Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Musubi Interview and Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Frankie Bow to the blog today. Frankie writes the Molly Barda Mystery series. The Musubi Murder, just released this month, is the first book in the series.

Kathy: When many people think of Hawaii they think of a perfect vacation filled with beaches and glorious weather. What made you choose it for a collegiate murder mystery?

FB: You’re right—most people do think of Hawaii as a vacation spot, which isn’t a bad thing, as our economy depends on tourism. But we’re also ethnically diverse, geographically isolated , and very expensive. My protagonist, Professor Molly Barda, is a mainland transplant. The reader can experience adjusting to life in Hawaii as Molly tries Spam musubi, learns to take her shoes off before entering someone’s house, and tries to understand Pidgin.

Kathy: Having worked on a college campus for many years, I know the intrigue and drama that can be found there. Have you had similar experiences and did they influence The Musubi Murder?

FB: First of all, I should state that Mahina State University is entirely fictional, and no one in the book is based on anyone I know. Having said that, I can say that at least one scandalous subplot in The Musubi Murder is based on a real news item. In that case, an administrator was sent to prison. As far as the characters, some of them may have elements of people I have met.

Kathy: A grisly prank causes the college problems. Did you pull pranks, not necessarily grisly ones, when you were younger...or now?

FB: One time, when I was very young and working at my first industry job, I had a sort of friendly rivalry with a coworker. I had an undergraduate degree from a state school, and my friend would go around flaunting his posh MBA. So to demonstrate the value of my degree, I suppose, I sneaked over to his workstation when he wasn’t there and edited his prompt (we were using a UNIX system). The next time he went to start his computer, he got an onscreen message telling him that his drive was being reformatted and all of his files were being deleted. It was very realistic and I was rather proud of my handiwork. I intercepted him as he was racing over to our IT department and told him the truth. He found the whole thing far less entertaining than I did. Bill, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

FB: I started reading Agatha Christie when I was around ten years old, and I’ve always liked mysteries with a touch of humor. I love Sarah Caudwell’s Hilary Tamar mysteries, which are beautifully written and hilarious, and describe all manner of bad behavior without ever getting graphic. I prefer it when the author draws a polite curtain over explicit sex or gore.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

FB: Yes, a children’s series.

The Adventures of Alice Mongoose and Alistair Rat is part of the Molly Barda universe. Molly has an Alice Mongoose t-shirt and is a fan of the books.

The mongoose was brought in to Hawaii to get rid of the rats in the cane fields. That didn’t work out, because the rats were nocturnal, so the mongoose were asleep when the rats were out and about.

Alice Mongoose takes a ship to Hawaii to seek her fortune, and is horrified to find out on the way over that her job is to find and kill rats. Alice isn’t cut out to be a killer. She wears pearls and gloves and a print dress and a little cloche hat, and she loves to sit down at a properly-set table to a meal of eggs.

The first rat Alice meets in Hawaii is Alistair. She’s heard all about how rats are vicious and aggressive, but Alistair is very polite and gentle and he wears a little monocle, and is very nearsighted so he doesn’t realize at first that Alice is a mongoose, and they become friends.

I'm working with a very talented illustrator to "reissue" the work of Mary Pfaff, the (fictional) author of the Alice Mongoose books. A percentage of the sales will go to Three Ring Ranch, an exotic-animal sanctuary on the Big Island.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

FB: The Musubi Murder is Book One of the Molly Barda mysteries. Waiting in the wings are: 
Molly Barda and the Cursed Canoe
Molly Barda and the Black Thumb
Molly Barda and the Invasive Species
Molly Barda and the Blessed Event
And a prequel, tentatively titled The Case of the Defunct Adjunct.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

FB: Rather than any single character, I like the friendship and interaction among the three main characters, Molly, biology professor Emma Nakamura, and newsblogger / part time composition instructor Patrick Flanagan. They needle one another constantly, but there is a very deep affection among the three of them.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

FB: I write what I like to read: Mysteries with humor, no explicit sex or violence, but not completely on the “sweet” end of the spectrum. Sue Grafton’s books are a good example.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

FB: I sent the manuscript to Five Star, which has a great selection of classic and traditional mysteries, and fortunately they liked it and picked it up!

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

FB: Sarah Caudwell, Dorothy Parker, E.F. Benson, and P.G. Wodehouse. I would listen to the conversation and probably not say a word the whole time.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

FB: I’m reading The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis. It’s set at Oxford University, and has academic intrigue as well as time travel into the Middle Ages.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

FB: I have to admit that writing has squeezed out a lot of my other interests. I have been known to leave my computer on occasion to attend a swing dance or tango event.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

FB: Spam, Spam, Spam, and Spam. Seriously, we have doomsday-prepper amounts of Spam in our pantry.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being a mystery author?

FB: After a frustrating day at work, I can sit down in front of my computer, pull up my word processor, and ask myself, “OK, who needs to die?”


Frankie Bow

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  1. Great interview! The Musubi Murder sounds like it's one to check out!

  2. Thanks for having me over Kathy! I love your interviews and your blog.

  3. Thank you for visiting. I love that you write about rats in a positive light-I have pet rats!

    1. Oh, Alistair is a sweetheart. Although he might be a *bit* vain...:-)