Sunday, April 2, 2017

Bone White Interview & Giveaway

I'm thrilled to welcome Wendy Corsi Staub to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Wendy has just released the third book in her Mundy's Landing series.

Kathy: BONE WHITE is the third book in your Mundy's Landing series. Do you find it easier to write the latter books in a series as opposed to the earlier ones? Or are they more challenging?

WCS: When you’re a pantser like me (meaning I write by the seat of my pants, unlike plotters, who create a detailed outline), series books are progressively more difficult, because you have established parameters in the early chapters of the first book that may threaten to restrict the plot by the time you reach the final chapters of the last one. You don’t just have to stay true to the world you’ve created, you have to remember it! I am constantly fact-checking as I write the later books in any series. I’ve lost hours to searching manuscripts to find out a minor character’s eye color or middle initial, because those tiny details really matter to me. I write them months or even years apart, but readers are often reading them back to back, so they’ll pick up on inconsistencies.

Kathy: In BONE WHITE Emerson Mundy travels to her ancestral hometown to trace her past. Have you ever done any research of your own family's genealogy?

WCS: Yes! I’m a little obsessed. I’ve been on for a few years now, and did the DNA testing so that I’ve been able to meet relatives from all over the world. My four grandparents were all born here in the U.S., but their parents all immigrated from Sicily and Italy around the turn of the last century. I’ve been piecing their story together bit by bit, but I have a long way to go. In fact, my genealogical fascination triggered the idea for my next books for Harper—more about that below.

Kathy: Setting plays such an important part in a book, especially in mysteries and thrillers. How did you choose to place Mundy's Landing in New York's Hudson Valley?

WCS: I live in the lower Hudson Valley—Westchester County, in the New York City suburbs. I’ve always been enchanted by the area that lies between here and the Albany/Saratoga area—scenic countryside rich in American history and folklore, picturesque villages, a vibrant arts scene, culinary wonders, majestic vintage architecture. My fictional Mundy’s Landing is based on Rhinebeck, which happens to be one of my favorite places—and my editor’s hometown.

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries and thrillers?

WCS: Oh, my literary inspirations were highbrow indeed: Nancy Drew and Scooby Doo. Yes, really. I’ve just loved a good mystery yarn going back to second, third grade. I devoured Phyllis Whitney’s mysteries and kid detective series--Trixie Belden, Meg, Encyclopedia Brown, The Three Investigators. I graduated to Mary Higgins Clark in middle school. Never did I imagine that when I grew up I’d get to meet Mary as a colleague. I’m honored that my 2016 thriller BLUE MOON marks my third nomination for the Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award this year, to be presented at the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards ceremony in April.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

WCS: Some days, looking back, I’m certain I’ve written in most! I’ve been in this business for over twenty-five years, with nearly ninety novels under my belt. In my younger days, I wrote more quickly than my publishers were releasing my books, so I learned to diversify. I’m best known for mystery/suspense, where I focus my career these days, and the romance/women’s fiction I’ve written as Wendy Markham. I’ve also written horror, historical, young adult, short stories, paranormal, chick lit, middle grade, pop culture, biography, screenplay novelizations. I’ve ghostwritten novels for a number of celebrities.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

WCS: Mundy’s Landing, New York, is famous not for one, but two unsolved mysteries. One involves survivalist cannibalism among the first settlers in 1666; the other, the 1916 Sleeping Beauties Killer whose eerie M.O. resonates a century later. The books unfoled in the present day, where the crimes of the past trigger fresh bloodshed before they can be resolved. So really, each plot involves a mystery-within-a-mystery. This trilogy, like my others, is packed with twists and blindsides, and while the books unfold in consecutive time frames, they can be read as standalones. BONE WHITE features a very big twist I’ve been trying to pull off for my entire career. I hope that I have.

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

WCS: My favorite character in BONE WHITE—in all three Mundy’s Landing books, really—is Ora Abrams. She’s the curator of the local historical society, a feisty octogenarian who lives and breathes Mundy’s Landing’s past. We first met her in BLOOD RED, leading Rowan Mundy’s third grade class on a tour through the museum, and she played a prominent role in BLUE MOON. In BONE WHITE, simply put, she broke my heart. No spoilers.

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

WCS: I’ve always been fascinated by unsolved crimes, particularly historic ones. Particularly the Lizzie Borden case. I wanted to explore the dynamics of a town forever tainted by bloody murder that put it on the map, like Fall River. How are the residents changed when they realize that their safe little haven isn’t impervious to danger? A town like that will draw curiosity seekers, and when the crime is unsolved, amateur detectives. And perhaps—in Mundy’s Landing’s case--copycat killers.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

WCS: It was never NOT an option. All I ever wanted to be, from the time I was 8 years old, is an author.

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

WCS: I regularly dine with my living author pals, so I’ll choose dead ones. I’d do a Girls’ Night Out with my childhood favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder, who I believe was a teetotaler, so I’d throw in Zelda Fitzgerald to loosen her up, and of course Dorothy Parker for laughs, and Agatha Christie because after a few margaritas, she might spill the beans on her mysterious disappearance back in 1926.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

WCS: George Saunders’ LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, the strangest, most hypnotic novel I’ve read in years, or perhaps ever. The characters are richly drawn, the premise unique, the writing sublime.

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

WCS: I multi-task two of my favorites four or five times a week, swimming laps while listening to audiobooks on an underwater ipod. I’m a passionate cook and love to entertain—the more the merrier, big crowds of family and friends around our dining room table. I inherited my mom and grandparents’ green thumbs. I’m an avid traveler, embarking on a 50-state book tour a decade ago with my husband and sons. I have one state left to go: Wyoming. And so little time. And I crave the ocean and a beach when too much time goes by without saltwater in my hair and sand between my toes.

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

WCS: Coconut water, Eight o’clock coffee beans, Marzzetta’s jalapeno-stuffed olives, and Frank’s Red Hot sauce.

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

WCS: I just (literally an hour ago!) signed a contract to write three new psychological suspense novels for HarperCollins. The first one will be out next spring. The plotline woven among the three is pretty ambitious, and I’m in the thick of research now. This November, DEAD OF WINTER, the third book in my hardcover Lily Dale Mystery series, will be published by Crooked Lane.

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

WCS: That my livelihood is pure creativity! A close second: I don’t have to wear shoes to work. I hate shoes.


Bone White

by Wendy Corsi Staub

on Tour April 1-30, 2017


In Mundy’s Landing, bygone bloodshed has become a big business. During the rigorous winter of 1666, all but five colonists in the small Hudson Valley settlement died of starvation. Accused of unimaginable crimes, James and Elizabeth Mundy and their three children survived, but the couple were later accused of murder and executed. Left to fend for themselves in a hostile community, their offspring lived out exemplary lives in a town that would bear the family name. They never reveal the secret that died with their parents on the gallows… or did they?
“We Shall Never Tell.” Spurred by the cryptic phrase in a centuries-old letter, Emerson Mundy has flown cross-country to her ancestral hometown in hopes of tracing her ancestral past—and perhaps building a future. In Mundy’s Landing, she discovers long lost relatives, a welcoming ancestral home… and a closet full of skeletons.
A year has passed since former NYPD Detective Sullivan Leary solved the historic Sleeping Beauty Murders, apprehended a copycat killer, and made a fresh start in the Hudson Valley. Banking on an uneventful future in a village that’s seen more than its share of bloodshed, Sully is in for an unpleasant surprise when a historic skull reveals a notorious truth. Now she’s on the trail of a murky predator determined to destroy the Mundy family tree, branch by branch.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Published by: William Morrow Mass Market
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 0062349775 (ISBN13: 9780062349774)
Series: Mundy's Landing #3 (Stand Alone)
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

July 20, 2016
Los Angeles, CA

We shall never tell.
Strange, the thoughts that go through your head when you’re standing at an open grave.
Not that Emerson Mundy knew anything about open graves before today. Her father’s funeral is the first she’s ever attended, and she’s the sole mourner.
Ah, at last, a perk to living a life without many—any—loved ones; you don’t spend much time grieving, unless you count the pervasive ache for the things you never had.
The minister, who came with the cemetery package and never even met Jerry Mundy, is rambling on about souls and salvation. Emerson hears only We shall never tell—the closing line in an old letter she found yesterday in the crawl space of her childhood home. It had been written in 1676 by a young woman named Priscilla Mundy, addressed to her brother, Jeremiah.
The Mundys were among the seventeenth-century English colonists who settled on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, about a hundred miles north of New York City. Their first winter was so harsh the river froze, stranding their supply ship and additional colonists in the New York harbor. When the ship arrived after the thaw, all but five settlers had starved to death.
Jeremiah; Priscilla; their sister, Charity; and their parents had eaten human flesh to stay alive. James and Elizabeth Mundy swore they’d only cannibalized those who’d already died, but the God-fearing, well-fed newcomers couldn’t fathom such wretched butchery. A Puritan justice committee tortured the couple until they confessed to murder, then swiftly tried, convicted, and hanged them.
“Do you think we’re related?” Emerson asked her father after learning about the Mundys back in elementary school.
“Nope.” Curt answers were typical when she brought up anything Jerry Mundy didn’t want to discuss. The past was high on the list.
“That’s it? Just nope?”
“What else do you want me to say?”
“How about yes?”
“That wouldn’t be the truth,” he said with a shrug.
“Sometimes the truth isn’t very interesting.”
She had no one else to ask about her family history. Dad was an only child, and his parents, Donald and Inez Mundy, had passed away before she was born. Their headstone is adjacent to the gaping rectangle about to swallow her father’s casket. Staring that the inscription, she notices her grandfather’s unusual middle initial.
Donald X. Mundy, Born 1900, Died 1972.
X marks the spot.
Thanks to her passion for history and Robert Louis Stevenson, Emerson’s bookworm childhood included a phase when she searched obsessively for buried treasure. Money was short in their household after two heart attacks left Jerry Mundy on permanent disability.
X marks the spot…
No gold doubloon treasure chest buried here. Just dusty old bones of people she never knew.
And now, her father.
The service concludes with a prayer as the coffin is lowered into the ground. The minister clasps her hand and tells her how sorry he is for her loss, then leaves her to sit on a bench and stare at the hillside as the undertakers finish the job.
The sun is beginning to burn through the thick marine layer that swaddles most June and July mornings. Having grown up in Southern California, she knows the sky will be bright blue by mid-afternoon. Tomorrow will be more of the same. By then, she’ll be on her way back up the coast, back to her life in Oakland, where the fog rolls in and stays for days, weeks at a time. Funny, but there she welcomes the gray, a soothing shield from real world glare and sharp edges.
Here the seasonal gloom has felt oppressive and depressing.
Emerson watches the undertakers finish the job and load their equipment into a van. After they drive off, she makes her way between neat rows of tombstones to inspect the raked dirt rectangle.
When something is over, you move on, her father told her when she left home nearly two decades ago. She attended Cal State Fullerton with scholarships and maximum financial aid, got her master’s at Berkeley, and landed a teaching job in the Bay Area.
But she didn’t necessarily move on.
Every holiday, many weekends, and for two whole months every summer, she makes the six-hour drive down to stay with her father. She cooks and cleans for him, and at night they sit together and watch Wheel of Fortune reruns.
It used to be because she craved a connection to the only family she had in the world. Lately, though, it was as much because Jerry Mundy needed her.
He pretended that he didn’t, that he was taking care of himself and the house, too proud to admit he was failing. He was a shadow of his former self when he died at seventy-six, leaving Emerson alone in the world.
Throughout her motherless childhood, Emerson was obsessed with novels about orphans. Treasure Island shared coveted space on her bookshelf with Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, The Witch of Blackbird Pond
She always wondered what would happen to her if her father died. Would she wind up in an orphanage? Would a kindly stranger take her in? Would she live on the streets?
Now that it’s happened he’s down there, in the dirt … moving on?
She’ll never again hear his voice. She’ll never see the face so like her own that she can’t imagine she inherited any physical characteristics from her mother, Didi—though she can’t be certain.
Years ago, she asked her father for a picture—preferably one that showed her mother holding her as a baby, or of her parents together. Maybe she wanted evidence that she and her father had been loved; that the woman who’d abandoned them had once been normal—a proud new mother, a happy bride.
Or was it the opposite? Was she hoping to glimpse a hint that Didi Mundy was never normal? Did she expect to confirm that people—normal people—don’t just wake up one morning and choose to walk out on a husband and child? That there was always something off about her mother: a telltale gleam in the eye, or a faraway expression—some warning sign her father had overlooked. A sign Emerson herself would be able to recognize, should she ever be tempted to marry.
But there were no images of Didi that she could slip into a frame, or deface with angry black ink, or simply commit to memory.
Exhibit A: Untrustworthy.
Sure, there had been plenty of photos, her father admitted unapologetically. He’d gotten rid of everything.
There were plenty of pictures of her and Dad, though.
Exhibit B: Trustworthy.
Dad holding her hand on her first day of kindergarten, Dad leading her in an awkward waltz at a father-daughter middle school dance, Dad posing with her at high school graduation.
“Two peas in a pod,” he liked to say. “If I weren’t me, I’d think you were.”
She has his thick, wavy hair, the same dimple on her right cheek, same angular nose and bristly slashes of brow. Even her wide-set, prominent, upturned eyes are the same as his, with one notable exception.
Jerry Mundy’s eyes were a piercing blue.
Only one of Emerson’s is that shade; the other, a chalky gray.
Excerpt from Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub. Copyright © 2017 by Wendy Corsi Staub. Reproduced with permission from William Morrow Mass Market. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than seventy novels. Wendy now lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband and their two children.

Catch Up With Wendy Corsi Staub On Her Website , Goodreads , Twitter , & Facebook !



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1 comment:

  1. I agree with the author...I love the character Ora Abrams.