I'm happy to welcome Annette Drake to the blog today. Annette writes the Ogallala Mystery series; the first of which is Death Goes to the County Fair.
Kathy: I always enjoy going to the county fair. I especially love seeing the animals. Do you attend your own county's fair? What are your favorite parts of the county fair?
AD: I honestly didn’t attend my local county fair, growing up in Linn County, Missouri. My book was inspired by the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Growing up in northern Missouri, a 3-day trip to the fair was the only vacation my family ever took. So, those few days in August were a big deal! My brothers and I planned for it all year long; we even started the Iowa State Fair fan club!
My favorite parts of the fair were: too many to name. Simply put, I love the Iowa State Fair! I last attended in 2013, and I’m determined to get back to Des Moines this year.
Kathy: Joni Harte is the new news reporter and photographer for The Ogallala Gazette. Have you ever worked as a reporter?
AD: Yep. My first job out of college was as news editor for The Pleasant Hill Times in Pleasant Hill, Missouri. This was in 1988. At that small weekly newspaper, I was the sole reporter and photographer. Like many new j-school grads, I worked lots of hours for less than minimum wage to start my career.
Kathy: Setting plays such an important role in a mystery, especially a cozy mystery. What makes Ogallala, Missouri the perfect location for your new series?
AD: I hope it is the perfect setting for this series! To begin with, there is no Ogallala, Missouri. I borrowed the name of the town from the state of Nebraska. My family and I were driving through there in 2014, and I was just enchanted with the name. I swear, my tongue is happier when I say it: Ogallala, Ogallala. Ogallala. See what I mean? I placed the town southeast of Kansas City because that’s where Pleasant Hill is.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
AD: I’ve loved the genre for years. Cozies never fail to take me away from my worries or the doldrums of normal life. I would love to write a culinary cozy mystery. Alas, I do not cook, so that would be a really bad idea.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
AD: Yes. I have written three romance books and a middle-grade novel.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
AD: Death Goes to the County Fair is the first in a series of cozy mysteries starring my young protagonist, photojournalist Joni Harte, and the quirky characters who call Ogallala home. The next book planned, though not yet written, is Death Goes Spelunking. Other titles I’m playing with are: Death Goes to College and Death Goes Antiquing. I think you get the idea. Death is busy!
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
AD: I absolutely do! Thank you so much for this question. I love, love, love the character Sheriff Cletus Butane. I consider him a cross between Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry and Sheriff J.W. Pepper. Who is that last character? He’s the Louisiana sheriff who appeared in two James Bond movies: Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun. I just loved that character.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
AD: A specific inspiration? I don’t think so. With this book, I really just want to entertain. I drew upon my experiences at The Pleasant Hill Times, but I’m no Joni Harte. I’m a coward!
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
AD: I published my first novel, Celebration House, with a small Irish press in 2013. Since then, I’ve chosen the indie publishing route, and I currently have five books available.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
AD: Well, being from Missouri, I’m required to invite Mark Twain! Secondly, I would set a place for Ray Bradbury, who is my favorite author. (I actually wanted to name my youngest child after him but my husband said no). Then, I would invite the King of genre fiction: Stephen King. His book, On Writing, inspires daily. Finally, because I write mysteries, I would invite Agatha Christie. We’re a motley crew, aren’t we?
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
AD: Sense and Sensibility, Laura Ingalls’ On the Banks of Plum Creek, Airman by Eoin Colfer, and The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
AD: Absolutely! I love talking about myself. (I’m just being silly). Uh, let’s see. I work my day job, and I write. I guess that’s all I do!
But, oh the hobbies I dream about. I want to learn to sew. I want to learn to draw. I have a fiddle I play badly. I’m also determined to have a small hobby farm with goats, chickens, donkeys, horses and a huge garden. I have lots of daydreams. Maybe that’s my hobby?
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
AD: Coffee, coffee creamer, milk, and Bailey’s.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
AD: Yes. I’m currently writing my first screenplay (yaaay!). It’s an adaptation of my middle-grade novel, Bone Girl. When I finish that project, I will redirect my attention to the second in a planned trilogy of Celebration House. This was my debut novel published by Tirgearr Publishing in 2013. The editor who worked on that book suggested that two of the characters in the first novel deserved their own story, so that’s book 2 and 3 in this trilogy. I’m determined to see the trilogy published in 2016.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
AD: I don’t always love the writing, but I always enjoy the “high” it gives me after I write something that really pleases me. I love the emotion of it. Also, I love when a reader sees something in one of my books that I didn’t know was there. For example, a bookstore owner in Rogers, Arkansas, commented on how forgiving the protagonist is in my middle-grade novel, Bone Girl. I didn’t see that until she pointed it out to me.
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