Kathy: In THE SIGN OF THE CALICO QUARTZ Emma Blackwood comes to the Black Hills of South Dakota to work at her aunt's B&B. Have you ever wanted to own or work at a B&B?
JD: Several years ago, as we were planning to sell our house in town and move into the Black Hills, we considered buying a place that we could use as a B&B. We did just enough research to tell us that we aren’t cut out to be B&B hosts (my husband and I both tend toward the introvert end of the social scale,) but the research was intriguing. I created the Sweetbrier Inn as my dream B&B and the setting for my cozies was born.
Kathy: Emma's favorite pastime is solving literary mysteries. Before you started writing them, was this a favorite of yours as well?
JD: I read a mystery whenever I can get my hands on one! My favorite mystery writers are Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, but I also enjoy quite a few contemporary authors. I love the satisfaction of solving the puzzle just before the sleuth does.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
JD: Some of the first “chapter books” I ever read were mysteries. When I was young, I was usually reading The Bobbsey Twins or The Boxcar Children. Later I read volumes of Agatha Christie’s stories, and I was hooked.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
JD: My first published books were historical romances, based on my ancestor’s Amish backgrounds. I like to call them “historical romance with Amish characters.” I’ve also published an historical romance set in Deadwood, South Dakota during the Gold Rush days, and I’m working on a follow-up to that story that takes place on a ranch in South Dakota.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
JD: The Sweetbrier Inn is an upscale Bed and Breakfast located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where mysteries abound, friendships are strong, and the scenery is breathtaking. Emma Blackwood has turned amateur sleuth as she solves puzzling murders with the help of her friend Becky Graves, handsome Deputy Cal Cooper, Aunt Rose (with an intriguing background of her own,) and her furry companions, Thatcher the corgi and Tim the cat. They'll make you feel at home in Paragon, the small town nestled in the midst of the Hills which is populated with its own quirky characters.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
JD: I think my favorite character is Emma. She has a lot of qualities I wish I had – she’s much braver than I am! – and her powers of observation are stellar. She’s also confident in her own abilities even though she is still influenced by an unfortunate relationship in her past. But even though she’s quite self-sufficient, Becky’s friendship breaks through her protective shell. The main thing about Emma, though, is her sense of right and wrong. Like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Emma won’t rest until evil is conquered and the bad guy or girl is behind bars.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
JD: There was a secondary character in a movie I watched several years ago, and she caught my imagination. She was a gentle, cultured woman in her sixties who was also a trained assassin. I started thinking – if she had a family, what would they think of her? Rose and Emma grew out of those “what if’s.”
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
JD: Publishing has been my goal since I started writing. My first thirteen books were traditionally published, but in 2020 I was ready for a change (weren’t we all?) So I ventured into the self-publishing world with my cozy mystery series.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
JD: I think of some of my favorite authors – Christie, Sayers, JRR Tolkien, C.S. Lewis – but I’m afraid that I’d just cower in my chair nibbling celery at a dinner party with them, LOL!
Instead, I’d invite some of the authors who have been so helpful and influential to my career. I’d hate to limit the list to four, but I’d start with Ruth Logan Herne, Mary Connealy, Erica Vetsch, and Debby Giusti. I’d need a bigger table for the rest of my author friends.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
JD: My aunt loaned me her copies of the Guideposts mystery series, The Mysteries of Lancaster County. I’m alternating the books in that series with the original Nancy Drew books. Would you believe I never read Nancy Drew before? I’m also doing an Agatha Christie reading challenge this year. The next book on the list to read is “At Bertram’s Hotel.”
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
JD: I have some varied interests that take up my non-writing time. I’m addicted to counted cross stitch and spend an hour or two stitching to relax in the evenings. I also love to hike in the Black Hills. My husband and I try to log in a hike at least once a week. Gardening is another passion. I have a large vegetable garden that takes up my time during the summer and fall. Between those hobbies and reading, I keep busy!
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
JD: Chocolate. Do we need anything else? I also have a weakness for tea, pickled beets, and fresh veggies from the garden.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
JD: I’m planning to release the second book in this series at the end of the summer. That story is called “The Case of the Artist’s Mistake.” I have plans for at least one more book set at the Sweetbrier Inn, maybe more. But I’m also developing a time jumping mystery series set in a lighthouse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
JD: I used to get in trouble for daydreaming when I was in school. Now I have an excuse to spend hours in my imaginary world.
The Sign of the Calico Quartz (The Sweetbrier Inn Mysteries) by Jan Drexler
About The Sign of the Calico Quartz
Setting - South Dakota
Swift Wings Press (May 20, 2022)
Paperback : 276 pages
Digital Swift Wings Press (May 25, 2022) Print length: 242 pages
Emma Blackwood’s favorite pastime is solving literary murder mysteries…until the body in her living room makes everything a little too real.
When Emma comes to the Black Hills to work at her Aunt Rose’s B&B, the Sweetbrier Inn, she is hoping for a quiet break from the corporate treadmill. But she hadn’t expected murder and intrigue to mar this peaceful setting.
As she wades through too many clues to identify the murderer, she soon finds that the culprit isn’t stopping at only one homicide and may even have placed Emma herself on the list of targets. With the help of her friend Becky, and a deputy sheriff who grudgingly lets them join in on the investigation, Emma tracks down the killer. But will it be in time to save the next victim?
About Jan Drexler
Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband, where she enjoys hiking and spending time with her expanding family. She is the author of several historical romance novels, including the award-winning Mattie’s Pledge, and is pleased to be starting a new adventure with a cozy mystery series, The Sweetbrier Inn Mysteries. You can find out more about Jan on her website: www.JanDrexler.com.Author Links
- Website: https://jandrexler.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JanDrexlerAuthor
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6583749.Jan_Drexler
- Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Drexler/e/B00CLGAGAK/ref=aufs_dp_fta_dsk
- Purchase Link - Amazon