I'm happy to welcome Darlene Franklin to Cozy Up With Kathy. Darlene writes the Dressed for Death Mystery series.
Kathy: Gunfight at Grace Gulch deals with the ancient, yet ongoing, feud between the Graces and the Gaynors. Have you personally been involved with a feud? Is this feud based on a real one?
DF: No, I haven’t personally been involved with a feud, unless disagreeing with my roommate about which TV shows to watch counts,
Gunfight at Grace Gulch isn’t based on an actual feud, but disputes over land claims were numerous and heated and took a long time to settle. In the book, Dick Gaynor always claimed Bob Grace had been a “Sooner,” that he had camped out on the land before the actual run.
Kathy: A reenactment gone wrong starts this mystery. Have you participated in any sort of reenactments?
DF: I’ve taken part in a Christmas and Easter pageant or two, which is a form of a reenactment.
Kathy: Cici Wilde owns a vintage clothing store. I love clothing from past generations. Do you have a favorite period for vintage clothing?
DF: Oh, to have the figure for any period of clothing! The lovely Edwardian era dress—or how about Regency—or even Renaissance. Of course, the Fifties are just plain fun.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
DF: Mysteries have always been my favorite genre. I have a theory that the first two great detectives—Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot—represent the two branches of mysteries. Holmes, of course, relied on evidence. He was the original forensic detective. Poirot (and his contemporary, Jane Marple) relied on his “little gray cells,” what he observed of other people, and what she knew of human behavior—the basis of cozy mysteries. I inhaled them all. I love to read and watch both, book and screen.
I write cozy mysteries for two reasons. Marketing was the first reason; the publisher who picked up my first book formed a book club for cozy mysteries. It took three tries, but they bought my Dressed for Death series. The second reason was practical. I’d love to write any style of mysteries, but cozy utilize my strengths: character, motivations, relationships, settings—good old fashioned logic and nosiness.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
DF: After the mystery book club went defunct, I dived head first into writing historical romance, with a few contemporary romances as well. I believe I have about fifty titles under my name on Amazon. That’s not as many as it sounds; several novellas have been included in more than one collection.
I also have contributed devotional and personal experience stories to about two dozen books. Now I’m starting my own devotional series.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
Dressed for Death follows vintage clothing store owner Cici Wilde, her beau Audie Howe, her even wilder sisters, and the zany characters of small town Oklahoma when death comes calling.
Most of my romances are part of small series, so I’ll just mention a few of them.
My magnum opus to date are the eight books set in Maple Notch, Vermont, stretching from the Revolutionary War to today. The series are called Maple Notch Brides, Maple Notch Dreams, and Maple Notch Days.
I wrote two of the six books in the Texas Trails series from Rivernorth Fiction. The series followed one Texas family from the 1840s to the 1890s (one book per decade).
Most recently, I wrote four holiday-related stories for Holidays of the Heart. All the stories take place in actual western towns with holiday-themed names. I also put together the Christmas Mail Order Angels collection, about a Wyoming mining town with marriage-ready miners and a Maine town full of single women.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
DF: Apart from Cici, my heroine, I love Magda Grace Mallory. Keep reading the series—more about her later.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
DF: As I said, Dressed for Death was my third proposal. In the first two, I tried to create a small-town atmosphere in the city. They failed. I decided to go for the jugular, creating a small town in Oklahoma. I lived in Oklahoma for about ten years, so I knew the area, and I added the small town feel of my parents’ home in East Boothbay, Maine.
Cici grew out of paragraph in a newspaper about a vintage clothing store. The occupation brought numerous murder plots to mind. Her interest in historical clothing tied into my interest in history, which I explore in all three books.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
DF: Oh, I’ve always wanted to publish. As soon as I write something, I want someone to read it. However, I only went to self-publishing, and now working with a small press, about a year ago.
For the first ten years, I published maybe one article a year. My first book came out after I had been writing for fourteen years. Since then, it’s gathered speed.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
DF: Charles Dickens—his passion for the poor and destitute and his amazing stories. He helped change his country. Dick Francis—I devoured every one of his books. He has written some of the most riveting books I’ve ever read (and read again and again) and they always make me think. I like Tolkien’s books more, but I’d rather talk with C.S. Lewis. I have to include one woman. Maybe Nancy Pickard, because her Jenny Cain series is sheer perfection.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
DF: I have three books going at present: One Walk Year Walk with God Devotional by Chris Tiegreen (so yes, that’s a long-term read); Be the Miracle! By Delores Leisner. I finished Soul Identity by Dennis Batchelder on New Year’s Day, so I’ve already read one book in 2016. Now I’m trying Augusten Burrough’s memoir, Running with Scissors. (I have to force myself to read something other than mysteries, although historical fiction runs a close second.) I recently finished reading everyone else’s entries in the Christmas Traditions collection.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
DF: I do a lot of word search puzzles, watch T.V., and read (of course!)
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
DF: I live in a nursing home, so I have neither a fridge or a pantry. However, how about diet coke and fruit cups? I go to the vending machine for snacks.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
DF: Cici won’t have any more mysteries to solve, at least none that I know about.
However, I’m starting a new series called Murder by the Case series. I want to finish the second book before I finish the first one (which is written and being edited), so they’ll come out later this year. My heroine, Carlie Cooper, is a home health aide who has “cases” which keep getting linked to murder and other crimes. Physical therapist Deacon Wells flirts with her, but she’s not ready to settle down. In Case Closed, she finds the dead body her 80-year-old patient the morning after her birthday party.
I’m also writing at least three historical novellas this year. The first one, An Infusion of Love, takes us to 1774 New Jersey, which had its own tea party. That will be released in March.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
DF: I love creating stories. People frequently ask, where do your ideas come from? Where don’t they come from? Give me a place, a theme, an occupation—or all three at once—and a story strides into my head, demanding to be written.
I also like “having written.” Writing and editing is just plain hard work, although I wouldn’t do anything else.