Kathy: The Family Skeleton Mystery series has a unique character in Sid the Skeleton. How did having a "living" skeleton as a character come about?
LP: I wish I had a clever response, but honestly, I don’t remember. I was shopping around my second mystery series (written under Toni L.P. Kelner), and it wasn’t going well, so I started thinking about a new series. I like paranormal mysteries, but I wasn’t sure of the direction to go in. Vampires? My friend Charlaine Harris pretty much had those locked up. Werewolves? My pal Dana Cameron was doing great with those? Witches? Ghosts? Ghost cats? Wizards? Angels? Grim reapers? All claimed by another author. Then Sid the Skeleton walked randomly into my brain, where he stayed for ten years while I wrote and sold other books. When I had a series end, I started looking at my idea file, and there he was waiting.
Kathy: In The Skeleton Makes a Friend Georgia Thackery discovers that Sid is part of an online gaming group. Do you play online games? Have you ever been part of a group of gamers?
LP: I spend so much time playing online games, but not the massively multiplayer online role playing games (or MMORPG). They take more organization and scheduling than I’m willing to put in. Instead I play on the games site Neopets, which is a bunch of linked games around having online pets. I also play a lot of what they call casual games on my phone.
Back in the day, however, I was a regular Dungeons & Dragons player. For years, my friends and I played almost every weekend. My first national publications were limericks in Dragon Magazine — the DD-centered journal—and I met my husband at a D&D game. I gave it up when I slowly realized that I preferred moving my characters around without being limited by other players or the game-master. When you think about it, every novel is just a written game scenario, after all.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
LP: The first mysteries I read were Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh, so it was that classic puzzle-with-intriguing-characters-and-setting model that appealed to me. There might also have been a touch of nervousness involved. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to write about a cop or PI convincingly, but computer programmers, college professors, and mothers are in my zone!
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
LP: I have, though only in short stories. I co-edited seven urban fantasy anthologies with Charlaine Harris, and wrote a story for each. That led to invitations to other urban fantasy anthologies. Still staying within mystery, I’ve done noir and historical, and I’ve written one horror story I’m quite proud of.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
LP: The Laura Fleming series—my first series—is about a Southern transplant who comes back to the mill towns of North Carolina to solve mysteries involving her eccentric extended family. (Since I’m a North Carolinian transplanted to Massachusetts, the genesis of this series is obvious.)
The “Where are they now?” series features a Boston-based freelance entertainment reporter named Tilda Harper who specializes in tracking down the formerly famous. Sometimes she finds murder, too.
In the Family Skeleton series, adjunct English professor and single mother Georgia Thackery moves her teenaged daughter back home and has to confront the family skeleton: an ambulatory skeleton named Sid, who has been Georgia’s best friend since childhood. Together, he and Georgia solve crimes.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
LP: In my own work? Sid is probably the most fun to write about in this series, but I’m inordinately fond of all my regular characters. In the Laura Fleming books, I adored cranky Aunt Maggie, and in the “Where are they now?” books, Vincent the uber fanboy was always a pleasure to put in.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
LP: Not directly, but in retrospect, I think I was influenced by reruns of TV shows like I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. They’re all normal worlds with just a hint of the supernatural, and that’s what the Family Skeleton books are.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
LP: I wanted to see my books in bookstores and libraries, next to the books I’d adored since my big sisters taught me to read while playing school. Speaking as the wife of a research psychologist, I know that I have a high influence motive, which means simply writing them isn’t enough for me. I want my work read, and that means publication.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
LP: This is tough because I’d probably mangle my words and spill spaghetti sauce all over myself, but I’ll go with: Andre Norton, a deceased childhood favorite; Charlaine Harris, because she’s always fun; Dana Cameron, who has the most intriguing knowledge; and Illona Andrews, who I’ve admired and worked with but have never met in person. (Illona is a cheat—those books are written by a husband-wife team.)
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
LP: I just finished Shades of Wicked by Jeaniene Frost. Jeanine’s books are always a pleasure. Next up is a re-read of An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris. I read a draft, but haven’t read the completed book. Though I do still read mysteries, but if I’m working on one of my own it’s more relaxing to read in a different genre, and I’m getting started on a new mystery.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
LP: Reading, computer and phone games, and watching TV. I also love to travel, and my whole family is addicted to the Disney parks. (I just wish I could figure out a way to travel that would eliminate packing. I hate packing.)
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
LP: Peanut butter, American cheese, Diet Dr Pepper, sliced bread.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
LP: I can’t say for sure what I’m working on next, so how about just saying, “Yes."
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
LP: Seeing my books on shelves still makes me happy, even after 25 years of being published, and I love meeting other writers.
The Skeleton Makes a Friend (A Family Skeleton Mystery) by Leigh Perry
About the Book
Diversion Books (November 6, 2018)
Paperback: 280 pages ISBN-10: 1635764440
Georgia Thackery is feeling pretty good about her summer job teaching at prestigious Overfeld College, and she’s renting a rustic cabin right by a lake for herself, her daughter, Madison, and her best friend, Sid the Skeleton. Together again, the trio are enjoying the quiet when a teenager named Jen shows up looking for her friend. Georgia doesn’t recognize the name, but she learns that the person Jen was looking for is actually Sid.
Sid reveals that he and Jen are part of a regular online gaming group that formed locally, and one of their members has gone missing. Sid admits that he might have bragged about his investigative prowess, enough so that Jen wants him to find their missing player. Given that Sid doesn’t have many friends offline—none, really, unless you count the Thackery family—Georgia agrees to help him search. They manage to discreetly enlist Jen, who lives in town, and follow the clues to... a dead buddy.
Now they've got a killer on their hands. Probing the life of Sid's friend, they realize a lot is wrong both on campus and in the seemingly quaint town, and someone doesn't want them looking deeper.
About the Author
Leigh Perry is the author of the Family Skeleton Series: A Skeleton in the Family, The Skeleton Takes a Bow, The Skeleton Haunts a House, and The Skeleton Paints a Picture.
Author Website: http://leighperryauthor.com/
Author Facebook: https://twitter.com/Family_Skeleton
Sid's Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/LeighPerryAuthor
My Alter Ego:Toni L.P. Kelner: www.tonilpkelner.com
Purchase Links: Amazon B&N Kobo
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