I'm pleased to welcome Shelley Freydont back to Cozy Up With Kathy. In addition to the Gilded Age Newport Mystery series we discussed when last she visited, Shelley also writes the Celebration Bay Mystery series. Trick or Deceit is the fourth book in that series and was released September 1st.
Kathy: Trick or Deceit takes place around Halloween. Are you a fan of the holiday? Do you like to decorate for Halloween?
SF: I’m a fan of celebrating most holidays. I like the fun things at Halloween, the carnivals and jack-o-lanterns, the costume and zombie parades. Not such a fan of trick or treating which seems to encourage greed and is bad for the teeth. We never really decorate for Halloween but we carve crazy, elaborate pumpkin faces and line them up on the porch.
Kathy: It's Halloween time in Celebration Bay and there's a contest to be the town’s official Haunted House. While I'm fascinated with houses that happen to be haunted, houses created to be haunted leave me cold. Are you a fan of the Halloween haunted house? What about "real" haunted houses?
SF: I believe we should leave spirits to themselves. I wouldn’t want to live in a real haunted house. Just seems like trespassing. I enjoy a good interactive created haunted house. There’s a farm in New York state, just over the New Jersey border that gives haunted hayrides. They’re a big production, creative and scary. Those kinds are fun.
Kathy: I love the cover for Trick or Deceit. Did you have any input in its design?
SF: None whatsoever, except there was a new artist on the project and the first time the cover came back, Whiskey, the white Westie was brown. The editor was also new so she wasn’t familiar with the series. Fortunately, once the artist realized her mistake she fixed it and Whiskey was back to his usual white, lovable self. That usually doesn’t happen, thank goodness. It was just a case of several new people on the same project.
Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?
SF: Not really. I don’t usually have a big inspiration for any of my stories. I work from a “Firefly” method. I’ll get a bright little spark of an idea here, and another there, and then another and another, and they start to gel and I play with them, test them out, and if I’m lucky, they become the basis of a story.
Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?
SF: I’m both, definitely. I like to have the skeleton (appropriate for the season) of my story before I begin the actual chapter writing. But before that, I take time to get to know the new characters, find out what’s happening with the old characters, decide on some plot points, write down a few notes or a scene I might be able to use somewhere. For mystery, I rely heavily on plotting because to have a good mystery you must make sure that all the clues and red herrings are presented in the right place. Know who has the alibis, and have a time line that works. So I plot even more for mysteries than I do for the women’s fiction I write as Shelley Noble, but since those are more character driven I get to meander a bit before reining myself in and tightening the story up.
Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Liv Montgomery?
SF: I’m hoping she’ll have a long happy life as a fictional sleuth. But it’s too early to know about specifics.
Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?
SF: The first of my new Gilded Age Newport mystery series came out last month. A Gilded Grave. I love that era of outrageous fortunes and power struggles and had a lot of fun writing that one. I just turned in next summer’s addition, A Golden Cage. I’m also working on my next women’s fiction, currently titled Leila after one of the characters.
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