I'm happy to welcome Frankie Bow back to the blog. Frankie writes the Professor Molly Mystery series. The Black Thumb is the third book in the series.
Kathy: There's a murder at a meeting of the Pua Kala Garden society. Are you part of a gardening group? Do you enjoy gardening yourself, or do you just admire the gardens of others?
FB: I do enjoy other peoples' gardens, but as far as my own skills, well, The Black Thumb could have been named after me. I have had cactus die in my care. I remember one neighbor's garden that I really admired, because it looked so natural--it was a riot of colorful, leafy tropical plants, the kind that grow so well on their own here in Hawaii. One day I was lucky enough to have a tour of the garden and I found that it was anything but natural--each type of plant had its own unique protocol, complete with its custom blend of fertilizers and pesticides. This mixture for the banana tree, that one for the bougainvillea. If you let plants grow "naturally," you'll end up with a jungle on your property.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite plant or flower?
FB: The "ticklish plant" or mimosa pudica is adorable.
It grows in tropical areas all over the world. I've never seen it anywhere but Hawaii.
Kathy: The victim in The Black Thumb is a frenemy of Molly. Did you have any frenemies when you were in school?
FB: Unlike Molly Barda, my grad school experience was actually pretty positive. My advisor was both incredibly accomplished and supportive, my fellow students were brilliant and compassionate, and no one tried to poison anyone. However: I have met a few narcissistic, undermine-y people over the years, and I have synthesized them into the character of Melanie Polewski.
Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?
FB: The coveted Brewster House was inspired by gorgeous Victorians like the Shipman House.
The subplot about leprosy patients being taken from their families and exiled to Molokai was inspired and informed by the work of University of Hawaii historian Kerri Inglis, And the information about lava tubes, underground tunnels that can cave in unexpectedly, is absolutely factual. You can find stories about people falling through a thin crust of ground into lava tubes.
Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Molly Barda?
FB: Without being too spoiler-y, in The Black Thumb, Molly finally makes an important life decision that sets the stage for future books. After The Black Thumb are The Invasive Species, which is based on with the controversy around genetically engineered crops, and The Blessed Event, where Molly deals with the issue of...babies.
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?
FB: I am a 100% plotter. I can't imagine trying to "pants" a murder mystery, although I am in awe of anyone who can do that.
Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?
FB: In addition to the Professor Molly mysteries, I write for Kindle Worlds in Jana DeLeon's Miss Fortune world. The Miss Fortune books have been described as "Miss Congeniality meets Golden Girls," and the originals are hilarious. My Miss Fortune novellas are
Once Upon a Murder