Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Southern Discomfort - An Interview & Review

I'm happy to welcome Caroline Fardig to the blog today. Caroline writes the Southern B&B Mystery series. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT is the first book in the series and was released last week.

Kathy: Quinn Bellandini runs her grandfather’s B&B with her sister, Delilah in Savannah, Georgia. Is this Bed and Breakfast based on a real place, or is it purely fictional?

CF: It’s fictional, mostly. I scoped out the location last summer when my family went to Savannah, so the building I use in my head for the setting is an actual place, but it’s not a bed and breakfast.

Kathy:Quinn whips up breakfasts for her guests, including scones and grits. Do you enjoy cooking? And how do you feel about grits?

CF: I love to cook! My daughter and I make scones and pastries on a regular basis, especially after we’ve been binge-watching The Great British Baking Show. And I have cheesy grits every morning for breakfast—no lie. However, I make instant ones, which would make Quinn faint, probably. Don’t tell!

Kathy:What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

CF: I like the lighthearted aspect of having an amateur sleuth be the center of the investigation. Sure, it requires a bit of a break from reality, but wouldn’t it be fun to solve a mystery in real life?

Kathy:Do you write in any other genres?

CF: Yes! I’ve got a new series (The Ellie Matthews Novels) that is much darker and grittier than anything I’ve ever written. They’re forensic police procedural mysteries, and to prepare for writing them, I’ve taken some forensics courses at my local college. I’m also developing a psychological suspense novel. A big departure from this book, but I’m loving the dark side!

Kathy:Tell us about your series.

CF: The Southern B&B series is a super sweet, clean series—one that will appeal to traditional cozy fans. The Java Jive series and The Lizzie Hart Mysteries series are definitely not your grandma’s cozies. They’re sassy and modern, just like their heroines. And then of course The Ellie Matthews Novels are at the other end of the spectrum—thrilling and sometimes disturbing.

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

CF: In SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT, Delilah is definitely my favorite. She’s sarcastic like me. Overall, I’d have to say Juliet from the Java Jive series is my very favorite, though. That girl speaks her mind and doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but she is fierce when it comes to protecting the people she loves.

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

CF: The lovely town of Savannah! My family goes to Hilton Head every year, and we always make a day trip to Savannah. The town is so full of rich history, beauty, and (supposedly) ghosts, I thought it would make a wonderful setting for a mystery.

Kathy:What made you decide to publish your work?

CF: Originally, I didn’t even consider it. I wrote the first draft of my first book, IT’S JUST A LITTLE CRUSH, and told no one—not even my husband. I honestly thought writing a book would be yet another hobby project that I’d abandon halfway through, so I didn’t want anyone to know about it. But then I got the courage to give it to a friend, and she encouraged me to work on it some more. I did that, and then I told my husband all about it. He was so excited for me, and urged me to do something with it. I self-published it and was lucky enough to turn it into a successful series. Now I’m so happy I did—and I’m so thankful for my support system of family and friends.

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

CF: Jane Austen, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, and Tami Hoag. How’s that for eclectic?

Kathy:What are you currently reading?

CF: A GRAVE SEARCH by Wendy Roberts. Love it. In fact, Wendy Roberts was one of my inspirations when I first started writing. I love her strong, sarcastic female leads who are rough around the edges. Now I’m lucky enough to have gotten to know her through some author circles I’m in. I love to be able to connect with other authors!

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

CF: I love to cook and to travel, and I’ve taken up jogging, but I can’t say I enjoy it. I absolutely adore music (my degree is in music), and my husband, kids, and I play in our church band. I’ve written and recorded some songs for my Java Jive series (the main characters are singer-songwriters), which has been an amazing experience. They’re on iTunes, Spotify, etc. if you’d like to hear them!

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

CF: Coffee, for sure. I make myself a latte every morning. Grits—HA! Protein drinks, which are gross but a necessary evil. And chocolate, of course, although I keep my stash in my desk so my husband and kids don’t steal it.

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

CF: I have more ideas than I know what to do with! I’ve got all kinds of stuff in the works—I just wish there were more hours in the day to get it done.

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

F: I love developing characters. That’s the most fun for me. I love to give them flaws and real problems that everyone has. It’s great when I’m writing and the character takes over and goes in a different direction than I’d anticipated.



The First Southern B&B Mystery

Quinn enjoys visiting her friend Drew at his restaurant, despite his surly chef brother, Jason, and the venomous looks and nasty comments Jason's wife always gives her. But when she pays a late night visit to clear the air over a misunderstanding, she finds the kitchen a disaster and the chef dead on the floor. When she and Drew are named prime suspects, Drew convinces her to help him find the real killer. But when Drew's arrested, Quinn is on her own and the more she investigates, the less forthcoming Drew becomes. Between running the B&B with her sister and grandpa, making music with her band, and dealing with the neighbor who made high school hell for her sister, Quinn is determined to stand by her friend, and she won't stop asking questions until she uncovers the truth. 

I found the start of SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT a bit slow, but once it hit its stride it was off and running. I appreciate how Quinn grew as the story progressed. While naive and a bit too wimpy, she was also a bit narrow minded and stubborn. Yet as the story progressed Quinn discovered Sassy Quinn and was able to dish out what she needed to dish out. She also slowly began to open her mind, not only to Tucker and the truths of the past, but to Uncle Frank as well. As for Uncle Frank...I think he's my favorite character. What's Savannah without its ghosts and Uncle Frank is the perfect addition to Bellandini's B&B.

The first Southern B&B mystery is as sweet as the tea served with Quinn's scones. It combines Southern hospitality with murder while underscoring manners, loyalty, family, and dogged determination.

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