I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my international author friends as much as I enjoyed interviewing them. It was fun to learn about other countries and customs and author methods.
Did you notice the new background and colors? I’ve decided it’s time to quite fighting the biggest part of my life-gardening! I work at it (I design and install landscapes for great clients), play at it (I love to plant my pots with colorful flowers) and relax in it! Yes, gardening is part of my world, and I am embracing it to the fullest.
Now it’s time to think about those lazy days of summer-the beach, getaways and fun vacations. And not one of those would be complete without a book to take a long. And I have just the selection of authors and books to get you started and keep you going for the summer.
This series of interviews are by authors who place their book’s settings and characters in locations that you would love to spend a long relaxing stay. I hope you will enjoy these selections…here is a teaser of the author’s who are part of my Beach Reads Series.
Rachel Neuburger Reynolds Jordan McCollum Katie Brown Erin Sullivan Scoggins Connie B. Dowell Troy A. Hill Juliet Chase Donna B. McNicol Joanna Jast Lise McClendon Sarah Crumpton Merritt Roberta Schiavulli Demy Watts Judith Dickenson Ackaret Vicki Lemp Weavil Janie Pritchett-Clark Ileana Munoz-Renfroe Maggie Toussaint Victoria Hamilton Rita Moreau Rita Moreau Caleb Wygal Teresa Michael – Author Diane Rondeau Bator Lois Jackman Donna Walo Clancy Jane Kelly Dianne Harman Cathy Perkins Niki Morris Ritter Ames
So while I’m hard at work getting to know these talented authors a bit better, you just sit back in that lounge chair and relax. Our first interview will be coming up in the next week.
In the meantime, I have a new book release on May 8th! It’s the last book (#6) in the Beach House Mystery series. You can pre-order it now. It’s time to find out how the legend of Pearl Island will end…
Isabella writes mystery/crime on the cozy end of the spectrum. All of her books are available wide of the major platforms and in books stores and libraries. She also has audio books available. If you sign up for her newsletter, there is a free novella available.
Have you ever been to the United States and if so where?
No, I have never been to the US—although looking at pictures of New England in the fall has always tempted me to venture there to capture what looks like the very best of nature.
What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean?
‘I’m banjacksed!’ I’m guessing this is a British word—although you might well know it in the US? It means ‘destroyed’ or ‘ruined’. It seems to have derived from Irish slang—so I’m not sure if that counts!
Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first and why?
I’m so lucky that I live in the countryside beside the sea! So, within ten minutes I can be walking along a deserted beach, or around the most beautiful boat marina, or along a woodland pathway, listening to birdsong. So, I would take a US visitor along with me and hope they would enjoy the simplicity as much as I do.
When did you start writing?
I entered my first writing competition at the age of eight! I’ve been writing in one form or another ever since and love it just as much now as I did then. But in terms of novel writing, I started that in earnest about six years ago and have since published six novels, three novellas and two short story anthologies.
What, in your opinion, are the essential elements of good writing?
Of course, grammar, punctuation and spelling are pretty critical, as is breadth of vocabulary—but as writers we are lucky enough to escape into another world as we write. So, I guess the best writing is when readers really feel they are in that world, walking alongside us. Everything that goes to make up a story—intriguing plot, depth of characters, descriptive setting, pacing that creates emotion in the reader—all of those things are important. Also, regardless of genre, I think readers need to feel that the ending is satisfying, that all loose ends are neatly tied off—even if some lead to a sequel!
Describe your writing space.
In my garden I have the most beautiful log cabin, which is my ‘woman cave’! I escape there every day—sometimes for hours—sometimes for a short respite. The view from my writing chair looks out onto bird feeders, so that I can watch blue tits, woodpeckers, thrushes and all manner of other delights, as they grab what’s on offer. Around the walls of the cabin are my bookshelves, filled with much-loved novels that I have read and read again, as well as books I’ve delved into for research and my all-important dictionaries and thesaurus. I have a snuggly burnt orange throw that I can wrap around my knees when it’s a bit chilly and to top it all off I have my gorgeous Scottish terrier, Bonnie, lying at my feet. I consider myself very blessed.
Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart?
This is so difficult to answer! I feel as though I have met all my characters—they have become my friends, so choosing one over another is tricky. Probably—in terms of emotional tugs on my heart—it would be Emily Carpenter—the main character of my standalone novel—The Forgotten Children.
Struggling with the demons of her past, Emily is a children’s author with a dark secret, and a guilt that threatens to consume her. For twenty years she has lived in Brighton, England, trying to forget the day they took her baby from her, just hours after he was born. In the summer of 1987, she decides to begin the search for her son.
As the story unfolds, the emotional journey that Emily goes on really stayed with me and still affects me now whenever I re-read the book, and it’s made more emotional because the story is based on true events.
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences or purely all imagination?
All my books are set in Sussex, England, which was where I was born and brought up and where I still live. So, my descriptions of setting and place are based on real-life experience. Also, my novels are all set in the 1960s—an era I have a great passion for. It was a time of great social and political change—in the UK, but in the US too — with the explosion of ‘pop’ music, radical changes in fashion, as well as the beginnings of greater independence for young people—especially women. I was just a child during the sixties, but I have older brothers and sisters who were teenagers in the sixties, and many of their anecdotes about that ‘swinging’ time have found their way into my stories.
Ok, I’ll be the first one to admit it; I’m jealous of Isabella! Her very own log cabin? What more could a writer want? And the simplistic walk along the beach or woodland path sounds perfect for plotting out a story. Be sure to sign up for Isabella’s newsletter and check out all her books.
Isabella made a good point. Most wide authors have their books available in libraries. Did you know this is something an author who is in the Kindle Select Program on Amazon can not offer? To me, having my books on the library shelf or data-base is so important. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to read any book they want, regardless of their income. And this is something our local libraries provide. So support your favorite author and your local library.
K.T. Bowes writes mysteries with older female protagonists. I have written fourteen novels and a fantasy trilogy, but I always come back to mystery writing. Her books are available on all platforms and you can by directly from her website. Now lets find out a bit about K.T.
Have you ever been to the United States and if so, where? I haven’t, but I’d like to. A university friend went on Camp America one summer and brought back stories of riding horses in Wyoming and falling in love. I’d enjoy seeing the rolling plains for myself. I’m happy with Husband, so don’t need to fall in love again.
What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean? ‘Don’t rip your nightie.’ It means, don’t get angry or upset. It’s a humorous rebuke. I live with Mr Super-calm, so don’t get to say it as much as I’d like
Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first and why? That’s easy. I’d take them home, and we’d have a barbeque and some beers. Hospitality is a massive thing with Kiwis. The first thing we noticed was the big blue sky in New Zealand when we got off the plane. A friend warned us it was bigger here, and it’s true. It looks best from a friend’s garden with a bottle in your hand. Then I’d take them to Hobbiton and the set for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.
What, in your opinion, are the essential elements of good writing? The reader has to relate to the characters. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter what happens in the plot. Empathy is one of my strengths and I love unpicking characters and reverse engineering their behaviour so I can better understand them. I derive pleasure from knowing my characters are believable enough to have fans of their own.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I write every weekday, no matter what. After exercising, I shower and go straight to my office. I tell myself I only need to write 100 words but always do more. My method is to write until it feels too hard, as though I’ve hit a roadblock. That tells me I’ve gone as far as I can for that day, so I’ll switch to another task. I’ll edit the next finished novel for a few hours and switch to admin tasks, marketing, accounts – the boring stuff which still needs doing.
Which of your books were the most enjoyable to write? The Hana Du Rose Mysteries will always have a hold over me, and readers regularly plead for more of that series. But I think Pirongia’s Secret clicked most for me somehow. I loved writing a novel based in the 1990s rural New Zealand with this intensely complicated and insular small town dynamic.
What were the key challenges you faced when drafting this book? A Trail of Lies was one of my hardest books to write because I needed to endure a weekend in the New Zealand bush in order to appreciate what Callister went through as a runaway. I hiked into the bush with a Search and Rescue group and stayed there for two painful nights and hated every minute. I’m sure I was a liability. I couldn’t navigate and spent a lot of time running around screaming with something crawling through my clothes.
If you were a tour guide, what would you like a visitor to see? My friend June has a waterfall at the end of her garden and glow worms. Then there’s the Kaniwhaniwha reserve at the bottom of Mount Pirongia which has a rope swing over a creek. To see the real New Zealand, you need to go off the beaten track and look for the special things that only locals know about. I think I’d do a secret tour, which included all those places.
Thanks to KT for answering our questions and sharing a bit of her writing life with us!
In my writing life, I’m thrilled to announce the final book in the Beach House Mysteries will be released on May 8th. You can pre-order now!
I’m Sherri Bryan—a Brit living in Spain. I write The Charlotte Denver Cozy Mysteries, which are small-town culinary cozies, and The Bliss Bay Village Mysteries. The series are set in Cornwall and Devon in the south-west of England. They’re gentle mysteries, with a little fun, a little romance, and characters who I hope will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.
Have you ever been to the United States and if so, where? Yes! We spent three weeks visiting my stepdaughter and her family in Spring Green, Wisconsin, five years ago. It was so different to anywhere I’ve ever been before, but the people were really welcoming and we had a great time. As soon as I was there, I completely understood why cozies are so popular in the US, and why close-knit communities (like Spring Green) lend themselves so well to the genre. There were so many elements that I’ve read about in so many cozies; from the village busybodies and gossips (my stepdaughter tipped us the wink!) to the Sheriff, the general store, the craft shop, the bakery, and the old guy who spent his day in a rocking chair outside the general store, taking in the sun. In fact, he gave me an idea for a character in an upcoming book. Suffice to say, I loved everything about the trip, and we’ll definitely get back to Wisconsin one day.
What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean? ‘I’m chuffed to bits!’ is one I use a lot. It means you’re very happy or pleased about something.
Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first, and why? Well, if I still lived in the UK, I’d spend a couple of days taking you around the university city of Cambridge. So many great cozies are based in or around Oxford, but I think it’d be good to ring the changes with a trip to its ‘rival’ city—the Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race is a well-known example of the rivalry between the two universities. Also, my niece lives there, so we could stay at her place! And, as a special treat, I couldn’t let you leave England without taking you to Burgh Island for afternoon tea. It’s an art-deco hotel on its own private island in south Devon, and at which Agatha Christie wrote two of her novels. It’s a beautiful place to visit, in a gorgeous part of the world. But as I now live in Spain—and I can’t choose where I’d take you first!—we’d go to Seville for tapas and to see a Flamenco show; to Madrid to visit Botín (founded in 1725, it’s the oldest restaurant in the world, according to The Guinness Book of Records), and then to Barcelona to see the Sagrada Família. Also known as the Gaudi Cathedral, it’s an amazing sight, although still unfinished despite being started in 1882. And, before we left, I’d have to take you to meet my lovely, hospitable, Spanish friend, Loli, who’s in her eighties, and full of stories about her life, and who won’t let you leave her house until she’s fed and watered you until you feel like you’re going to burst.
Describe your writing space. My writing space is a spare bedroom, which I use as an office—nothing fancy at all. No bed, just two desks, two chairs, two bookshelves and two big boards on the wall that I use for plotting and notes. I also have a pin board which is supposed to be for pinning reminders of things to do but, somehow, it got filled with photos of friends, family, and dogs instead, which have spilled out onto the walls, and which are much nicer to look at. The room has large door that leads out onto the terrace so, if I come to a grinding halt while I’m writing (which is all too often, unfortunately), I go and sit outside for a change of scene, and to think.
Who is your favorite character? I have two. Ava, in my Charlotte Denver series, because I got the inspiration for her from my mother-in-law, and Uncle Des, from my Bliss Bay series, because some of his characteristics and mischievous ways are based on my Dad.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? When I was young, my Dad used to go to the library every Saturday morning. I pestered him for ages to take me so, on my sixth birthday, he did. One book I chose was The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, and I couldn’t put it down. As soon as I read the last word, I burst into tears because I hadn’t wanted it to end. I remember being awestruck that a story could make me feel so many emotions, from angst and sadness to excitement and joy. I think that was the first time I realised that words had the power to allow me to ‘escape’ into a book, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Favorite quote (doesn’t matter the source) If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.
Sherri writes these wonderful series, so be sure to check them out. The Charlotte Denver Cozy Mysteries & The Bliss May Village Mysteries.
You can find them on Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play and Amazon. Find these links on her website.
Well, that was fun! I love learning about other writers and where they live, don’t you? Life has been hectic, and I’m sorry for the gap in the interviews! But on news in my writing life, I have a new release coming out on March 17th. It’s up for preorder now.
And don’t forget to sign-up for my newsletter. There are book gifts and surprises in almost every letter! And now you can buy my books direct!
Thanks for joining Sherri and me-be sure to pick up a book and enjoy your day!
Today we get to meet another writer from our north. I still have a hard time considering Canada as part of my international series. I was raised right along the US/Canada Border in Niagara Falls, and I sure spent a lot of time on the Canadian side. I even have family in Canada. And they are fascinating folks as you are about to find out…
Bohemian Lake is made up of five series including my best-selling books, the Haunted House Flippers. It features Juniper Palmer and Jack Young. As Bohemian Lake’s newest contractors, they’re expecting renovations most daunting, but what they get are murders most haunting. If you want to join them as they buy a haunted old mansion in Jack’s hometown and settle in to fix & flip it, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08886DD91
The other four series set in the Bohemian Lake are:
Penning Trouble: This adventurous cozy mystery series revolves around a traveling investigator from Bohemian Lake who’s always up for an avalanche of trouble. Penny’s first two books have a more of a traditional feel. A treasure hunt brings her home to Bohemian Lake for the summer and an ex-boyfriend has her treading slippery slopes in the Laurentian Mountains by Christmas. The following books in the series take on a more paranormal feel (that is more in line with the overall world) as Penny interacts with Bohemian Lake’s witches, ghost hunters, and takes on esoteric assignments around the world. You can check out Penny here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087T5MVCY
Bohemian Murder Manor: This series revolves around a family of paranormally gifted Roma women who run a themed resort called Caravan Manor. The Vianu ladies can always spot trouble in the cards. Unfortunately for the manor’s guests, it isn’t just trouble they see. It’s ghosts. This series starts out with a good old fashioned locked room mystery but delves deeper into the world of ghosts as we explore Mallory’s psychic abilities. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079V62NWS
Bookish Adventures in Witch-Lit is a haunting paranormal cozy mystery series about an adventurous book club run by witches. We first meet Sera Popescu in Bohemian Murder Manor when she comes to town for the Vianu’s Hexfest event. After that we follow Sera’s life at the bookstore. Sera is a witch hired to help Nelle Storey run the literary tours. Each book takes Sera and her black cat, Medieval to a new country revolving around a book they’ve just read, namely, Germany, Scotland and Romania. Of course, in every story they seem to find themselves wrapped up in a murder mystery. Sera’s boyfriend who is a ghost-hunter is also prominently featured. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086X7C5J5
Bohemian Festival Fiasco: This series is about Eve Banter. You will find her to be the comic relief in every single Bohemian Lake book. She’s an outspoken sixty-year-old with her own private spy network and an appetite for destruction. Let me just say that Eve is everyone’s favorite character, which is why she got her own series. She works for the Trubble family at Bohemian Lake’s Private Ink & Eye as she’s as able to chase down a lead as to outrun a culprit, no matter how ridiculous her boots. Eve’s antics, especially her penchant for breaking and entering, drives her friends nuts. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B087TMCLDJ
Have you ever been to the United State and if so where? I’ve been everywhere, man. “I’ve been everywhere, man. Crossed the desert’s bare, man.” Oh, and now I have Johnny Cash in my head. Lol. No, but seriously, I have been to Tennessee, Florida, Nevada, California, Texas and a ton of other places in between. I LOVE to travel which is probably why two of my series revolve around characters who travel. 😛 My favorite trips were to Las Vegas and Nashville. Las Vegas was for a writers conference and Nashville/Memphis was for my husband’s work and funny enough was where I wrote Murder, She Floats. I had a ton of fun in both places.
What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean? Oh, I can’t think of any right now. Although I know they come up because my beta readers question them. :p Of course, everyone knows we say EH! A lot. It’s like HUH for us. “It’s cold out there, eh?”
Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first and why? Hmm. If I were recommending travel, I’d say go skiing in British Columbia or spend the day hiking nature in Banff National Park. If you want lobster and lighthouses then head to the East Coast. Or Cobblestone streets and kitschy ski villages then check out old Quebec and Tremblant. But if I were personally guiding visitors, I’d take them to the beach that’s about twenty minutes from my house. I live in the Kawartha lakes area of Ontario. Or I’d take them for a walk through the many nature trails of Ontario. Wilderness is everywhere. There’s also cross country trails and a ski hill about 40 minutes away. In the summers when we’re not in lockdown I love to roller-skate at the local arena.
Describe your writing space. Aged dormers and exterior brick! I live in a Second Empire Victorian home just like the one in Haunted House Flippers. So, my house is very atmospheric to write in especially when it comes to ghosts. My personal favorite place is the attic but I mostly write in my study. My husband who is very handy just like Jack in the HHF series, actually renovated much of our house including my study so it’s lined with bookshelves and has a secret passage that leads into my gym.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing? My typical work schedule is 8-5 everyday (including weekends) because I love to get lost in Bohemian Lake. However, things have been a little different with Covid. My 8 yo daughter is enrolled in online learning while my teenage son attends the local high school when we’re not locked down. We’ve been in lock down since December. Anyway, during my work day I take plenty of breaks to cook and chat with the kids. I also take breaks to stretch meditate, and workout to improve my overall health. I’m having back surgery this month. And while I exercise, I listen to spiritual growth podcasts. I love learning and growing my muscles, my brain and my higher consciousness.
How do you research for your books? How do you stop is more like it? Bahaha. It’s an addiction. Everything is a source of research for me. I read every night before bed, I google constantly, and I love to watch tv shows that inspire me. For example, I watched a lot of Sabrina when I was writing Sera Popescu’s stories. I watched a lot of Ancient Aliens when writing Penny’s esoteric adventures in Paris. I wrote Sera’s Scotland adventure while in Scotland, and I wrote Haunted House Flippers while renovating my own house and living on HGTV.
What do you hope your readers take away from your books? Belly laughs, a sense of adventure and a feeling of coming home. Everything I look for in my fave books.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? I worked in advertising for twenty years specifically online marketing and social media. So, that would be an easy leap back for me, but outside of writing, I do coach people on fitness, mindset and publishing. The fitness aspect is probably my fave because it makes such huge difference in people’s daily lives. We all want to make a difference, am I right?
Which of your books were the most enjoyable to write? It’s hard to choose just one because they all take me to a different place and time in my life. But I would say Haunted House Flippers: Black Cats, Corpses and the Pumpkin Pantry was fun because it’s set in Tarrytown and is a bit of a spoof on the Headless Horseman.
Thanks to Rachael for a great interview. I can’t wait to start reading her books, now to decide which series to start with!
And speaking of series, I’m so excited to announce the rough draft of book 6, the series completions, in the Beach House Mysteries is done! Now it’s on to the editing. I’m planning on books 5 and 6 to be released this spring. Who do you think will win the battle over Pearl Island? Morgan or the sea-witch Cora?
Good Morning Readers! It’s a cool, crisp morning here, but the temps will get up into the mid 70’s by lunchtime. My cats really like these cool mornings. Speak of cool-or rather cold!- Our next author knows what cold winters are all about. We don’t have to travel too far to meet this author, just head North.
Patti is a writer of Young Adult, Adult Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Cozy Murder Mysteries, Horror, Thriller and Post-apocalyptic books. (do you think she keeps busy?!?) She publishes wide and you can find them on her website and Amazon. Now lets find out more about our Canadian neighbor.
Have you ever been to the United State and if so where? As a Canadian, travel to the US was always a treat as a kid and something I have continued to do my entire life. In one three-month trip alone I visited 40 of the 50 states by car, living in a tent on a tiny budget and had a blast. There were so many highlights and I do plan to see the other ten states, my two bucket listers Hawaii and Alaska.
What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean? There are so many that seem to be unique to my part of Canada! I live in beautiful Prince Edward Island, home of Anne of Green Gables and the most lovely beaches anywhere, but we are notorious for our slang. The most amusing to me isn’t so much a phrase, but an odd—when we agree with you, we do this odd little inhale of breath two or three times, making a ya sound. It’s hilarious and actually has a name and a history and likely began with the Vikings (who first settled my part of the world). http://bit.ly/ingressivepulmonicspeech
Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first and why? Hands down, we’d tour my gorgeous little island paradise. Prince Edward Island has some of the warmest waters north of the Carolinas in summer and we often swim off my brother-in-law’s boat in the West River just off the Charlottetown harbor mouth. From our unique red soil (caused by an overabundance of iron in the clay) to the abundance of live performances, fresh seafood from the dock to your plate, art, Broadway-class musicals and so much more… and that’s just our capital city! Not to sound like a tourism ad, but you have to come see us—islanders are friendly and welcoming and our food, music and scenery are all breathtaking.
When did you start writing? I think I’ve always been a storyteller, but the idea of wanting to write a book coalesced one afternoon while I was reading a Nancy Drew Mystery. I grew up on sci-fi and fantasy thanks to my father, reading a great deal of subject matter far too advanced for a kid but loving it. So when a friend let me borrow her book, my very first YA book, as a matter of fact, I realized partway through the simple storyline, as entertaining as it was, felt like something I could do. Of course, it took me many years and a lot of writing, studying and writing some more in order to develop the skills to do what I do for a living. However, the spark, I think, is the key ingredient. Without it, I likely would have stopped at some point and given up, instead of continuing to write and grow as a writer until I was finally able to do what I always wanted fulltime.
Describe your writing space. You’re going to laugh at me, but because I work at home fulltime, I’m always moving around, looking for a new and better and physically healthier way to work. My chiropractor and I often discuss best practices because I want to be able to keep writing for many, many more years. So, my latest setup will crack you up. I’ve bought a projector and lap desk and I’m testing out writing lying down with the screen on the ceiling. The pugs and kitties love it and I have to say I’ve never felt more productive. No teasing. I’ve heard all the lying down on the job jokes already.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing? When I’m in full-on production mode, it’s pretty steady. Typically I work on outlines or marketing in the mornings, write for at least three hours in the afternoons (my usual quota is five chapters), then take evenings to myself to watch TV or movies (I’m also trained as a screenwriter, so I often watch to study storylines and grow my craft as well as to chill out). Though, lately I’ve been indulging in my new favorite toy, an Oculus. And now I want to make all my books into VR mysteries.
Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels? I’m one of those writers who hears voices, so I find writing rather easy, first, third or thirteenth in the series. I see myself as fingers on the keyboard (or holding the pen), invited to sit down with a new friend (or an old one, depending on where I am in a series) over a cup of coffee (cream and maple syrup for this Canadian girl) and write down this cool thing that happened to the character in question. Rather than a lot of backstory exploration, I let the voice fill me in as we go. I do outline extensively, so the books themselves are completely fleshed out before I start writing, which frees my brain to take a hike and allow the character to do her (usually) thing. There have been times I’ve been four or five books in (even ten at one point), knowing there’s a giant ending coming and NO IDEA what that ending is. I do my best not to panic, because the voices ALWAYS come through and wrap things up so perfectly I’m kind of in awe of them. As long as I trust what the character is telling me, and don’t argue or try to change fate (like killing off beloved characters), the storylines always work out. Best. Job. Ever.
Have you ever been on any sports teams? If so, what sport? I was one of the founding members (and two years vice president) of the Red Rock ‘N Roller Derby league here on my little island. While I loved flat-track derby, it didn’t love me. After I broke my elbow and then my tailbone within four weeks of each other, I sadly had to hang up my skates. That remains my one and only sports team activity—I prefer to ride my horse, walk and do other activities that don’t involve breaking bones.
A big thank you to Patti for sharing a glimpse into her writing world. I don’t know about you, but a summer vacation to Prince Edward Island sounds wonderful. Both of the above books by Patti are free, so grab a copy and enjoy (don’t forget to provide your review!). I hope you are enjoying this series of author interviews. Be sure to let me know if there are any other series you’d like me to consider. Have a wonderful weekend!
Hello “ducks”. That greeting is something we picked up from our last interview. We’re learning not only about the writers, but the world they live in! I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this next one just as much. So let’s read Jane’s responses to our questions…
I have two cozy mystery series, the Witch Wayseries that features Harper, a witch who had her magic license revoked by the Council. As her world falls apart, she returns to her hometown and lives with her eccentric Gran, buys a bookstore, and immediately sets about solving the murder of her realtor. You can find the Witch Way series here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PDJ6TFV
Then we have my bestselling series, The Ghost Detective, where we follow the adventures of accident-prone Audrey, her talking cat Thor, a ghost, and a very hot sidekick as they solve the mysteries that befall Firefly Bay. You can find the Ghost Detective series here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08818PP47
Have you ever been to the United States, and if so, where? Sadly, I have not. I’d booked to attend a writer’s conference in Las Vegas in November 2020, but thanks to the pandemic, that was canceled. We’ve reshuffled everything to November 2021, but it all depends on travel restrictions being lifted by then. Australia is pretty strict with border control, but the USA is definitely on my bucket list to visit one day.
What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US, and what does it mean? I have sooooo many, lol. We Aussies have a lot of slang that the rest of the world doesn’t understand, so I’ll hit you with a few. The first one isn’t slang, but it can certainly raise eyebrows. Thong. In Australia, it means flips flops. Everywhere else, it means a particular type of underwear! A couple of others for you: flat out like a lizard drinking. That means we’re very busy. She’ll be right = everything will be okay. Yeah, no worries = yes.
Where would you take a US visitor to your country first, and why? It all depends on what they were into. Australia is a vast country, we may be an island, but we’re a big one. If you like city life, then Sydney and Melbourne are for you. I’d start with Sydney for the harbor bridge and opera house – they are breathtaking… you’ve all seen the pictures but seeing them up close and personal is a whole other experience. If it’s beaches you’re after, I’d then shoot up to Queensland and the Gold Coast, from there you could explore the rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef. Once you’ve had your tropical hit, I’d go inland to the Northern Territory. Red soil and a whopping great big rock. I could really go on and on, lol. We have fantastic wineries everywhere, miles of beaches, bushland, desert, again, it all depends on what you’re into as to where to go first.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I like to write first thing in the morning, not super early because I’m actually a night owl. I get up around eight-thirty, and then it’s straight into it. After coffee, of course. I write before anything else, as in no checking emails, no perusing Facebook. Words first, everything else after. I try and write a minimum of 2,000 words per day, sometimes more, sometimes less (when the muse has bunked off and is watching Netflix or being generally unhelpful). But every word is moving the story forward, and that’s a win in my book.
How do you research your books? Google. Because I write paranormal, I have a lot of lee-way. I can basically make up anything I want. But I do Google a lot of stuff. Because I’m Australian but write in American, I’ll often ask my readers group about things, i.e., in Australia, we use the word torch, but it’s flashlight in the US. Little things like that.
How much ‘world-building’ takes place before you start writing? Very little. I create fictional locations for my stories, so I’ll start with finding a town similar to what I have pictured in my head (Google maps is perfect for this). Often it’s a combination of two different towns and/or cities, some Australian, some American. I’ll then create a very basic street map with an outline of what businesses are there. Again, I make up the names. I save all of this information in a series bible and add to it as I write. Little things like a side-character may work at an Art Gallery, so I make sure I add that Art Gallery to the list of businesses for that town. I have several fictional towns/cities now, and I will mention them in other books. For example, I have the SIA (Supernatural Investigation Agency) in one of my urban fantasy series, but I bring them into my cozies. You’ll also hear mention of Redmeadows, a city I created in a different urban fantasy series. All of it sort of grew organically, but when you need a neighboring town or city for your current story, it saves you having to re-create from scratch. My readers enjoy seeing something familiar from another book.
Where do you get your ideas? I find inspiration everywhere, but mostly tv shows, movies, and music. That doesn’t mean I’m copying the plot. Usually, it’s a particular scene that sparks an idea, a spin-off tangent to what I’m watching. For example, I watched the series Lucifer, and his brother calls him Lucy, which sparked the idea of what if Lucifer was a girl? And I fell down the rabbit hole of that, and my urban fantasy series Hell’s Gate was born. In it, Lucifer is a girl, and she’s not evil. She actually runs Hell (as the CEO). So I take a spark of an idea I’ve picked up from somewhere and put my own twist on it.
I had to share one more picture of Janes’s covers. I fell in love with them the first time I saw them. Covers really make the difference! Now go and grab a book or two from Janes collection, and don’t forget to write and post your review when your finished.
It’s a new year, and I bet you’re ready for an adventure!
This next series of author interviews is going to be fun, and I’m sure you will learn something extra from each author. We’re traveling across the pond to meet these authors, so grab your passport. Well, virtually anyway. Just a bit of a reminder…some words may look misspelled, but that is probably because of US English vs “proper” English!
I feel blessed to call Mona not only a fellow writer, but also a friend. I have enjoyed reading her cozy and paranormal books and I bet you will too. Her books are available in Kindle Unlimited. Now for the interview…
Have you ever been to the United State and if so where? I LOVE the USA! I’ve visited around 13 states and would love to return and visit more. I was lucky enough to visit New York for my 21st birthday, which was incredible. And I first developed my love for cacti following a trip to Arizona in 2015!
What is one expression that is common to your part of the world that might be unusual to us in the US and what does it mean? In my town, a lot of people say ‘duck’ as a familiar greeting. For example, someone might say ‘alright, duck?’
Where would you take a US visitor to your country to first and why? I’d have to take a US visitor to Sherwood Forest, home of Robin Hood, and in particular to see the Major Oak tree. I live just a few miles from Sherwood Forest and I walk my pampered Labradoodle, Miss Coco, in there most weeks.
Describe your writing space. I’m lucky enough to have a writing room, but the window is quite small and high. I’m really obsessed with windows and I love being able to see out, but a traditional desk is too low for me to see out of the window. Imagine my delight when my sweet husband made me a desk that sits right under the windowsill! I had to order a special type of high chair, my desk is so high, and now I can sit and write and see out of the window! Typically, I work on a laptop with my notes next to me, some cacti arranged on the windowsill, and a candle burning. My feet get really cold so I’ll probably be wearing fluffy socks, drinking really strong coffee, and water too (I’m giving up fizzy pop right now). And Miss Coco will probably be curled up near me. That dog has no understanding of personal space boundaries 😉
Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels? I find the first book hardest because everything is new. I’m trying to get a feel for the world and the characters as I write, so the first few chapters can be quite slow until I get my head around it all. Later books in a series have a different difficulty – trying to make sure I’m not repeating plots!
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? I have a day job in a law firm and I really enjoy it. I think I’ll always do both. Although, when I was a child, I really wanted to work in a pizza parlour. I remember going to a local pizza parlour as a child and watching them roll out the dough and add the toppings. It seemed like the coolest job in the world to me!
Now wasn’t that fun? I love learning not only about the author, but where they are from. Can you image living near Sherwood Forest? I’ll be thinking about Robin Hood all evening (lol). Don’t hesitate to contact the authors and let them know what you think. And if you do read one of their books, please don’t forget to review!
I hope you have enjoyed the Christmas series of author interview! I can’t wait to start the next series; we’ll be going far and wide for this group of author.
But before I start that, I wanted to introduce you to an author who is dear to my heart. He writes non-fiction, in the gardening genre. With two books under his belt, it is easy to see the two sides of this author; serious and funny.
Meet Donald R. Williams
That’s right, Don is my husband, and I’m so proud of him. The above picture is the serious side of the man, but when you read the following exert from his newest book, you’ll discover the funny man I love.
Wait A Minute… Here’s Another Thought
How do you think the plants feel about all of this? Maybe they have feelings too. After all, the Sensitive Plant’s (yes, it’s a real plant!) leaves curl up when it is touched by somebody that can’t keep their hands to themselves. Ask yourself; do plants have eyes and ears? They can’t see or hear when you’re coming to chop of their limbs. They tolerate a lot of abuse; moved around, dug up, thrown in your trunk, starved to death, left to go thirsty, leaves falling off as they bake in the hot sun and are generally ignored.
Plants must be tough; they can’t run away. They can’t hide from your lack of care. They don’t like being talked about behind your back by your neighbors and they hate it when the neighbor’s dog squirts on them.
Do plants have a social life? Think about it. They hang out in groups and show off their blooms when treated right. But treat them wrong? They drop their leaves when ignored and go into shock when cut back too hard. They don’t have a brain, but they communicate in ways we do not understand. You want grief, they will bring it on.
Do you talk to your plants? Do you make them feel better with your empty promises of better care? Maybe you should. You might feel better, and they might bring you more pleasure, or give you so much grief. Plants are like the Venus Fly Trap; they will grab your finger in retribution and not let go. So, don’t stick your fingers where they don’t belong, treat your plants right, and you will get all get along fine.
With over 45 years in the horticulture industry, Don has more than earned the right to poke a bit of fun at gardening. Yet, even as you read and laugh, you will also learn.
Our next series of author interviews will be from authors who live beyond the United States. England, New Zealand, Germany, and Spain will start us off. I’m so interested to hear from these wonderful authors and hope you will be too.
Well, the holiday season is here! It’s already December 2 and the days are just flying by. I think it would be safe to say that most are looking forward to the end of 2020 and the hopes only a new year can bring. But until then, we still have some great authors to meet!
Christa writes cozy mysteries that are all in Kindle Unlimited. You can find all her books there and also in Goodreads, where you should always leave a review for the books you read and enjoy! You can connect with Christa on Facebook, Twitter, Bookbub, and Pinterest (you have to check out her boards!) And don’t forget to visit her website for even more great information.
How long have you been writing? Probably since elementary grades? I wrote poetry in high school and college. Dabbled with fantasy right after college and oh, I wish I knew where that floppy disk is! I got started again probably around 2010. Mostly, as an escape from my full-time work.
Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be? Technically, that is the plan. I sort of retired from my full-time career in August 2020, but I am finishing up stuff and helping while they try to hire someone to replace me. So, yes, I would like it to be. That is the plan.
What is the significance of the title? For Murder at the Theater, the significance is the setting for the murder and how Sheridan Hendley, the amateur sleuth gets involved. The “theater” is a community theater planning to showcase A Christmas Carol directed by a Scrooge type and starring a student at the college where Sheridan is a faculty member. He’s also the nephew of a good friend and the prime suspect, arrested almost immediately. A Cold Creek Cozy Mystery.
For Holly and Holidays, Another Murder, the murder takes place at a holiday gala to benefit a local dog shelter. The killer tried to cover up the murder by adding enough of the poison in holly to make lots of people sick. The killer’s plan was that the holly would be blamed for the death as well. A Sheridan Hendley cozy mystery novella.
For Holidays, Hijinks & Murder, the key is the “hijinks.” What is going on that gets an elf shot and then Santa killed at the mall? Stacie Maroni is the amateur sleuth here and feeling very “bah humbug.” Her friends efforts to get her in the holiday spirit for the best Christmas ever fall flat, but now she has a murder to keep her occupied. A Stacie Maroni mystery novella.
If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities who would star in it? Male roles would go to the likes of George Clooney, Christian Bale, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo — so that would be Brett McMann (Cold Creek and Sheridan Hendley series), Marty (Cold Creek and Sheridan Hendley series), James Fabry (Sheridan Hendley series), and Detective O’Hare (Stacie Maroni series). I go back and forth on which one should play which character.
Female roles would go to Jennifer Garner or maybe Sandra Bullock (Sheridan), Amy Adams or Julianne Moore (Sheridan’s best friend, Kim), Daniela Ruah or Rachel Bilson (Stacie Maroni). Minka Kelly or Michelle Borth might be options for Sheridan or Stacie as well.
What book is currently on your bedside table? Forever Saved: Forever Bluegrass #14 by Kathleen Brooks (romantic suspense for a change – that’s the latest and I’ve read the whole series and the one before it)
What do you like to do when you are not writing? Travel, walk, read, bake.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? A puppy. Playful, full of spirit, energetic, and cuddly.
I just love these covers, don’t you? What are you reading? Christmas? I hope you are exploring the works of my featured authors, like Christa Nardi.
To help you get in the holiday mood, I’ve put my box set of Christmas cozies on sale through December the 25th. This set has four books, each from a different series, all with a Christmas theme. Regular $7.99–grab your copy while it’s on sale for $.99!!! Christmas Cozy Collection is available at all the major book outlets and you can even order it from your library.