In her youth, Kassandra Lamb had two great passions—psychology and writing. Advised that writers need day jobs and being partial to eating, she studied psychology. Now retired from a career as a psychotherapist—which taught her much about resilience, perseverance, and the healing power of laughter—she spends most of her time in an alternate universe populated by her fictional characters. The portal to this universe (aka her computer) is located in northern Florida where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her.
Lord of the FleasWhile staying with her best friend in Williston, Florida, service dog trainer Marcia Banks wants only to spoil her godchildren and train her newest dog’s veteran owner, a vendor at the local flea market. But when the flea market’s owner is killed, her client becomes a prime suspect. She believes he’s innocent, but soon finds that the flea market is hiding dangerous secrets.
To Kill a Labrador; Marcia (pronounced Mar-see-a, not Marsha) has an unusual name and a rather abnormal vocation, training service dogs for military veterans with PTSD, and an even more abnormal avocation—amateur sleuth (Note: no dogs die in this series).
Now let’s ask a few questions…
Why did you choose to set your story at this time of year?
This story, Lord of the Fleas, is about a disable military veteran who is a vendor at a flea market. The story was inspired by a friend who lives near a flea market. We love to go there in the autumn to find unusual Christmas presents.
Is your book part of a series? Who is the protagonist and where is it set?
This book is part of a series set in central Florida. The protagonist is a service dog trainer who trains dogs for military veterans, to help with both psychological and physical issues.
Does your book focus on the season, or is it more of a backdrop?
The season is more the backdrop for this story, but there are several books in the series that focus on specific holidays—Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and July 4th, plus I have a new book coming out in a few months that focuses on New Year’s Eve and Day. I love writing holiday books!
This story happens to conclude on Thanksgiving, with a family feast!
How much research do you do to create your story?
I’ve had to research a lot of things for this series, including dog training techniques and the tasks that service dogs do, plus military ranks, protocol, etc. and different kinds of injuries. It’s been a fun series to write and I’ve learned a lot.
Michele Pariza Wacek is an award winning author of Suspense Mysteries (Secrets of Redemption), Cozy Mysteries (Charlie Kingsley Mysteries) and Psychological Thrillers (The Riverview Mysteries). Michele has done what few authors do, and connected all of her series together. Michele loves to read, watch football and participate in dog sports with her dog Cassie. She and her husband live in the mountains of Prescott, AZ. You can find out more from her Website (and download a free book!), and follow her on Facebook and Amazon.
Michele’s book in the anthology is called Loch Ness Murder. Her funny, twisty cozy mystery series, The Charlie Kingsley Mysteries, is set in the 1990s and is a spin off from her Secrets of Redemption series.
Loch Ness Murder It wouldn’t be Redemption without something weird going on in one of the lakes.
Let’s have a chat with Michelle…
Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside? Can I have all three? My favorite vacation spot is in at a resort in Cabo, which definitely has all three and then some.
Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?Years ago, I would probably have at least two books, if not more. (After all, I might finish the book I’m reading and maybe I won’t like the second book I brought. What would I do? I might be bookless!) Now, with my Kindle, life is MUCH easier as I don’t need to take a second suitcase just filled with books on vacation. (Although I always double check I brought my charger with me.)
Okay, now that we have the books taken care of, my tote also has sunscreen, couple of bottles of water, a hat and enough money to buy a snack. (Hey, I’m on vacation, I get to go buy whatever junk food I’m in the mood to eat as calories don’t count on vacation.)
Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?Redemption, Wisconsin, is a haunted town with a dark past that has a light side and a dark side. It’s not paranormal as everything is rooted in things that could happen in real life, but there are certainly a lot of unexplained happenings in Redemption. If you prefer to keep your mysteries light, then the Charlie Kingsley Mysteries are perfect for you. If you don’t mind a little darkness or edge, check out the psychological suspense books. (Remember, all the Redemption books are clean, no sex, swearing, gore and very little violence.)
Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why? Charlie Kingsley. When she first came into being, she didn’t even have a name. She was the dead aunt who willed her house to Becca in Book 1 of the Secrets of Redemption series. Then, I gave her the wrong name (Lottie) which she wasn’t happy about. Finally, we got that straightened out, and in Book 3 of that series, it became clear that Charlie had quite the backstory on how she ended up in Redemption, Wisconsin, so her story because Books 4 and 5. I thought I was moving on from Charlie at that point, but she had other plans and the next thing I know, I’m writing a twisty, cozy mystery series starring her. I have no idea what the future holds with Charlie, the only thing I’m sure about at this point is I’m not the one in charge.
Before the release, you are going to want to pre order your copy! Not only will you get it at the lowest price of 99 cents, but you will also get a fun addition that the authors put together for our readers; a recipe book of great summer salads.
We are also doing something extra special for our potential readers; we’ve put together an exciting package with over 30 prizes to win. Ereaders, gift cards, signed copies of books, ebooks, audio books, the list goes on. And you can check out the list AND sign up to win the Mysteries, Midsummer Sun & Murder anthology prize pack by clicking on the box below.
First off, I need to explain…Summer doesn’t end down here in the south just because it’s Labor Day Weekend. How can it, when the temperatures are still in the upper 80’s, the heat index is in the 90’s and the humidty is so thick you can’t breath? So we weill continue our summer beach reads through the month of September.
I am thrilled to have Maggie participate with my interviews, and enjoyed reading her responses. Maggie is an Award Winning Author and writes Culinary Cozies, Cozy Mystery and Paranormal Cozies. Her books are distributed widely and in KU (see the links by each book). You can find all of her books in the below links and while you’re there, don’t forget to follow Maggie so you can easily be updated when she releases her next book.
Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside? I am head over heels in love with the beach. As a teen, I would sun for hours at the beach, and of course, be reading a book. Nowadays, I have to limit my high intensity sun experience to early mornings and late afternoons, but that only makes it all the more personal for me. I love the sight, the sound, the smell, the feel of sand crunching under my toes and water foaming over the tops. I would say it engages all of my senses but I try not to taste it! Another reason I love the beach is beachcombing. I love to hunt for treasures in the receding tide or up above the high water mark. You just never know what you will find!
Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours? My bag has cellphone in a plastic bag, towels, wipes, and sunscreen. I often include a small, perforated cloth bag for seashells, and of course, there’s a book! I carry drinks and snacks in a cooler with ice packs. And these days, I also take some kind of shade with me too.
What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters? All three books in my Seafood Caper Mysteries released during the pandemic, so I believe readers are finding them to be a delightful way to travel to the beach without ever leaving home. The island setting makes it a great beach read, and the plot and characters aren’t too shabby either.
How many books have you written?Which is your favorite? I’ve written 27 books, 2 of which are nonfiction. My works of fiction include a puzzle to solve, no matter the genre, and there is often a relationship subplot. I’ve been writing for publication since 1995, and my first novel released in 2006, as I had a lot of technical writing skills to unlearn. My favorite book is the one I’m working on, no matter which book that is. One reason is it is brain overload for me to keep 25 entire story worlds fresh in my head. The other is that I care so much about each story and want it to be the best I can make it, that all my attention and passion goes into that effort. Right now my fav is Shrimply Dead, book 3 in my culinary cozy series!
Where do you get your inspiration? I am a walking sponge for ideas and inspiration. I’ve been inspired by golf clubhouse stories, overheard conversations, newspaper headlines, obituaries, and generally everything I see, do, touch, taste, or hear. I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this creative absorption, but getting the idea is the easy part. It is much harder to sit down and link all of the ideas together into something compelling that readers will enjoy.
What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting? Despite the months and sometimes years that go into a story, don’t market your work until it is ready. Often I hear this as “write the best book you can, every time.” This is because you aren’t competing with the bottom of the market, you’re competing with the cream of the crop. In other words, you’ve got one chance to wow agents, editors, and readers. Get it right before subbing.
Doyou have a library membership? Yes! I’ve had one every place we’ve lived. The library was a home away from home for me growing up. It truly held all the treasures of the universe within the covers of books. Then, when my kids were small, we went to the library each week and checked out a tote bag of books. I support libraries with talks and encourage everyone to visit their library. I even served on our local library board for three years. We need libraries, and libraries need users. Don’t let libraries go the way of Dodo birds.
Tea or coffee? I’m a tea drinker. My fav is iced tea, but I drink hot tea at breakfast and peppermint tea before bedtime. The rest of the day is the iced tea zone. Tea works for me on several levels. The caffeine helps headaches, and it gets me going as well. My go-to tea brand is Luzianne for black tea and Celestial Seasons for peppermint. I had brief love affairs with Constant Comment, Chai, and Earl Grey tea, but my favorite “named” tea is English Breakfast. Oh, and have you tried Ginger Tea? It’s really great for settling your tummy. I make sure to have that in pantry, just in case, you know?
And here is a tease about something I’m participating in! This is a Christmas Cozy Anthology with 20 writers. I’ve had a sneak peak, and the stories look great. Keep watching for the full cover reveal!
This is the perfect weekend to catch up with your reading, and Amy Vansant will fit the bill nicely. Amy writes Urban Fantasy and Romatic Comedy and of course, Mysteries. I’ve read her Pineapple Port Mysteries and thought they were wonderful and comic. You can find all of her books onAmazon Kindle.
Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside? My house since I moved to Florida! I’m a walk to the beach and have a pool so I have all the bases covered now. 😊
Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours? I walk on the beach but I don’t sit for long. I like to people and dog watch… but I guess a water and something to read in case I get bored.
What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters? Both my Pineapple Port Mysteries and Shee McQueen Mystery-Thrillers take place in Florida near the beach!
What inspired you to start writing? I just always did, even when I was very little.
What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting? Keep writing! The only way you’ll ever make money is to keep writing more books… I got distracted making a living for a decade and stopped during that time. I could kick myself for it.
What time of the day do you usually write? I get up early, so usually 4am to 6am unless I get distracted by work… which happens a lot…
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? I’ve written a little over twenty… Generally the latest is my favorite because you get a little better at what you do every time you do it!
Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers? I cleverly hid where I live, Jupiter, FL, as “Jupiter Beach FL” in the Shee McQueen novels. The location of the Loggerhead Inn, where my characters live, is my house (except it is on the Intracoastal Waterway and I’m not – need to sell a lot more books for that house!)
What did you want to be when you grew up? A writer!
Would you rather have an endless summer or an endless winter? Is that even a question? SUMMER!!
Tea or coffee Both, but if I had to choose one forever, coffee.
Morning person or Night owl MORNING. I don’t function at night at all. When the sun goes down, I start to fall asleep… and I love how quiet mornings are.
Do you base your characters real people? Often. If you’re a neighbor, be careful…
What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? Probably things I don’t even realize I’m getting wrong. LOL
How do you select the names of your characters? I go to baby name websites or I run a contest to have my readers pick a name. For some reason if left to my own choices I fall back to the same six names or so. I have no imagination for names apparently.
Amy is also a fellow Sister in Crime, and we belong to the same chapter. I can assure you she is just as funny in person!
Jane Elzey writes modern day cozy mysteries about four best friends and amateur sleuths who love to play games… while the husbands die trying. (A husband always dies.) A Cardboard Cottage Mystery series centers around board games, friendship, and fast-paced misadventure!
The books are available in ebook on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, as well as Paperback and Hardcover at all your favorite book shops. Autographed copies with swag and brag are available on the author’s website
Where is my favorite vacation spot? Born and raised a wild-child on Florida’s sandy beaches (including Vero Beach!) my favorite vacation spot always includes a big body of water, preferably when the moon is full. I’m an avid traveler, so I like to hit the beach anywhere around the world. My favorite place to bodysurf is the National Seashore in Titusville, Florida. My favorite beach to go shelling is Sanibel Island. Did you know there is only there is only one global ocean? We are all one!
What’s in my tote bag? My favorite Turkish towel, Blue Lizard sunscreen, a good read, a thermos of something delicious — probably with rum and mint, and a big bag of seaside nibbles. I like to stop at the specialty markets along the way to pick up local favorites. Poke and papaya on Oahu, ceviche and chips in Mazatlán, olives and crusty bread in Spain.
What makes your books perfect for a beach read? Because that’s what my readers tell me! The characters in the Cardboard Cottage Mystery series are four friends you’d love to hang out with – especially when they get into good trouble. They are the perfect friends to take with you to the beach – they will serve up a good picnic, lots of laughs, and some fast-paced, page-turning adventure, too.
What inspired me to start writing? I am career journalist, but along the way I discovered my true calling. I am a mischief-maker, story-teller, and bender of the facts. I would rather write a story without much regard for the truth. I’ve wanted to write mysteries my entire life and now I’m finally following that dream come true.
What’s my most interesting writing quirk? I am fan of out-of-the-box thinking and thrill in leading the reader on an adventure with lots twists, turns, and surprises. I love it when a reader says, “I didn’t see that coming!” Even though I write under the cozy genre and its rules, my characters are not-so-cozy, not cookie-cutter sweet, and always up for an adventure. Because I like to travel, I set my stories in destinations that I love, and share those bucket list travels with readers.
When writing a series, how do I keep things fresh for both my readers and myself? My VIP Club members are keeping me on my toes! Members of the Killer Club are given the honor of naming a husband for me to off in an upcoming series. I currently have more husbands to kill than plots! I am only in two deep – book one and book two – now working on book three. I bore easily, so keeping myself entertained is sure to keep the reader happy. And that’s my goal. Imagination is a wonderful thing, and as long I continue to live an adventurous life surrounded by interesting people (including my VIP Killers) I can’t imagine that this well of creativity will run dry. My characters are willing to evolve, too, and with their help I have plotted out where they go for the next several books. And of course, their friendship deepens along the way!
How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Killer Croquet, Passing on Poker, Murder by Mahjong, and Ouija with Haints, are all in the plotting stages. I’m currently writing on Poison Parcheesi and Wine, book 3 in the Cardboard Cottage Mystery series. This story takes place in Arkansas’ wine country, along with Gennas’ big “European Tour” of Arkansas. And, well, another husband dies trying and Amy almost takes the rap for murder!
If I could invite three people to mydinner party they would be… Fanny Flag, Lee Smith, and Carl Hiaasen, my favorite Southern writers. We would be telling stories and laughing so hard we would never be able to eat our dinner!
I was so thrilled to find Jane is not only a fellow floridian, but that she actually lived at one time in Vero Beach. Oh the stories we could compare! I love board games, and found this such a unique premise for a cozy mystery series. I can’t wait to grab one of Jane’s books and head to the beach.
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?
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.