Kathy: Flower Power Fatality is the start of a new series. Tell us about it.
SC: FPF is the first book in the Psychedelic Spy retro-cozy series, mysteries/spy capers set in 1967. Think of “The Girl From UNCLE” meets “Mission: Impossible” with a dash of “Get Smart.”
My other series is the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol retro-cozies, set in 1993. Sandy’s a 38-year-old former teen idol who finds that making a comeback can be murder. He played a detective on his ‘70s TV show, Buddy Brave Boy Sleuth, and now he’s an amateur sleuth for real.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
SC: Ceebee the cat LOL. Naturally, I like all my major characters. My protagonist, Noelle McNabb, is a lot like me. When I was her age, I want to be an actress on a TV show and get out of the small town where I lived. My most interesting character is a black spy named Destiny King. She works on cases with Noelle. Destiny is street smart with a checkered background that she doesn’t talk about. Mysterious characters are more fun.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
SC: I’ve always been a big fan of the ‘60s, the music, clothes, movies, pop art, etc. Technology was simpler and people actually talked to each other instead of staring at their phones all day. A few years ago I was at a concert of some old ‘60s rockers and I thought a cozy set in that era would be fun, especially since almost no other author was doing it.
Kathy: Noelle McNabb works at the Country Christmas Family Fun Park in Yuletide, Indiana. Why choose a Christmas theme for your Psychedelic Spy Mystery series?
SC: I’m a Christmas junkie. A friend of mine at the office and I have already started a Christmas countdown for this year. I love decorating the house, the music, the Christmas movies/shows, sending cards, the cooler weather (doesn’t get too cold in SoCal), the coziness of the long nights. The topper is being a lector (scripture reader) at Christmas Eve Mass. I
Kathy: Is the Country Christmas Family Fun Park based on a real place or is it solely the product of your imagination?
SC: I grew up in Southern Indiana a couple of hours away from the real town of Santa Claus, a wide spot in the road in south central rural Indiana. Most of the streets in the town have holiday names. A number of Christmas-themed shops in the town cater to the tourists. For a few summers I went to camp at the Santa Claus Camp run by the Methodists (the camp is still in operation). Santa Claus is also the home of the world’s first theme park (older than Disneyland!), originally called Santa Claus Land but is now Holiday World/Splashin’ Safari. One year when church camp ended Mom picked me up and we visited the theme park. When I started my series, I wanted something different than the usual cozy small town setting and the town of Santa Claus seemed perfect.
Kathy: Why spies?
SC: The 1960s saw the spy craze in entertainment, beginning with the James Bond movies. A number of TV shows and films of the decade were spy-oriented. The Cold War was hot, with spies in the news. My inspiration for using spies was the Doris Day movie “The Glass Bottomed Boat,” about a civilian getting mixed up with a spy ring.
Kathy: What's your favorite song or group from this era?
SC: For the answer to that question, read my first mystery novel, “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper,” about a murder taking place at a (fictional) Beatles fan convention. The Monkees run a close second (The Monkees TV show had a few episodes of the boys involved with spies).
Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?
SC: I’m putting “Beatlemaniac” back in print this fall. I wrote a new Sandy Fairfax short story, “The Deadly Disco Caper,” and I plan on writing a few more Sandy stories to make an anthology. And there’s the next Psychedelic Spy book. I have the title and bits and pieces of a story.
FLOWER POWER FATALITY
Noelle finished off the hot cocoa and tossed the mail onto the growing stack of newspapers, magazines and envelopes atop the coffee table. She scooped Ceebee off the sofa.
“Time for your lesson.”
She fetched a bag of cat treats from the kitchenette and squatted on the floor. Ceebee sat facing her. Holding a treat in her left hand, Noelle held out her right hand. “Shake.” The cat raised his right paw level with her hand. Noelle shook the paw and held out the treat, which he gulped down. Noelle repeated the command and Ceebee obeyed each time.
“Good boy! I’ll take you to Hollywood with me and we can be in movies together. I’ll be a big animal trainer along with Frank Inn. You can do tricks for the camera and we’ll be famous. What do you say to that?”
Ceebee raised a back leg and licked his butt.
The Felix the Cat clock gave the time as 7:45 p.m., fifteen minutes until her favorite TV show began. Noelle put away the cat treats, lit the stove and dug out a pan of Jiffy Pop popcorn. Holding the container’s wire handle, Noelle shook the pan over the hot burner until the foil cover expanded with popped kernels. When finished, she turned off the stovetop and retrieved an ice-cold Frostie root beer from the fridge. She uncapped the glass bottle, and filled a paper plate with her mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies. Her cookie stash was running low. She’d better get more next time she visited her folks. Noelle took the food into the living room and turned on the TV again, excited about the upcoming show.
What nifty caper did the good guys have planned this week? She peeled back the foil on the Jiffy Pop and munched on the popcorn. After the top-of-the-hour station identification, a hand lit a fuse with a match and Lalo Schifrin’s jazzy theme music played over a montage of scenes from tonight’s episode of Mission: Impossible. Noelle’s favorite character on the fast-paced spy show was Cinnamon Carter, played by Barbara Bain with style, poise and elegance. Noelle longed to star in her own TV show, maybe a thriller like M:I, and be a great actress like Barbara. If only dreams came true.
Just as the agents got the mission underway, someone pounded on the front door. Who could it be? Her friends and parents always called before dropping by.
“Who is it?” she said. The knocking grew louder. Couldn’t the visitor at least wait until the commercial break? “Mom, Dad, is that you?”
No answer. Noelle headed for the door. If only she could pause the TV to avoid missing her show or somehow save the episode so she could watch it later. Ceebee hid under the sofa. Noelle pushed back the window curtain and peeked out. Under the glow of the porch light stood a man she didn’t recognize. Average height, early 20s, dark hair below his ears, boyish face and good looking. Maybe his car had broken down or run out of gas. She’d call the Texaco station and get someone to come out and help. She knew better than to let strangers into her house.
Noelle cracked open the door. “Do you need a mechanic?”
A flash of lightening lit up the sky. The man said nothing, only moaned. His eyes were glazed with pain. One hand clutched his chest. The front of his black leather jacket glistened with rainwater—and blood.
He spoke in a whisper. “Help . . . me.”
“Do you need a doctor?”
Noelle opened the door wider. The man fell forward, landing face down on the floor.
Flower Power Fatality (The Psychedelic Spy Mysteries) by Sally Carpenter
About the Book
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Cozy Cat Press (April 22, 2018)
Paperback: 234 pages
The Cold War gets cozy in this retro-cozy spy caper set in 1967, a year of music, miniskirts—and murder! Actress Noelle McNabb works at the Country Christmas Family Fun Park in Yuletide, Indiana, but she longs for the bright lights of Hollywood.Real-life drama comes her way when a stranger with a fatal gunshot wound stumbles across her doorstep. When she attempts to finds the man’s murderer, Noelle encounters a super-secret spy agency, SIAMESE (Special Intelligence Apparatus for Midwest Enemy Surveillance and Espionage). SIAMESE recruits Noelle on a quest to find missing microdots under the guidance of a street-wise agent, Destiny King. As Noelle goes undercover in a cheesy nightclub and faces the enemy in late-night chases, she uncovers family secrets and finds her moral values put to the test. Along with her pet cat, Ceebee, and the kooky residents of Yuletide, Noelle discovers it takes a village to catch a killer.
About the Author
Sally Carpenter has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award and “Star Collector” was produced in New York City.
Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.
She’s worked as an actress, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain and tour guide/page for Paramount Pictures. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.
In her Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series are: “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper” (2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel), “The Sinister Sitcom Caper,” “The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper” and “The Quirky Quiz Show Caper.”
She has short stories in two anthologies: “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in” in “Last Exit to Murder” and “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” in “Plan B: Omnibus.”
She penned chapter three of “Chasing the Codex,” a group mystery written by 24 authors with Cozy Cat Press, and writes the Roots of Faith column for the Acorn Newspapers.
She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles.
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