Thursday, March 9, 2023

A Deadly Combo - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Karen A. Phillips to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Karen writes the Rocky Nelson Boxing Mystery series. A Deadly Combo is the first book in the series and was released last week.

Kathy: Rocky and her sister, Bridget, visit a vintage trailerfest in A Deadly Combo. When I think of trailers I always think of the movie The Long, Long Trailer with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Before writing this book, were you a vintage trailer fan?

KAP: I mention the movie The Long, Long Trailer toward the end of the book just prior to the exciting climax! I fell in love with vintage trailers after attending my first trailerfest at a winery. In fact, that is where I got the idea for A Deadly Combo. I thought of how much fun it was to go inside each trailer and talk to the owners about their work restoring the trailer to its former glory. And then it struck me, this would be a great place to find a dead body!

Kathy: Rocky loves boxing, and I'm a fan too. In fact, my dad took me out of grammar school one day when Sugar Ray Leonard came to town so we could see him train! Are you a boxing fan?

KAP: What a great experience for you. I became a fan of boxing after I decided to take boxing lessons to get in shape. It is a very difficult sport to learn. I have a renewed appreciation for those who do well at it. Did you know Mohammed Ali’s daughter, Laila, is a former professional boxer? She retired undefeated.

Kathy: The Rocky Nelson Mystery series has been described as cozy noir-two quite different genres. Why did you decide to fuse the two? Could it be described as a traditional mystery?

KAP: I started out writing A Deadly Combo as a cozy, but the story turned a bit dark. “Cozy noir” is a new term gaining popularity and I feel it fits. A Deadly Combo is a traditional mystery with cozy elements, such as an amateur sleuth, a small town setting, and the murder happens off of the page.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

KAP: I like the simplicity of a cozy—if I can describe any mystery as simple? What I mean is, there are a small number of characters and they seem to know each other. The setting is a small town which feels new for the reader, yet familiar. One of my favorite cozy series is the Agatha Raisin mysteries by M.C Beaton.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

KAP: I enjoy writing poetry and young adult fiction, however I haven’t published anything in those genres yet.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

KAP: A Deadly Combo is Book One in the Rocky Nelson Boxing mystery series. This is my first mystery series. I am working on Book Two now and hope to release it in the spring of 2024.

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

KAP: I love Rocky’s dad. He adds humor to the story and some say he steals every scene he’s in.

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

KAP: I have lost two brothers much too soon. I wanted readers who have lost a loved one to relate to Rocky and Bridget having lost their mother at a young age. I come from a dysfunctional family and I don’t believe there is such a thing as a normal family. My story is about family and how far one might go to protect the ones you love.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

KAP: It took me years to finish A Deadly Combo. I guess you can say I’m a slow learner. But seriously, it took me a long time to learn the craft and feel confident I had written the story to the best of my ability. Since Rocky’s dad is patterned after my own father, who turned 87 this year, I wanted the book to go out in the world so he could hold it in his hands and be proud. I honestly feel it is a fun story and readers will enjoy it.

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

KAP: M.C. Beaton, C.J. Box, Stephen King, and Agatha Christie. Doesn’t that sound like a fun group?!

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

KAP: Good question! I am searching for the next good read. I keep starting a book but haven’t found one that really engages me. I hope A Deadly Combo engages the reader. It is fast-paced, with the story taking place over seven days.

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

KAP: I take boxing lessons! I enjoy Plein Air painting – that’s a fancy term for painting outdoors. I have a degree in Applied Art & Design and love to create book covers.

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

KAP: You ask the best questions! I have cheese (usually Manchego), Fuji apples, Kale and grapefruit.

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

KAP: Oh, yes. Book Two should be out in the spring of 2024. The working title is “A Deadly Scheme."

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

KAP: Creating fun, interesting, characters and living vicariously through them. 


A Deadly Combo by Karen A. Phillips

About A Deadly Combo

A Deadly Combo: A Rocky Nelson Boxing Mystery
Traditional/Cozy Blend 1st in Series
Setting - California
River Rock Press (March 1, 2023)
Number of Pages: 270

What do boxing and vintage trailers have in common? Rocky Nelson. 

Meet Raquel Nelson (AKA Rocky), a retired single woman with an attitude. In Rocky’s opinion, independent ruffians, relentless heat, wildfires, and unhealthy AQI are all part of living in the Sierra Foothills of California.

Sisters Rocky and Bridget are enjoying each other’s company at a vintage trailerfest until they stumble over a corpse. The dead guy is none other than the local trailer restorer and Bridget was overheard threatening to kill him. Mounting evidence leads police to focus on Bridget as a person of interest. Desperate to prove her sister innocent of murder, Rocky dons her own deerstalker cap and goes sleuthing. Rocky knows a little about the job requirements, having caught her sister’s last husband in an illicit affair. Detective Thompson is on the case and isn’t happy about Rocky poking around, and lets her know in no uncertain terms. But Rocky is tenacious if not stubborn. Combined with a 78-year-old father who insists on assisting, Rocky uses her courage and skills from boxing lessons to protect her family and keep from becoming the killer’s next victim.

This is the first book in The Rocky Nelson Boxing Mystery Series – a perfect series for lovers of small town mysteries with a cozy-noir feel featuring boxing and an amateur sleuth who will stop at nothing to save the lives of those she loves.

About Karen A. Phillips

Author Karen A. Phillips lives in Northern California and writes humorous, fun, action-packed mysteries. She has several short stories published in various anthologies. Her characters are engaging and fearless. “A Deadly Combo” is her first full-length novel. In real life, Karen takes boxing lessons but would hesitate if she had to punch anyone in the face. Let’s face it. Karen wouldn’t last one round in the ring.

Author Links: 


Facebook: KarenAPhillips/Author 

Instagram: kannphillips 

Twittter: @phillips_writes  

Purchase Links -- Amazon - B&N - Kobo 

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  1. Kathy, thank you very much for having me on your blog site. I loved your interview questions!