Friday, January 30, 2015

Devil in the Interview & Contest

I'd like to welcome LynDee Walker to the blog today. LynDee writes the Headlines in High Heels Mystery series. Devil in the Deadline is the fourth in the series.


Kathy: In Devil in the Deadline Nichelle Clarke winds up investigating a televangelist’s compound. Televangelists make such interesting characters; just the word televangelist makes one think more of scam artist than spiritual helper. Have you had personal experience, whether positive or not, with them?

LW: This was the first book in which the central mystery was loosely based on something I covered as a working reporter—much of what Nichelle discovers at Way of Life came from my notes on a news story.


Kathy: Nichelle is now involved in a love triangle. Why choose a triangle and not have a single love interest?

LW: This probably sounds a little crazy, but I don’t always feel I get to choose. The characters seem to do what they want, and this is a good example of that. When I was writing Front Page Fatality, I didn’t intend for Joey to become such a major character. He was supposed to be in one scene, to freak Nichelle out a bit and give her a story tip. But he just kept showing up, so I decided to go with it and see what happened. Another “wow, would you look at that” moment for me when writing that book was when Kyle walked in—it wasn’t in my outline (why I don’t use them anymore—I never could stick to one), but it popped into my head when I was writing and made the scene so much better.

Nichelle has some commitment issues that are making it hard for her to choose a guy, but she’s getting there. We see in Devil in the Deadline that she’s definitely leaning more one way. And that leads down a path of all kinds of interesting relationship obstacles.


Kathy: Social media has made such a huge impact upon society and the media. How do you see it affecting journalists-both fictional and real world?

LW: It has definitely changed the landscape of reporting since I left the newsroom. Eleven years ago, we didn’t have Twitter or Facebook pages—we only had to keep up with the website. In fact, the first draft of Front Page Fatality was written with that early 2000s newsroom in mind, and I had to go back and add the social media stuff. It has definitely made it harder to scoop the competition, both in fiction and in the real world. And I worry that accuracy sometimes gets sidelined in the race to get a headline on Twitter first.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

LW: I’ve always loved a good mystery, and I like books that make me laugh, so the genre seemed like a natural fit.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

LW: I have one manuscript that’s women’s fiction, but in fiddling with it and trying to find what’s missing, I’m tempted to turn it into a mystery. I think a killer to catch might be just what it needs.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

LW: Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke’s days can flip from macabre to comical with a beep of her police scanner. But when the race to scoop her TV rival puts Nichelle in a detective’s shoes, outsmarting the criminals is the only way to live to see the next deadline.


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

LW: Grant Parker. Since the first time he walked into the story, the Telegraph’s star sports columnist has been one of my favorite people. He’s charming and sweet, and has a rare level of self assurance that’s really fun to write. He’s in most of my favorite scenes.


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

LW: I missed the newsroom and the writing, but not the long hours away from my family. So I made up my own newsroom.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

LW: My mom and my best friend read Front Page, and they pushed me to try to find a publisher. The idea that I might be able to entertain other people the same way my favorite authors entertain me was so appealing, I started researching the industry.


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

LW: Oh goodness! My list of who I’d love to talk to is so long, but for a dinner party, friends are always the most fun. I’d invite my girlfriends Gretchen Archer, Larissa Reinhart, and Terri L. Austin because we always have a blast together—and then I’d ask Mark Twain, because I bet he’d be really fun to talk to.


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

LW: I’m working on the rough draft of a new novel, and I don’t read much while I’m drafting, because I find it tweaks my voice. But on my last break, I read an early copy of Craig Lancaster’s upcoming This is What I Want, and it is phenomenal. Mark your calendars for July, y’all. Do not miss this book.


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

LW: Of course! I’m pretty nuts about my family, so my life when I’m not in front of my computer revolves around them. We love adventures: from rock climbing (I never thought I could, because I’m terrified of heights, but it’s fun) to rollercoasters to weekend getaways. Tennis, walking, hiking, and biking are high on the list of favorite things to do. We also adore museums.


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

LW: Milk (because no milk=no coffee=cranky mom), String cheese (my littlest one is an addict), Cereal, Yogurt


Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

LW: I’m currently writing Headlines in High Heels #5, tentatively titled Cover Shot and due out in October from Henery Press. I have ideas for three other series, but not enough time to write them all right now. They’ll still be there when my little ones are older.


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

LW: Readers! There’s little I don’t love about it—I get to do what I love and be home with my babies. I am a girl blessed. But if I must pick the best thing, it’s meeting and hearing from readers. Knowing people connect with the stories is an amazing feeling.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Spotlight - A Dish Best Served Cold


I'd like to shine a spotlight on an upcoming mystery. A Dish Best Served Cold by Rosie Genova won't be released until August, but I'm pleased to showcase the cover reveal. I know I can't wait to read this, the third Italian Kitchen Mystery!


The national bestselling author of The Wedding Soup Murder returns to the Jersey Shore where a killer is stirring up trouble during a hurricane…

At the Casa Lido, the end of summer means a party, and hit whodunit writer Victoria “Vic” Rienzi and her family are cooking like crazy for the restaurant’s seventieth anniversary celebration. As they chop onions and garlic, old family friend Pete Petrocelli stops by, saying he knows something that would make for a good mystery novel. Curious, Vic asks Nonna to elaborate on Pete’s claim and learns of a relative who mysteriously disappeared back in Italy…

The night of the party brings a crowd—and a full throttle hurricane. When the storm finally passes, everyone thinks they’re in the clear—until the first casualty is found, and it’s Pete. Remembering his visit, Vic isn’t certain Pete’s death was an accident and decides to dig deeper into his story. What she finds is meatier than Nonna’s sauce… 


Recipes included.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Diners, Drive-ins, and Death by Christine Wenger. This book, released just this month, is the third in the Comfort Food Mystery series.

Trixie Matkowski is back bringing comfort food to the people of Sandy harbor, NY at the Silver Bullet Diner. Her friend, the irrepressible Antoinette Chloe Brown, is also back with plans to build an old fashioned drive-in movie theater. Unfortunately, on ground breaking day the body of ACB's missing boyfriend is found...dug up by the backhoe! Who wanted Nick dead? Could ACB's ex-husband been jealous enough to kill his own brother? Could it have been one of the men from the gang of biker chefs? A prior business associate? Or ACB herself? Trixie knows she has to help ACB with or without the help of Deputy Ty. Will she be able to find the killer while babysitting a house full of beauty contestants, keep ACB out of trouble, and still cook through the night serving up delicious diner food?

Recipes included.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Murder, Mayhem, Bliss & an Interview Plus Giveaway

I'd like to welcome Loulou Harrington to the blog today. Loulou writes the Myrtle Grove Garden Club Mystery series.


Kathy: Jesse Camden owns a tea room in Myrtle Grove, Oklahoma. Do you spend time in tea rooms?

LH: Yes. There are several of my favorites that I’m using as inspiration for The Gilded Lily Tea Room in my series.


Kathy: Murder, Mayhem and Bliss is the first book in the Myrtle Grove Garden Club Mystery series. Do you enjoy gardening? Do you belong to a garden club?

LH: I’m what I call a full-contact gardener. I like to grab a shovel and just dive in, but then I come out looking like a kid who’s been making mud pies. It’s worth the effort though, because we’ve got a yard full of bees, butterflies and birds. And I use the herbs, fruit and vegetables in the kitchen, so everything is grown organically.

I’d love to join a garden club, but at the moment I just don’t have the time. I do share plants and ideas with other gardeners, though, and attend a lot of gardening events.


Kathy: What made you switch from writing romance novels to writing cozy mysteries?

LH: I’m a huge romantic and as much as I enjoyed writing romances, I was never a big reader of contemporary romances. I’ve always preferred historical romance, mysteries and suspense. And the longer I wrote romances, the more I found humor trying to creep in. Then, after nine romances all of my ideas seemed to be for mysteries. So, I thought it was time to move on and began deciding what kind of mystery I was going to write instead.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

LH: When I read my first Nancy Drew as a kid, it was like a new world opened up for me. Later I discovered Miss Marple, and it just kept going from there. I love the personal quality of cozies. The people seem like friends, and the settings are quaint, comfortable and sort of an idealized version of life.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

LH: I tried a little of everything when I was starting out, but soon realized I needed to find what I enjoyed most and to focus on that. The romances were something I lucked into when the industry was seeking writers, and I had friends who were established already. With the cozy series I’m doing now, what I’m writing comes from the heart, and I’m really enjoying every minute of it.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

LH: The first of the Myrtle Grove Garden Club mysteries revolves around Jesse Camden, gardening enthusiast and co-owner of a tea room and antique shop, who steps in to help when a friend’s niece is suspected of murder. When Jesse’s friends and co-workers decide to join in, the garden club is created to camouflage their real activities from the sheriff—who’s already having issues with Jesse.


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

LH: Jesse, Vivian and Sophia are the three primary characters, and I love each of them for different reasons. But Sophia, who is Jesse’s mother, is my personal favorite, probably because there is a lot of my own mother in Sophia. It seems that no matter how long someone we love is with us, it’s never long enough. Now with Sophia, I get to spend time with another mother who is spunky and sweet, protective and adventurous, co-conspirator and conscience. And when Jesse and Sophia sit talking into the wee hours of the night, it’s like I’m sitting with my own mother again, sharing secrets over coffee when the rest of the world is dark and silent.


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

LH: I collect vintage china, primarily English, and at one point I had daydreamed of opening a tea room where customers could select which china pattern they wanted to use for that visit. So when I was planning my cozy series, I decided to let Jesse do what I couldn’t. The Gilded Lily Tea Room features vintage china that Jesse has collected, plus old family recipes and fresh food from a kitchen garden, and the customers get to choose their china for each visit. I think in the course of this series, Jesse’s going to do a lot of things I would like to do, but just don’t have enough lifetimes for.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

LH: I began writing my first book when I was twelve with the intention of someday being a published author. I love to write, and I think that making a living doing the thing you love most is everybody’s dream.


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

LH: Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie, John D. McDonald and Walter Mosley


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

LH: Murder and Beyond by Donna Welch Jones


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

LH: Wow, you may be sorry you asked. A lot of what’s in my cozy series is what I like to do in my spare time—like cook, especially baking, and garden, or wander through antique stores or flea markets. I love walking, especially through botanical gardens or public parks. I travel whenever I can and really enjoy camping or sailing on the weekends. I’m lucky to live in an area with a lot of forests, hills and lakes, which some people don’t realize Oklahoma has.


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

LH: Tea, milk, eggs, tomatoes


Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

LH: I am working on the third book in the Myrtle Grove Garden Club series at the moment. The second, currently titled Murder Most Thorny, is finished and should be out soon. I have story ideas fleshed out for numbers four through seven, and I’m really looking forward to writing them.


Kathy: What’s your favorite thing about being an author?

LH: For me, writing comes from deep inside, and at the end of the day, I feel like I just spent hours in the middle of the most amazing thing I’ve ever known. And then I get to do it again the next day. It is immeasurably rewarding, and I can only hope that some of what I feel writing a book comes through to the people who read it.


Kathy: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

LH: Thank you for having me. I have really enjoyed it. And if any readers would like more information about anything we’ve mentioned, they can check out my website at www.loulouharrington.com, my blog at https://myrtlegrovemornings.wordpress.com where I have gardening tips and recipes, or email me at loulouh48@outlook.com. And, again, it’s been an honor to be here.



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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Traci Andrighetti Takes Over with a Giveaway!

Traci Andrighetti Takes Over Cozy Up With Kathy



PROSECCO PINK, the second novel in the Franki Amato mysteries, was inspired by my third visit to Oak Alley Plantation, a stunning, oak tree–lined antebellum sugar cane plantation built in 1839. Of course, I couldn’t use the real place for my setting, so I came up with my own plantation called Oleander Place and altered or borrowed intact some historical artifacts from Oak Alley. Below are a few of my favorite items from the plantation along with clues about how I incorporate them into my mystery.

THE LAVENDER ROOM
The lavender room belonged to Oak Alley’s last owner, Josephine Stewart. Its lavender d├ęcor, the antique furniture, and the persistent sightings of Josephine’s ghost make it spectacularly creepy. The minute I stepped into this room, I began to envision my “pink room”—and the beautiful blonde cosmetics CEO who would die there—all while sipping a mint julep. Evil, I know.

THE PINEAPPLE
This spiny fruit is, ironically, a time-honored symbol of Southern hospitality. Guests who stayed at Oak Alley were treated to sliced pineapple for breakfast the morning after their arrival. But those who overstayed their welcome awakened to find a whole pineapple at the foot of their beds. Kind of threatening, isn’t it? Well, that’s what Franki Amato thought, too.

THE COURTER’S CANDLE
Suitors who came to call on the plantation owner’s daughters were monitored not only by a chaperone, but also by a courter’s candle. This candle was placed inside a metal spiral. When the candle burned down to the top of the spiral, it was time for the suitor to leave. If he was a desirable match, the candle was set high so that it would take longer to burn down to the metal. But if he wasn’t, then it was set low so that his time would be up—and quickly. Talk about a way to scare someone off!

THE ROLLING PIN
Mattresses at Oak Alley were stuffed with Spanish moss, so they became lumpy after use. Each day the house slaves had to use giant rolling pins to roll the mattresses to make them smooth again. The perfect weapon to hit someone with.

THE SUGAR KETTLES
In the 18th and 19th centuries, four sugar kettles were used in the production of refined sugar (in order of decreasing size): the grande, the flambeau, the sirop, and the batterie. As the sugar cane juice boiled down, slaves transferred it to the smaller kettles in stages. This was extremely dangerous work because it involved fire and boiling liquid. And because the larger kettles were big enough to hold a body.

Curious? I hope so! I had a blast writing PROSECCO PINK, so I think you’ll have fun reading it. As they say in New Orleans, laissez les bons temps rouler!

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Romeow and Juliet & Giveaway


Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on Romeow and Juliet by Kathi Daley. Kathi, author of the Zoe Donovan Mystery series and the Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Mystery series, is a prolific writer who is starting a brand new series, the Whales and Tails Cozy Mystery series.




Romeow and Juliet is the first in a cozy mystery series set on Madrona Island, a fictional island within the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State. As a fourth generation islander Caitlin Hart is struggling to make her way as the economy and culture of the island evolves toward a tourism based industry. Cait lives in a cabin on her aunt's oceanfront estate where she helps her aunt run Harthaven Cat Sanctuary. When she isn't working with the cats, she helps best friend Tara, operate the coffee bar/bookstore/cat lounge they own, named Coffee Cat Books.

In the first installment to the series Cait and her dog Max find the body of a member of the island council dead in the back room of the old fish cannery. As Cait delves into the murder she finds herself with an unlikely sleuthing partner that might just lead to a relationship of a more personal kind.

Meanwhile, Romeo, as stray cat that followed Cait home, is causing all sorts of problems for Cait as, in spite of dire warnings from the neighbor next door, he refuses to stay away from her very expensive show cat, Juliet. Could Romeo really be trying to tell Cait something about the neighbor that she initially refuses to see?

Recipes included.


For a chance to win your own copy of Romeow and Juliet leave a comment on this blog post no later than 11:59 pm Sunday, January 25, 2015 EST. Let us know if you'd like to hang out at a "coffee bar/bookstore/cat lounge". If the winner has a US address he/she can choose between a print or e-book version. If the winner's address is in another country the prize will be the e-version. Be sure to leave your e-mail address as well, so that I may contact you should you win.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading In Hot Water by J.J. Cook. This book is the third book in the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery series. Let me start by saying that I love this series-and Eric, the former fire chief who's still around...as a ghost!

Although this book is only the third in the series, a lot has been going on since That Old Flame of Mine. Stella Griffin, the new fire chief, has finally decided to stay in Sweet Pepper, leaving Chicago behind. Her volunteer crew is becoming a family, but going through some growing pains. And Eric. Stella has fully accepted his presence-but others are afraid of it-especially councilman Bob Floyd. Bob is determined to get rid of Eric. As In Hot Water opens Bob has just brought the property where Stella lives, in the log cabin that Eric built, and a place to which Eric is tied. Not only has be bought it, he rented a bulldozer to tear down her home-without giving her any notice. Will Bob destroy Stella's home, and Eric? What's going on with the fire call that resulted in a fatality? I can't wait to read more and find out!

Recipes included.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dying to be Interviewed

I'd like to welcome Judy Fitzwater to the blog today. Judy writes the Jennifer Marsh Mystery series. Dying Before "I Do" is the latest book in the series.


Kathy: Jennifer Marsh is a mystery writer. How did you decide upon a mystery writer as the protagonist of a murder mystery?

JF: The first Jennifer book, Dying to Get Published, is the third mystery I wrote, but the first I sold. My first book featured a librarian as the sleuth, the second a P.I. husband and wife team. Breaking into publishing is hard, and I wasn't having a lot of luck with my first two books—Too many librarians and P.I.s already out there. So I sat down and wrote thirteen pages of the first Jennifer book, taking out all of my frustrations in a comical way through my heroine—a mystery writer who was also having trouble getting published. I took it to my writers' group, and they loved it. I said, "But I'll never be able to sell it." They told me they didn't care. They wanted to read it, and I had to write it. So I did. And when I sent it to a publisher, it sold immediately and went on to be nominated for an Agatha Award. It's ironic that Jennifer's inability to get published is exactly what got me my first contract.


Kathy: I love humor in my mysteries. What makes murder funny? How can humor improve the mystery?

JF: I don't think murder is funny, but people are. I try very hard not to lose sight of the fact that a "real" person has died in my books, that people are grieving that loss. But the living people can be incredibly funny in their attempts to solve a murder. I especially love Jennifer's crazy writers' group who seem to think what they write on paper might actually work in real life as well as Emma Walker and her buddies at O'Hara's Tara. A paranoid little old lady with a sharp mind is always a hoot to write. So it's Jennifer's interactions with all of these people and her own missteps and rather strange logic that make my books funny, not the murders. As for how humor improves a mystery, I think death makes us appreciate life more, and we all need as much joy in our lives as possible. So laughter, as far as I'm concerned, improves almost everything.


Kathy: In Dying Before "I Do" Jennifer is about to get married. Weddings can be stressful enough, but add murder to the mix...did you draw upon any personal wedding experiences (Stress inducing or not) to color this one?

JF: I didn’t use any personal experiences, but I don't know of a wedding that's ever gone off perfectly. I always say it's the things that go wrong that make a good story later. It was, however, stressful for me to write about Jennifer's wedding because I was taking the journey I'd set for Jennifer and Sam over six books to its logical conclusion. It was time for them to get married—but what would Jennifer's wedding look like? I hope I got it right. I feel like I did. It had to be something unique to them, but nothing crazy or ridiculous. They have a special relationship, and I wanted to honor that.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JF: I've always loved reading cozy mysteries. I love the puzzles, the whole figuring out whodunit. I also love the quirky characters who solve the crimes. They're nosy, tenacious, and they have a strong sense of humanity and right and wrong. And the mysteries aren't usually too graphic. That makes for a pleasant read.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JF: I do. I really like writing suspense with strong female characters. I love throwing a heroine into an impossible situation and watching her use her wits and her special talents to push her way through it. I've written two so far, Drowning in Air and No Safe Place. I hope to write more. They're exciting to read and to write—completely different from cozy mysteries. I've also written a paranormal romantic comedy, Vacationing with the Dead, which is just pure fun. Ghosts and mayhem and lots of laughs.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JF: The Jennifer Marsh Mysteries are a seven-book cozy mystery series with more to come. Jennifer is an unpublished mystery writer, although she's co-authored a couple of true crime books with her newspaper reporter boyfriend/now husband Sam. I keep the mysteries in my series varied, so neither I nor my readers will get bored. The other characters pop in and out of the books as needed, but I seem to come back to them on a regular basis because I've grown very fond of them. Readers who enjoy the books will find both laugh-out-loud and poignant moments. At the books’ core is Jennifer herself, who is a really good person with a strong sense of right and wrong and decency. I think that's their greatest appeal—that, and the fact she and her friends do some pretty wacky things.


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

JF: Jennifer, of course, but Emma Walker is a close second. She's an octogenarian who lives quite comfortably in one of Atlanta's ritziest high rises. She's a tiny, frail, elderly, harmless old lady—on the surface. Beneath the skin she's sly, clever, paranoid, and always up for a little adventure. Bridge and Bingo bore her. Espionage delights her. She's just plain fun and owns a ridiculously ugly pet that may or may not be a dog.


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

JF: My own frustration with the publishing industry, as I mentioned earlier, was my inspiration.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JF: I've never considered writing a hobby. It's my occupation. I want people to read my work, and the only way to do that is to publish it. As many books as I've written, I always feel a thrill when a new one comes out.


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

JF: Wow! Now that's just not fair. I'd rather invite the sleuths they created—Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Nero Wolfe, Perry Mason, Sherlock Holmes, and, of course, there'd have to be Lord Peter Wimsey, Harriet Vane, and… Would I really have to limit it to four?


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JF: I always love a good thriller and a good mystery. I read a lot of non-fiction as well, especially when I'm writing. I don't want to be influenced in any way by another author's style. I just finished reading/editing a book for a fellow mystery writer. So I read a number of books that have not yet been released that are in the final editing stages written by friends of mine.


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

JF: Oh, goodness. I have so many "use-to's". I used to sew a lot. I used to cook a lot. I used to…I'm doing more traveling these days and have several trips I hope to make this year. I'm interested in things that some people might find boring, like reading about archeology, history, animal intelligence, how the brain works—pretty off-the-wall, random stuff. And I love doing crossword puzzles, especially the ones with “tricks” in them.


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

JF: Milk, eggs, mayo, and ketchup. Try making something out of that!


Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

JF: Yes. I'm a slow writer, but they'll be coming. I want to explore how marriage will affect Jennifer and Sam in my series, and I have the beginnings of at least 4 suspense novels that I hope someday to finish.


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

JF: LOL! Finishing a book! The relief is amazing when I've finally been able to take all of those plot strands and pull them together into a cohesive, interesting story. Writing is hard, but having written is wonderful. I also love hearing from readers who really enjoy my work. That makes all the hard work worth it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Let's Ask Alice with Giveaway

I'd like to welcome Alice Loweecey to the blog today. Alice writes the Giulia Driscoll Mystery series. Nun Too Soon was just released January 13th.


Kathy: Giulia Falcone-Driscoll was once a nun. I've spent a good amount of time with sisters, having attended Catholic schools from Kindergarten through graduate school, and I always enjoy reading mysteries with nuns. Why did you decide to make Giulia a former nun?

AL: Back when I was writing horror, an agent passed on my horror but said he’s really like to see a crime-fighting ex-nun. 8 months later, I had Force of Habit, the first Giulia book. I sent him the first three chapters… and he passed! I got a good laugh out of that.


Kathy: How do years of convent life aid in investigations? How is it a hindrance? (Or is it?)

AL: One thing I learned in the convent was multi-tasking. Well, that and internal politics and spying on people and functioning on very little sleep and disguising who you really are. Turns out all those things are useful attributes of a private investigator.


Kathy: Driscoll Investigations' client is known as the Silk Tie Killer. How did you choose a silk tie as the murder weapon?

AL: I wanted an anti-client. The kind Giulia with her innate sense of justice and fairness would take on even though he creeped her out. So I came up with a client who uses ties for kinky and nefarious purposes—the polar opposite of Giulia and her husband Frank.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

AL: I’m actually surprised to be writing cozies. I do bad things on-screen to my characters. So perhaps I’m the surprise cozy.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

AL: I also write horror and urban fantasy novels and short stories.


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

AL: Giulia Driscoll, ex-nun and private investigator, working for justice and to keep herself and her employees in food, rent, and health insurance. She’s practical, still idealistic, and addicted to flavored coffee.


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

AL: Sidney Martin, Giulia’s assistant, has always been my favorite. She’s all-natural, perky, overflowing with enthusiasm, and a great foil for Giulia. Sidney is so much fun to write. She’s always coming out with fun dialogue I don’t expect.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

AL: I’ve been writing since age nine. Fortunately the Internet wasn’t around when I was writing reams of angsty teenage poetry! I shredded all of it post-college. (You’re welcome.) When I finished my first-ever novel, I knew I could let it sit in a drawer like all that poetry did for years or try to get it on a bookshelf. “Bookshelf” was the only answer for me.


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

AL: Suetonius (The Twelve Caesars). He’s like the TMZ of the ancient world. Dickens. Jane Yolen. Kazuya Minekura (author of the multiple Saiyuki manga series). Her action, humor, and characterization are awesome.


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

AL: The translated original documents of the Dyatlov Pass Incident. Fascinating.


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

AL: I have a huge veggie garden. We eat its produce from the end of summer through part of the winter. I love growing my own food. I also watch a lot of bad horror—the kind where you can see the zipper in the monster’s costume. It relaxes me.


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

AL: Sauce, like all good Italian moms! Multiple kinds of tea, homemade jam, and wasabi peas


Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

AL: Yes indeed! The next Giulia book, Second to Nun, comes out in the fall, and I’m currently writing the third in the series. My horror novel, And You Shall Find, comes out this May from Dark Recesses Press.


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

AL: Creating worlds for all these characters crowding my head. I have a huge folder on my desktop of new story ideas and new characters.


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Friday, January 16, 2015

A Visit with Lesley Cookman

I'm pleased to welcome Lesley Cookman to the blog today. Lesley writes the Libby Sarjeant Mystery series. Murder Out of Tune is the the 14th book in the series.


Kathy: Libby Sarjeant is a retired actress. You were once an actor as was I. Studying theatre is more useful in "real life" than non theatre people realize. How do those skills help Libby?

LC: I think they help in questioning people’s motives and how they react. Playing a character on stage requires you to think about the background, and play the “what if” game quite a lot! And Libby can pretend to be both more intelligent and more dumb than she really is quite convincingly.


Kathy: In Murder Out of Tune a member of a local ukulele group is found dead. I must admit, I've never heard of a ukulele group. What made you choose ukuleles?

LC: It was my elder son’s idea. (He has quite a lot of them.) In the UK at the moment there is a ukulele craze, and every town and village seems to have a group. Ukes are comparatively easy to play, although the results can be a bit ear shattering, and it seemed to be a good setting for yet another murder.


Kathy: Libby and the gang are gearing for a Christmas concert and pantomime. Do you have any special memories of such events in your past?

LC: I am involved in pantomime almost every year at our local theatre, and my pantomimes are performed all over the UK so I have so many memories they get all muddled up. I have also written a book about pantomime, which is now in its third edition.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

LC: I read all my parents’ Golden Age detective stories when I was young, and they have remained my favourite genre of fiction. Libby, I hope, follows in its footsteps.


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

LC: I have written romance (not very well!) and there are two books available somewhere under a different name, both written in the eighties. Not telling you about them!


Kathy: Tell us about your series.

LC: The Libby Sarjeant series is a cosy series in the amateur sleuth tradition, with a regular setting and cast of characters.


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

LC: I love them all, but apart from Libby, perhaps Harry, the chef-patron of The Pink Geranium restaurant, because of his brashness, irreverence and hidden vulnerability.


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

LC: The first book was inspired by learning about the history of Hop Pickers in Kent in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It grew from there.


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

LC: I was approached by my publisher before the first book was finished. I had been a working journalist and stage writer for years before then.


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

LC: Ngaio Marsh, Jerome K Jerome, Dodie Smith and Rex Stout.


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

LC: The Cinderella Killer by Simon Brett.


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

LC: Reading and theatre – particularly pantomime and Music Hall.


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

LC: Tinned tomatoes, minced (ground) beef, onions, potatoes.


Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

LC: Murder In the Blood will be out in May or June, and Murder En Pointe in October. I have a few ideas for other series, but I’m not sure I will ever get around to them. Libby takes up so much of my time!


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

LC: Working from home, choosing my own hours and the friendship of other authors.