm in the mood for something like that I can find it elsewhere, but cozies are a refuge from horrors.
I actually got in a discussion with two other authors recently that touched on this. A friend of mine who writes fantasy stated that, for a book to be any good -- to sustain any level of suspense--, you should be able to kill off any character. Another friend, a romance writer, and I disagreed. I do think that, if you're reading something and living vicariously through the character, you can share in the character's suspense about what's going to happen. It's entirely different from the more real-world-conscious suspense of knowing that the author might really kill off this character you feel connected to.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
LR: I've written some poetry, mostly when I was younger, and I've written mysteries that aren't necessarily cozies. In addition to future books in this series, I'm working on a paranormal mystery that I'm really in love with. I have an idea for a fantasy novel, but I don't know if I'll ever get around to writing it. I'd also like to try my hand at scriptwriting and I'm trying to learn the basics of that now.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
LR: The Auction Block Mysteries follow the adventures of auctioneer Wren Morgan and her boyfriend, a disabled Marine combat vet turned private eye named Death Bogart.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
LR: One supporting character I'm very fond of is Roy Keystone, one of the auctioneers Wren works for. He's an ornery old man and is just tremendous fun to write.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
LR: Not really? The characters just sort of came to life in my mind and started telling me their story.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
LR: I've always *wanted* to write professionally, but for a long time I didn't have the confidence to chase the dream. It's been my good fortune to have some wonderful friends who supported and encouraged me.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
LR: That's a tough one! I think they'd have to be Terry Pratchett, J.R.R. Tolkien, Shirley Jackson, and Dorothy Sayers.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
LR: I tend to have several books going at once--one at home, one in my car, one in my locker at work, etc. Right now I'm reading We Are Not Good People by Jeffrey Somers, Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, and When The Ghost Screams by Leslie Rule.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
LR: I've always been fascinated by true ghost stories. I don't believe every story but I do believe there are things in the world that we don't understand yet. In college I once followed a girl in a blue bathrobe into a shower room that had no other exits only to find it empty when I got inside.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
LR: Peanut butter, some kind of cheese, Dr. Pepper, chocolate.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
LR: There are going to be at least three books in the Auction Block Mysteries. I've finished the second book and turned it in and I'm waiting now to hear if the publisher likes it. I'm working on the third book and also, as I said earlier, a paranormal mystery. The paranormal would be a standalone, though.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
LR: There's a lot to like about being an author. I think one of my favorite things is that I always have an excuse to research anything I'm curious about. Also, you can ask anyone anything and call it research. I once asked a local law officer, "if you were arresting a man for attempted rape and his male reproductive organs had been fastened to a plywood floor with a nail gun, how would you go about that?" He resigned and moved to Colorado a couple weeks later, but I don't think that was because of me.
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