Friday, December 15, 2017

A Murder for the Books Interview & Review

I'm pleased to welcome Victoria Gilbert to the blog today. Victoria writes the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series. A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS is the first book in the series and was released this past Tuesday.

Kathy: Amy Webber moves to Taylorsford, Virginia in the first Blue Ridge Library Mystery. She lives with her aunt in the family’s historic home. I love old homes and architecture and their house sounds like a treasure, even if it needs some work. Do you enjoy classic architecture and design?

VG: Yes, I love it! I actually minored in Art History as an undergraduate, and have a great appreciation for fine architecture and all forms of art. I love the architecture of the Victorian period in terms of home design, but I’m not so fond of the heavy, dark, furniture of that period. I prefer the furniture and decorative arts represented by Art Nouveau, the Craftsman era, and Art Deco. I’m also a fan of more minimalist, modern architecture, especially when it fits its setting well (like in NYC or other cities).

Kathy: In A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS Amy and Richard look into a mysterious case from the past. Have you ever gotten involved with scandals from the past?

VG: Not involved, but there was a supposed scandal in my family that compelled my great-aunt to hide some historical documents from the rest of the family. After her death we discovered that one of our ancestors (from the 1700s!) had been branded because he was convicted of manslaughter in a carriage or wagon accident. (He did not mean to kill anyone, but was found negligent, and back then the punishment for such things was much more severe). Apparently my great-aunt thought this was something scandalous that she had to hide from the family.

Kathy: Do you ever research unsolved true crimes?

VG: I have certainly read about quite a few of them. I find it fascinating to read the known facts and compiled research, and then evaluate the theories, especially about historical crimes.

Kathy: Richard is a dancer. Are you a fan of dance? Do you have a favorite form?

VG: Yes, I am a fan. I cannot dance a lick myself, but I love to watch it, and I greatly admire anyone who can dance well.

I enjoy many forms of dance, but my favorite is contemporary, or “modern dance” as it is sometimes called. When I lived in NYC I had the good fortune to see performances by many fabulous companies, like Pilobolus, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Joffrey Ballet, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, ABT, the New York City Ballet, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company, among others. I’ve also worked for many years at a university with an excellent dance program, so I drew inspiration from that as well.

Kathy: There is a hint of the paranormal to be found here. Do you believe in spirits? Have you ever had a ghostly encounter?

VG: Honestly, like Amy, I am a skeptic, but I do have an open mind about such things. I think it is possible that ghosts or spirits exist—I’ve just never seen any evidence that absolutely convinces me (yet). As you can tell, I have not had a ghostly encounter myself, or I might be more certain! However, I do not rule out the possibility, and I certainly don’t immediately dismiss other people’s reports, or their belief in such things.

Curious tidbit: A historic home that is (very loosely, as in distant cousins from way back) linked to my father’s family is considered one of the most haunted homes in the United States!

Kathy: Partly because she’s a librarian, Amy is a wiz at research. I picked up a tip or two myself while reading. Do you enjoy doing research?

VG: Yes, I love research. It’s one of my favorite parts of library work. To be honest, I think many librarians are amateur sleuths at heart.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

VG: I have always loved reading mysteries of all types, including cozies. When I decided to switch gears in my writing career a year or so ago, my agent advised me to try writing in a genre I loved, so I chose cozy mysteries. They not only fit my reading preferences, but also (I think) my writing style.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

VG: When I started out I wrote YA Fantasy and Scifi (written as Vicki L. Weavil). I have a few books out under that name, but I am no longer writing in that genre. I love speculative fiction, but I think perhaps my writing style is better suited to the mystery genre.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

VG: The Blue Ridge Library Mystery series features thirty-something librarian Amy Webber, who becomes involved—along with some of her family and friends— in investigating crimes in her historic Virginia mountain town. Amy uses her research skills, wit, and insatiable curiosity to help solve murders, both historical and contemporary.

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

VG: Oh dear, that’s like asking a parent if they have a favorite child! I honestly love all my characters, even the murderous ones. Of course I like Amy, her Aunt Lydia, and her best friend, Sunny, and I suppose I must confess a bit of an author’s crush on dancer and choreographer Richard Muir. And I also have a fascination with the enigmatic art dealer, Kurt Kendrick. He’s so much fun to write!

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

VG: In terms of setting, yes. I grew up in a historic town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, so Taylorsford is based in part on the small towns in my home county. I also drew heavily on my experience as a librarian in both public and academic libraries.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

VG: I had published other books before this one, so I was already in the publication “game.” I guess my initial interest in trying to get any of my books published was simply to share them with readers. Having loved to read all my life, I really wanted to reach other readers with my writing.

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

VG: William Shakespeare, Dorothy Dunnett, C.S. Lewis, and John Crowley.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

VG: Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr, the latest book by John Crowley. He’s been one of my favorite authors since I read his Little, Big many years ago.

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

VG:I like gardening, traveling to discover new places, and cooking. I also enjoy music—listening and singing—and art of all kinds. I’m a film buff as well as a fan of theatre and dance Although I only have cats right now, I love most animals and would start up an animal rescue and refuge if I had the money and proper facilities.. Of course, I also love reading books—in almost any genre.

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

VG: Cheese, wine, fruit, and chocolate!

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

VG: Yes, there will definitely be two more books in the Blue Ridge series (hopefully more, but that depends on sales and other currently unknown factors). The second book is already written and has gone into production. It’s titled SHELVED UNDER MURDER and will be released by Crooked Lane Books in July 2018. I am now writing the third book in the series, which doesn’t have a title yet. It is tentatively scheduled for publication in Jan. or Feb. of 2019.

I am also currently developing a historical mystery series set in a 1920s farming community.

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

VG: I love being able to create characters, settings, and stories and bring so many of my thoughts and ideas to life. I’ve been an avid reader all of my life, so having the opportunity to write books and share them with other readers is truly a dream come true.


A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS by Victoria Gilbert
The First Blue Ridge Library Mystery

Taylordsford is a small Virginian town built on old families and secrets. Fleeing a disastrous breakup Amy Webber left the academic library of Clarion University and has come to live with her aunt and work as director for the town's public library. Although vowing to keep good looking artistic men at bay, Amy can't help but be intrigued by her neighbor's research, looking into an old town mystery. Instead of archival documents, however, they find the murdered body of an elderly patron. Who would want to kill the harmless woman? Was it a passing stranger? As Amy and Richard explore a mystery from the past they uncover secrets that may be deadly in the present.

A MURDER FOR THE BOOKS is a great start to a new series. Interesting, well developed characters inhabit the pages along with a current murder and a mystery from the past. Romance does play an integral part of the story, but I enjoy the developing relationship between Amy and Richard. It enriches the characters and leads us to learn more about them and their motivations by seeing their reactions to each other. 

I appreciate Amy's research skills, and even learned some new tricks myself and I loved the hint of the possibility of the paranormal. The mystery is well plotted and pairing the current murder with a mystery from the past, along with family secrets, provides an added depth. There's a lot going on in this first Blue Ridge Library mystery, but that adds to the interest and I look forward to the next book in the series.