I'm please to welcome Allyson K. Abbott to the blog today. Allyson pens the Mack's Bar Mystery series. In the Drink is the third book in the series and was just released July 28th!
Kathy: Setting plays such an important role, especially in cozy mysteries. Why choose a bar in Milwaukee for your Mack's Bar Mystery series?
AKA: The setting was partly my editor’s idea. He wanted a bar setting. I like the quirkiness of Wisconsin, and Milwaukee is well known for both that and it’s beer history. Plus I like the neighborhood feel that comes along with local bars that see frequent repeat customers, the neighborhood watering hole, so to speak. It’s a great way to mix characters from many different walks of life.
Kathy: I do enjoy a good cocktail, but, to be honest, I rarely make them for myself. I just drink most of my hard liquor straight up, and neat at that. What about you? Do you make cocktails at home?
AKA: I’m definitely a mixologist. I like trying new things but I also love some old tried and true drinks. I have a well-stocked bar in my basement and whenever I entertain I invite people to experiment with recipes.
Kathy: Back in the day my drink of choice was a bourbon manhattan. Now I'm more apt to order a cosmopolitan. What's your favorite cocktail?
AKA: My standby favorite has always been a white Russian. I tend to lean more towards sweeter drinks.
Kathy: When it comes to martinis-shaken or stirred? Vodka or gin?
AKA: Shaken. And vodka, hands down. With all the new flavor-infused vodkas out there, it’s even better.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
AKA: I like puzzles of all kinds and mysteries are a great way to indulge in that, both through reading them and creating them. And I’ve loved reading since I was old enough to know how. I don’t mind blood, gore, and violence in my reading but I find that both my job as a nurse and the vivid boundaries that have been crossed by TV shows and movies have left me less inclined to want to see that kind of stuff on the page, or imagine it in my head. The first novels I had published back in the nineties were suspense thrillers with a bit of a paranormal flavor to them, not cozies. They’re much grittier than the stuff I write now.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
AKA: Not at the moment, but I do have a YA project sitting on a back burner, and as mentioned above I have written some grittier fiction in the past.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
AKA: The Mack’s Bar series features a heroine with a neurological disorder called synesthesia that involves a cross-wiring of the senses. It’s something that set her apart in an odd, bad way most of her life because it made her weird. But when she realizes it can help her with solving crimes and bringing a little more justice into the world, it proves redeeming for her and an entertaining hobby for some of her customers.
I also write the Mattie Winston Mystery series under the pseudonym Annelise Ryan featuring a wry and cynical nurse turned deputy coroner. This series is a bit more quirky and funny, and it’s also a tad bit bloodier since it does describe some autopsies. Both series are set in Wisconsin.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
AKA: While the main character, Mackenzie “Mack” Dalton is someone I like and admire, one of her sidekicks, a woman named Cora, is quickly evolving as a favorite of mine. I like Cora because she’s a smart, self-made woman who isn’t afraid to be what she is and say what she thinks. Nor does she give much thought to what others think of her.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
AKA: Aside from the setting suggestion, I think the primary inspiration arose from my fascination with the disorder synesthesia, which I stumbled across while researching something for an earlier novel. I saw its potential right away and it stuck with me for years until I found the right vehicle for it.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
AKA: Writers want people to read their works. At least I do, and I think it’s true of most writers. Publication is a natural progression from that desire. I love getting lost in my made-up worlds and the idea that others can get lost in those worlds for a while is fun, fulfilling, and fascinating.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
AKA: That’s a tough one. For now I’d go with Stephen Hawking, Stephen King, Agatha Christie, and Erma Bombeck.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
AKA: I’m currently reading (listening) to the novel The Last Child by John Hart.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
AKA: Sure! I love animals and at the moment I’m being kept very busy with my 4-month-old puppy, Winston, who is adorable, smart, and VERY energetic. I also like doing stained glass work, and of course, reading. My reading tastes are pretty eclectic, anything from horror and romance to National Geographic and the backs of cereal boxes. I’m also a huge word nerd and a fan of word games of all types, especially Scrabble. I’ve competed in Scrabble tournaments and I’ve even won money at it a time or two.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
AKA: Butter, coffee, heavy cream (for the coffee), and popcorn.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
AKA: I’m putting the finishing touches on the fourth book in the Mack’s Bar series now, (tentatively titled Shots in the Dark) and there will be at least two more books in this series. And I’ll be starting work soon on the eighth book in the Mattie Winston series. The seventh, Stiff Competition, comes out in January 2016 and there will be at least three more books in this series.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
AKA: There are so many things … the creative process, the fun things I get to research, the readers I get to entertain, the imaginary characters I get to create and whose lives I get to share, and all the observations I make, store, and use about life, people, and the world around us. It enriches my life as a whole.
Kathy: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
AKA: Thank you so much for having me. Happy reading!
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