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Destination Mystery Podcast by Laura Brennan

Destination Mystery Podcast

by Laura Brennan

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Interviews with authors of mystery novels, from thrillers to cozies and everything in between. Host: Laura Brennan. Show notes and transcripts are available at http://DestinationMystery.com.

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  • Episode 62: Jody Gehrman
    Wed, Mar 07, 2018

    After five years waiting for this moment, watching you for the first time still catches me off guard. I recognize you from your book jacket, but the reality of you — a three-dimensional object moving through space, flesh and blood and golden hair— makes my pulse race. You don’t know me — not yet — but nothing spikes my pulse. I am ice.-- Jody Gehrman, Watch MeLooking for a chilling read? Look no further than Jody Gehrman's latest novel, Watch Me. It's Jody's first foray into psychological suspense, and she kills it.So to speak.I talk to Jody about how this book plays in a deep way with many of the themes she's explored in her other work. She has written women's fiction and paranormal YA, but in every genre she's fascinated by our complexity as humans and in particular our relationships.Jody gives a shout out to some of her favorite authors: Megan Abbott, Ruth Ware, Tana French, Donna Tartt and Caroline Kepnes. We also talk about daring to be seen for who you really are, and the courage involved in that, so I can't help but give a shout out to BrenĂ© Brown. Rather than recommending a book, however, I offer you instead one of her awesome TEDx talks. I myself have to put in a plug for anyone with a teen (or who is a teen-at-heart) to check out her Audrey's Guide... young adult series. They have everything I like in a book -- magic, depth, a touch of romance, and a kick-ass heroine. You can keep track of Jody and her current and upcoming novels at JodyGehrman.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- Laura**********************************************************************************************Laura Brennan: An award-winning playwright, my guest Jody Gehrman is the author of nearly a dozen novels from the paranormal to young adult to romance. Her first psychological thriller, Watch Me, has just been released by St. Martin’s Press.Jody, thank you for joining me.Jody Gehrman: Thank you for having me.LB: So, before we start talking about your novels, let's talk a little bit about you. Watch Me is not your first rodeo.JG: Right. It's definitely my first foray into suspense, though, and thrillers. It's a whole new genre for me, which is exciting.LB: When did you start writing professionally?JG: Well, I went to school for a long time, for way too long, like most writers I suppose. I did a Masters in English and then a Masters in Professional Writing. And so of course I was writing and developing a writing practice during those years, and my first novel was published in 2004. Before that, I had written a lot of plays and experienced the collaboration of working in theater, which I feel like is still my home. I still go home to playwriting pretty frequently.LB: Playwriting, I think, is one of the best ways to learn how to write because you get immediate feedback, first from the actors and then from the audience. It works or it doesn't.JG: It's so true! It's one of the things that is absolutely thrilling about writing for the theater, and it is also so demoralizing. Because one night -- like, Friday night, the audience loves it and you feel like you've written the most amazing play ever. And Saturday night, you go home thinking that you should just throw it all in and you're a terrible writer and never make anyone experience your work ever again. Right? So it's definitely a roller coaster ride, but it is, like you said, immediate feedback.LB: So do you feel that that helped you when you then turn to writing novels?JG: I think it helps to counteract the inherent loneliness of writing novels. I mean, I've worked with some amazing editors and agents and publicists, and I love having them on my team, but when I'm actually writing, I'm alone. And so working in the theater, there's something very immediate about the collaboration, where you're meeting with the director every night and ...

  • Episode 61: Sharon Farrow
    Fri, Feb 23, 2018

    Charlie stopped barking as soon as he saw me. I knew now why he had been quiet for the past few minutes. He'd been digging away in the dirt, which he resumed upon my arrival. I looked for his leash and spotted it a few yards away, half buried by the dirt he flung to all sides. I picked up the leash before Charlie could get to it first. As soon as I did, I also spied what appeared to be an animal bone. Most likely a deer. But when I turned to see what Charlie was digging up now, my heart sank. It was another bone, but not one belonging to a deer. In fact, it was far more than a bone.It was a human skull. -- Sharon Farrow, Blackberry BurialI am so excited to be talking to Sharon Farrow, and not just because I'm a fan of her Berry Basket Mystery Series. With her friend and fellow author Meg Mims, she also writes the delightful Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins Mysteries as D.E. Ireland. In fact, Sharon talks a little about how writing the first book in that series, Wouldn't It Be Deadly, was somewhat challenging to the friendship. Luckily, the partnership survived; not only are the books themselves great fun, I think Sharon and Meg win the Best Cozy Title Award with every novel. You can also check out her romances, written under the name Sharon Pisacreta. Truly, Sharon has written something for everyone!Sharon's Berry Basket mysteries make use of berries in every possible way -- as clues, as scones, as wine. Sharon gives a shout-out to her inspiration, The Blueberry Store in South Haven, MI, and I offer you a link to their mouth-watering Pinterest page. Blueberries, yum...Sharon also makes a great case for why cozies matter. Those of us who love them don't have to be convinced, but there are times when cozy novels are dismissed as unimportant. As Sharon says, there can be enormous comfort in a good cozy, and that is just as valuable an emotion as those generated by a good thriller or noir. She herself reads Laura Childs, Cleo Coyle, Bailey Cates (who was new to me, woot!), and she mentions her debt of gratitude to Gillian Roberts for her Amanda Pepper mysteries, which helped Sharon through a difficult time. I don't normally ask for comments, but if anyone wants to share a book that helped them through a rough go, I think that kind of recommendation is a real gift we can give each other.Here are Sharon's own mystery series, in order:Berry Basket Mysteries1 - Dying for Strawberries 2 - Blackberry Burial 3 - Killed on Blueberry Hill (available for pre-order)Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins Mysteries1 - Wouldn't It Be Deadly2 - Move Your Blooming Corpse3 - Get Me To The Grave On TimeYou can find Sharon at SharonFarrowAuthor.com, the D.E. Ireland Facebook page, and on Twitter as both @SharonFarrowBB and @DEIrelandAuthor. As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- Laura************************************************************* Transcript of Interview with Sharon FarrowLaura Brennan: My guest today is the author of the Berry Basket Mysteries, delightful cozies full of friendship, warmth, and, of course, murder. But Sharon Farrow is no stranger to the genre. She is an award-winning author of romantic stand-alones, short stories, and -- as half of the writing team D.E. Ireland -- the Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins Mystery Series.Sharon, thank you for joining me.Sharon Farrow: Thank you for having me, Laura.LB: You’ve been writing professionally for quite a while.SF: Yes.LB: You had an award-winning debut novel. You kind of jumped onto the scene with Stolen Hearts.SF: Yes, that was gratifying because I didn’t grow up either reading romances or even planning on being a romance writer. And I sort of stumbled into the genre. And to have my first novel win Best First Book was a surprise and quite wonderful. So, yes, I’m very pleased about that.And I’m still surprised. Looking back,

  • Episode 60: Suzanne Chazin
    Wed, Feb 07, 2018

    Teenagers don't run away in January. Not in upstate New York.In summer, they'll go out drinking with friends, pass out in a field somewhere, wake up hungover and covered in mosquito bites. In the spring and fall, they'll hop a train down to New York City after a fight with a parent or a problem at school. The Port Authority cops will pick them up, usually after a day or two when they discover there really is no place to sleep in the city that never sleeps -- and worse, no place to shower.But a January disappearance was different. Jimmy Vega had only to look out at the early-morning ice sparkling on his windshield to understand that no teenager would choose to walk off into the blue-black heart of such a night as last night.Especially not a girl like Catherine Archer.-- A Place in the Wind, Suzanne ChazinSuzanne Chazin's writing has been called "searing" (USA Today), "sizzling" (The Philadephia Inquirer) and "a scorcher" (Cosmopolitan). Her suspenseful thrillers focus on first responders who are also in their own way outsiders: a short, feisty woman fire investigator lights up the Georgia Skeehan Fire Novels, while Puerto Rican American Jimmy Vega straddles the worlds between immigrants and police in the Jimmy Vega series. None other than Lee Child has called Suzanne, "A tremendous talent."We chat about her series, which I've listed in order below, and about the first-hand research she does to get the details right. I also was so pleased that she mentioned Howard Fast's novel, The Immigrants because it means I can link to his beloved series, even if it's not a mystery.You can find out more about Suzanne on her website, or even better, follow her on Facebook. Here are her books to date:Georgia Skeehan/Fire Novels1 - The Fourth Angel2 - Flashover3 - FireplayJimmy Vega Series1 - Land of Careful Shadows2 - A Blossom of Bright Light3 - No Witness but the Moon4 - A Place in the WindAs always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- Laura*****************************************************************************Transcript of Interview with Suzanne ChazinLaura Brennan: Suzanne Chazin is the award-winning author of both the Fire Novels, featuring scrappy fire investigator Georgia Skeehan, and the Jimmy Vega series, heart-pounding police thrillers that pack an emotional punch. Suspense combines with complex characters and relationships, leading none other than Lee Child to praise her work as hitting “the heart, not just the pulse.”Suzanne, thank you for joining me.Suzanne Chazin: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here, Laura.LB: Okay, I have to follow up the Lee Child quote. How did Lee Child find you to praise you? And how excited are you about that?SC: I have to say, it's a funny story because I have known Lee for many, many, many years. When I was writing my first novel, and I had just sold it to Putnam, that weekend Lee Child was doing a signing for his third book. And it was in a small bookstore, and back in those days, maybe 12 people would show up for a signing of a Lee Child book.So I showed up, and I introduced myself and I said, "I think I'm going to be sold by Putnam, they just bought it, and I think that my editor is going to be your editor." I expected him to say, gee, that's nice, thank you and goodbye. And he said, "That's wonderful! How about if we get together? Why don't you come over to my house." And I said, "But you are English. Your house is in England." And he said, "No, no, no. I live right here in Westchester County, New York."I went over to his house, I met his wonderful wife, and we've had an on and off relationship through the years. I do think he is a fan, and I am a big fan of his work, but I can't pretend that suddenly out of all the books in the world, he plucked mine. He was very kind enough to read it and was very, very supportive always of my career.

  • Episode 59: Lisa Klink, Patrick Lohier, and Diana Renn
    Wed, Jan 24, 2018

    Layla faced the mirror and took a deep breath. When she went out there, she had to be effortlessly confident. She certainly looked the part, in a rose-colored Givenchy dress that complemented her olive skin and tasteful diamond earrings. She'd swept her dark hair off her neck into a smooth chignon and her makeup was perfect. She'd been prepping for this night for weeks. I can do this...-- False Idols, written by Lisa Klink, Patrick Lohier, and Diana RennComing from a TV writing background myself, I am so excited to see the Writers' Room technique used to create a book -- in this case, False Idols, published by Serial Box. The idea of serializing stories has been used by such masters as Dickens and Conan Doyle. But this one has a twist: the installments, or "episodes," are written by three different writers: Lisa Klink, Patrick Lohier, and Diana Renn. False Idols is a thriller set in Cairo, in the world of high-end art theft. Thieves stealing priceless artifacts to sell on the black market and using the money to fund terrorism -- that's the network undercover FBI agent Layla el-Deeb needs to ferret out and bring to justice. It's a thrill ride with depth, as Layla struggles to keep her own sense of self while going deep undercover. It's also not their first rodeo. Lisa Klink was kind enough to be my very first interview on Destination Mystery, when her wonderful, high-octane caper, All In, written with Joel Goldman, came out. In addition to writing for one of my favorite TV shows (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, so much love for that show!), she has written novels in The Dead Man series, and so much more (BATMAN!!). Follow her, @LKKlink, on Twitter.Patrick has written short stories, criticism, and a novel, Radiant Night, which will be published later this year by Adaptive. You can find his website here, and he hangs out on Twitter as @PatrickLohier.And let's not forget Diana! She has several novels for young adults, with globe-trotting teens and international intrigue. Her most recent, Blue Voyage, gets praise and nominations from around the world, including kudos from one of my favorite YA thriller writers, Lamar Giles. Here's Diana's website, here is her author Facebook page, and, since we're doling out Twitter handles, you can find her as @dianarenn. All three writers share credit for bringing into the piece the lovely concept of Kintsukuroi, or fixing broken things with gold. They also give credit where it's due to consultant and former FBI agent Robert Wittman, and give a shout-out to his book, Priceless: How I went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures, which I, too, have read and highly recommend. Finally, did I mention that False Idols Episode 01: Operation Cairo is free on Kindle? Well, I've taken care of that now. As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- Laura***************************************************************************************Transcript of interview with Lisa Klink, Patrick Lohier, and Diana RennLaura Brennan: I am so excited to have not one, not two, but three killer guests on my show today. The wonderfully talented Lisa Klink has teamed up with Patrick Lohier and Diana Renn to create a new kind of book -- one that comes out in episodes. False Idols launched with Episode 1 on January 16th. Lisa, Patrick, and Diana, thank you for joining me.Lisa Klink: Happy to be here.LB: So let me start by asking each of you just to let me know a little bit about yourselves and your writing. Lisa, I'm going to start with you because I know you started out television.LK: Yes, I did. I started out in the world of Star Trek with Deep Space Nine and Voyager. And had a great time while I was on Voyager for three seasons, and then I went on to other shows like Hercules and Roswell and Martial Law. And was in TV for a while and then switched over to, I guess, prose or novels.

  • Episode 58: Olivia Matthews
    Wed, Dec 27, 2017

    On the ground between the far side of the bed and the windows, Maurice lay, face down on the tan carpet as though he'd collapsed forward, unable to brace for his fall. His killer must have struck him as he stood with his back turned between the executive chair and the bed. Her friend would have had no idea the blow was coming.His white long-sleeved shirt was untucked. His feet were bare under the hem of his black pants. His shaggy, graying hair was matted at the crown of his head as though someone had continued to bludgeon him even after the first blow had rendered him unconscious and dropped him to the floor.Mo, who hated you so much? -- Olivia Matthews, Mayhem and MassWhat a pleasure it was to chat with Olivia Matthews about her new Sister Lou Mystery series, which launches with Mayhem & Mass. Featuring a Catholic sister and a supporting cast of characters ranging from a grumpy fellow sister to an inquisitive reporter, to a protective nephew, the series weaves murder, faith, community and justice into a very satisfying whole.Olivia writes romantic suspense under the name Patricia Sargeant and contemporary romance as Regina Hart. But you can find all of her multiple personalities right here: http://authoroliviamatthews.com/Her protagonist in the new mystery series, Sister Lou, is a Catholic sister, not a nun - a distinction I was unaware of until Olivia set me straight. We give a shout-out to another series set in a religious community: the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters. The books are fantastic, and I also want to recommend the television series starring the brilliant Derek Jacobi (and especially the first season, with Sean Pertwee as Hugh).Sister Lou's second adventure, Peril & Prayer, is due to drop on June 26, 2018, and if you can't get enough of Olivia, that's good -- in addition to finishing off her Fire Trilogy (the first, On Fire, was re-released this September), she is part of a 12-book series, Decades: A Journey of African-American Romance. Her novel, Campaign for Her Heart, will finish off the series in December 2018, as each month tells a story from a different decade across more than a century. Intrigued? Check out their awesome Facebook page here.As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!- Laura*********************************************************************************************************************Transcript of Interview with Olivia MatthewsLaura Brennan: As Olivia Matthews, my guest today has just published her first traditional mystery, but that doesn’t mean Olivia is a stranger to writing. She has a string of successful romances and romantic suspense behind her -- and, I hope, in front of her as well. But her new series is a departure in many ways, not least of which is her unconventional heroine: Sister Louise (Lou) LaSalle.Olivia, thank you for joining me.Olivia Matthews: Oh, thank you so much for having me, Laura. I appreciate it.LB: Before we get into the Sister Lou series, let's talk a little bit about you. How did you get started writing?OM: Oh, thank you for asking that great question! When I was in elementary school, my sister, who is a tremendous bookworm, we would go to the library every weekend. So we would pick up books on one Saturday and then return the next Saturday to bring those books back and get new ones. Well, that developed (very long story short) my love of reading and I started writing in elementary school. Just little stories, essays, poems. And then as I got older I thought, well, I'd like to tackle a book. And the rest is history. [Laughter]LB: Now, your first book wasn't a mystery though, was it?OM: No, no, it was a romantic suspense written as Patricia Sargeant. "You Belong to Me."LB: I actually think romantic suspense squarely belongs in the mystery genre. What drew you to romantic suspense?OM: I love romance. And I love suspense.

  • Episode 57: David Hulegaard
    Thu, Dec 14, 2017

    My name is Miller Brinkman and I am—or rather, I was—a private investigator. That message was recovered in March of 1948, from a former top-secret area known as Location 2208-C. Two years have since passed, but part of me is forever stuck in that case, analyzing my actions and second-guessing myself. Could I have done anything differently to change the outcome?Jane Emmett’s story began in Ashley Falls and ended some four thousand miles away.-- David Hulegaard, IcarusFor those who like their noir with a dash of sci-fi, you are in luck: David Hulegaard has published his Noble Trilogy. Think Sam Spade meets the Men in Black. High-octane with a lot of heart, this genre-blending series delivers on both mystery and thrills, and it all starts with Icarus. Comparisons include Philip K. Dick and Stranger Things.Be still my heart. Check out David's website here, because The Noble Trilogy is not his only rodeo. He has not one, but two podcasts, one where he interviews authors (hey, just like me!) and the newly launched Nerdz of a Feather, where he and his wife discuss all things pop culture. He has also written a book with Tony Healey, a YA space opera, Planet of Ice, in the Broken Stars series. Can't keep up with him? Whew, join the club! But we can try: here's David's Facebook page, Twitter handle, and Instagram. And if you're interested in the Oregon Ghost Conference he mentioned, next one up is in March 2018.As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- Laura*************************************************************************************************Transcript of Interview with David HulegaardLaura Brennan: My guest today is an genre-bending author who blends classic noir with science fiction and a healthy dose of the paranormal. In his Noble Trilogy, David Hulegaard pits a small town private eye against a powerful and corrupt former mentor -- and an even more powerful mastermind, with humanity’s future in the balance.David, thank you for joining me.David Hulegaard: Thank you so much for having me.LB: So, The Noble Trilogy is your first foray into fiction writing?DH: Yes. I began the project about six years ago. It took me many, many years to finally get it completed. But this was my year. I determined it had waited long enough, I was going to get it done one way or another.LB: It's not just the year for your first novel, you've actually published the entire trilogy this year.DH: Yes. I've been working on them in kind of bits and pieces, here and there, wherever I could find time and it really had been my goal for a long time to dedicate more time exclusively to writing. And after some changes last year, I made some much-needed changes to my schedule so that I could free up that time to write, and I got very serious about publishing it, I want to say it was August of last year. And I really was just working on this trilogy nonstop for months and months. And then I would get one of them out the door and immediately pick up where I left off on the next one. Until finally I had all three completed.LB: Did you work them out together?DH: Yes. When I first started, I didn't know it was going to be a trilogy. I really thought maybe I had one story, and then I already had my next book idea lined up. It wasn't until a friend of mine who was doing some beta reading for me on the first book, Icarus, he came back to me with a bunch of questions. And they weren't the kind of questions I expected to get. You know, sometimes you figure people will have questions about what happened in the story, or maybe just something didn't quite work the way I had planned, but it was questions about what happened next. That surprised me, and when he started asking me these questions, then I started thinking about what happens next. And from there it opened up this whole treasure trove of ideas of things that I hadn't really considered to where it ...

  • Episode 56: V.M. Burns
    Wed, Nov 29, 2017

    I peeked over the stairs and saw my sister Jenna's reflection in the glass. I considered ignoring it and sneaking back into my office until my cell phone started vibrating in my pocket. My family and the Borg from Star Trek had a lot in common. Both demanded complete assimilation and resistance was definitely futile. -- V.M. Burns, The Plot is MurderI am so excited to interview debut author V.M. Burns. Her new cozy series begins with The Plot is Murder, as her protagonist, Samantha, starts a new chapter in her own life and opens a mystery bookstore.Valerie herself is starting a new chapter as a published author with this book, and she's taking the publishing world by storm. Four books in this series are slated for publication over the next two years. In addition to that, she's launching a second series about murders in the dog club arena through Kensington's e-book imprint. In the Dog House, the first in the series, comes out in August of 2018. And if you, like me, did not know what Conformation is, the American Kennel Club is happy to tell you.Not content with two series, Valerie has a third one coming from Camel Press in July of 2018. Travellin’ Shoes is the first in a series of cozy mysteries where all the titles are from Negro Spirituals. Each book includes unique and original soul food recipes that provide a taste of the African American culture depicted in each book. Oh, be still my heart -- and tummy!You don't have to wait to find recipes from Valerie: her website already features several recipes, and more are to come. The Plot is Murder also has an eccentric community and Valerie talks about developing the characters, especially Nana Jo, a vibrant woman of a certain age with a circle of equally-intrepid older women friends. Finally, Valerie gives a shout out (in both The Plot is Murder and in the interview) to her favorite writers: Rex Stout, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy Gilman. There's just so much to love here.We also both give a big squee of love to Kellye Garrett's debut, Hollywood Homicide. You can check out my interview with Kellye here. As I write this, Hollywood Homicide has just been named one of BOLO Books Top Reads of 2017. Woot!As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below.Enjoy!-- Laura***********************************************************************************************Transcript of interview with V.M. BurnsLaura Brennan: My guest today is author V.M. Burns, whose debut cozy, The Plot is Murder, launches a wonderful new series about starting over, chasing dreams, and -- of course -- murder.Valerie, thank you for joining me.V.M. Burns: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.LB: How did you get started writing?VMB: I think it just came naturally from my love of cozy mysteries. I think for anybody who reads cozy mysteries as much as I do, you probably start thinking, boy, it would be really great if there was a series about -- blah, blah, blah. Or, boy, I wish that series had ended differently and it had gone in this other direction. And then you just start going there. And eventually, you just sit down and say, well, you know what? Maybe I could write that. And then you do.LB: So, The Plot is Murder is the first in your Mystery Bookshop Series.VMB: Yes.LB: For someone who hasn't yet had the pleasure of picking it up, what would we need to know about it in order to follow our conversation?VMB: This first book,The Plot is Murder, introduces the reader to the protagonist, Samantha Washington. Samantha is in her mid-30s and she has been a hard-working individual her whole life, her and her husband, Leon. He was a cook and she was a high school English teacher. But they always had this dream of opening a mystery bookstore. One day, Leon dies. He's diagnosed with a terminal illness and he dies. And they realize that life is short, and it's too short not to follow your dreams.

  • Episode 55: Ellery Adams
    Tue, Nov 14, 2017

    The man on the park bench stared at the empty space above the knuckle of Nora Pennington's pinkie finger. Strangers were always hypnotized by this gap. They would gaze at the puckered skin stretched over the nub of finger bone for several awkward seconds before averting their eyes in disgust, pity, or both.Like most strangers, the man's attention could only remain on Nora's pinkie for so long. She had other fascinating scars...-- Ellery Adams, The Secret, Book & Scone SocietyWhat a treat to get to interview Ellery Adams! And (perk of the podcast!) get to read her new book, The Secret, Book & Scone Society, the first in a new series.A blend of mystery and women's fiction, The Secret, Book & Scone Society has at its core the developing friendship between four women -- none of whom makes friends lightly. Brought together by an unexpected death and realizing that, without them, it will go unpunished, they bond over books, scones -- and their darkest secrets.Feeling goosebumps yet?Ellery Adams and I chat about the new series, as well as her many cozy series (spoiler alert for those who haven't read Killer Characters, the last in her Books by the Bay Mysteries) and the challenges of blending genres. We give a shout-out to Jeri Westerson, who, like Ellery, dreamed parts of a book's plot. Oh, the creative mind of an author...Ellery is a writer who loves books. That is evident in her Book Retreat Mysteries (new one, Murder in the Locked Library, coming out in the spring!) and also in her new series: "bibliotherapy" is a central concept in The Secret, Book & Scone Society. What is that, you ask? Nora, Ellery's protagonist, helps people overcome problems by giving them a list of books to read. And Kensington, Ellery's publisher, has set up a site where Nora can do that for you. Go ahead, check it out here. But come back, because then you should check out Ellery's Facebook page, where she's running giveaways galore throughout November.As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below, Enjoy!-- Laura***********************************************************************************************Transcript of Interview with Ellery AdamsLaura Brennan: My guest today is the prolific and beloved author, Ellery Adams. Ellery lays claim to a lifelong love affair with stories, food, rescue animals and large bodies of water -- all of which make their way into her mysteries. A New York Times bestselling author, she has written more than 30 novels and has just launched a new series with The Secret, Book & Scone Society.Ellery, thank you for joining me.Ellery Adams: Thank you so much for having me.LB: You are such a beloved author in the mystery world, how did you first get started writing?EA: Oh, boy! I have been writing since I was a kid, and I was always charging for my work, right from the get-go. I don't know if it was because I was one of three kids, or the middle child seeking attention, but I used to write little stories about my friends. And they would always be the hero, and they would always get a happy ending, and I would do some illustrations and I'd sell it to them for a quarter.LB: And then you started doing it professionally, and you started right away in mysteries.EA: I did, but I had lots of other jobs in between. Some really difficult jobs like working in a dry cleaners and doing catering work, and then I became a sixth grade language arts teacher for a while. So I didn't go right from childhood into the writing. I had to have some real life experiences first. And it was only when we moved from North Carolina to Virginia and I really didn't know anyone, and I was really homesick for North Carolina. I was working at Barnes & Noble, the bookseller, and one of the great things about working there is you can just constantly read and be exposed to new titles. And I think I had read about three mysteries in a row where I just found them la...

  • Episode 54: Kirsten Weiss
    Tue, Oct 31, 2017

    All I could see was the dress. The ghost of weddings past, it swept above the checkered linoleum floor and rooted me in place. My heart twisted, leaving me breathless.I jolted into motion. The quiche, forgotten, slipped sideways on my oven mitts. I steadied it and gaped through the kitchen window to the pie shop's dining area. No. No, no, no.-- Kirsten Weiss, The Quiche and the DeadKirsten Weiss came to writing via Africa, Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, and a certain metaphysical detective, whom she invented one windy, rainy afternoon. The Riga Hayworth novels were only the beginning; Kirsten has multiple series in a variety of genres, but her books are all mysteries at heart.Her latest book doesn't just fit squarely into the cozy genre, it nails it. The Quiche and the Dead hits all the high notes. We talk about the new series, the joys of paranormal mysteries, and how transformative micro-loans can be. I can't possibly list all of Kirsten's series in order, so I will instead link you directly to her website, where you can find all seven (7!) of her series under the Books tab. Each page gives you the series order. In addition, she has the most fun extras on her site: fortune telling here, kitchen witchery there. And for those who just can't get enough, she and Elizabeth Barton teach an online course on Everyday Magic. You can also find her on Pinterest, and I highly recommend that you do.Kirsten gives a nod to some first-rate authors, among them P.G. Wodehouse, Oscar Wilde, Agatha Christie, and -- not his usual company! -- Stephen King. When we chatted Steampunk, I had to give a fan-girl shout-out to Gail Carriger, whose books I adore. For those who would rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- Laura********************************************************************************Transcript of interview with Kirsten WeissLaura Brennan: My guest today makes writing seem effortless. Her multiple series include the Paranormal Museum cozies, the Doyle cozy mysteries, the Doyle Witch cozies, the Pie Town Mysteries, the Sensibility Grey Steampunk Suspense novels, plus other series and stories included in various anthologies
Kirsten, thank you for joining me.Kirsten Weiss: Thank you for having me.LB: One of the themes in cozies, and it's in the Quiche and the Dead, your latest novel and the first in your Pie Town mysteries, is a woman starting over. But that's your story too, right? That's how you first got yourself into writing?KW: Yes. I had worked overseas in something called microcredit for years and years and years. And I'd been in all these crazy places, I'd been to Eastern Europe, I'd worked in Afghanistan, I worked in Africa, and there was a point where I just had to come home for various reasons. And I thought all the stuff I'd done overseas, I figured I cab make this transition really easily. It actually turned out to be a really difficult transition. I struggled, I ended up unemployed for a long time, ended up with a job that I just wasn't suited for and I eventually quit that because I was quite certain I was going to be fired, although that turned out not to be true. But I quit, and it was a rainy, stormy day and I was driving down the street, the wind was lashing my windshield and the trees were tossing, and I was kind of brainstorming by myself what kind of potential jobs I could do.When you brainstorm, there's no such thing as a bad idea. As I came up with "private detective." And then the phrase, "metaphysical detective" popped into my head. Then I thought, what the heck is a metaphysical detective? And I started piecing together this character named Riga Hayworth who was a metaphysical detective in San Francisco. So I wrote this book, and that led to the second book, and then I just kept on writing and writing and writing. Now it's what I do.LB: That's so neat. Now, I actually do want to talk a little bit about microcredit.

  • Episode 53: Jeri Westerson
    Wed, Oct 18, 2017

    I didn’t believe in ghosts or the supernatural
but that weird noise in the wall was testing my convictions.The unpleasant scratching sound that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention had been going on for days. Look, I’m not some scaredy-cat to jump at every sound
But this? Ever since I moved into my shop-slash-house two weeks ago, this noise had been coming from inside the walls.-- Jeri Westerson, Booke of the HiddenI am so excited to let you all know about Jeri Westerson's latest series. It's a departure from her Crispin Guest novels in that it's urban fantasy and modern day, but it has the same terrific writing, intricate plotting, and spellbinding characters as her Medieval Noir series. Plus humor! A snarky heroine! A deliciously handsome demon! A Scooby Gang of misfit friends!My friends, this series is candy.Booke of the Hidden has its own website, and you can preorder your copy right here. It comes out on Halloween. I don't know what spell was cast to make that happen, but it's perfect.Multi-talented as she is, Jeri put together her own Scooby gang and the team created a book trailer for Booke of the Hidden. We chat about the trailer, this new series and also about her Crispin Guest historical mystery series, her standalone historicals, and her lighthearted LGBT modern mysteries, the Skyler Foxe series, which she writes under the name Haley Walsh.When does this woman sleep? Oh, never mind. Jeri actually comes up with plots for new books in her sleep, as she mentions in the interview. I am officially jealous.Jeri gives a shout out to the historical fiction writers who sparked her passion for the genre, including Anya Seton and Thomas B. Costain. Of course, the noir feel to the Crispin Guest series was influenced by Chandler and Hammett, masters of the genre. Booke of the Hidden, meanwhile, has a definite Buffy flavor (although with grown-ups; this is not YA) and reminds me in the best possible way of Charlaine Harris' wonderful Sookie Stackhouse mysteries.You can check out Jeri and keep tabs on all her releases (a new Crispin Guest is out January 1st! Happy New Year to us!) on her website. You can also find her on Facebook.As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- Laura********************************************************************************************************Transcript of Interview with Jeri WestersonLaura Brennan: When Jeri Westerson combined her love of historical fiction with complex characters and tantalizing mysteries, her Medieval Noir Crispin Guest series was born. Not content to murder people in the middle ages, Jeri also writes a lighthearted LGBT mystery series, historical fiction and short stories, and is about to launch a new paranormal series with her latest novel, Booke of the Hidden.Jeri, thank you for joining me.Jeri Westerson: Well, thanks for having me.LB: I want to talk about all your series and especially Booke of the Hidden, which I enjoyed so much. But first I want to talk about how you got started as a writer. I understand your family was very into history?JW: Oh, my, yes. My parents were rabid Anglophiles. They just had all these great books on the bookshelves at home: histories and historical fiction, just anything you could want. In those olden days of yore, TV wasn't on 24/7 and so you had to read if you wanted to be entertained. So we would pull down the books from the shelves and there were all sorts of marvelous things, and I got into reading historical fiction quite early and read all kinds of things.Anybody who likes historical fiction probably knows the name Anya Seton, Thomas B. Costain, so many other authors out there who became favorites of mine. So it was easy. We also had conversation at the dinner table about the monarchy of England, medieval history, so I probably know far more kings and queens of England than I know American presidents....

  • Episode 52: Paul D. Marks
    Tue, Oct 03, 2017

    Teddie Matson had a golden life, until her path had the misfortune of crossing mine. I sat staring out the window of my office, k.d. lang playing in the background. It was a while till the sun would set, that golden hour when everything takes on a gilded glow.Golden hour is the time when the light hits just right in the early morning or late afternoon. The time when movie cinematographers most like to shoot. The light is tawny and warm. Gentle. It makes the stars shine brighter.Golden hour is the time when Teddie Matson was killed.-- Paul D. Marks, White HeatI had so much fun talking to author Paul D. Marks about his novels, his short stories, and his encounters with the LAPD. Paul's noir sensibility and love of Los Angeles come out in everything he does, but nowhere more than in "Ghosts of Bunker Hill," his short story which was nominated this year for the Macavity Award and which you can read right here.Paul has his own website, where you can keep tabs on his current and future projects. He also blogs at Criminal Minds and SleuthSayers. Social media buffs can find him on Facebook and Twitter.Paul gives a shout-out to classic authors, including Raymond Chandler, David Goodis, Ross MacDonald and John Fante, as well as masters of the short story genre, Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Cheever. As a fan of classic noir myself, I have to say I see the connection between Raymond Chandler and Paul's work. The mean streets of L.A. may have gotten more congested, but there's still a dark side to sunny California, and Paul explores it in much of his work. Transcript is below. Enjoy the interview!-- Laura******************************************************************************************Transcript of Interview with Paul D. MarksLaura Brennan: My guest today is the author of the Shamus Award-winning mystery/thriller, White Heat. But Paul D. Marks is perhaps best known for his short stories. He was voted #1 in the 2016 Ellery Queen Reader’s Award Poll, and his work, which tends towards Noir, has been widely published, recognized with multiple awards, and anthologized. His story, Ghosts of Bunker Hill, from the November 2016 Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, is currently nominated for a Macavity Award.Paul, thank you for joining me. Paul D. Marks: Well, thank you for having me, Laura. I'm glad to be here.LB: In the reviews of one of your novels, one of the reviewers said that, essentially, you are the master of all things noir and Los Angeles. So, you do, you really seem to love Los Angeles.PDM: I do like Los Angeles, probably partly because I was born here and grew up here. My mother and family -- her side of the family goes back a long ways. And when I was a kid, it was still a little bit of Raymond Chandler's LA. He was still around, although I wasn't conscious of him. He was around and Los Angeles, as I remember it as a child, was kind of how he described it in his books, especially the later books like The Long Goodbye. I think just growing up here, by osmosis you get the ambience and the feel of the place and that comes out in my writing.LB: Is he what drew you into noir?PDM: Probably what drew me into noir is movies. As you probably know, he wrote a couple of really great noir movies like Double Indemnity and The Blue Dahlia. So I'd watch the movies and you see "The Big Sleep, based on a novel by Raymond Chandler," or "Dark Passage, based on a novel by David Goodis." And my mom had this double volume of mystery books, I can't remember the name of it. And if I recall, the first story or first novel in this collection was The Big Sleep. So one day, I guess I was intrigued by this sinister-looking collection of stuff and I had seen the movie The Big Sleep, and I went and I read the novel in that collection and I was hooked.After that, I read everything I could by Raymond Chandler and he's still my favorite. I love David Goodis, too.

  • Episode 51: Steve Goble
    Wed, Sep 20, 2017

    Spider John Rush resigned himself to the hard truth--he was returning to a world of cut and thrust, hide and pounce, blood and smoke, pitch and tar. He had been foolish to think of leaving that world; Spider John belonged in no other.-- Steve Goble, The Bloody Black FlagDebut author Steve Goble takes on murder, mayhem -- and pirates! The Bloody Black Flag is a swashbuckling adventure with mystery at its heart. Criminal Element gives it a crackerjack review right here, and you can keep tabs on Steve as he writes the second -- and third! -- Spider John adventures by checking out his blog. You can also follow him on Facebook. Steve and I chat about mysteries, but also about pirates and the great books out there for those of us who love nautical adventures. The gold standard is, of course, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, with Patrick O'Brian's work a close second. In nonfiction, Steve also gives a shout-out to David Cordingly and his book, Under the Black Flag; Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea; and Captain Bligh's Portable Nightmare by John Toohey.And the term "Pirate Noir"? He credits that to mystery writer Craig McDonald, who used it in a review of The Bloody Black Flag. Well said, matey!As always, if you'd rather read than listen, a transcript is below. Enjoy!-- Laura************************************************************************Transcript of interview with Steve GobleLaura Brennan: Steve Goble may be a journalist and a mystery writer, but at heart, I suspect he may be a pirate. His debut novel, The Bloody Black Flag, has been dubbed “pirate noir,” and the swashbuckling is only matched by the multiple mysteries that surround the pirates and our hero.Steve, thank you for joining me.Steve Goble: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate this.LB: Okay, "pirate noir." I have to ask, did that come to you in a dream? How did you come up with pirate noir?SG: Honestly, the phrase belongs to Craig McDonald, one of the authors who blurbed my book. I generally described it as Robert Louis Stevenson meets Arthur Conan Doyle. But he came up with pirate noir and, you know what? I kind of like it.I guess the inspiration for the book came from my own love of seafaring fiction, pirate stories, Patrick O'Brian, Robert Louis Stevenson, all that kind of stuff. But I also grew up reading Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe, Travis McGee and tons of mystery fiction, too. I don't know exactly where the idea hit me to combine these two loves into one great mashup book, but once the idea hit me, I couldn't stop myself. I had to write it.LB: Fantastic. Well, let's talk a little bit about you. So you always did want to write fiction?SG: Oh, yes. I fell in love with books at a very young age and always had that in the back of my mind. I was a kid in school who wrote his own comic books -- I couldn't draw them, but I could write them. I just always had that in the back of my mind.LB: So how did you then end up as a journalist?SG: You know, I think part of that is the same thing that draws me to mystery fiction. One of the things I like about mystery fiction in crime fiction is that I think there's a sense of justice in those books that doesn't always play out in the real world. You know what I mean? The bad guy tends to get caught, people tend to get what they deserve. And I see journalism as my way of helping to make those things happen in the real world more often. Expose corruption, tell the truth, get the news out there. So I think those are intertwined a little bit.LB: And you were writing short stories all the while?SG: Yes, I wrote short stories for a number of small-market magazines that the majority of which no longer exist. And I wrote a lot of different kinds of things. I tried to write some science fiction, and I wrote some what you would call sword and sorcery stuff. Action-oriented things along the lines of, say,

  • Episode 50: Kellye Garrett
    Wed, Sep 06, 2017

    The copy was straight to the point. Wanted: Information on the hit-and-run murder of Haley Joseph. Tuesday, August 18th, 11:30 p.m., Vermont Ave near Hillside St. And across the bottom, right over her press-on French manicure, $15,000 reward.I peered closer at the billboard, looking for a hint that this was a brilliant marketing scheme for some new movie. I was tempted to call the number, sure I'd hear some prerecorded message letting me know what time and day it would be airing on Lifetime. But I realized this was real. The address was right up the block. They wouldn't put the cross streets on there if it was for some silly movie. Haley Joseph had died.-- Kellye Garrett, Hollywood HomicideSuch a delight to chat with Kellye Garrett, whose marvelous debut, Hollywood Homicide, launches the investigative career of Dayna Anderson, a semi-famous, mega-broke black actress. A cozy sensibility combines with a fresh voice and an insider's look at Hollywood to create a terrific new series.Kellye will, in the near future, be giving away an annotated copy of the novel -- and in the meantime, she's posting the annotations online. So if you needed another reason to visit her website, well, that's a fun one. ;)We talk about a lot of authors we like, including Alexia Gordon, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing. You can find our chat right here. Kellye gives a shout out to her fellow Chicks on the Case, where she blogs, including Ellen Byron (whose Destination Mystery interview you can listen to here), Cynthia Kuhn, Vickie Fee, Lisa Q. Mathews, and Marla Cooper. She also admires Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich, and one she terms "an old-school favorite," the beloved Joan Hess. Me, I give a shout out to Steph Cha, who also has a series about a woman who grows into being a private eye, and set in Los Angeles, although her series has a far more Noir sensibility, as does Danny Gardner's debut novel. Kellye also mentions V.M. Burns, whose book is not yet out (though you can pre-order) and I am thrilled to say that I have an interview scheduled with her for her launch day in November, so stay tuned!So many books! So little time!As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below.Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Kellye GarrettLaura Brennan: My guest today is Kellye Garrett, whose debut mystery, Hollywood Homicide, is the first in a cozy series featuring Dayna Anderson, a former actress hot on the trail of a hit-and-run driver. Library Journal’s August Debut of the Month, and full of warm friendships and quirky characters, Hollywood Homicide is a lighthearted mystery that delivers surprises, twists, and an insider’s view of Hollywood.Kellye, thank you for joining me.Kellye Garrett: Thank you for having me.LB: Hollywood Homicide is your first novel, but being a novelist is not your first writing career.KG: Right. I've been writing professionally my whole career. I started off as a magazine editor for a publication called Vibe Magazine. And then I wasn't really happy just writing about people doing cool stuff, I wanted to do cool stuff myself. So I went to film school at USC, and then I spent eight years in Hollywood working in television, I did some developing, and I also was staff for the TV show Cold Case for a year. After that, you know, Hollywood is not the most secure place, for job security --LB: No, I tell people that if they want job security, Hollywood is not the place to be because your contract in television, your contract is actually in weeks.KG: Yes, it's one of those things where you could, your show could be canceled tomorrow and you could not work again for years. And so when I turned 30, I wanted more job security so I came back home to New Jersey and I started over into more corporate writing. And so now I'm a communications writer for a media company in New York.LB: I remember Cold Case. I loved Cold Case.KG: People,

  • Episode 49: Melinda Snodgrass
    Wed, Jul 26, 2017

    I looked out the plane’s window at Los Angeles, and it looked like any other airport. No palm trees in evidence. No movie stars strolling across the tarmac toward private jets. No surfboards. The only difference between LAX and LaGuardia was the lack of snow...If I had been in a high-powered all-human law firm I would have been flying on the firm’s private executive jet, and I wouldn’t have had to get up at ugh o’clock to catch a commercial flight. But I was with a white-fang, vampire-owned firm, so we flew commercial.-- Melinda Snodgrass, Box Office PoisonI can't tell you how excited I am to be chatting with Melinda Snodgrass. Not only is Melinda (writing as Phillipa Bornikova) the author of the fabulous Linnet Ellery urban fantasy series, she wrote for several of my favorite television shows, including Star Trek: The Next Generation, Reasonable Doubts (with the fabulous Marlee Matlin), and Profiler. She is also the author of space operas and adventure novels, and the co-creator (with George R.R. Martin) of the Wild Cards series. My fandoms all merge today!Melinda's most recent novel just launched: In Evil Times, the second in her planned five-book Imperials Saga. Having a hard time keeping up with all her accomplishments? You're not alone. Happily, you can keep up to date by checking out her website, blog, and -- where she prefers to hang out -- Facebook page.Also, there are (mercifully) few interviews in which I get punked, but lucky you, today's is one of them. Wild Cards goes to Broadway! Click on the link (which will take you to George Martin's blog) and tell me you if you dare that you wouldn't have been taken in by the joke as well.The shared universe of Wild Cards is rich and complex -- too much so for me to attempt to list all the novels here. Luckily, there's a gorgeous website for all things Wild Cards. If you're interested in this tapestry of storytelling, created and edited by Melinda and George, and enriched by dozens of individual authors, check it out here.Alas that her first series, about a Federal Court judge riding circuit in the solar system, is out of print. Here, however, are the rest of series, in order:Linnet Ellery (urban fantasy)1 - This Case Is Gonna Kill Me2 - Box Office Poison3 - Publish and Perish (due out April 2018)The Imperials (space opera)1 - The High Ground2 - In Evil TimesEdge Of... series (paranormal adventure)1 - The Edge of Reason2 - The Edge of Ruin3 - The Edge of DawnAs always, there's a transcript if you'd rather read than listen. Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript  of Interview with Melinda SnodgrassLaura Brennan: Calling Melinda Snodgrass accomplished doesn’t begin to cut it. She writes across genres, from science fiction to urban fantasy, novels, television and feature scripts. She is a co-creator and co-editor of the Wild Cards series, a shared-world anthology about the consequences of ordinary people gaining superpowers. Her “Edge Of
” adventure series explores the tension between science and religion, and her Linnet Ellery series is smart and suspenseful urban fantasy, set in a world filled with fascinating -- and deadly -- vampires, werewolves, and Fey. Book Two of her Imperials series, In Evil Times, just launched on July 4th.Melinda, thank you for joining me.Melinda Snodgrass: Thank you so much for inviting me, I'm really delighted.LB: When I say you're accomplished, I almost don't know where to begin. But starting with the pre-writing, you ride horses, you shoot, you run a business, you sing -- you're basically Wonder Woman.MS: Well, thank you, but I'm older and not strong anymore, so I can't match her in any way. Part of it is, I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, I think was my dilemma. And I was fortunate to have a father who was enormously supportive to me. So anything I wanted to explore and try, he was absolutely behind me. He was a very fine musician,

  • Episode 48: Frankie Bow
    Wed, Jul 12, 2017

    Inside the navy-blue Victorian house two blocks off Main Street, four women sat around a sturdy kitchen table.As you watched them chatting and sipping sweet tea, you might assume you were observing a church committee or a quilting circle.You would be wrong.-- Frankie Bow, The No-Tell MotelI am thrilled to chat with author Frankie Bow, who has not only her own delightful series of campus mysteries -- the Professor Molly Mystery Series -- but also writes in Jana DeLeon's Miss Fortune Mystery Series. Her latest, The No-Tell Motel, is hot off the presses as this interview goes live.I would love to offer you a list, in order, of her books, but they are too many and too varied. Instead, I will link you directly to her website, where you can find these goodies for yourself. Although I will point you to the first in the Professor Molly Series, The Musubi Murder. Musubi looks like a Spam sushi roll; if you've never seen one -- or simply don't believe me! -- you must check out the photo on a guest post Frankie did for Lori's Reading Corner. Other unexpected uses for Spam are also included.I do want to mention yet another series that Frankie writes: the children's books about Alice Mongoose and Alistair Rat, illustrated by her father. Together, they work under the name of Mary Pfaff, an "author" who is also a plot point in one of her Professor Molly Mysteries, The Invasive Species. These books are absolutely charming in their own right, and if you have children in your life, you should definitely check them out.Interested in campus mysteries? Here's the link to Frankie's guest post about why campus mysteries are so much fun, on the blog Christa Reads and Writes -- a blog well worth a look for mystery lovers, filled with reviews and interviews. Frankie gives a shout out to fellow writers of academic mysteries Cynthia Kuhn, Joanne Dobson, Amanda Cross, and Sarah Caudwell, as well as one of the first American detective novelists, Anna Katharine Green. Meanwhile, I give a shout out to Leslie Karst, whose cozies are also on the less-sweet side. Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Frankie BowLaura Brennan: Like the protagonist in her charming Professor Molly series, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike Molly, Frankie is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues and a perfectly nice office chair. And, I would hope, fewer dead bodies to stumble across.Frankie, thank you for joining me.Frankie Bow: Thank you, Laura.LB: The first thing I want to talk about is your Professor Molly series. Your series is definitely amateur sleuth, it's a campus mystery, there's a strong supporting cast of recurring characters and a love interest. Would you consider it to be a cozy?FB: That's a really good question because I think, of all the categories, it fits into cozy best. But it's really on the least sweet end of the cozy spectrum. There's a very sort of cynical -- cynical and realistic -- worldview behind it. Things are resolved, but the good guys don't always triumph. The bad guys get away with things sometimes, just like in real life. And Molly has to be fatalistic, and work within a corrupt system. So, yes, it's cozy in the sense that it's small community, recurring characters, amateur sleuth, but it isn't really, really sweet.LB: That's interesting that you say she has to live within a corrupt system, because that's what the University she works at is presented as, that kind of thing.FB: Yes! And I have to hasten to say that this is not my actual employer that I am depicting here. I actually look at the higher education news and I pick all the juiciest and most scandalous news items out, and I think, how can I put that into my story? So, for example, you might have somebody who actually went to jail for -- a Dean went to jail for fraud, to prison for fraud, for fixing students' grades so that their pass rates would be higher. And it's like, oh,

  • Episode 47: Leslie Karst
    Fri, Jun 30, 2017

    “Papà.” I looked into my father’s eyes, deep blue and set off by leathery skin and rows of wrinkles—the result of age, but also a lifetime of long hours in fishing boats out in the sun. “Oh, Papà,” I said again and then started to cry.I hadn’t meant to; I’d convinced myself I could do this, that I could hold it together and be strong for my dad. But now, standing there in front of him, it hit me: I was about to tell him that his sister had been viciously murdered.-- Leslie Karst, Dying for a TasteCozy mystery lovers are in for a treat! Leslie Karst's Sally Solari series is set in not one, but two restaurants on the California coast. Sun, sand, recipes, and murder. What more could one ask for?Leslie and I chat about her multiple careers -- waitress, passionate chef, attorney, writer -- and how they all come together in her wonderful cozy mysteries. You can check out her website here and her Facebook Author page over here. The first book in the series is Dying for a Taste, and gives an insider's view of running a restaurant. The second, A Measure of Murder, blends music with the mystery, as Sally joins a local chorus to be able to sing Mozart's Requiem. An appropriate piece of music, as it turns out...Meanwhile, we also bond over a shared love of Dorothy Sayers, Sue Grafton, Sarah Caudwell, and Ellen Byron. Ellen and I had a chat a few months ago, and you can check her out, along with her hilarious Louisiana cozies, right here. And if you are a Dorothy Sayers fan (and who isn't?), I recently found a terrific group on Facebook, The Lord Peter Wimsey Appreciation Society, should you be looking for like-minded people with whom to chat about all things DLS. Finally, Leslie gives a big shout-out to her fellow Guppies at Sisters in Crime. Woot!As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Leslie KarstLaura Brennan: Author Leslie Karst combines her background as an attorney with her English Lit degree and culinary passion to create a cozy series as delightful and unique as she is. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly calls her a "dab hand with the red herrings" while her fans call the Sally Solari Mysteries "smart, thoughtfully plotted, and laugh-out-loud."Leslie, thank you for joining me.Leslie Karst: Thank you so much, Laura, for inviting me. This is very exciting.LB: So you came to writing after a career in the law.LK: Yes, I did.LB: But you started out as a Lit major. Was writing always in the back of your mind?LK: Well, when you're a literature major, all you do -- you do a lot of reading, but you mostly do a lot of writing. So that's probably when I would date my earliest decent writing, anyway, back to that time in college, yes.LB: But then, when you left college, you bounced around for a bit, let's say.LK: I absolutely did. I was one of those people, you know, with an English lit major, there's not a whole lot of jobs you can get. You can be an English literature teacher, but those are pretty much impossible to get. And by the time I had finished my four years doing that, I realized that literary criticism was not my passion. Even though I love to read. So I spent about seven years having all sorts of strange jobs. I washed baby diapers for a while, which is sort of embarrassing to admit. [Laughter.] I wanted to stay in Santa Cruz and so I did all different jobs.One of the jobs I did was waitressing, which I liked a lot. But I eventually decided I needed to grow up and get a real job. My father was a law professor, and I'd always been told that I was argumentative. "You'd be such a great lawyer!" So I ended up going to law school. Which my writing really helped with that, too, because most lawyers cannot write to save their lives. They're very good at maybe standing on their feet and arguing in court or whatever, but I actually ended up being pretty good about putting together a l...

  • Episode 46: DV Berkom
    Wed, Jun 14, 2017

    Leine checked her watch as she waited for the target to emerge from the concrete block building. Practical as only Soviet-style architecture could be, nevertheless the crumbling façade gave the impression of faded power, like a once-famous tenor now down on his luck and sucking on throat lozenges in order to save his voice...Ah, the glamorous life of a jet-setting assassin...-- DV Berkom, A Killing TruthLooking for breathless, non-stop action with a smart, powerful woman kicking down the doors? Are you in for a treat! DV Berkom's thrillers have it all.DV and I chat about her two series, the Kate Jones Thrillers and the grittier Leine Basso Crime Thrillers. You can find out more about both series and DV herself on her website, right here. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. DV and I talked about her adventures, her writing, and the development of both series. We also discussed some of the injustices that, in her novels at least, are righted by a powerful woman. Chief among those is Human Trafficking -- a horrific problem, but one we are not powerless to fight -- as was recently illustrated by the Alaska Airline attendant who recognized that a teenage girl was being transported against her will. If you need it, or ever encounter someone who does, the National Human Trafficking Hotline is (888) 373-7888. You can also text "BeFree" (233733) to reach the Polaris Project.Also, the State Department has "15 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking" including a guide for parents and educators on how Human Traffickers Target Children. There are many organizations doing wonderful work; you can find local groups or check out some national groups like Polaris and GEMS. I also have to give a shout out to the wonderful Peg Brantley, whom I interview here, and whose latest book, Trafficked, also works to increase awareness of the problem.Mysteries and thrillers are wonderful escapism and DV's books are wildly entertaining. How awesome, too, that the information they bring out may save some lives.As always, if you'd rather read than listen, here is the transcript. Enjoy!-- Laura***********************************************************************************Transcript of Interview with DV BerkomLaura Brennan: DV Berkom is the USA Today bestselling author of not one, but two action-packed thriller series, each featuring a kick-ass woman: Leine Basso and Kate Jones. DV’s writing is high-octane, powerful, and direct -- much like her two heroines.DV, thank you for joining me.DV Berkom: Thank you for having me here.LB: So, you started out as a political science major. What was the plan at that point?DVB: Well, I was going to become a lawyer.LB: Really?DVB: Yes. And I started running around with that crowd, I guess you'd call it, and realized that wasn't really where my heart lay.So I decided that the best thing I could do was take off and move to Mexico and live on a sailboat for a while.LB: That's an interesting leap to make.DVB: [Laughter] Yes! Yes, kind of. It was one of the only things I could think of to do to really get my head back on straight. Because I didn't want to really move into that -- it was more like a game, like you're playing a game, when you're an attorney and I didn't feel like, that that would be something I would be really good at. I think it was a better thing for me to take off and have some time alone to think. And doing it in Mexico on a sailboat is a really good place to do.LB: That's an adventure.DVB: Mmm-hmm. Yeah. And that started several years of moving, oh, probably every six months to a year. Different places, different jobs. It was really great training for becoming a writer.LB: It's interesting that you mention that being a lawyer felt like it would be a game. Because reading your novels, it's so high-octane and it feels like it's a game in that everybody has a counter-move.

  • Episode 45: Nupur Tustin
    Tue, May 30, 2017

    The faint breeze from the open window carried the sound of the Burgermeister's rich baritone singing the arpeggios Haydn had assigned him: "Do Mi So Mi Do." In the distance, he could hear the soft, melodious strains of the barber-surgeon's violin. Even the most unmusical of the townspeople was able to take simple directions without argument, but Barto...A loud outburst reverberated through the hallway beyond the Music Room. Haydn was on his feet in an instant. God in Heaven! Whatever was the matter now? Could Barto get along with no one?He rushed into the Rehearsal Room, aghast to see chairs lying overturned before him and violin cases strewn all over the blue and gold patterned marble floor...-- Nupur Tustin, A Minor DeceptionI'm so excited to be chatting with Nupur Tustin about her debut novel, the first in a series of cozy historical mysteries. A Minor Deception features none other than composer Joseph Haydn as her amateur sleuth. I had never really thought about the subgenre of biographical mysteries, and the idea of being part of the conversation surrounding real, historical people until our conversation. Nupur reminded me of Susan Wittig Albert's Beatrix Potter series, Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen mysteries, and Bruce Alexander's Sir John Fielding mystery series. She wanted to expand the conversation out of England, and into both the rest of Europe and the field of music. Haydn was the perfect choice.Nupur's light touch with history has also been compared to Emily Brightwell's wonderful Mrs. Jeffries Victorian mystery series. In a review, Emily calls A Minor Deception "elegantly written and plotted," and Nupur returns the favor, citing Emily as a big influence and comparing her to Agatha Christie. On a related note, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily here if you'd like to listen to our chat. Finally, Nupur writes a column called Agent Insight to help other writers on their road to publication. Writers out there, she also gives a shout out to the online Guppies chapter of Sisters in Crime. Writer or reader, you can keep up with Nupur on her website, Goodreads, and Facebook page, and subscribe to her newsletter -- which earns you a free Haydn short story! -- right here.As always, if you'd rather read than listen, here is the transcript. Enjoy!LauraTranscript of Interview with Nupur TustinLaura Brennan: Journalist and composer Nupur Tustin combines her love of music and her way with words to create the Joseph Haydn Mystery Series. Her first novel, A Minor Deception, a blend of historical and cozy, finds Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn on the trail of a thieving violinist, as mystery, politics and danger swirl around him.Nupur, thank you for joining me.Nupur Tustin: Thank you, Laura. Thank you for having me.LB: Joseph Haydn doesn’t immediately spring to mind as a likely amateur detective. How did you first discover him?NT: Yes, I've heard that from a lot of people. You know, why Joseph Haydn? I suppose it was because I was reading biographical mysteries at the time. I'd just become a mother. It hadn't been a difficult pregnancy as such, but I'd had four miscarriages before that so I was told to take it easy. And so that just meant that I couldn't do very much, I was restricted to the bedroom, I couldn't play my piano, and I was reading Susan Wittig Albert's Beatrix Potter novels. And I remember reading the author's note, and she talks about the considerable research that she's done on the series, having read about Beatrix Potter for about 10 years, and I thought, well, I could do that. I had just come out of the PhD program and research is in my blood. And I thought, this sounds like fun. I can do that. It's like writing a research paper, but you're writing fiction and you're kind of adding to the conversation. The conversation being biographical mystery series -- Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen series for instance, Bruce Alexander's Sir John Fielding mysteries.

  • Episode 44: Anne Louise Bannon
    Wed, May 17, 2017

    Honoria took the cloche off and shrugged off the coat with the white fox collar, laying them on one of the small tables flanking the door. She sniffed. Thanks to the croup, her sense of smell was still off. Yet something did not smell right. She turned toward her bedroom.The young woman lay sprawled at the entrance to the back hall, her eyes open and staring.-- Anne Louise Bannon, The Last WitnessesIf you haven't yet read Anne Louise Bannon's Freddie and Kathy Mysteries, what a treat you have in store for you! Set in the Roaring Twenties, filled with bootleg hooch and murders aplenty. Here are the books in order:1 - Fascinating Rhythm2 - Bring Into Bondage3 - The Last WitnessesIn addition, Anne has written a very useful book for writers -- Howdunnit: Book of Poisons -- and has a blogged novel, White House Rhapsody, which she continues to update.You really must go check out Anne's website -- she has so many projects going on and so many interesting publications to her name, it's best I send you to the source. Do not forget her wine blog! She also gave a shout out to several authors, including Avery Ames, Mary Higgins Clark, Phyllis A. Whitney and the incomparable Dorothy L. Sayers.Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Anne Louise BannonLaura Brennan: Anne Louise Bannon has made not one, but two careers out of her passion for storytelling. Both a novelist and a journalist, she has an insatiable curiosity. In addition to her mystery novels, she has written a nonfiction book about poisons, freelanced for such diverse publications as the Los Angeles Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Backstage West, and edits a wine blog. On the fiction side, she writes a romantic serial, a spy series, and her wonderful Kathy and Freddie historical mystery series, set in the 1920s.Anne, thank you for joining me.Anne Louise Bannon: thank you for having me.LB: On your website, I noticed that you introduce yourself through an avatar: Robin Goodfellow, who is better known as the impish Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream.ALB: Yes,that is only my favorite character from my favorite play in the whole wide world. I love A Midsummer Night's Dream.LB: How do you see yourself as Puck?ALB: It's not so much physically, I'm not the fastest moving human being on the planet. It's mostly mentally. My brain is constantly going and there's throwaway line from the end of Act II: "I'll put a girdle around the earth in 40 minutes." Maybe my body doesn't move that fast, but my brain certainly does. It was something about Puck that I really loved. I also love the fact that he's a bit of a stinker. A pre-Bugs Bunny Bugs Bunny, if you will.LB: You are in every medium I can think of. So, let's actually start though: how did you get started writing? What came first?ALB: Oh, being a day-dreamy, moody teenager at age 15. I mean, I was spending an awful lot of time daydreaming. I finally figured out if I was going to spend all this time daydreaming, I should find a way to justify it. So I started writing. And that summer I turned 15, I cranked out my first novel.LB: Why mysteries?ALB: I've always liked mystery, as a genre. As I got older, I just started reading more and more mysteries. I stumbled onto Dorothy Sayers, and Nero Wolfe was popular on TV with, I think, William Cannon at the time. One of my favorite books as a kid was called The Mystery of the Green Cat by Phyllis Whitney and I really enjoyed Nancy Drew, and fell away from it for a while as a teenager but got back into it as a young adult, even before I finished college. I would pick up mysteries as my relaxation from grad school work and stuff like that.LB: How do you think your training as a journalist impacted your fiction?ALB: Well, given that my journalism happened way later, as an adult... Here's the story: I had a really bad first marriage. As part of that, I ended up writing a lot of stuff,

  • Episode 43: Tom Sawyer
    Mon, May 01, 2017

    Given the stuff on TV at the time, and especially conditioned by the dreck on which I'd been working for the past few years, I really didn't expect much. But, alone in that room, within a few minutes I was convinced that finally, here was a show I could be as enthusiastic about as I was for my own series concepts.The new series, developed by Peter Fischer and the remarkably talented William Link and Richard Levinson, was Murder, She Wrote.-- Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of the REAL Tom SawyerI couldn't be more excited to be talking to (the real) Tom Sawyer about his writing career, which spans not only two political thrillers and a lively PI series, but television stints on some of my favorite shows -- including both The Law and Harry McGraw and the iconic Murder, She Wrote. The stories he tells in the interview are only a taste of the insider stories he shares in his new memoir, The Adventures of the REAL Tom Sawyer. In addition to chatting about his Hollywood career working with Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach and Tony Curtis, among many others, Tom gives a shout out to The Maltese Falcon -- and a great story about the influence it had on Murder, She Wrote. We also discussed his books on writing (Fiction Writing Demystified), as well as his thrillers, The Sixteenth Man and No Place to Run. And I was happy to learn that he's writing a follow-up to Cross Purposes, which launched his Barney Moon, PI series.But as Tom's memoir, The Adventures of the REAL Tom Sawyer, makes clear, he's done more than we could ever talk about in one twenty-minute interview, including a musical about JFK (Jack); a film which he wrote, directed, and produced (Alice Goodbody); and a book about what it takes to succeed (9 Badass Secrets for Putting Yourself in Luck's Way). To learn more about these and his many other projects, check out Tom's website, ThomasBSawyer.com.Tom graciously sent me an autographed copy of a Murder, She Wrote which he'd written, and at the end of May, 2017, I will be giving it away to one lucky person on my mailing list. So if you're not on my mailing list yet, now is definitely the time to sign up. I send out one newsletter a month, and I never share your e-mail with anyone else. So sign up now, in the box on the top right. Good luck!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Tom SawyerLaura Brennan: Tom Sawyer has written for the stage, television, movies and mystery novels, and his memoir, The Adventures of the REAL Tom Sawyer, launches today, May 1st. While his adventures -- and accomplishments -- are legion, two are of particular interest to Destination Mystery listeners: first, his crime novels, which range from thrillers to a PI series; and second, his involvement with none other than Jessica Fletcher, as a writer, producer and showrunner on Murder She Wrote.Tom, thank you for joining me.Tom Sawyer: Well, thank you for having me, Laura.LB: You have had a career writing for just about every possible medium, and now you've turned your hand to memoir. And your adventures are just amazing.TS: Well, thank you. They amazed me as I had to revisit them to write the memoir. It was one holy moly moment after another because at the time that these extraordinary things were happening in my life, with most of them, I had no perspective. I just figured, oh, this is how it works. Next.LB: You have done some amazing things. Let me see where I even want to start. I think, you working in New York as a visual artist.TS: Well, that was my boyhood ambition. Back when I was a kid, they did story comic strips. Realistically drawn, three panels a day with dialogue balloons. The idea, of course, was to sell newspapers, to get the readers to want to buy the newspapers so they can find out what happens next in your comic strip. And that became my goal from the time I was 12 years old. Went to New York when I was 20 and started working in comic books.

  • Episode 42: Valerie C. Woods
    Mon, Apr 17, 2017

    To begin, let me clear up a few things. J. Dyanne does not communicate with little moon aliens or Martians. She does not have a crystal ball, nor was she responsible for the outcome of the last presidential election. And she certainly does not command the dead. She may speak with them from time to time, but command them? Who can do that? What could you possible use to exert pressure to obey? I mean, they're already dead. Perhaps threaten them with life?-- Valerie C. Woods, Katrin's Chronicles: The Canon of Jacquelene Dyanne Vol. 1I am thrilled to welcome Valerie C. Woods and her charming middle-grade novel, Katrin's Chronicles: The Canon of Jacquelene Dyanne Vol. 1. Take a love of Sherlock Holmes, add in coming of age during the Civil Rights Era, and sprinkle it over with sisterly devotion and a touch of magic, and you have Valerie's warm and satisfying debut mystery.We talk about her work in theater (including Something For Everyone, the book of monologues she wrote after being unable to find material for herself outside of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun) and how it led to her first screenplay, a Disney Fellowship, and a television career that included Any Day Now and Touched by an Angel. You can check out all her credits here on her website; she can also be found here on Twitter. And do not miss the books she publishes. In addition to Sherlock Holmes, Valerie was influenced by the Harry Potter series and my own favorite middle grade novel, A Wrinkle in Time. She also gave a shout-out to Harriet the Spy, Nancy Drew, and Mary Stewart's Arthurian saga that begins with The Crystal Cave. I want to mention the title of one of the books Valerie published and is editing the sequel to, Chet Baker: The Missing Years by Artt Frank.Finally, do not miss Valerie's take on the trope of "the chosen one," about 17 minutes into our conversation. Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Valerie C. WoodsLaura Brennan: Valerie C. Woods is a writer/producer in television and film, and is also a publisher, editor and author. Among her TV writing credits, she has worked on Soul Food, Any Day Now, and Touched by an Angel. She founded the independent press, BooksEndependent, and her middle-grade novel, Katrin’s Chronicles: The Canon of Jacquelene Dyanne, Vol. 1 combines mystery with history, and just a touch of magic.Valerie, thank you for joining me.Valerie C. Woods: Thank you for having me. It's great to be here.LB: So you have written for television and film, and you've written fiction and poetry and a book of monologues. Has it just always been writing for you?VCW: Well, it all started because I thought I wanted to be an actress. And I moved to New York from Chicago to be the starving artist/actor, and we were preparing for an actors' showcase and the only material I could find for black women that represented me was something from A Raisin In The Sun. And I realize there wasn't a lot of material that was written for black women, so I started writing my own material for auditions and showcases. And then everybody in my acting class wanted me to write something for them, and I did. Turned out I had about 25 acting monologues for men and women and decided to publish them.I got rejected from all the play publishers, Samuel French and all of them. And then I published it myself, sold out 1100 books, and then Samuel French said, okay, we'll publish it. Add 25 more. And so that began my life as a writer.LB: So you were actually an independent author long before it was cool.VCW: Yes! In fact, when I started my press, I remembered, oh, wait, this isn't new. Now it is so much more easy than it was back when I did it. The new platforms for Amazon and all the different self-publishing things, and digital and e-books. It's a breeze to produce, physically produce, but the same skills and creativity and editing is needed for the content.LB: Yes. Yes,

  • Episode 41: Holly Tucker
    Tue, Mar 21, 2017

    Alone, Pontchartrain inspected the black case. It was secured with not one but two sets of wax seals imprinted with La Reynie's official insignia. Pontchartrain cracked open the brittle seals with a small knife and inserted the key into the lock... Removing one large stack of pages, he placed the papers on the table and turned each gingerly. He saw names of France's highest nobility. Alongside them were scrawled the words "death," "poison," "murdered."-- Holly Tucker, City of Light, City of PoisonI am so pleased to welcome my first true-crime writer -- all the more so because Holly Tucker brings her true crime tales to life from the pages of history. The central character of her latest book, City of Light, City of Poison is Nicolas de La Reynie, the first police chief of Paris, and the man who quite literally created the City of Light. City of Light, City of Poison gives us an insider's look into The Affair of the Poisons, the scandal which rocked the Sun King's court. Holly's book opens with King Louis XIV himself destroying what he thought were the only records of the investigation. Lucky for us, Louis was mistaken -- and Holly was tenacious. Holly is Editor-in-Chief of the marvelous website, Wonders & Marvels: A Community for Curious Minds Who Love History, Its Odd Stories, and Good Reads. My word, who doesn't? You can also keep tabs on her through her own author website, Holly-Tucker.com. In our interview, she gives a shout-out to authors Laura Hillenbrand and Erik Larson, and I would be failing in my duty to you not to recommend Holly's other foray into historical true crime, Blood Work, the research for which led her to Nicolas de La Reynie. As this goes live, it is Holly's launch day for City of Light, City of Poison. You can run over and like her on Facebook right here. While you're at it, go like Destination Mystery on Facebook as well. Meanwhile, though, you can enjoy this interview. If you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below.Au revoir!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Holly TuckerLaura Brennan: A professor of French History at Vanderbilt University, Holly Tucker writes extensively on true crime in early Europe. She has tackled murder and mayhem during the Scientific Revolution in her award-winning book, Blood Work, as well as childbirth and fairy tales in Pregnant Fictions. Her most recent book, City of Light, City of Poison, follows the first police chief of Paris as he works to root out organized crime and foil a cabal of poisoners, witches and unholy priests.Holly, thank you for joining me.Holly Tucker: Thanks for having me.LB: So, normally, in my interviews, I start by chatting about you and how you got into this, but I cannot wait to delve into this book with you. So let us start with City of Light, City of Poison. For someone who hasn't picked it up yet, what's the one thing they need to know in order to understand our conversation?HT: That it's a true crime mystery. It might read like fiction, but it's absolutely true.LB: When you say it might read like fiction, it does. It reads like a fast-paced novel where you're never sure who you should be rooting for.HT: There are so many different characters in this story as I researched it, it was really hard for me to try to figure out who exactly was up to no good and who is innocent. And I think that the biggest challenge in writing this book, and then also I hope to convey to readers, the pleasure of trying to solve the mystery and the puzzle themselves.LB: Your central character, although he was a real person, that first police chief of Paris, Nicolas de La Reynie. Because Paris up to that point didn't really have what we think of today as a police force.HT: No, it didn't. In fact I think it's safe to say it was considered to be the crime capital of the world. And the streets were foul and dirty, dangerous and most of the policing was done, if you could call it policing,

  • Episode 40: Jenny Milchman
    Tue, Mar 07, 2017

    My husband wasn't in bed with me when I woke up that January morning. The mid-winter sky was bruised purple and yellow outside the window. I shut bleary eyes against light that glared and pounded. A second later I realized my toes weren't burrowing into the hollows behind Brendan's knees, that when I flung out my arm it didn't meet his wiry chest...-- Jenny Milchman, Cover of SnowThriller author Jenny Milchman writes page-turning novels of women in jeopardy -- and the courage and resourcefulness they find inside of themselves in the face of danger.Check out Jenny's website for information on all of her books and to check out her blog. In addition to writing thrillers (all of which were chosen as Indie Next picks) Jenny is on the board of International Thriller Writers and interviews writers for the radio show, Next Steps with Jenny Milchman and ITW on Authors on the Air. And if that weren't enough, you can find Jenny on Facebook, Twitter, and Patreon. Whew!Jenny gives shout-outs to two books: The Freedom Broker, by K.J. Howe -- a debut novel and the first of a series of high-octane thrillers -- and We Need to Talk About Kevin, a tense and intimate look at a family destroyed by violence, by Lionel Shriver. Jenny's own books are all stand-alones:Cover of SnowRuin FallsAs Night FallsAs always, if you'd rather read than listen, here is the transcript. Enjoy! -- LauraTranscript of Interview with Jenny MilchmanLaura Brennan: Jenny Milchman is an award-winning, critically acclaimed novelist who writes un-put-downable thrillers. Her debut novel, Cover of Snow, won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for best suspense novel of 2013. All three of her novels published to date, including Rune Falls and As Night Falls, have been Indie Next picks. Jenny interviews thriller writers for the Next Steps radio show and I am delighted that she agreed to be on the other side of the microphone for this chat with me.Jenny, thank you for joining me.Jenny Milchman: Laura, thank you for having me on.LB: Before we get into your books, let's talk a little bit about you. I understand that your folks were a little worried about this whole writing gig.JM: Yes! More -- not even worried as much as, what would a writing gig even mean? I was always wanting to be a writer, that was kind of the goal from the beginning. And I loved reading, as most writers do. And it seemed a natural outgrowth of my childhood. But it wasn't even, "Should you do this? No." It was more, "What would this even mean?"And then when I was a sophomore in college, my parents got to that point where they had to ask what the point of this expensive degree was, I told them that I wanted to be a poet and live in the woods in a log cabin of my own making. And they pointed out that I had never really picked up a hammer, and our country is not that nice to its poets anyway. And they said, is there something else you can imagine doing? And since there was, we went with that.LB: And that thing was psychology.JM: It was. And I practiced for 10 years, yes, as a psychotherapist in a rural community mental health center.LB: It's so fascinating, because you're not the first or even the third author I've spoken to who has gone into psychology. What do you think is the connection?JM: I think there is a connection, I really do. And, to a certain extent -- I wanted to be a poet, I didn't have the kind of books that I wound up writing in mind when this whole desire to be a writer but put it aside thing happened. And it didn't reawaken until I was a psychotherapist practicing in this rural clinic, and I had this very scary case. And the case was a little, blonde, five-year-old, adorable cherub of a child whose mother had brought her in because she had just killed the family pet. And it was almost as if life was a suspense novel. And I sat down and just to deal with this overwhelming case,

  • Episode 39: Virginia Zimmerman
    Tue, Feb 21, 2017

    For ten years, my father's furniture and books lurked in the study he abandoned. I don't remember a time when we thought he might come back, but his belongings were like a bookmark, holding a place in our lives...-- Virginia Zimmerman, The Rosemary SpellI don't know about you, but I'm still enthralled by a wonderful children's book -- especially when there's a mystery or puzzle at the heart of the adventure. The Rosemary Spell is a perfect book for middle-grade readers who want a little magic, a little mystery, and a lot of friendship.This is a book about the power of books, and Virginia Zimmerman is an expert on that. You can learn more about her on her website, including links to an article she wrote on the importance of letting -- or even encouraging -- children to re-read.Teachers, do not miss out on the fantastic teacher's guide that was created for The Rosemary Spell by Pamela Brunskill. In particular, if you teach poetry or want to introduce your cherubs to Shakespeare, The Rosemary Spell is the book to check out.We talked about some favorites for children: A Wrinkle in Time, A Ring of Endless Light (both by Madeleine L'Engle), the Harry Potter series, and one that is new to me, When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. For adults, Virginia gave a shout-out to Middlemarch by George Eliot and Pride and Prejudice, my favorite Jane Austen novel (and I know I'm not alone!).Keep tabs on Virginia and her upcoming books via her website, on Twitter, on Instagram, and on Facebook. As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below.Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Virginia ZimmermanLaura Brennan: Virginia Zimmerman writes novels for young readers and teaches English at Bucknell University for somewhat older readers. Her beautiful middle-grade novel, The Rosemary Spell, has at its heart a book, and with it all the magic and mystery that books bring into our lives. Plus, in this case, there’s a smidge more magic and mystery than usual.Virginia, thank you for joining me.Virginia Zimmerman: Thank you for having me, it's great to be here.LB: So, you're both an author and an English professor. Tell me a little bit about that career path. Was it always going to be books?VZ: It was definitely always going to be books, from kindergarten when I would read to the rest of my class, it was always going to be books. But exactly what that meant was less certain. I decided pretty early in college that I was going to major in English, but I didn't have the intention of going on to be an English professor until pretty late in college. And then even when I became an English professor, I did that because someone said to me, you should think about what you like to do and then you should choose the career that allows you to do that. Which of course is easier said than done. But in my case, what I liked to do was read and write and talk about books. So being an English professor was the obvious way to continue to do those things.I didn't even really think seriously at all about writing books until well into my career. I had been at Bucknell as a professor for several years before I started writing. So yes, it was always going to be books, but it wasn't always going to be the case that I was writing those books. That was a relatively late development.LB: The Rosemary Spell is a book about the power of books.VZ: Yes.LB: So, for someone who hasn't read that yet, what do they need to know to be able to follow our conversation?VZ: Well, The Rosemary Spell follows Rosemary and her best friend, Adam, as they find an ancient book locked in a cupboard in Rosemary's room. They're immediately intrigued by the book because they are both book lovers themselves. They quickly discover a poem in the book which has the power to make people disappear, not just physically but also from memory. They accidentally disappear somebody very important to them and have to work h...

  • Episode 38: Nancy G. West
    Sat, Feb 11, 2017

    Not every city has a river running through it. And not many women plan a rendezvous at a San Antonio River Walk hotel during Fiesta Week after years of self-imposed celibacy. I was about to make history.-- Nancy G. West, River City Dead Nancy G. West's heroine, Aggie Mundeen, burst onto the scene as a secondary character in Nancy's first novel, Nine Days to Evil, and demanded that Nancy write Aggie her own story.Lucky for us, Nancy obliged with not one, but four Aggie Mundeen mysteries, and counting. Check out her website, NancyGWest.com. Her latest mystery, River City Dead, takes place during Fiesta Week in San Antonio, which Nancy calls a "fabulous, distinctive place and time." What more could one ask for? Well, perhaps a dead body in the penthouse suite...We also talked about Dorothy Sayers (I gave a shout-out to her translation of Dante's Inferno, which is a personal favorite) and Nancy's essay, which taught me things I never even suspected about the wonderful Ms. Sayers -- including the inspiration for Strong Poison. I would be remiss not to link to the Dorothy L. Sayers Facebook Page, and you can read Nancy's essay here. Here are the Aggie Mundeen books in order:Fit to be DeadDang Near DeadSmart, But DeadRiver City DeadAnd Nancy's first novel, Nine Days to Evil.Below is the transcript, if you'd rather read than listen. Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Nancy G. WestLaura Brennan: My guest today is Nancy G. West, author of Nine Days To Evil and the Aggie Mundeen mystery series. Her first Aggie Mundeen mystery received a Lefty Award nomination for best humorous mystery, and she has won numerous awards, including the Chanticleer competition in the Mystery and Mayhem category -- an appropriate win for her heroine, Aggie, whose itchy feet presage dead bodies and danger.Nancy, thank you for joining me.Nancy G. West: Oh, I'm delighted to be here, Laura. Thank you.LB: Now, before you started writing professionally, you had a career in business.NGW: I did. Well, I majored in general business administration, and I took a lot of marketing courses and management and accounting courses. And I found out that that wasn’t really to my liking. So, after we married and I had two daughters, I decided that what I really wanted to do was write fiction. So I went back to school, to graduate school, to study English Lit. And I loved it, but they didn’t teach me how to write fiction either. So I read a bazillion books on the craft of writing fiction. And that’s really what got me started.LB: Did you look at your life and go, there’s got to be a mystery in here somewhere?NGW: Not so much a mystery in there somewhere but that writing was my passion and I really wanted to write fiction. I had written nonfiction articles, it was fun and satisfying; I’d even written a biography of a Texas artist who is actually a Spaniard who had immigrated here through Venezuela, up to Texas. But I really wanted to tell stories. And so I knew that, as a business major, I hadn’t had the opportunity to take very many courses in writing or creative writing or literature, so I thought it was time for me to learn something about it.LB: So, why mysteries then? Why did you gravitate towards mysteries?NGW: Well, I knew the hardest thing I thought, for me, would be to plot. And when you write mysteries, you have to have a good plot. I loved writing characters, I loved writing scenes, I love writing the dialogue where Aggie and Sam or the other characters talk to one another. So I didn’t think that would be a problem. But the plotting, I thought would be the most difficult – and it is. And so I thought, okay, if you’re going to write mysteries, you must learn how to plot. So that was where I did a lot of studying.LB: So you really just threw yourself into the hardest thing you could think of.NGW: Basically! I have a tendency to do that.

  • Episode 37: Eleanor Kuhns
    Tue, Jan 24, 2017

    When Will Rees finally arrived home, much later than he'd expected, he found his sister Caroline in the front parlor. Again. Since Rees and his wife Lydia had returned from Salem several weeks ago, Caroline visited often and always with the same demand...-- Eleanor Kuhns, The Devil's Cold DishIt was such a delight talking to Eleanor Kuhns about her wonderful historical mystery series, set in Maine in the 1790s. History buff? You can -- and should -- check out her website, Eleanor-Kuhns.com, and her blog, here. She is a terrific source of information about daily life during that time. She also, I discovered during our interview, spins and weaves cloth! A Renaissance woman... or perhaps a Federalist one.  ;-) One of the central communities, and the setting for her first novel, A Simple Murder, is the Shaker community in Maine. Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village was the inspiration. We also talked about the religious leader, Mother Ann Lee, who led a fascinating life at the heart of the Shaker movement.Here are Eleanor's books, in order:1 - A Simple Murder2 - Death of a Dyer3 - Cradle to Grave 4 - Death in Salem5 - The Devil's Cold DishAs always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Eleanor KuhnsLaura Brennan: I’m delighted to welcome Eleanor Kuhns today, author of the Will Rees mystery series. Her debut mystery, A Simple Murder, won the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel competition. Set in the 1790s, Eleanor’s novels recapture a bygone era -- and show how motives for murder never change.Eleanor, thank you for joining me.Eleanor Kuhns: I'm happy to be here.LB: Before we talk about your wonderful series, tell me a little bit about yourself. You’re the assistant director of a public library.EK: Yes.LB: So it’s always been books?EK: Absolutely. I started as a page in the Yonkers public library when I was 16, became a librarian, pretty much never stopped working in the library.LB: When did you decide to add to the books in the world? When did you decide to write your own?EK: Well, I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first story when I was 10 years old. It was science fiction/fantasy, which was my first love. And every paragraph started with the word "suddenly." Suddenly the aliens came over the hill. It's always been all about writing and books.LB: I find that really interesting, that science fiction and fantasy is your first love because that takes place in another world, by definition. And you've created really another world for us to go into in your Will Rees mysteries.EK: Well, I think that science fiction and fantasy and historical fiction have a lot of similarities. It is a different world. A lot of times the culture is different, technology is certainly different, but people, I think, remain the same. Historical fiction is, in some ways, easier and harder because the world your writing about is already there, which means you have to have some accuracy as your facts. What did they wear? What was happening in the world? That kind of thing. In science fiction/fantasy, you can pretty much make up what you want to do. So in historical fiction, it's easier because there's a structure already to hang your story on, and harder because you have to do a lot of research to make sure that structure is right.LB: Why Maine in the 1790s?EK: Well, at the time that I wrote this book, I was living in Maine. My mother is from Maine, she retired to Maine, and she and a disabled brother were ill. So my husband and I left our jobs and went to Maine. Before we made that huge step, we were traveling from New York to Maine pretty much every weekend to care for them. That's a nine-hour trip, each way. And the only existant Shaker community is on that route. Sabbathday Lake, right off the Falmouth exit.We stopped there one day,

  • Episode 36: Frankie Y. Bailey
    Thu, Dec 22, 2016

    Saturday, January 18, 20205:47 A.M.After the storm passed, in the chilly hour before dawn, the last of the "space zombies" found their way back to their nest in the derelict house. From his command post, the squad leader gave the signal: "Go!"A black van pulled up in front of the house. Albany PD vice cops wearing protective gear jumped out and stormed up the walk. They used a battering ram to smash open the wooden door."Police! Albany PD!""Police!"Their high-powered torches illuminated the grotesque horror movie creatures in the 3-D posters on the walls...-- Frankie Y. Bailey, What the Fly Saw.I am so thrilled to be chatting with the multi-talented Frankie Y. Bailey. I had the pleasure of meeting her at my first ever mystery writers conference, Killer Nashville, several years ago, and also of reviewing What the Fly Saw for Mystery Playground's Drinks with Reads feature. Frankie blurs genre and writes in every possible tense: her series are set in the past, the almost-present, and the near-future.You can keep up with all she's doing on her website, FrankieYBailey.com, and also over on the blog she shares with several other mystery writers -- including the delightful Vicki Delany -- at Type M For Murder. Find her on Twitter @FrankieYBailey.Frankie gives a shout-out to Walter Mosley and two spectacular but often overlooked mystery writers: Pauline Hopkins and Rudolph Fisher. And of course to Eleanor Taylor Bland, the first African-American woman to write police procedurals. Sisters in Crime has a fellowship in her honor for emerging mystery writers of color, so if that's you or a friend of yours, check it out here.Meanwhile, here is Frankie's fiction (in series order):Hannah McCabe series1 - The Red Queen Dies2 - What the Fly SawLizzie Stuart series1 - Death's Favorite Child2 - A Dead Man's Honor3 - Old Murders4 - You Should Have Died on Monday5 - Forty Acres and a Soggy GraveAnd her nonfiction:Wicked Danville: Liquor and Lawlessness in a Southside Virginia CityWicked Albany: Lawlessness and Liquor in the Prohibition EraAfrican American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic StudyCrimes and Trials of the CenturyFamous American Crimes and TrialsBlood on Her HandsMedia Representations of September 11Law Never Here: A Social History of African American Responses to Crime and JusticePopular Culture, Crime and JusticeOut of the Woodpile: Black Characters in Crime and Detective FictionAs always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Frankie Y. BaileyLaura Brennan: My guest today is the multitalented and multifaceted author, Frankie Y. Bailey. Frankie isn’t just a student of crime, she is a PhD -- and a professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY). She has won the George N. Dove Award for outstanding contributions to the study of mystery, detective and crime fiction, as well as a Macavity Award for her nonfiction book, African American Mystery Writers. She has not one, but two fiction series: one featuring crime historian Lizzie Stuart, the other a police procedural set in the near-future featuring detective Hannah McCabe. She's also working on an historical thriller set in 1939.Frankie, thank you for joining me.Frankie Y. Bailey: Thank you so much for having me on, Laura.LB: So my understanding is that you always planned to be Doctor Bailey, but when you first went to college, you were looking at becoming a veterinarian rather than a PhD?FB: Yes. I love animals, and I grew up -- I was kind of a shy child, so I grew up playing with my dogs and a hamster and the birds and all of that. And everyone in my family teased me about growing up to become a vet, and it seemed like a great idea. And then I went off to Virginia Tech, and I realized I preferred playing with animals and trying t...

  • Episode 35: Maggie King
    Wed, Dec 14, 2016

    If only I could learn to say no, I wouldn't be perched on a barstool in a redneck bar, breathing secondhand smoke and pretending to flirt with men sporting baseball caps and Confederate bandanas, their eyes riveted on my Victoria's Secret-enhanced cleavage...I hit the rewind button on my life and stopped a few days earlier, at the point where Phyllis Ross threw a cup of coffee in Nina Brown's face...-- Maggie King, Murder at the Moonshine InnMaggie King says on her website (which you should definitely go check out) that she writes cozy with a touch of noir -- traditional mysteries that sizzle just a bit more than your usual cozy.Well, with a book group as the focal point, what did you expect?There are two books so far (and counting) in Maggie's Hazel Rose Book Group Mystery Series, Murder at the Book Group and Murder at the Moonshine Inn. She is also the author of several short stories in a variety of anthologies: Virginia is for Mysteries, Virginia is for Mysteries II, and the upcoming 50 Shades of Cabernet.Maggie gives a couple of fun shout outs: to writers Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, Gillian Roberts and Joan Smith; and to two favorite characters from the old Little Lulu comics (I remember those!), Witch Hazel and Little Itch.  Alas, our audio fell out a few times, but I want to make sure you know that in addition to her website, Maggie blogs regularly on Lethal Ladies Write. Finally if you're on Instagram, follow her here!As always, if you'd rather read than listen, a transcript is below. Enjoy!Transcript of Interview with Maggie KingLaura Brennan: Maggie King’s novels are a sassy, suspenseful cross between traditional mysteries and cozies. Her protagonist, Hazel Rose, is a romance writer who wants nothing to do with murder. And yet, more than once, it falls to her to uncover the truth.Maggie, thank you for joining me.Maggie King: Thank you so much for having me, Laura.LB: You write the Hazel Rose Book Group Mysteries and in fact your first novel was called Murder at the Book Group. So, I have to ask: did you join book groups because you had an idea for a murder, or was it being in a book group that made you want to kill somebody?MK: (Laughter) Well, that's a great question. The first book group I was in was back in the 1990s in Santa Clarita, California. And it was a themed book group, very much like the book group in Murder at the Book Group. We read by theme, it could have been mysteries set in New York City or books where the detectives were journalists, something like that. And all the people were just absolutely lovely. And it occurred to me, well, what if they weren't so lovely? What if they had secrets and scandals?I've been in many book groups ever since, a lot of my characters are based on people who I have known a book groups. I can't say that anyone was ever murdered, or that I even wanted to murder anybody, but there's always a certain amount of conflict in book groups because there a lot of opinions and people are very passionate about books.LB: Well, I was thinking about book groups: they're one of the ways in which we re-create villages, you know? We create a small community of people who are bound together in this case by a love of books, but they may not all get along. It makes me think of Miss Marple in her village, to see how all of your characters interact. And your book group as a whole functions with a desire for justice.MK: Yes. Yes, they are very strong advocates of justice.LB: That really resonated with me. Do you think that's one of the reasons why we're drawn to mysteries?MK: Absolutely! Absolutely. We want to see justice. So often in the real world, we don't see justice served. And I think that's one of the reasons I like to write mysteries as well, because I have a strong sense of justice. I have to say though, I play a little looser with the justice in my short stories.

  • Episode 34: Sally Wright
    Wed, Dec 07, 2016

    When I was lying in the hospital three months or so ago, after the boys and their children had gone home, Alan came back and kissed my forehead and said, "It's time you wrote it down..."I didn't have to ask what he meant...-- Sally Wright, Behind the BonehouseSally Wright's mysteries are beautifully written tales that wrestle with moral issue and the complex motivations of everyday people. You can learn more -- and see photos! -- on her website, SallyWright.net, where she also lists both of her series, in order. Two of the books we talk about in depth are her latest, Behind the Bonehouse, the second in her Jo Grant series, set in horse country, Kentucky; and Code of Silence, the prequel to her Ben Reese series, and featuring as a key plot element the Venona Code.Sally gives a shout-out to different authors who have influenced her writing, including P.D. James, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers, and Josephine Tey, but also Tolstoy and Jane Austen.As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Sally WrightLaura Brennan: My guest today is Edgar Award Finalist Sally Wright. In addition to elegant writing and plotting, Sally does intense research for her novels. She has studied rare books, falconry, painting restoration, the Venona Code, and much more to write about her hero, Ben Reese, an ex-WWII Ranger and university archivist. Her latest series, the Jo Grant mysteries, focus on Kentucky’s horse culture and the families who live and die there.Sally, thank you for joining me.Sally Wright: Thank you.LB: Let's start with your Ben Reese series. Publish and Perish is the first book, and Ben is a rather unusual protagonist. He's not a cop, he's not a PI, he's an archivist.SW: Right.LB: And it's set in 1960. How in the world did you come up with the idea for the series?SW: Well, because I met a man who was an archivist at a university -- and this would've been probably about 1973, when I had my first conversation with him. And I knew him as an archivist and he seemed to be World War II age to me, and I asked him what he did in the war. And he gave me a jive response, and I kept just kind of pushing him. And he said, well, I was a behind the lines scout in Europe. I worked for Army intelligence. And I looked at him and I went, if I ever write a mystery novel, you're the character for me. Because I was so interested in a man of action who could do the really dangerous things that he had done in the war, who would come out of that war and do something highly intellectual and very different than what he had done previously. So that really appealed to me. So if I was can write that character, I had to do it at a time when his age -- I wanted to do it when he would have been in his late thirties or something. When he would have been in his prime.LB: So, when you started, you started with him in academia. Then you said that you wanted him to have a little bit more scope.SW: First of all, in knowing this gentleman, he traveled all over the world, he had worked studying archival matters and artifacts in several countries and that's what he would do in the summer when he had time off. And I went, I could put him anywhere. The plot could be based on an artifact or person he meets who owns the artifact or is looking for one. It really gave me tremendous scope. And then I got to go to very interesting places and meet very interesting people that I never would've met if I hadn't been working on the books.LB: You have a wonderful website that we're going to link to in the show notes --SW: Oh, good.LB: SallyWright.net, correct? SallyWright.netSW: Yes.LB: And you talk a lot about how you come up with your ideas. There always seems to be a connection almost from one book to the next of where you get the idea for the next book -- and even for your next series, you got it traveling for the Ben Reese series.

  • Episode 33: Dennis Palumbo
    Mon, Nov 28, 2016

    The last time I saw Lisa Campbell, she was naked. It was almost thirty years ago, when I was in junior high and she was the latest Hot Young Thing, smiling invitingly at me -- and thousands of other lonely guys -- from the pages of Playboy Magazine... Now, as she stood in my office waiting room, cashmere sweater folded neatly over her arm, I had to admit that the years since had taken their toll...-- Dennis Palumbo, Phantom LimbI had such a terrific, full conversation with Dennis, I almost don't know where to start the show notes. First, make sure you check out his website, DennisPalumbo.com, where he has info on all of his books, not to mention news and links and even short stories to read. Speaking of short stories, you can read his wonderful Christmas mystery, "A Theory of Murder," which features no less a detective than young patent clerk Albert Einstein, at Lorie Lewis Ham's online magazine, Kings River Life. It appeared on Robert Lopresti's list of 10 of the best mystery short stories he's read. Check out the multi-author blog SleuthSayers.org (what an awesome blog title!)I go all fan girl on "My Favorite Year," one of my favorite movies ever. If you haven't yet seen it, you are in for a treat. And if you have, well, it's always a good time to re-watch it.Here are Dennis' Daniel Rinaldi books, in order:1. Mirror Image2. Fever Dream3. Night Terrors4. Phantom LimbIn addition, he's written a sci-fi novel (City Wars), a nonfiction collection of essays (Writing from the Inside Out, which we discuss in the interview), and a collection of short stories (From Crime to Crime). His first Daniel Rinaldi short story will appear in February in an anthology from Poisoned Pen Press. And if you are as fascinated as I am by his combination of Hollywood experience and psychological insight, you can also check out his Psychology Today blog, Hollywood on the Couch.Finally, we gave a shout out to Vicki Delany, who also wrote novels while holding down a full-time job. You can check out my interview with her right here.As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Dennis PalumboLaura Brennan: Dennis Palumbo is a former Hollywood screenwriter, a licensed psychotherapist in private practice, and the author of the Daniel Rinaldi mystery series. He also writes short stories and essays, blogs for the Huffington Post, and contributes a regular column to Psychology Today called “Hollywood on the Couch.” Dennis hasn’t just done it all, he makes it all look easy.Dennis, thank you for joining me. Dennis Palumbo: It's my pleasure, Laura.LB: You have done so much, so well, let's start at the beginning. Did you always want to be a writer?DP: Pretty much from my youth, I would say from about 10 or 11 or 12. You know, reading comic books and comic strips and right around then I began reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood. I've just always loved storytelling. And particularly mysteries and thrillers. And, yeah, I’ve always liked writing and liked doing it. It was my favorite thing to do in high school and college, was writing essays or short stories.I actually came to Hollywood and was still writing -- the only writing I had done that had seen print was writing for the Pitt News, which was the newspaper of the University of Pittsburgh from which I graduated. And when I came to Hollywood, I was writing short stories and sending them all over the place and also writing scripts trying to break into television. It was very unusual, the same week my then-writing partner and I got our first writing job, which was the first episode of “Love Boat,” by the way. The same week that happened, I sold my first story, mystery short story, to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. It was just amazing, that week, I'll never forget that week. I was only like, 24, 25. That was a good week. I was very, very lucky.

  • Episode 32: Ellen Kirschman
    Mon, Nov 21, 2016

    Randy Alderson Spelling looks more like a girl than a woman. So tiny she's nearly lost in the cushions of my office couch. Her legs jut out over the floor until she scoots forward and places her feet squarely on the ground... I'm the last hurdle between her and the job she covets -- police officer for the Kenilworth Police Department.-- Ellen Kirschman, The Right Wrong ThingI could not be more honored to talk to author and police psychologist Dr. Ellen Kirschman. A writer of both fiction and nonfiction, Ellen captures the world of police officers with tremendous depth and nuance. It's a world she knows well, having worked in the field for thirty years.The Right Wrong Thing is the second book in the Dot Meyerhoff series, and is just out in paperback. Her first novel, Burying Ben, introduces her protagonist in a wonderfully suspenseful tale. Interested in her nonfiction? Her latest book is Counseling Cops: What Clinicians Need to Know and she is in the process of writing the second edition to I Love A Cop: What Police Families Need to Know. First responders aren't limited to police officers, and Ellen has also written I Love A Firefighter: What the Family Needs to Know. Check out her page, and don't miss her donut metaphor. It can transform the way you look at the world, even if you aren't a first responder. Speaking of which, the First Responder Support Network is an organization near and dear to her heart, if you want to check out the excellent work they do.As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- Laura Transcript of Interview with Ellen KirschmanLaura Brennan: My guest today is Dr. Ellen Kirschman. Her first novel, Burying Ben, introduced police psychologist Dr. Dot Meyerhoff and the officers she helps -- a world Ellen knows well, as she herself has been a police and public safety psychologist for over thirty years.Ellen, thank you for joining me.Ellen Kirschman: My pleasure.LB: Let me start off by saying, I didn't know that police psychologist was an actual job. How long has it been around?EK: I've been doing it 30 years. There have been people doing it a bit longer than I have. There are about 200, give or take some, people who, psychologist whose main practice is police and public safety. By public safety, I also mean firefighters, dispatchers, emergency medical techs, sometimes emergency room nurses.LB: There's always been such a feeling that the police have to be macho -- and in fact, I think you mentioned one of your books the idea that seeing a psychologist can be seen as a weakness in and of itself. So I love that they have started to really incorporate it into part of the job. Was that a big hurdle to overcome?EK: Well, it was a big hurdle and actually it still is. Of the several hundred police psychologists that exist now, most of them do preemployment screening and fitness for duty evaluations. So they are acting in some ways like traditional psychologists and that their primary work is assessment. Those of us who do clinical interventions represent a smaller percentage of people. I worked for one police department where I was in house, inside the actual physical building, two days a week for 25 years and the day that I left, there were still officers who were sure I had a videocam that went from my office right to the chief's. And then of course people who actually came and talked to me realized that that was not the case and that I knew how to keep secrets and keep their confidentiality, because that's primarily, they're worried about confidentiality. And as you said, the culture for both males and females is somewhat that kind of rugged, individualistic/macho sort of culture in which the thing you never want to appear to be is weak. And of course I tell people, you're not weak, you're human and to be human is to have problems, is to have emotions that you don't always like and is to react to things.

  • Episode 31: Leslie Budewitz
    Tue, Nov 08, 2016

    The Market is not a quiet place. Thousands of people stroll the streets and sidewalks, chattering and calling to each other... Street musicians sing and play guitars... Vendors proclaim their wares, and customers barter for better prices on beans and broccoli...For one long moment, it all stopped, sucked up by my mother's sharp intake of breath."Peggy Manning," she said. "I thought you were dead."-- Leslie Budewitz, Killing ThymeI am thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with Leslie Budewitz, whose Spice Shop Mysteries and Food Lovers' Village Mysteries are always on my must-read list. First things first: check out her website for info on her books, upcoming events, and recipes -- definitely do NOT miss those! In addition, she is on Facebook and on Twitter. Writers out there, she also has an Agatha Award-winning nonfiction book, Books, Crooks and Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law And Courtroom Procedure. Just sayin'.Leslie gives a shout-out to some of her favorite books and authors, including Sheila Connolly, who writes the Museum Mystery cozy series, and Cleo Coyle's series, the Coffee House Mysteries, set in Greenwich Village -- recipes abound there as well! Plus talent runs in the family: Leslie's cousin is New York Times Bestselling Author Laura Childs.Leslie and I both recommend Sisters In Crime for both published and yet-to-be-published writers. Leslie is a SinC past president and credits much of her success to being a member of The Guppies, the online chapter of Sisters in Crime. And finally, here are Leslie's two series, in order:Food Lovers' Village Mysteries1 - Death Al Dente2 - Crime Rib3 - Butter Off DeadSpice Shop Mysteries1 - Assault and Pepper2 - Guilty as Cinnamon3 - Killing ThymeI'm sorry to all the other writers out there, but "Crime Rib" = Best. Title. Ever.Enjoy!- Laura*************************Transcript of Interview with Leslie BudewitzLaura Brennan: Leslie Budewitz blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in two light-hearted mystery series: the Spice Shop Mysteries, set in Seattle, and the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in northwest Montana. Her books focus on strong women who share her passions, and have a talent for finding trouble.Leslie, thank you for joining me.Leslie Budewitz: It's a delight.Laura: So, normally, I write my own intros, but yours was so good that I just shamelessly stole it off of your website. It so accurately captures your heroine -- strong women who share your passions. And get into plenty of trouble. I love that so much.Leslie: When passion leads you into trouble, gosh, that's when a great story develops, don't you think?Laura: I do. I absolutely do. So before we talk about them, I want to talk about you. You do not get into trouble.Leslie: Not the same kind of trouble is my characters.Laura: But you are a lawyer.Leslie: Yes.Laura: That's how you started out. Now, is that fun?Leslie: I enjoyed the practice. But I will say that I enjoy killing people on the page more.Laura: So you weren't tempted to write legal thrillers? To use your legal background?Leslie: No, I never really was. I've been practicing law for about 30 -- oh good heavens -- 32 years. Now very part time, doing civil litigation, meaning personal injury work, business litigation and some employment law. And I have had some great experiences, met many wonderful people, met some not so wonderful people as well. Which is great because that gives me fodder for other stories. But I didn't really want to go into the courtroom world in my fiction. I have a lot more interests than just the legal world. And so it's been great fun to explore other things. If there are lawyers in my stories they tend to be herbalists, or retired lawyers who make fudge. People who have found other ways to make a living beyond their practices.Laura: Well, I love that about your books,

  • Episode 30: Vicki Delany
    Tue, Nov 01, 2016

    I ran up the steps and opened the door. The delicious scents of freshly baked bread, warm pastry, ginger, and cinnamon washed over me. I took a deep breath. Heaven, I sometimes thought, must smell like Vicky's bakery...-- Vicki Delany, We Wish You a Murderous ChristmasVicki Delany blogs as the One Woman Crime Wave -- and boy, is she ever. She writes historicals, stand alones, a police procedural series, and several cozy series. Her latest book, We Wish You a Murderous Christmas, launches today, November 1st, as this interview goes live.Can't get enough of Vicki? Me either. Check out her website, her blog, her Facebook page, and, on Twitter, @vickidelany. In the interview, we talk about her Constable Molly Smith series, her cozy series, and her upcoming -- March '17 -- Elementary, She Read, the start of a new Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series. One of Vicki's great talents is the ability to shift genres; her cozies perfectly capture the form, while her stand-alones are the top of suspense and her procedurals envelope you in the investigation. Vicki also writes mysteries for reluctant adult readers, called Rapid Reads. I think this is a brilliant concept -- short, easy-to-read and compelling stories for adults who, for whatever reason, struggle with reading. You can check out the latest, Haitian Graves, and find out more about the Rapid Reads series from the publisher.Enjoy!Transcript of Interview with Vicki DelanyLaura Brennan: My guest today has been called “one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers.” Canada nothing, Vicki Delany is one of the world’s most prolific and varied writers, with multiple series and stand-alones in a variety of genres, from cozies to historicals to police procedurals and thrillers.Vicki, thank you for joining me.Vicki Delany: Thank you very much, Laura, for talking to me.LB: There is so much to talk about, but let me start by saying how impressive your output is, not just because you can write across genres, but also because you started writing while a single parent holding a full-time job.VD: That's right.LB: Tell me a little bit about those Sunday writing sessions.VD: Well, the Sunday writing sessions is a long way to go about producing a book. I mean, my first book took me four years. But my children were still living at home and they were still kids and, as you said, I had a full-time job. So I started out, a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon was about the only time I could go to my writing. I also should mention that I took several writing classes which I think is a great way for a beginning writer to get started, not only because you're being taught the tricks and the craft of the trade so to speak, but it requires you to do some work, particularly if there's some expectation you'll come to class next week with output. So anyway, I took some classes and I plugged along and it took me four years to write my first book and then my children grew up and I retired from my job at the bank and on it went.LB: I take so much dedication to write a book over the course of four years. Why were you driven to write a mystery?VD: I don't know if driven is even so much the word. In my case, it was a little bit of the cart coming before the horse. Because my first idea was that I thought I might like writing for children, because I have three daughters. And one year at Christmas I wrote them a special story as the Christmas present, just a children's story and it had their names as one of the characters and I printed it out and tied a pretty red ribbon around it. And I liked that, so I took a creative writing course at my local community college. And fairly quickly I decided that I didn't want to write for children, but I was really enjoying the class. So I thought, gee, I wonder what I should write now? Well, I read mystery novels, so maybe I'll try my hand at that. So actually,

  • Episode 29: Jessica Estevao
    Tue, Oct 18, 2016

    It was entirely my own fault, of course. I know better than to ignore the voice. At least I always do in retrospect...-- Jessica Estevao, Whispers Beyond the Veil Jessica Estevao has launched a terrific new series with Whispers Beyond the Veil. Set in 1898, it has everything you could want in a mystery: rich characters, superb settings, and of course, murder.First and foremost, Jessica gives a shout-out to her blog mates over at Wicked Cozy Authors. They include Liz Mugavero/Cate Conte, Sherry Harris, J.A. Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes, Barbara Ross, and Edith Maxwell/Tace Baker/Maddie Day. What a team!We talk about research into the past, including the Harmon Museum, the Lily Dale Assembly, and her neighbor Daniel Blaney, who literally wrote the book on Old Orchard's history. She also wants to give a shout-out to Sisters in Crime for all they do to help writers, both new and established. Finally, Jessica was kind enough to share her own personal story of a time when trusting her instincts -- and a voice in her ear -- saved her life. I have to use this as an opportunity to recommend Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear. I can't recommend it often enough. Very few books can save your life; this is one of them. Read it.And if you'd prefer to read the interview, as always, it's below. Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Jessica EstevaoLaura Brennan: My guest today is an accomplished, award-winning novelist with a brand new series. As Jessie Crockett, she has the delightful Sugar Grove cozy mysteries, feature mayhem and maple syrup in equal doses. As Jessica Estevao, she has just launched a new series, set in 1898, and featuring a heroine with a dark past and an otherworldly gift.Jessica, thank you for joining me.Jessica Estevao: Thanks for having me.LB: I want to talk to you about your writing career. You have both a cozy series, a couple of other books, and now a new historical series. But first I want to ask, why mysteries?JE: I love mysteries. When I was a small child, my father used to travel on business and when he was gone, my mother would let me stay up and watch Agatha Christie mystery movies on television with her, which was of course a hugely special treat. So that was one aspect of it I suppose. But I think one of the reasons also was that the first chapter book that I remember reading was The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore. And I just remember feeling so accomplished at reading a chapter book instead of a picture book. And I think that sense of delight associated with mysteries has remained my entire life.As an author, one of the things that I truly love about writing in the mystery genre is that the challenge is to conceal as well as to reveal. And it's really delightful to use that scaffolding to tell a story and to challenge yourself to tell both of those stories, what's real and what's misdirection.LB: Now, your first book was Live Free or Die, and you took home a Daphne for that right away.JE: I did.LB: You took the world by storm. So how did that book happen?JE: It kind of came as a response to a semi-tragedy here in my village. My postmistress in the village had been here for years when I started to write that book and then she retired. And I missed her terribly. And it seemed that the only way to get back the right sort of postmistress was to make my own. But in reality, we have had a couple of truly lovely postmistress and since then, but I like to think that sending out that energy to the universe got them for us.LB: It got you back your perfect postmistress.JE: Yes. The postmistress in a very small village really is a wonderful character, to be at the heart of the town and to set the tone and hours did it beautifully. And I just really wanted to honor that and recapture that in writing.LB: You wrote that first book, you really did take the mystery community by storm. But you went into a new series.JE: I did.

  • Episode 28: Alexia Gordon
    Tue, Oct 11, 2016

    She grabbed a paperweight and faced the large man, drawing back her arm. "I'm warning you. I was starting pitcher in the Girls' State Fastpitch Softball Championships." The man laughed, rich and throaty. "Go ahead. Throw it."Gethsemane hurled the weight. It sailed through the man's chest, disappearing into him like a sugar cube into hot coffee...-- Alexia Gordon, Murder in G MajorI am always thrilled to find a new series I like, and Alexia's Gordon's Gethsemane Brown Mysteries did not disappoint. Cozy with a paranormal twist (and set in Ireland, swoon!), Murder in G Major launches a wonderful new voice.Alexia is a fan of music, whiskey and classic puzzle mysteries, and all three of those play a part in her series. Like Dr. Kwei Quartey, whom I interview here, Alexia is a medical doctor as well as a mystery writer. We also talk about fellow Henery Press writer Gigi Pandian, whose interview can be found here. Alexia credits Southern Methodist University's The Writer's Path with helping her wrangle her first novel. I also loved her sweet dedication to her parents, who, among other things, let her "have an unrestricted library card." My kinda folks!I realize these aren't books, but Alexia gave a shout-out to two of my favorite series: Northern Exposure and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. While I loved the movie -- Rex Harrison, c'mon! -- it was the TV series that made me want to live in a cottage by the sea, ideally with a ghost in the attic. It just seemed so fun to have one around. And, if you haven't read it, both are based on a charming book by R.A. Dick, the pseudonym for Scottish writer, Josephine Leslie. Two writers she talks about are Walter Mosley and Eleanor Taylor Bland. Alexia also loves Irish music, and if you want to check out the band she mentions, they are the Dropkick Murphys. Check out Alexia's website and her Facebook Page for more info about her work. And if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!Transcript of Interview with Alexia GordonLaura Brennan: My guest today is Alexia Gordon, novelist and Renaissance woman. Among her many accomplishments, she’s a writer, a medical doctor, and a lover of music. It’s this last one that defines her series protagonist, Gethsemane Brown, an African American classical musician who finds herself stranded in Ireland -- and befriended by a ghost who just wants one little favor
 For Gethsemane to solve his murder.Alexia, thank you for joining me.Alexia Gordon: Hi.LB: Before we dig into your wonderful new series, let’s talk a little bit about you. You started out writing at an early age.AG: Yes, ever since, elementary school, ever since I was old enough to write. I think it was in the 6th grade, we had a poetry unit and one of our assignments was to write a poem for our classroom poetry contest. And I wrote something that looking back on it, it was completely ridiculous, it went on for, I think, a few pages, about a superhero named XY. But my classmates voted that their favorite poem, so I won a Shel Silverstein book, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and I still have it somewhere at my parents’ house.LB: It’s amazing, isn’t it, how just a little encouragement can push you along on the path?AG: Yes. I credit my parents for encouraging me. I wouldn’t have done it if they had said, no, go do something more practical. So I do give them credit for that.LB: Although you did have a competing passion. Because you became a medical doctor.AG: Yes. Well, my parents did also say that I needed to be able to pay my bills someday. So they said, writing is fine, it’s wonderful, keep doing it, take all the writing classes you want, go to the library, buy books
 But you also have to go to school and get a degree that will allow you to get a job and move out of our house and pay your bills. They love me but they wanted me to be financially independent.LB: It’s interesting, though,

  • Episode 27: Nancy Cole Silverman
    Tue, Oct 04, 2016

    My name is Carol Childs. I'm a reporter... And now, right in front of me was exactly what I needed, a damn good story.-- Shadow of Doubt, Nancy Cole SilvermanNancy Cole Silverman worked both on the air and behind the scenes in radio, covering every kind of story. That wealth of experience creates the world of Carol Childs, "the world's oldest cub reporter." Having moved from sales to the newsroom -- against the better judgment of her new boss -- Carol needs to score a headline story in Shadow of Doubt, the first book in the series. And then, early one morning, a distraught neighbor pounds on her door.Nancy takes the headlines and shapes them into satisfying and clever mysteries, although the real pleasure is watching her protagonist, Carol, with her friends, family, and colleagues. Having worked in news myself for a spell, Nancy captures the craziness and camaraderie to a T.Book Two of the series deals with human trafficking, and I can't let the opportunity pass to remind you of the crackerjack (although much harder-edged) P.I. novel by Desiree Zamorano that mines some of the same territory. You can check out my interview with Desiree to see if it's your cup of tea. But whatever else, don't miss Nancy's deft treatment in Beyond a Doubt. Nancy mentions that one of her favorite writers is Sue Grafton -- who of course is one of mine as well. But if you're a fan of older mysteries, let me recommend the novels written by Sue Grafton's father, C. W. Grafton. The Rat Began to Gnaw the Rope is a terrific mystery from the 1940s and one of my all-time favorites.In honor of Halloween, I have to link to her scary short story, The Blood Drive. Check out Nancy's website or follow her on Twitter, @NancyColeSilverAs always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Nancy Cole SilvermanLaura Brennan: Nancy Cole Silverman is an author, on-air news reporter, and radio sales and managing superstar. Like Ginger Rogers, she did all this in high heels, at a time when there were few other women in the newsroom. Nancy has channeled her vast knowledge of radio, crime, and human nature into the multilayered Carol Childs Mysteries.Nancy, thank you for joining me.Nancy Cole Silverman: Thank you for having me, Laura. It’s a joy to be here today.LB: Since the local news is the background for your series, why don’t we start there? You started by taking the world by storm in local news, isn’t that right?NCS: Well, not in Los Angeles, but yes, I started in radio way back when women’s voices were considered too light and too feminine for anything too hard. And then I kind of fought my way to stay in news and when I moved to L.A., I did both news and copywriting and ended up with a career on the business side and retired as the general manager of a talk radio station.LB: And when you did that, that’s when you started to turn to writing?NCS: I did. I did. I had always been a writer, I had a degree in journalism, both broadcast and print, so I had always done some writing, but when I got to Los Angeles, broadcast was really something I wanted to get into. And so I spent some time, both in print and broadcast journalism and then kind of got the ‘golden handcuffs’ put on me, as they say, where you start in the sales department and the marketing end of the business and you make a lot of money and, really, unfortunately, more than the reporters’ side does. So I ended up spending a lot of time there and always wanted to go back, kind of like my character, to the talent side. So when I was dreaming up what I was going to do after I retired, as general manager of a sports radio station -- which is only proof God has a sense of humor, because I was not a sports babe -- I decided I would go back into writing. And having had a reporter’s background, it was pretty easy to pull from the headlines and make this up as I went along.LB: Well,

  • Episode 26: Christina Hoag
    Tue, Sep 27, 2016

    Night in L.A. can be heavy as a medieval cloak or it can sparkle and crackle. It can burn you with its current, protect you or betray you...-- Skin of Tattoos, Christina HoagChristina Hoag is a journalist, nonfiction author and novelist. Her thrillers are just that -- thrilling rides with young people on the verge of adulthood and already mired in life-and-death situations. Complex characters and interwoven relationships that form, not a net, but a sticky web that traps her protagonists as they fight to escape the consequences of their own dangerous choices. Skin of Tattoos features Mags, just released from prison and trying to escape the gang life that landed him there, while Girl on the Brink is a very different examination of violence and predation. Christina's nonfiction book, Peace in the Hood, was co-written with Aquil Basheer and digs deep into his program to combat gang violence. Their book is on the syllabi of several university programs, and Basheer himself has been featured in two recent documentaries: License to Operate and The Black Jacket. Plus, I promised to link to a great interview Christina recently did with a fabulous interviewer -- herself!I gave a shout-out to my favorite Golden Age mystery writer, Ngaio Marsh. Artists in Crime is my favorite (and if you don't need to read the books in order, a great place to begin), but Colour Scheme takes place in Christina's native New Zealand. Looking for one with both New Zealand and sheep in the murder? Yup, Ngaio Marsh has that, too. Check out Died in the Wool.Christina, meanwhile, remembers her favorite children's mystery author, and one whose books I also devoured as a kid: British author Enid Blyton. Blyton was prolific; it's hard to go wrong with any of them, but the mystery series are, in particular, The Famous Five and The Secret Seven. There are so many others, I'm not going to try to guide you through them, but I will toss you over to the Enid Blyton Society. Enjoy!To learn more about Christina, check out her website and her Facebook page. And for a great read, turn to any of her books! -- LauraTranscript of Interview with Christina HoagLaura Brennan: My guest today is a journalist, a novelist, and a nonfiction author. Christina Hoag’s novels, Skin of Tattoos and Girl on the Brink, both focus on young people caught in life or death situations -- and both are all the more terrifying because those situations are so real, and so frighteningly common.Christina, thank you for joining me.Christina Hoag: Thank you Laura. It's great to be here.LB: Before we talk about your work, I'd love to talk a little bit about your background. You were born in New Zealand?CH: Yes. I was born in New Zealand. I lived in a number of countries, my family moved around a lot -- which is kind of an understatement. But I ended up in the United States when I was 13, in New Jersey to be exact. So I'm sort of a global nomad.LB: I wanted to sneak in here that everything I know about New Zealand I learned from Ngaio Marsh.CH: Oh, great! Great. That's great that you've heard of her and read her. Yes, she's one of New Zealand's literary stars.LB: Oh, she's phenomenal. I love her.CH: Yes.LB: I'm sure New Zealand is more than murders, mind you.CH: Yes. There are a lot of sheep there.LB: A lot of sheep. Okay. That sounds like, actually, a couple of her books. So you grew up all over the world and landed in New Jersey. And then, how did you get into journalism?CH: Mainly because I loved to write. And I won a prize, when I was six years old, in New Zealand, one little prize at school for writing interesting stories. So it's something, I'd always loved to write, I was a voracious reader growing up, reading Enid Blyton and The Famous Five, The Secret Seven mysteries, you know, those were juvenile mysteries written by the British author Enid Blyton. So I always knew I wanted to write stories.

  • Episode 25: John Gaspard
    Tue, Sep 20, 2016

    "I find it puzzling, don't you? The rabbit, I mean. Very puzzling."As a magician, I am accustomed to people asking me about rabbits...As a writer, John Gaspard is accustomed to people asking him about magic. His wonderful Eli Marks Mystery Series features magician and reluctant amateur sleuth, Eli Marks, and his cranky Uncle Harry, also a magician and a debunker of magic scams. Soft-boiled, humorous, and taking place in the -- dare I say? -- enchanting world of professional magicians, this series is a treat. Let's do the important stuff first. Poof! -- John has pulled a free short story for you out of his hat! You can download it here, or listen to the incomparable Jim Cunningham read it here.John also makes movies! Check out his film blog, Fast, Cheap Movie Thoughts, which riffs off the name of one of his own books on movie making, Fast, Cheap and Under Control. In the interview, he recommends a book by William Bayer, Breaking Through, Selling Out, Dropping Dead and other notes on Film Making. You can keep abreast of Johns' many activities on Facebook.John gives a shout-out to fellow Minnesota writer Judith Guest (of Ordinary People fame, but also the writer of suspense novel, The Tarnished Eye) as well as mystery writer Lawrence Block, a long-time favorite of mine as well. He also talks about the great work The Amazing Randi has done in debunking frauds. Other magicians mentioned in this conversation: Dai Vernon, Lance Burton and Eugene Burger, and of course Harry Houdini.And I want to give a shout-out myself to Henery Press, which is doing a great job of publishing soft-boiled and cozy series, especially ones that are a little outside the lines, at a time when other publishers are ending many long-time series. They also publish Gigi Pandian's Jaya Jones series, another favorite of mine. If you missed my conversation with her, you can check it out here.This was such a fun conversation. Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with John GaspardLaura Brennan: My guest today may not be a professional magician, but he certainly creates magic on the page. John Gaspard’s novels are clever, funny and satisfying mysteries, with a flourish of stage magic.John, thank you for joining me.John Gaspard: Happy to be here.LB: Before we start talking about your novels, I'd like to talk a little bit about you. You also have a career in film and television, is that right?JG: Well, career might be a strong word. I have sold things to television and I have produced a number of low-budget feature films on my own. I started out as a teenager making films and I was directing them, so I was just always the director.LB: Well, I love that. I love that you take what you have and instead of letting it languish in a drawer somewhere, you actually went out and made it. And you started doing this when you were a teenager?JG: I did! I am one of the first people in the country or maybe even the world to make a feature-length Super 8 single sound system film. Which meant that the sound was right there on the film when you recorded it, as opposed to double system, where it is recorded separately. I did a couple of 16mm films in the '90s, they were all features, and then three digital features since around 2001.LB: So you have always wanted to write?JG: I always wanted to make movies, and since no one was handing me scripts I sort of fell into the writing part.LB: I like that because when you're writing a novel, you are both a writer and the director.JG: Yes. Yes, there's a lot more control going on in writing a novel.LB: So let's move into novels. How did you get started then, moving away from writing and directing features and into novels?JG: Well, I'd always figured that as I got a little bit older, I'd be doing less schlepping of film equipment and low-budget filmmaking. And I had read a book in my teens by William Bayer called, Breaking Through, Selling Out,

  • Episode 24: Sasscer Hill
    Tue, Sep 06, 2016

    The Nikki Latrelle Mystery Novels are set in the high-stakes world of horse racing -- a world Sasscer Hill knows well and captures in vivid detail.It's impossible to talk about horse racing mysteries without giving a nod to the master, Dick Francis. But Sasscer was also influenced by Walter Farley's Black Stallion series, which she devoured as a child.She also gives a shout out to Tami Hoag and Margaret Maron, and to Dick's son, Felix, whose new series is set in the same realm as Sasscer's soon-to-be-released Fia McKee series.The first book in Sasscer's new series, Flamingo Road, comes out in early 2017. Check out Sasscer's blog for ongoing updates as well as more info on Irish Travelers, Fia McKee, and horses.  ;-) As always, if you'd rather read than listen, a transcript is below. Enjoy!Transcript of Interview with Sasscer HillLaura Brennan: My guest today is thriller author, amateur jockey and racehorse breeder, Sasscer Hill. Her Nikki Latrelle mysteries are set in a world she knows well: behind the scenes at -- and on -- the racetrack.Sasscer, thank you for joining me.Sasscer Hill: I'm delighted to be here.LB: I absolutely want to talk about writing and your books, but first, I want to talk about horses. You grew up around horses?SH: I did. I took a lot of riding lessons as a child, but it wasn't until my father died when I was 16 and a gentleman who had a lot of champion steeplechase horses took me under his wing -- he was a family friend that my family had known. And I learned almost everything I know about horses from him. And then of course I ended up buying a broodmare and had my own race horses for 30 years. So, yeah, I know a little bit race horses and horses in general.LB: It's just an, it's an entirely different world than anything I've experienced. How did you start riding competitively?SH: The gentleman who took me under his wing, as I said, was a big-time steeplechase person, and so of course he was involved in the sport. And I loved it from the get-go. I just thought it was the coolest thing in the world, racing over fences. But scary, you know? And I ended up entering some amateur, little steeplechase races and it was scary as heck, but it was a real adrenaline rush. And a lot of fun. So I stuck with that and won a big race up in Potomac one year when I was 36, and that was my big day.But it is, you connect with horses. When you're really connecting with the horse, it's like you steer him with your mind. It's incredible.LB: Well, you give your horses, and the books, they have so much personality.SH: Oh, they do in real life, not just in books. They have tremendous personality.LB: So you turned to writing, with a T, and why mysteries? What linked racing with murder for you?SH: Oh, Dick Francis, for sure. And I started out of course with Walter Farley's Black Stallion books, and they were always filled with intrigue. And of course like all of us mystery lovers, who didn't love Nancy Drew? And all those kinds books as we grew up, and as we got older we were reading all those wonderful English writers like Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie and I mean I just loved all of those. And of course I graduated to Dick Francis and that was it for me. I thought, boy, I'm gonna write like Dick Francis -- or at least in the tradition of. Nobody can write like Dick Francis, and to try, I thought, would be very foolish. Just in the tradition of.LB: I think there's a commonality though, between you and Dick Francis, in that racing comes first for your main character.SH: It does, for Nikki Latrelle. In the new books that are coming out with St. Martin's, it still at the racetrack, but now instead of a jockey, I'm dealing with a female agent who works for the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. And that's kind of a different story line, but still it's all about the horses. Because the stories wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the horses at ...

  • Episode 23: Jane Kelly
    Tue, Aug 30, 2016

    I'm so pleased to chat with Jane Kelly, a wonderful writer and delightful human being -- one who just happens to thrive on mystery.Jane's Meg Daniels Mysteries have always had a lot of heart, but as they've evolved, the series has grown richer. It has also begun to include an element of delving into the past. Missing You in Atlantic City looks into a death linked to the 1964 Democratic National Convention and the next one in the works will involve the 1968 Miss America Pageant. Jane has launched two other series, both with an element of the Kennedy era: Widow Lady, set in 1960, and Swoon '64, a Writing in Time mystery, set in the present but investigating a crime of the past.Check out her Pinterest page for gorgeous 1960s images to set the scene.Jane gives a shout-out to historical mystery writer Annamaria Alfieri and also to the wonderful M.Phil program she did in Dublin, Ireland, at Trinity College, which I have to link to because it sounds so awesome. I live vicariously through these interviews!Here are the Meg Daniels Mysteries in order:1. Killing Time in Ocean City2. Cape Mayhem3. Wrong Beach Island4. Missing You in Atlantic CityAlso, the bonus book, A Fear of Seaside Heights, could be considered 3A -- it falls in between Wrong Beach Island and Missing You in Atlantic City in Meg's timeline.You can also find Jane on Facebook at her Author Page and her Meg Daniels Page. As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!Transcript of Interview with Jane KellyLaura Brennan: My guest today is Jane Kelly, author of the Meg Daniels, Writing in Time, and Widow Lady mysteries. Her mysteries focus on personal stories: missing mothers, murders that haunt from childhood. But whether historical or contemporary, they all offer a terrific ride.Jane, thank you for joining me.Jane Kelly: Thank you for the invitation.LB: Before we talk about your writing, I'd like to talk a little bit about you. You have a Masters in Library and Information Science and an Master of Philosophy in Popular Literature from Trinity College, Dublin -- you are the queen of books!JK: Well, it does dovetail nicely, the two masters, even though they might seem very dissimilar, they do fit together very nicely. I didn't get the literature degree until later in life, so I couldn't use it in conjunction really with the library degree, but the library degree helps me immensely in terms of doing research for the books.LB: I'm not going to fib, I am crazy jealous that you studied at Trinity College in Dublin. What took you to Dublin?JK: The idea came to me -- well, not specifically Dublin -- one day I was on a panel at a conference and we were going down the row, we were asked to introduce ourselves. And the first person said, I'm so-and-so and I just got back from the writing program at the University of Iowa. And somebody else said, I'm so-and-so and I have an MFA from Columbia. And the next person said something similar, and I said, hello, I'm Jane Kelly. So it occurred to me that perhaps I should look into getting some real credentials for what I was doing because I had already published a couple of books. And I went online, and I found a program in Dublin which was popular literature. It was the first in Europe and it was one of the first in the world, if not the first. So it was very different.And I went over, I interviewed, and I went back. And I think it's been a tremendous help in terms of writing. We started in the early days with chapbooks, I think I recall they are called, and went through all the modern genres and just learned what people have been liking in literature for hundreds of years. It was really a great experience.LB: I would imagine genre literature appeared in that list.JK: It did, yes. We read mysteries, westerns, speculative, any genre. We even read romance -- I like the way I said "even romance" because I don't read romance but I kn...

  • Episode 22: Ellen Byron
    Wed, Aug 24, 2016

    Today's guest is the multi-talented Ellen Byron. Her Cajun Country Mysteries are charming, funny and lightly romantic -- the perfect cozy capers to keep you turning the pages.The series is set in Louisiana, a state Ellen loves. As this interview goes live, Louisiana faces a massive natural disaster with deadly flooding. For people who want to help, Ellen suggests the Red Cross. Here are pictures from the first week of the flood, and Charity Navigator's view of top charities working the crisis. Ellen's passion for Louisiana comes through in her writing and the world she creates for her heroine, Maggie. She named one of her characters after her friend Gaynell Bourgeois Moore (here she is on YouTube singing The Nascar Blues and here's her very own CD!) Ellen also talks about a Facebook page she loves, New Orleans Plantation Country, and mentions two real plantations, Houmas House Plantation and Ashland-Belle Helene. I give a shout-out to one of the TV series she worked on, Maybe It's Me, which (criminally!) is not available on DVD. Yet. I continue to hold out hope.You can check out her plays, Graceland and Asleep on the Wind, and if, like me, you are a fan of her Cajun Country Mysteries, you can pre-order Body on the Bayou, which comes out on September 13th. The delightful first book in the series, Plantation Shudders, was nominated for an Agatha, a Daphne, and a Lefty (for best humorous mystery). As always, if you'd rather read than listen, here is the transcript.Enjoy!Transcript of Interview with Ellen Byron.Laura Brennan: My guest today is multitalented writer Ellen Byron. Ellen has written over 200 magazine articles, her published plays include the award-winning Graceland, and her many television series include "Just Shoot Me," "Wings," and “Maybe It’s Me,” one of my all-time favorite sitcoms. Most of all, she is the author of the Cajun Country Mysteries, set in Louisiana. Ellen, thank you for joining me.Ellen Byron: Thank you for having me.LB: You are such a prolific writer! Articles and books and plays and television -- which came first? Where did you start?EB: I started writing plays. I actually started as an actress, quote unquote. Because it feels so silly to say that now. Got my union card doing a commercial while I was in college. I ended up writing a play that was inspired by my friends and I, I cast my friends in their roles and none of them did a really good job of playing themselves. And after that I took a class at Ensemble Studio Theater in playwriting because I'd never studied it. I wrote one play there and then I wrote Graceland. And then I kept writing plays, but I couldn't support myself that way so I started writing freelance magazine articles. And the playwriting path was so torturous in terms of readings and readings and readings until you got productions, that I remember I was on the phone with the man who ran the workshop at Circle Rep Theater, which was a great theater in New York that is no longer in existence, sadly. I was taking notes from him, and I remember the exact moment when I thought, you know, if I'm going to take this many notes, do this many rewrites, someone should be paying me for it. And that's when I decided to switch over to TV.LB: So were you in New York at the time?EB: Yes. I'm from New York, I went to school in Louisiana, Tulane. But I didn't really want to leave New York because I love New York, it's really where my soul is. But unfortunately there are way more TV options in California than in New York so in 1990 I made the move to Los Angeles. Kicking and screaming.LB: I totally understand. Especially, there is such a culture difference between New York and Los Angeles.EB: Yes.LB: If someone hasn't yet picked up your series, could you give me just a brief overview of what launched the series?EB: Maggie Crozat, she is an artist and she went to school in New York. And she had a boyfriend,

  • Episode 21: Duffy Brown
    Tue, Aug 16, 2016

    It is such a delight this week to welcome cozy author Duffy Brown. I have been reading (and loving) Duffy since her first mystery, Iced Chiffon, number one in her Consignment Shop mystery series. Endearing characters, victims who richly deserve to be killed, and Southern charm, what more could I ask for? Oh, and funny! And a heroine to root for! And romance!OMG, they're catnip.You can learn more about Duffy at her website. She has two ongoing series, The Consignment Shop Mysteries (set in Savannah) and the Cycle Path Mysteries (set on Mackinac Island) and you can click on these links to find the books in order.She also gives a shout-out to two of her favorite writers, Janet Evanovich and Arthur Conan Doyle. Duffy also gives away a spoiler for her most recent book, Demise in Denim, but it is *not* a spoiler about the mystery. It has to do with heroine Reagan and the hunky lawyer, Walker Boone. Did I mention there was a little thread of romance?I will be giving away Iced Chiffon as part of the August book giveaway, so if you're not on my mailing list, join now to be entered. Every month, I give away three books and a $10 Amazon gift card. Everyone on the mailing list on the last day of the month is automatically entered to win, so you only have to join up once.As always, if you'd rather read than listen, here is a transcript. Enjoy!Transcript of interview with Duffy BrownLaura Brennan: My guest today is best-selling author Duffy Brown. I have been a fan of Duffy’s writing since her first cozy, Iced Chiffon. Both her Consignment Shop and Cycle Path mysteries are filled with humor, friendship, light romance, and victims who richly deserve what they got.Duffy, thank you for joining me today.Duffy Brown: It’s great being here. Thank you for asking me.LB: So, how did you get started writing?DB: I’ve been doing this for about twenty-five years now. I started in romance. And I think how I got started it, I was reading the romances, and I got to the point like, “This is the worst ending ever!” and I would mentally start rewriting the endings. And then eventually, I was rewriting the whole book, and I thought, maybe I should try and write my own book instead of correcting somebody else’s book. So I was kind of a closet writer to begin with, but I wrote for, actually, I wrote for nine years before getting published with Harlequin. Then I wrote for Harlequin for six years, then I transferred over to Kensington because I wanted to write the bigger books. And then from Kensington, which is kind of a hotter read, it was a Brava line -- you  know, when Fifty Shades of Grey came on the scene, it started to kick all the romance stories up a notch. And I didn’t want to go that extra steam part.So I switched over to mystery, and now I write what I absolutely love. I probably should have been here all the time, but you kind of go where your heart takes you first of all. But I do love writing the mysteries.LB: Iced Chiffon is the first book in your first mystery series.DB: Correct.LB: And it hit all the notes. I was just pitch-perfect from the get-go.DB: Everything I watch is always mystery, I’ve read a lot of mysteries. And then I had some friends who were writing cozies, and they said, you know, you really should write the cozies. Because I’m used to that Happy Ever After ending, and in cozy mysteries, there’s always the Happy Ever After ending, meaning the bad guy gets caught. That part I kind of had nailed down. And then, in the cozy mysteries, as in a lot of mysteries, there’s always a little bit of romance thrown in just for the fun of it. But of course the thrust is on the mystery part of it.LB: How did you come up with the idea for the Consignment Shop mysteries?DB: Aw, that’s interesting. I work in a consignment shop! I have worked in a consignment shop for 25 years. I just work very part time, and you know how they say, write what you know.

  • Episode 20: Gay Toltl Kinman
    Tue, Aug 09, 2016

    Author Gay Toltl Kinman is my first children's mystery writer, with ten books so far in that arena. But she is also a playwright, a teacher, and an incredibly prolific writer of both fiction and nonfiction.We talk about so many interesting things, I'll see if I can squeeze them all in the show notes. First off, here is Gay's Author Page on Amazon and here is the link to some pics of Gay on her many adventures -- including one taken in Alaska by the real Alison, the inspiration for her series. And let's not forget to link to Hearst Castle, the inspiration for her first YA novel, Wolf Castle (fka Castle Reiner). Gay's second mystery series for children, The Adventures of Lauren MacPhearson, is also inspired by another granddaughter. Both the real and fictional Laurens barely spoke at all, and yet both have had marvelous adventures. For more information on Elective Mutism (now called Selective Mutism), check out the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.Gay worked with miniature books at the spectacular Huntington Library, and that experience was the inspiration for The Mystery of the Missing Miniature Books. If you like mysteries where you learn something new, this one fills the bill. I had never imagined there were so many rare and antique books under four inches tall. Here's a link to the Huntington's own collection, but if you want more details, check out the Miniature Book Society.It's impossible to talk about children's mysteries without a nod to Carolyn Keene. Both Nancy Drew and The Dana Girls mysteries were written under that name. And I gave a shout-out to Shoshona Freedman.When we talked about Gay's work as a playwright, she gave a shout-out to South Coast Rep and Cecilia Fannon. Here is a link to the video The Read, the cold reading Gay talks about, of her play on Grace Nicholson. Up next is her book on women heroines, featuring never-before-published material from letters and journals, and includes a vignette on Julia Morgan, architect of the Hearst Castle.Which brings us back full circle to Gay's original inspiration. We did it!As always, if you'd rather read than listen, here is a transcript.Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Gay Toltl KinmanLaura Brennan: My guest today is Dr. Gay Toltl Kinman. Her career is nothing short of epic: ten children’s books, a YA gothic novel, several adult mysteries, two nonfiction books, numerous short plays and short stories, three Agatha Award nominations and an EPPIE win. Add to that over one hundred and fifty articles in professional journals and newspapers, book reviews, a children’s book column, a teaching load that includes law, library science and writing, and I simply don’t know how she has time to chat with me.But I’m glad she does. Gay, thank you for joining me.Gay Toltl Kinman: Well, thank you for asking me.LB: I barely know where to start here, so let's first talk about you. You have a Master of science in Library Science, right?GTK: Right.LB: Did you always want to be a writer?GTK: Yes, I did. Because my mother was also. But it seemed to me so lofty and esoteric to say that I wanted to be a writer, so I don't think I ever said that I wanted to be anything specific because I didn't really know what I wanted to do. But I knew eventually I wanted to write.LB: What was the impetus there, for that first book?GTK: I was reading a lot of Gothic novels at the time. And I had an idea for a story, because I like Hearst Castle very much and we been up there a few times, and I just thought that whole setting was so fantastic. And I was working full time, and I said well I'm going to put aside Saturday morning and I'm going to write. I tried to do that but it's just impossible.So I did write it. It was originally called Castle Reiner, and then we changed it with the second publisher of the book, we changed it to Wolf Castle because it involves wolves. So I wrote that,

  • Episode 19: Emily Brightwell
    Tue, Aug 02, 2016

    Today's interview is with the talented and gracious Emily Brightwell. With her charming Mrs. Jeffries series, Emily is the Queen of historical cozies. Check out her website to learn more. And since I will not attempt to get the order right for all her books, you can click here to get the list directly from the source!Her most recent novel, Mrs. Jeffries Wins The Prize, is the 34th in the series, and a wonderful adventure with old friends and new ones. It also tackles the British presence in India, with an eye towards the British women who, if they were brave enough to venture there, were often rewarded by marrying up in the world. I found a fascinating article about that; apparently the women who couldn't bag a husband were sent home as "returned empties." Oh, my! Emily gives a shout-out to YA author Christopher Pike, who shares both her optimism and her prolific nature, having written a dizzying number of books. As always, if you'd rather read than listen, below is a transcript. Enjoy!Transcript for Interview with Emily BrightwellLaura Brennan: My guest today is the author of the charming and New York Times best-selling Victorian mysteries, known affectionately as the Mrs. Jeffries series. Combining a cozy sensibility with historical mysteries and a beloved cast of supporting characters, Emily Brightwell has created her own genre and a world readers return to with pleasure. Emily, thank you so much for joining me.Emily Brightwell: And thank you very much for having me.LB: Tell me a little bit about how you got started writing.EB: I was always a secret scribbler. It was only when I was a manager, human resources manager, that I realized that I didn't want to be a secret scribbler, I wanted to be a real scribbler. So I started writing and I was pretty analytical when I looked at genre fiction, because that was what I enjoyed reading. Mysteries have always been my first love, but I also do like romances very very much. And I realize that that was probably the best way to get into publication, which is what my goal was. So I wrote for what was then the Silhouette line, but I believe now Silhouette's been taken over by Harlequin. So I wrote three of those romances, and another romance for Meteor Publishing, which then got bought out by Harlequin/Silhouette and never got published. But my very first sale was to a romance publisher in Germany, and I was paid the princely sum of $300 for it, I kid you not.But it was a great experience, and I started writing the Mrs. Jeffries series because I heard that Berkeley at that time was looking to do a Victorian series that was a bit more cozy than, say, Anne Perry.LB: Yes, there's nothing cozy about Anne Perry.EB: No, there's not. And she's a brilliant writer, I was in no way disparaging that. I just happen to really enjoy what I do, which is writing cozies.LB: Well, they are such interesting cozies, because they are set in a very different world and you have a real connection to England, I understand.EB: Yes, I do, and his name is Richard and he is my husband. We've gone back and forth many times, I lived there for several years, we go back and forth. I absolutely adore England. I adore the United Kingdom. It's a wonderful, wonderful place, and you get inspired just walking around some of the streets. You can actually see the fog coming in off the river and know that someone's being stalked by killer, and Mrs. Jeffries will catch them.LB: I was so chuffed that your books have been translated into Japanese.EB: Yes, they sold the first three to Japan. I was rather amazed myself, but my husband said, he goes, well, it's a group effort, and that's a society that has great respect for the efforts of a group, and so perhaps that's what appealed to them. We've also had a sale for the first book to Hungary, which I also thought was interesting.LB: Your supporting cast of characters is tremendous.EB: So it's huge,

  • Episode 18: Denise Swanson
    Tue, Jul 26, 2016

    I am thrilled to be talking to New York Times Best-Selling Author Denise Swanson. She has two cozy mystery series -- the Scumble River Mysteries and the Devereaux's Dime Store series -- as well as the Change of Heart Romance Series. She also has some incredible stories to tell: her writing career came out of what she has called a face-to-face encounter with evil.You can find all her mysteries in order on her website, and if you're looking for the romances, here's that link. The 19th (!) Scumble River Mystery has the irresistible title of Murder of a Cranky Catnapper. Catnip!As always, if you'd rather read than listen, here's the transcript. Enjoy!Transcript of Interview with Denise SwansonLaura Brennan: My guest today is New York Times best-selling author Denise Swanson. Her mystery series include both the Scumbel River Mysteries and the Devereaux's Dime Store Mysteries. And if that weren't enough, she also writes the Change of Heart Romance series. Denise has multiple awards and nominations including the Agatha award, the Mary Higgins Clark award, the Reviewer's Choice award, and was also nominated for RT Magazine's career achievement award, alongside Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich.Denise, thank you so much for joining me.Denise Swanson: Thank you for inviting me.LB: Okay, so I was counting up all your published books -- plus, I know you must have more in the works. And you're creeping up on 30 books in the last 16 years, is that right?DS: I think that close. Yes, I have -- the 19th Scumble River will come out in September, which is Murder of a Cranky Catnapper. And the 6th Devereaux's Dime Store book will come out next July. And I have four romances published so, getting right up there.LB: You had a career as a school psychologist, correct?DS: Yes. I worked for 22 years as a school psychologist. I worked every age level from preschoolers all the way through high school, but my favorite was the junior high, that's where I spent most of my time.LB: How did you then make the shift from helping junior high school students survive --DS: And their parents!LB: -- and their parents, bless your heart -- to writing mysteries?DS: Well, I've always wanted to write. I've always written. I actually wrote my very first book in kindergarten. I am an only child and I grew up on a farm and my mom had a lot of time, she was a stay-at-home mom. So I was reading by the time I went to kindergarten. When I was in kindergarten, the teacher didn't really know what to do with me and she she sat me into the corner and said pretty much, amuse yourself. Because she had to teach everybody else. So I used my big chief tablet to write an alphabet book. And I have to say that when I brought it up to show it to my teacher, it wasn't quite the reaction I was expecting. I brought it up and I said oh, look what I've done! And she paged through the tablet and said to me, you've used your whole tablet. What will you use for the rest of the year? So that was my first bad review. The message came across pretty clearly that this was not an activity that she encouraged.So I started writing again when I was in junior high. I had been reading Harlequin Romances, and you know back then, in the dark ages, they were pretty tame. If the hero and heroine held hands by the end of the book and had little kids was a pretty hot book. So, this was the seventies and my 13- and 14-year-old friends were doing much more than that. So I wanted to write a more realistic book. Unfortunately, my English teacher caught me at it and made me read the section I was working on in front of the class. The interesting thing was, I had been working on a French kiss, and the moment the word 'tongue' came out of my mouth, she whipped me out from the front of the class and sent me down to the principal. So I had my second bad review.LB: I have to ask, given this, what in the world prompted you to go into a career in which you w...

  • Episode 17: Sheila Lowe
    Tue, Jul 19, 2016

     Claudia Rose, the protagonist of Sheila Lowe's Forensic Handwriting Mystery series, is a handwriting analyst -- as is Sheila herself. The stories are the best of both the mystery and thriller worlds: high stakes and plenty of adrenaline, but solid mysteries, plenty of clues, and a lot of heart.Let's lead with the important stuff: if you are reading or listening to this before August 16, 2016, Sheila is having a book launch party and you are invited! Click on the link to learn more. Plus, here is the pre-order link for the new book, Outside the Lines.In addition to having written The Complete Idiot's Guide to Handwriting Analysis and Handwriting of the Famous and Infamous, Sheila is the president of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation, which has resources for those interested in learning more about handwriting analysis.AHAF is also has resources for an important, and at the moment, often overlooked skill: cursive writing. They recently released a paper on the importance of cursive writing in the digital age. Want to help your kids learn cursive? You can learn more about New American Cursive here, and there's yet more information at CursiveIsCool.com.She gives a shout out to the Enid Blyton children's books, particularly The Rocking Down Mystery, which appears to be out of print, although used copies can still be found (thank you, Internet!). I recommend Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear, a brilliant book on how to read people and situations. And here is the link for Women Against Gun Violence.Finally, Sheila has also written the stand-alone psychological thriller, What She Saw.Here are the Claudia Rose Forensic Handwriting Mysteries in order. Enjoy!1 - Poison Pen2 - Written in Blood3 - Dead Write4 - Last Writes5 - Inkslingers Ball6 - Outside the LinesTranscript of Interview with Sheila LoweLaura Brennan: I am so excited today to be talking to my guest, Sheila Lowe. Sheila’s wonderful novels of suspense feature Claudia Rose, a forensic handwriting expert -- territory Sheila knows well, because she herself is one. She hasn’t merely written the book on handwriting analysis -- although she has done that -- she’s also developed Handwriting Analyzer software that has been used around the world for over twenty years and she is the current president of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation. Her Forensic Handwriting Mystery series blends the art and science of handwriting analysis with complex characters and intricate plotting.Sheila, thank you for joining me.Sheila Lowe: Thank you so much for having me.LB: I have to ask, how did you get into the field? I wasn’t even sure there was a field of handwriting analysis. When did that start, and how did you get into it?SL: Well, for that we have to go back in time a long way, back to 1967. I was a senior in high school and my boyfriend’s mother read a book about handwriting analysis, and she analyzed my handwriting. And I was, from then on, I was totally hooked. For about ten years, I read books, everything I could find at the library or the bookstore. And then to my great delight, I found that there were courses I could take. So I did, and I ended up getting certified in 1981. By 1985, I became a court-qualified handwriting expert.LB: That’s fascinating. Now, does this have a long history, or is this a fairly recent area?SL: No, it’s been around for hundreds of years. It was researched quite thoroughly in Europe, but Hitler outlawed it. Well, it’s kind of a long story, but he had a friend who practiced it and he outlawed all of the other methods except for this friend. He outlawed it under the fortune-telling laws. Which, it has nothing to do with fortune-telling. But it kind of went underground for about 50 years and has had a big resurgence in the last number of years.LB: You’ve actually testified in court, this is something that is used to help convict or just to help cle...

  • Episode 16: Gigi Pandian
    Tue, Jul 12, 2016

     With two delicious series going, each with a new book out over the next six months, author Gigi Pandian still managed to find time to chat with me, and I'm thrilled. Her adventure-filled mysteries are among my favorite series. How do you know if you'd like them? If you're a fan of Elizabeth Peters, either her Vicky Bliss or her Amelia Peabody series, then you will love Gigi's books.We talk about a lot of things, and one of them is food. Dorian, the gourmet chef (and living gargoyle) from The Accidental Alchemist grumbles about it, but he manages to create masterful dishes with only vegan ingredients. Gigi has a treasure trove of recipes on her site for you to try as well, and don't miss her Pinterest board! Gigi's interests are so wide-ranging -- alchemy! mythology! world travel! -- that I'm not going to try to encapsulate it all here. Instead, let me suggest you follow her on Facebook and subscribe to her newsletter. Little doses of wonderment await. And joy -- did I mention what joyous romps the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries are? There, now I did.Plus Gigi just shared some great news about The Accidental Alchemist series: her original three-book series has been extended! There will be more adventures for Zoe and Dorian ahead.Here are the two series, in order:The Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series1 - Artifact2 - Pirate Vishnu3 - Quicksand4 - Michelangelo's GhostThe Accidental Alchemist1 - The Accidental Alchemist2 - The Masquerading Magician3 - The Elusive ElixirAs always, if you'd prefer to read rather than listen, here is the transcript. Enjoy!Transcript of Interview with Gigi Pandian:Laura Brennan: My guest today is USA Today bestselling author, Gigi Pandian. The Accidental Alchemist won this year’s Best Novel Lefty Award, while Artifact, a Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery, was named a Best of 2012 Debut Novel by Suspense Magazine. Lucky for us, both of these mysteries launched excellent series.Gigi, thank you for joining me.Gigi Pandian: Thanks so much for having me today.LB: Your very first novel was Artifact.GP: Yes.LB: And that was the first outing for Jaya Jones.GP: Yup.LB: The subheading for that is “A Treasure Hunt Mystery.” Which came first? Did the treasure hunt aspect of it come first or did you come up with the character first?GP: So the whole idea for the series was always there right from the start, mixed up with Jaya and her friends and the whole adventure of it. But I hadn’t really figured out that it was a treasure hunt mystery series because when I wrote the first book, I was just concentrating on the first mystery. And so I knew that it was an adventure that became a treasure hunt, but it wasn’t until I was thinking about, as all authors have to do, how do you actually pitch your book to other people, that’s when I realized that that was really what I wanted to be doing for a whole series. Because I love adventure mysteries, and so it was definitely the thing that I wanted to hook the series around.LB: It is such a joyous romp. I love that book.GP: Oh, thank you.LB: It’s so full of the twists and the surprises. You said it kind of sprang full-formed?GP: The idea for the adventure of it, that it wouldn’t be something that was just set in one place. That it would be an adventure that was following clues that lead to different foreign destinations and that there would be twists and turns. I just, when I started writing it, I hadn’t figured out exactly what those twists and turns were. And it’s actually one of those things that is really funny when I look back on it, that I’ve always thought of myself as an outliner, someone who knows exactly what the story is before I sit down to write. But what I've realized is that every single book I've written, whenever I start with an outline but then I sent my characters free to go follow that outline, they do not follow my outline.

  • Episode 15: Jessie Chandler
    Tue, Jul 05, 2016

    I've been a fan of Jessie Chandler's capers since I picked up Pickle in the Middle Murder on a whim. C'mon, murder in the privies at a Renaissance Faire? This wench was all over that!Her latest retains the fun and furious pace of her earlier novels, but her storytelling continues to mature. She has a new publisher and a new editor as well, and gives a shout-out to both Bella Books and writer/editor Katherine V. Forrest.She started writing after devouring the Mickey Knight series by J.M. Redmann. She took classes from Lori Lake and Ellen Hart, both of whom she cites as major champions and influences on her work. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) gets a nod as well.Jessie ended her four-book run with publisher Midnight Ink, but remains on good terms with them and in fact gives them credit for coming up with the term 'caper' to describe the series. (Heads up to cozy fans: although these books are very funny, Jessie is quick to point out that they are *not* cozies. Give the interview a listen or a read to see if they're right for you.)Jessie also discusses the inspiration for the character Rocky. If you want to learn more about Prader-Willi Syndrome, Jessie provided this link.Here are the books in the Shay O'Hanlon Caper series in order:Bingo Barge MurderHide and Snake MurderPickle in the Middle MurderChip Off the Ice Block MurderBlood Money MurderAs always, if you'd rather read than listen, a transcript is below. Enjoy!Transcript for the Interview with Jessie ChandlerLaura Brennan: Jessie Chandler is the award-winning author of the Shay O'Hanlon Caper series, with her first four books racking up nominations and wins for Golden Crown Goldie and Ann Bannon Popular Choice awards, IPPY awards, USA Book Awards and Rainbow Book Awards. The fifth book in the series, Blood Money Murder, has just been released.Jessie, thank you so much for joining me.Jessie Chandler: I am so happy to be here, Laura. Thank you so much.LB: For someone who didn't plan to become a writer, you've kind of taken the world by storm here.JC: Kinda. I'm still not sure what happened.LB: Well, before we get to your books, let's talk a little bit about you. You've had a lot of interesting jobs.JC: I have, yes.LB: Am I right that one of them was as a police officer?JC: That is correct. I initially, I dispatched for the state patrol for three years. And I got very bored doing that, mostly because you're sitting on your butt and nothing happens and then suddenly everything blows up and the world is crazy. So, I thought, well, I'd like to be a trooper.At the time, there were not a lot of law enforcement jobs available. The budgets had been cut for a lot of agencies and there were no rookie schools coming up for the state patrol. And when I finished the secondary - third-ary - type schooling that I had to do, I don't know how many interviews I wound up out of that, but it was a lot, and then suddenly I wound up with job offers from three agencies. And I chose a smaller one, kind of near an inner-ring suburb. And when I began, there were some younger folks on the police force, and some older folks. There was a little bit of consternation among the older folks about women cops. And it just turned into a big mess. And I wound up quitting a few months into it. I'm actually glad I did, I'm glad I had the experience. I'm very happy where I am now, working on writing books, doing all kinds of other creative things. Ultimately, I'm in the right place at the right time and I don't regret a single thing that I had experienced. But, I'm just really glad, where I am right now.LB: Well, you bring in the cop camaraderie and all of that with JTJC: Yes.LB: So it's being used there, but you didn't have any desire to write a procedural?JC: Not really. I wanted to -- it's kind of weird -- ever since 9/11, you know when 9/11 happened, things got really dark.

  • Episode 14: Kwei Quartey
    Tue, Jun 28, 2016

    I have been a fan of this series, set in Ghana, since the first book, Wife of the Gods. Dr. Kwei Quartey writes with warmth and compassion and ruthless honesty about the struggles of his hero, Inspector Darko Dawson, a good man in a difficult and often corrupt system.In the interview, Kwei seems taken aback by my comparison to Raymond Chandler, but I stand by it: the mean streets may be in Ghana rather than Los Angeles, but the themes of justice and entrenched corruption are universal.Each of the novels takes on a major issue as the backdrop to personal stories of murder and betrayal. You don't have to read them in order, but if you'd like to, here you go:1 - Wife of the Gods2 - Children of the Street3 - Murder at Cape Three Points4 - Gold of Our FathersKwei has also written a novella outside of the series: Death at the Voyager Hotel, which features a woman amateur sleuth who is not content to let a hotel drowning be swept aside as a tragic accident.As always, if you'd prefer to read the interview rather than listen, here is the transcript. Enjoy!Transcript of Interview with Kwei QuarteyLaura Brennan: My guest today manages to juggle two careers, as both a crime writer and a practicing physician. Doctor Kwei Quartey writes the Inspector Darko Dawson mystery series, set in Ghana. The fourth book in the series, Gold of Our Fathers, takes Inspector Dawson into the world of illegal gold mining and the corruption that grows along with the promise of wealth.Kwei, thank you for joining me.Kwei Quartey: Thank you for inviting me, Laura.LB: Wife of the Gods is your first novel, and it's just a tour de force.KQ: Thank you.LB: Let's start by assuming that someone is listening who doesn't know anything about your series. What's the basic thing they need to know going in?KQ: The series that I call the Chief Inspector Darko Dawson series, all set in Ghana, at least so far. And the protagonist Darko Dawson is an inspector in the Criminal Investigations Department in Accra. That's the headquarters, but he is sent to other parts of the country, which is in fact what happens with Ghana police service officers, they get sent to various parts of the country. Darko himself is a good father and husband, he's got two children and a wife who sometimes gives him insight into the mysteries he's solving. He's a bit of a rebel in the office, though. A little belligerent to his superiors and sometimes breaking the rules if he feels that the rules are silly or they need to be broken if he's going to solve his mystery.LB: Now, you have also mentioned that -- because you are a doctor -- that being a doctor is a little like being a detective.KQ: The parallels are remarkable, actually. I once saw a couple in my practice and the woman, the wife in the couple, came in with a litany of complaints which were all disconnected, from headaches to a pain in her side, to joint pain. All sorts of disparate complaints. The husband, who came in but was quiet, I noticed was studying her very hard, and some of these things were tip-offs to me that there was a lot more going on beneath the surface. It only took one question for me to ask, one question for me in which I asked how were things going on at home, and that had the wife burst out crying. And then it turned out that the husband had been unfaithful and they were trying to get things back together again. But it was proving so stressful that the wife was showing all these different types of symptoms. And the lesson behind this story is that sometimes there's much more beneath the surface or much more under your nose than -- that you might not realize. And that applies to both the detective and the doctor. It's up to both the doctor and the detective to look for clues all the time, to steer you in the right direction. Say I had followed strictly on this person's symptoms. Okay, she had severe headaches, so I would be, say,

  • Episode 13: Heather Weidner
    Tue, Jun 21, 2016

     Debut author Heather Weidner melds together the lighthearted fun of a cozy mystery with the action and juicy cases that come with the territory when you're a private eye in her first novel, Secret Lives and Private Eyes.Heather has been steeped in mystery all her life: she's a policeman's daughter (she mentions how she donated crayons to the SWAT team) and she's currently the president of the Central Virginia chapter of Sisters in Crime. Plus she has a kickass Pinterest board! Too much fun.She also gives a big shout-out to several writers who helped her along the way: Mary Miley, Mary Burton, Teresa Inge, Lyndee Walker (LyndeeWalker.com) and Maggie King (MaggieKing.com).And of course, The Poe House.As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!Transcript for Interview with Heather WeidnerLaura Brennan: My guest today is a debut author Heather Weidner. Her mystery, Secret Lives and Private Eyes features PI Delanie Fitzgerald, who is thrilled to take on an assignment that doesn’t involve straying husbands. She’s less thrilled when it turns into a high-profile murder case. Heather is also a short-story writer and the president of the Central Virginia chapter of Sisters in Crime.Heather, thank you for joining me.Heather Weidner: Thank you so much for having me Laura.LB: Congratulations on your debut novel.HW: Thank you! It's been a long time coming.LB: Well now, you are a short story writer too. That's a very different genre.HW: It is, it's very contained and you're limited in the number of characters that you can have, and the subplots. So I like writing both. I get to experiment with different characters and different styles. But in a novel setting you have many more characters and plot lines that cross and zigzag and sometimes look back on themselves.LB: Now, Delanie, how did you come up with that particular character?HW: I am part of Sisters in Crime in Central Virginia and we have a lot of speakers that come to talk to us. And we had a female private eye and I had just started my story and I thought, wow, this would be a great opportunity. I wanted a female sleuth, I wanted someone that was strong and that was willing to take some chances, take some risks and have some fun. So, it would give her some freedom -- she's not really law enforcement so she can poke around and things and get herself into some situations, sometimes that she probably shouldn't, but...LB: Yes, Delanie does have a knack for getting herself into things.HW: Sometimes it's humorous and sometimes it's dangerous. She's sort of my alter ego, except she gets into way more trouble than I do.LB: One of the nice things about the book is that it's not your typical lone wolf PI with no ties to the community. She's very tied.HW: Right. She grew up in Central Virginia. Her father was a police officer, her parents are deceased. She has two older brothers who like to be very protective and don't like her job, they don't like what she does so they're constantly giving her feedback about get a real job, stop doing this. She has a partner that she's known since college but he has an alter ego as an ethical computer hacker, so she tries not to ask too many questions about where his information comes from. And they have a sidekick that was in the office, which is Duncan's dog -- her assistant, her helper -- and he has an English bulldog named Margaret.LB: It's just an interesting mix of genres because the PI novel tends to be sort of a very lonely place for your protagonist. And more traditional mysteries or even in the cozy world, it tends to be more a more connected world. Did you deliberately mixed genres?HW: I'd like to take credit for it but I think it just happened naturally. I tend to read a lot of cozies, so I tend toward that side. I've loved the British tradition but I also like the hard-boiled, American detective fiction of the 1920s and '30s.

  • Episode 12: T.C. LoTempio
    Tue, Jun 14, 2016

    Today's author writes a cozy mystery series with echoes of my favorite film, "The Thin Man." (Dashiell Hammett's book is darn good as well, but I'm a sucker for Myrna Loy and William Powell.) Her Nick and Nora mysteries feature a crime reporter starting over back in her home town and a cat who may -- or may not -- be the reincarnation of a missing detective. Together with a wonderful supporting cast, they solve crimes and mete out justice. Meow If It's Murder is the first in this charming series.Toni and I chat about a lot of things: favorite authors (including the delightful Krista Davis, who you can hear interviewed here) and two charities she actively supports: Kids Need To Read (founded by Denise Gary, P.J. Haarsma, and actor Nathan Fillion) and Alley Cat Allies.To learn more about Toni, be sure to check out her author page and of course the blog she shares with her cat, ROCCO. He interviews mystery authors and runs frequent book giveaways, so don't miss it.As always, here's the transcript if you'd rather read than listen. Enjoy!Transcript of T.C. LoTempio InterviewLaura Brennan: T.C. LoTempio is the national bestselling author of the Nick and Nora Mystery series, as well as nearly a dozen other books, ranging from paranormal mysteries to rom com. Meow if It’s Murder introduced Nora Charles, a crime reporter who longs for a quiet life, and Nick, the cat who adopted her.Toni, thank you for joining me.T.C. LoTempio: Thank you for having me, Laura.LB: Tell me a little bit about yourself. What got you started writing?TL: Okay. Well, I’ve been writing since I was ten years old. My mother used to read me stories at night, and I wouldn’t like the ending, so I’d make up my own. And then I’d buy comic books, and I wouldn’t like the way those ended, so I’d make up those stories. And it just progressed from there. I used to write fairy tales, you know, and I was always good at English in school. I got away from it a little bit. I got married, life got in the way as they say. And then, after my parents died, I kinda got back into it. I was at a training session with a friend, and we were learning how to do e-mails at the time, that’s how long ago this was. And she said to me, “Oh, you write such good e-mails. You should probably be a writer.” And I said, “You know, I think I am one. I just have to get back into it.” And it just took off from there.LB: You’ve actually written many, many different kinds of novels. Are you finding your genre?TL: I think it started out that way. Actually, the type of novel that I enjoy writing the most is the one that I stopped because agents would tell me there’s no market for it. It’s Horror. Stephen King-type books. And they said, unless you are Stephen King, there’s no market for it. So I figured, well, if I want to get published, I’d better write something else.LB: I find that hilarious, since I’m a member of the Horror Writers Association and a lot of people are actually selling horror these days.TL: Well, that’s good to know, if I want to start writing it again.LB: Certainly in movies, almost the closest thing there is to a Whodunit is a horror film.TL: I would tend to agree with you. I must’ve seen “Halloween” at least three dozen times, if not more.LB: Yeah, and it’s too bad, too, because they used to make movies very much like -- to bring this back to your wonderful series -- very much like “The Thin Man.” And they don’t make those anymore.TL: I know, and isn’t that a shame? I think maybe more people might go to the movies if they did that.LB: Absolutely! So, tell me how “The Thin Man” -- was “The Thin Man” really your inspiration? Because it trickles through your series so beautifully.TL: Well, it was kind of a combination of William Powell and my cat.LB: For those who haven’t yet read your series, just a little background. It’s a cozy series about a woman named Nora who’s in her thirties and she’s been very suc...

  • Episode 11: S.M. Freedman
    Tue, Jun 07, 2016

    Today's guest became an international best-selling author with her debut thriller, The Faithful.S.M. Freedman's smart, haunting thriller was inspired by the idea of a massive meteorite striking the earth and causing mass destruction -- a scary possibility that Shoshona took in unexpected (and deliciously creepy!) directions. The White Sands Missile Range is a real place where real people are working to keep us safe from just such a possibility, and I found an article on one of the ideas they're testing for nudging space stuff out of our path. Just, you know, so folks can sleep at night...On another note, Shoshona's author page on Facebook linked to an AMAZING article on teaching your kids about "tricky people" -- ie: the kind of adult who is not safe. Parents, read this. It's an easy, not-scary read because the kids did everything right, and it introduces a potentially life-saving concept to parents and kids alike.Back to books! Impact Winter, the sequel to The Faithful, comes out on July 1st. Shoshona is running a Goodreads Giveaway, so go check that out before July 1st. Or you can preorder!One last thing: we talk about Shoshona's career as a private investigator and how no one suspected a woman in her twenties of being a PI. It reminded me of Steph Cha's Juniper Song series, where the same is true for her PI. Truth mirrors fiction!As always, if you'd rather read than listen, here's the transcript. Enjoy!Transcript for interview with S.M. FreedmanLaura Brennan: My guest today is international best-selling writer S. M. Freedman. Her debut novel, The Faithful, is a complex, haunting thriller, and it’s soon to be followed up by the sequel, Impact Winter, which launches July 1st.Shoshona, thank you for joining me.S.M. Freedman: Thank you so much.LB: So before we talk about your books and your writing, I have a few questions about your background. You actually worked as a private investigator?SF: Yes! Yes I did. I worked in the private investigator. I started out -- actually, I went to a theater school in New York, and I came home with the knowledge that I really didn't want to pursue that as a career. So the only thing I could think of that I was interested in becoming was a private investigator, and I thankfully had a little bit of a hook up in that industry. So I was able to get in and be trained by them. And I spent a little under a decade doing that job.LB: Oh, my gosh! That's the dream.SF: It was definitely the dream for my twenties. I loved it. It's not necessarily the best choice of career, at least for me as a mother. But, uh --LB: I can see that.SF: As a young girl, I loved it. Nobody ever suspected me of anything, I looked completely innocent.LB: Steph Cha, who I also interviewed, she has a PI series and her PI is a young, in her 20s, Korean American woman.SF: Oh, fascinating.LB: And that's one of her things, no one ever suspects the young Korean American woman of being a detective.SF: It's true. It's true. It's funny, I'm actually writing a detective novel myself right now with a private eye who lives in Palm Springs. And I'm kind of bringing together a few of my different little elements of my background into one person. And he's Jewish, raised as a fairly traditional Jew, but has kind of fallen by the wayside on that. And he's a private investigator because he's a failed cop. And he's also an Elvis impersonator on the side.LB: And you, of course, were an Elvis impersonator?SF: No, that's the only thing I can say I really didn't do. Although when I was a teenager I absolutely loved and adored Elvis and everything that had to do with him, his music, everything. So I, I went through an Elvis phase as a teen. So that kind of, I brought that in as well.LB: So how did you get started writing?SF: I began writing, I think, when I was about 12 years old. I really decided that I loved it. I had this -- I was a terrible,

  • Episode 10: Kat Martin
    Wed, Jun 01, 2016

    New York Times Bestselling author Kat Martin writes romantic suspense like no one else. Her series include the BOSS, Inc. series, The Against Series/Raines of Wind Canyon, The Brodies of Alaska, and The Sinclair Sisters Trilogy. She has two series of paranormal romantic suspense, as well as Historical Romances, Contemporaries, and stand-alone novels.I can't possibly list them all, much less in order, but luckily I don't have to because Kat has a printable checklist on her site.We talk about her latest novel, Into the Whirlwind, the second book in the BOSS, Inc. series, and about creating the deep relationships and characters that make her novels so satisfying to read. We also talk about her own adventures with her husband (including a mystery/romance/western that they wrote together!) and a new writing adventure: her first thriller comes out early next year.As always, if you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!Transcript of Interview with Kat MartinLaura Brennan: Kat Martin is a New York Times Bestselling author of over 60 novels, ranging from romantic suspense to historical romance, with some paranormal, contemporary, and western tales thrown in just to keep things interesting.She has over fifteen million copies of her books in print and has been published around the world. Her most recent novel, Into the Whirlwind, continues the BOSS, Inc series with Dirk and Meg’s explosive story.Kat, thank you so much for joining me.Kat Martin: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.LB: Well, first of all, congratulations. Because as we record this, Into the Whirlwind has just launched.KM: Just hit the shelves this morning. I was on Facebook and it's always exciting because everyone really gets excited and they all Facebook and it's kind of a fun day.LB: So let's jump back just a bit. You actually didn't start out as a writer. You began in a different profession.KM: You know, I didn't know what I wanted to be when I went to college. I just took general courses at the University and then I got out and I still didn't know what I wanted to do. So I ended up, I wanted to say in Santa Barbara where I went to the University of Santa Barbara, UCSB, wanted to stay in that gorgeous town.So I pretty much just went knocking doors to find a job and I thought, well, I'll just take anything I can get till I can figure this out a little better. And it was really hard, it took me 30 days to find a job knocking on doors five days a week, you know. But I finally found a job, and it happened to be in the title business, which is real estate related. So after I was in the business for about five or six years, I realized that if I wanted to make any money I had to get out of this and get into something that was -- you know, you can work on commissions in real estate. So that's what I did, I got out and I got into the actual business of selling houses. And that's what I did for 13 years. Then I started writing after that.LB: How did you decide you wanted to write?KM: Because my husband had written a novel. I was actually just dating him at the time, and he wrote this book just on a whim. And it was a really neat book and I thought, well I love to read, so I read his book, but he couldn't sell it. He kept trying to sell it and it never sold. And I thought, why is this book not selling? Because it's such a great story, I love this book. And I thought -- so anyway, I started working on it. I said, well let me look at. And so I read it and loved it, but then I thought, well I'm going to read it now like an editor. And I realized, there wasn't spellcheck in those days, it was all full of spelling errors, it had tons of grammatical errors because he really didn't know how to -- he was a very good at that. I was really good at it so I thought, well I'll just work on his book, fix it up and he can sell it. Well it took me weeks, it wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be.

  • Episode 9: Amanda Flower
    Tue, May 24, 2016

    First of all, congratulations to Amanda Flower: earlier this month, she won her first Agatha Award at Malice Domestic for her middle-grade mystery, Andi Unstoppable. With six series underway and a seventh one starting next year, there doesn't seem to be much that Amanda Flower can't do.You can find out more about her at AmandaFlower.com and also here on Facebook, where she loves to chat with her fans.When we talked about her most recent series, the Magical Bookshop Mysteries, we talked about Emily Dickinson, and I wanted to give a shout-out to the poem we discussed, one of my very favorites. Here's the full text of Because I could not stop for Death and here's a link to a charming site, The Emily Dickinson Museum, for those wanting to know more about the poet.The next book features Edgar Allan Poe, and he, too, has a museum.If you'd rather read than listen to the interview, simply scroll down for the transcript. Meanwhile, here are her series, in order:Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries (written as Isabella Alan)Prequel e-Novella!: Plainly Murder1 - Murder, Plain and Simple2 - Murder, Simply Stitched3 - Murder, Served Simply4 - Murder, Plainly Read5 - Murder, HandcraftedAndi Boggs Mysteries (middle-grade)1 - Andi Unexpected2 - Andi Under Pressure3 - Andi UnstoppableAppleseed Creek Mysteries (complete)1 - A Plain Death2 - A Plain Scandal3 - A Plain Disappearance4 - A Plain MaliceIndia Hayes Mysteries1 - Maid of Murder2 - Murder in a BasketLiving History Museum Mysteries1 - The Final Reveille2 - The Final TapMagical Bookshop Mysteries1 - Crime and Poetry2 - Prose and ConsTranscript for Amanda Flower InterviewLaura Brennan: My guest is USA Today Bestselling author Amanda Flower. Over the past five years, she has published seventeen novels, including the Amish Quilt Shop mystery series, as Isabella Alan.Her most recent book, Crime and Poetry, launches a new series with a magical touch. She has been nominated for three Agatha Awards, including best first mystery, and this year she won the Agatha for best children’s/young adult novel, Andi Unstoppable.By day, Amanda is a superhero -- I mean, a librarian, my favorite people in the world. Amanda, thank you for joining me.Amanda Flower: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited.LB: So first of all, congratulations on your Agatha win!AF: Thank you. It was incredible, a truly surreal moment. And I cried and I shook, and it was everything you’d imagine winning an award like that would be.LB: Did you always want to be a writer?AF: Yes. My first book was Maid of Murder.LB: So then how did you decide to write about, to write Amish mysteries?AF: I was pitching ideas to my agent and she didn’t like any of my ideas, some of which I thought are still great. So I said, well, I used to live in Amish country in my early twenties. And her eyes got all big, and she sold the Appleseed Creek series and the Amish Quilt series within a couple months after that. So it was just timing.LB: One of the things I really like about them is that your heroine in both is not, she’s not Amish. She’s an outsider, but she has deep ties to the community. And there’s a great affection for them, for that community. And I love that you bring a diverse perspective.AF: Something I learned from living out there is that most people think, Amish -- an Amish person’s an Amish person. There wasn’t that much variety. But that’s not true. The Amish are very different between orders and between districts. It’s just what their bishop says that they’re allowed to do, how they interpret their rules. The Amish have a lot of variety.LB: You have a new one coming out -- I cannot believe how prolific you are. You’ve had three books come out this year so far already.AF: I have! Crime and Poetry came out in April. The Final Tap,

  • Episode 8: Connie Archer/Connie di Marco
    Tue, May 17, 2016

    Under the name Connie Archer, my guest today writes the Soup Lover's Mysteries. Under Connie di Marco, she is launching a new series on June 8th, the Zodiac Series. Whatever name she uses, Connie is a terrific storyteller with a lot of heart, and I am thrilled to be talking to her today.We cover a lot of ground, from the allure of cozies to creating memorable characters, to the true-life crazy things that can happen in a small town. And we talk about her blog tour, which you definitely want in on, since every stop generally involves a Madness of Mercury book giveaway. I link HERE to Connie di Marco's home page for more info on the Zodiac series, and HERE to the page that has links to all her blog tour stops.Connie Archer's website can be found here for you soup lovers (you can find one of her recipes at Cinnamon Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder). Here, in order, are the five books in the Soup Lover's Mysteries series:1 - A Spoonful of Murder2 - A Broth of Betrayal3 - A Roux of Revenge4 - Ladle to the Grave5 - A Clue in the StewFor her latest book, The Madness of Mercury, book one of the Zodiac Series, Connie was inspired by someone who lived in San Francisco at the same time she did: Jim Jones, of the Jonestown Massacre. Very creepy. On a slightly less deadly note, we also talk about the Rashneeshees and their poisoning of a town in an attempt to win elections (luckily, no lives were lost, but it was a close call).Connie also gives a shout out to Sue Grafton and to cozy writer Nancy Parra, who writes (among other things) a gluten-free cozy series.If you'd rather read than listen, the transcript is below. Enjoy!Transcript for Connie di Marco/Connie Archer interview:Welcome to Destination Mystery, a podcast for readers who love a good mystery. I'm Laura Brennan.Laura Brennan: My guest today is a bestselling mystery author with a double identity. As Connie Archer, she writes the Soup Lover’s Mysteries, set in the village of Snowflake, Vermont. As Connie di Marco, she has a new series, the Zodiac Mysteries, which debut with The Madness of Mercury on June 8th. Connie, thank you for joining me.Connie di Marco: Thank you, Laura.Laura: So you are not just one author, you are two authors.Connie: Well, one author with two identities.Laura: So tell me a little bit about how that happened. Let’s start with soup. The Soup Lover’s Mysteries, how did you start writing those cozies?Connie: Well, I had been very lucky to find an agent pretty quickly, which I later realized was extremely difficult. And my agent loved the concept of my first book, and the book did not sell. They liked it, but it was also partly economic reasons, too, because it was 2007-2008 and a lot of the major publishers were laying people off and the economy was really going south. So, I wasn't actually surprised at that, there was no negativity in the rejections, it was just like, well, we don't think this is quite what will sell.Undaunted, I continue to write. And my agent called me and she said, would you be interested in doing this series for Penguin? And I said sure, because mostly because I really wanted my agent to keep working for me. And that's how the soup lover’s mysteries came about. I was born in Boston, I grew up there and I certainly know New England and I also love to make soup, so it seemed like a really good match. And it was released in August 2012, A Spoonful of Murder. And it was an amazing success. People seemed to really like it and seemed to really connect with the characters.Laura: One of the things, for me, that I really love about it is the recurring characters. You give the whole town such enormous personality. One of the great pleasures is coming back to every novel. Did you base any of those people on people you knew?Connie: No, I guess -- I did grow up in New England, I’ve certainly seen a lot of smaller towns and villages,

  • Episode 7: Susanna Calkins
    Tue, May 10, 2016

    I'm thrilled to have my first historical mystery writer! Susanna Calkins' evocative mysteries feature Lucy Campion, a chambermaid who, amid the social chaos of the Plague and the Great Fire of London, manages to rise to the ranks of printer's apprentice -- an unusual job for a woman at the time. But whether she's a servant or an apprentice, her quick mind and sense of justice are always at the fore. And they often end up embroiling her in murders.We talk about Susanna's extensive research, which include a mention that the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London is this September. We also talked about murder ballads, the inspiration for the first book in the series, A Murder at Rosamund's Gate, which I am giving away as part of the May Bundle Of Books, along with Tammy Kaehler's (signed) Dead Man's Switch and Amanda Flower's latest cozy, Crime and Poetry, and a $10 Amazon gift certificate.I hunted around the Internet to find a good post to share on murder ballads, and the best one I could find was written by Susanna herself!She also gives a shout out historical mystery writers whose work she loves: Anne Perry and Rhys Bowen. But most notably, she introduced me to the work of Sam Thomas, whose Midwife Mysteries are set 20 years before Susanna's books. His next book will involve the backstory of one of Susanna's characters -- a literary crossover not to be missed! (And much more to my taste than crossing Jane Austen with zombies. Not that anyone would do that...)There are four books in Susanna's series, earning her a slew of nominations for Best Historical Mystery (Agatha, Lefty, Mary Higgins Clark, and the Macavity's Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award). For those wanting to know what order they should read in, here you go:1 - A Murder at Rosamund's Gate2 - From the Charred Remains3 - The Masque of a Murderer4 - A Death Along the River FleetRather read than listen? Here's the transcript. Enjoy!Transcript of Interview with Susanna CalkinsWelcome to Destination Mystery, a podcast for readers who love a good mystery. I'm Laura Brennan.Laura Brennan: Today I have the pleasure of talking to Susanna Calkins. Her historical mysteries feature Lucy Campion, a young woman who rises from chambermaid to printer’s apprentice in the turmoil of 17th century England, surviving both the Plague and the Great Fire of London -- and using her observational skills and quick wits to find the answers to more than one suspicious death. Susanna’s books have been nominated for Macavity, Lefty, Mary Higgins Clark and Agatha awards, and her fourth novel, A Death Along the River Fleet, has just been released.Susanna, thank you for joining me.Susanna Calkins: Thanks for having me.LB: So tell me, how did you get started writing fiction?SC: Well, I started writing, I mean these books, these are my first ones, I started writing them when I was working on my research for my dissertation. And I started getting the ideas for these books while I was doing research for other things, for my academic work. And those ideas just kind of kept staying in my head and I thought, you know, I think I could write this. But further back, I mean, I did write stories all the time when I was pretty little and I was always writing. So I definitely was always interested in writing fiction, but I didn’t really put it, I didn’t make it work until much later in life.LB: So I have two related questions. One is, why mysteries? So, why mysteries?SC: I just really like mysteries. I really was one of those kids that did grow up on Nancy Drew and then really more Agatha Christie. I remember when I was 12, I would go home, you know, I would go to the library and I would read another Agatha Christie book. Because they were the kind you could read really fast. And I just really liked them. And then later on I discovered other mystery writers, but I was always, that was a kind story I like.

  • Episode 6: Tammy Kaehler
    Tue, May 03, 2016

     Tammy Kaehler's Kate Reilly Racing Mysteries feature thrills on and off the track. Her fourth book, Red Flags, has just been released. You can learn more about Tammy directly from her website. Plus Tammy has graciously donated an autographed copy of her first Kate Reilly Racing Mystery, Dead Man's Switch for the May book giveaway. Sign up in the box on the right before May 31, 2016 to be entered to win.Speaking of Dead Man's Switch, we talk about how Tammy got the initial spark for the series. She gives a shout-out to Hallie Ephron, and if you want to know the name of the how-to book Hallie wrote, it's Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel. But if you're into suspense, you should check out her fiction as well.We also talked about drivers who have helped her: Patrick Long, Oliver Gavin and Pippa Mann. Pippa's breast cancer awareness sponsorship for the Indy 500 mirrors a scenario Tammy came up with for Kate, who, in her books, has teamed up with Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Between the time we recorded this and now, Pippa did announce that she will once again be driving the pink car at the Indianapolis 500.Finally, Tammy talked about writers who have influenced her: Dick Francis, Agatha Christie, and a recent spark from Margaret Maron.I had a request to put series books in order, which I think is a brilliant idea, so here are Tammy's Kate Reilly Racing Mysteries, from first to most recent:1 - Dead Man's Switch2 - Braking Points3 - Avoidable Contact4 - Red FlagsI will happily add more as Tammy writes 'em!Meanwhile, if you would rather read than listen to the interview, here is the transcript. Enjoy!-- LauraTranscript of Interview with Tammy KaehlerWelcome to Destination Mystery, a podcast for readers who love a good mystery. I'm Laura Brennan.Laura Brennan: My guest today is Tammy Kaehler, author of the Kate Reilly racing mysteries. Set in the fast-paced world of professional motorsports, the mysteries feature a racecar driver who happens to be a damn good amateur sleuth, as well as a woman proving herself in the male-dominated field of racing. Murder interweaves with the dramas on and off the track. The fourth book in the series, Red Flags, has just been released.Tammy, thank you for joining me.Tammy Kaehler: Thank you for having me. Glad to be here.LB: I want to talk about writing and I want to talk about Kate and Red Flags, but first I want to talk about racing. When did you become a racing fan?TK: It was 2004, and I can pinpoint that very clearly because I didn't know a single darn thing about racing before that year. Not a thing. I was working freelance at the time, and I had a contract with a subprime mortgage lending company and if you remember 2004, that was the heyday for such companies. They were making money hand over fist. And the one I was working for decided that the way they wanted to spend their marketing dollars that year, was sponsoring a racing series and racing team and then taking brokers and entertaining them at the races. So they did that, and they needed extra hands, and I went along to the season of races that year to help entertain, do the corporate marketing as such. And I learned about this fascinating sport sort of from the inside out because I was representing a VIP, I was a VIP, so I got VIP treatment and learned everything there was to know. And I walked into this world and just, like, my jaw dropped, it was fascinating and I thought, there are stories here and I want to tell other people about this crazy sport.LB: Well, your research, is, it must be intense. Because both your second and your third Kate Reilly books won back-to-back awards from the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association.TK: Yes.LB: Yay! A) congratulations but, B) that must be the hardest nut to crack because they cover this, that's their world.TK: Yeah, yeah and really, I was so proud of those awards,

  • Episode 5: Peg Brantley
    Tue, Apr 26, 2016

    If you're looking for fast-paced thrillers with well-rounded characters and plenty of chills, look no further. Peg Brantley delivers.We talk about the inspiration for Red Tide; culture and vulnerable populations in The Missings; her most recent novel, The Sacrifice; and what she admires about her characters. Also, she gives a shout-out to two books:- A debut cozy getting great buzz, Cynthia Kuhn's The Semester of Our Discontent, and- A WWII novel, Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys. Her next novel, Trafficked, is due out this fall. It centers on human trafficking -- the same topic I discussed when chatting with DĂ©sirĂ©e Zamorano, author of Human Cargo, if you'd like to check out our conversation.Don't forget, if you want a chance to win April's bundle of books -- thriller All In (signed by author Lisa Klink), noir Dead Soon Enough by Steph Cha; and cozy The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss by Krista Davis, along with a $10 Amazon gift card, sign up for the monthly newsletter in the boxes on the right.If you'd rather read than listen, here's the transcript. Enjoy!Peg Brantley TranscriptWelcome to Destination Mystery, a podcast for readers who love a good mystery.My guest today is thriller writer Peg Brantley. It’s no accident Peg Brantley’s thrillers feel so terrifyingly real. She immerses herself in research, interviewing crime scene investigators, FBI agents, and human trafficking experts, and studying topics as diverse as arson dogs and Santeria. She’s gone through the citizen’s police academy and obtained her concealed carry permit, all in an attempt to bring realism to her stories.Her third novel, The Sacrifice, was a finalist for two Colorado literary awards. She’s currently working on her fourth novel, the second in the Mex Anderson series.Laura Brennan: Peg, thank you so much for joining me.Peg Brantley: Thank you for asking me.LB: Tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you get started writing?PB: My bonus son had a heart attack when he was 40, no 39 years old, and we moved him home with us. And I lost track of everything else that was going on in my life. I was paying attention to him. And after about a year and a half of that I decided, you know I've always wanted to write a book, and I'm home all day. Why not? So it was out of his tragedy, family tragedy, that got my heart where it needed to be.LB: Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry to hear that.PB: He's doing well now, by the way.LB: That is, that was the question. So your son came home and you had to take care of him and you ended up writing as something for yourself, within that.PB: Yeah.LB: You know, I find that really interesting because family relationships are such a big part of all of your novels. Are you close your family in general?PB: Yes. Yeah, I really am. You know, I was estranged from my mom for a number of years but thankfully before she died we were able to reconnect and take care of everything. I just think that part of who makes each one of us who we are, are the family dynamics and the relationships that we have with other people. And I try to have my characters be at least a little well-rounded where those are concerned.LB: Family dynamics and family secrets play a big role. So I'm not gonna pry into your family secrets. Tell me about the inspiration for Red Tide.PB: I read an article about a man who died in prison. And he left behind a photograph. And the question was, why this photograph? It wasn't person, it wasn't a place, it wasn’t an event -- well, it was a place. It was a field, just a field with trees around it. But he kept that photograph. And people said, well, there can’t be any special reason for him keeping that photograph. And I thought, well, what if there was a special reason? And it turns out that that is the dumping ground for bodies.LB: Is that what led you, then, to your heroine's job as a body retrieval specialist?

  • Episode 4: Krista Davis
    Tue, Apr 19, 2016

    I am thrilled that my first interview with a cozy author is with the New York Times Bestselling Krista Davis. She has two delightful cozy series, the Domestic Diva mystery series and the Paws & Claws mysteries, set in pet-friendly Wagtail, Virginia. I'll be giving away a copy of her most-recent Domestic Diva novel, The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss, as part of my April giveaway, along with books by Lisa Klink (signed by the author!) and Steph Cha, and a $10 Amazon gift certificate. To enter, just sign up in the box on the right. Her 10th Domestic Diva mystery, The Diva Serves High Tea, will be published on June 7th. We chat about cozies - including the conversation around #SaveOurCozies, where readers are banding together to convince publishers that cozy mysteries are worth supporting. For a little more on what's going on, you can check out posts on these sites:The Cozy Mystery List BlogThe Book's The ThingAny others I should link to? E-mail me at Laura@DestinationMystery.comIf you'd rather read than listen, below is the transcript of our chat. Enjoy! Welcome to Destination Mystery, a podcast for readers who love a good mystery. I'm Laura Brennan.Krista Davis writes what she knows. Like her protagonist, Sophie Winston, Krista had a gregarious Ocicat named Mochie; lived for a time in Old Town, Alexandria; and loves to entertain family and friends.Her Domestic Diva mystery series is a three-time Agatha Award nominee, and both of her series were on the New York Times Bestseller list, with Murder, She Barked, the first in her Paws & Claws mystery series, hitting the top ten. Her cozies include recipes, tips for gracious living, great characters and tremendous heart. I don’t know how she does it all.Laura Brennan: Krista, thank you for joining me.Krista Davis: Thank you so much for having me, Laura.LB: Have you always wanted to be a writer?KD: You know, I think I have. I went through periods when I did other things in life, but I go way way way back to grade school when I wanted to write and to read. And I even remember sitting in the window of my very boring house on a very boring street and thinking that books could just take you anywhere in the world and even to outer space. They could really introduce you to people that you would never meet otherwise. And I just thought they were marvelous.LB: Tell me how the Domestic Diva -- that was your first series -- tell me how the Domestic Diva mystery series started.KD: My agent suggested that I write a proposal for a different series. And when the editors were looking at that, they came back and asked, would this appeal to readers of Real Simple? Well, I had no idea what Real Simple was. So I hopped in the car right away and went to the CVS, and it was actually in the drugstore, looking at the magazine that the diva concept came to me. Real Simple in my mind is sort of the anti-Martha. It's for people who want the lifestyle, and the nice food and the nice home and all the things that Martha Stewart is about, but just not so complicated. So I was just standing there and I thought, oh, gosh, there could be two Domestic Divas, one who does things simply and the other one who just has these just incredibly difficult, wonderful things that she does.So the original idea before them was -- everyone thought it was going to go. They were very happy about it, they got good reads on it and at an editorial meeting it just was killed in like two seconds. So, I think that the editors felt kind of bad about that, because they really thought it was going to be purchased. So they came back again to my agent and said, send us three ideas and we’ll tell you which one we’re interested in looking at. Which almost never happens, but they did it. Which shows that you never know what could happen. And the one that they chose was the one that I was calling the Dueling Divas. I got the call nine years ago yesterday.

  • Episode 3: Desiree Zamorano
    Wed, Apr 13, 2016

    Episode 3 is an interview with author  DĂ©sirĂ©e Zamorano. We talk about her masterful PI novel, Human Cargo; her short story, "Quickie;" Akashic Books' Mondays Are Murder flash fiction series (hers will go live on August 1st!); and we briefly touch on her literary novel, The Amado Women.DĂ©sirĂ©e isn't just a writer, she is a fellow mystery lover, and she gives a shout-out to a number of fabulous writers and books. I've linked to the websites of these contemporary writers: Edgar winner Naomi Hirahara, Ausma Zehanat Khan, Sara Gran, best-selling author Kate Atkinson, James Sallis (who has won the lifetime achievement award from Bouchercon, among many other mystery awards), Rachel Howzell Hall, Sue Ann Jaffarian, and the wonderful Steph Cha, whom I interviewed in Episode 2.Classic mystery writers include Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, John D. MacDonald (the Travis McGee novels) and Patricia Highsmith. One last influential writer mentioned, although not in the field of mystery, is Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz.We talk about books and writing, but we also discussed the need for women to be financially savvy and have an "escape fund" -- not necessarily to escape a dangerous relationship (although obviously that can help), but also so you're not stuck in a bad work situation. Money is freedom. The most important links, however, are the ones DĂ©sirĂ©e sent me on human trafficking:Fighting Human Trafficking, and20 Ways You Can HelpIf you'd rather read than listen, here is the transcript. Enjoy!Transcript of interview with DĂ©sirĂ©e ZamoranoWelcome to Destination Mystery: A Podcast for Readers who Love a Good Mystery. I’m Laura Brennan.A Pushcart Prize nominee and award-winning short story author, Desiree Zamorano has wrestled with culture, identity, and the invisibility of Latinas from early on and addressed that in her commentaries which have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, NPR’s Latino USA, and Publisher’s Weekly. She is also proud of having co-authored with her sister two plays commissioned by Southern California's Bilingual Foundation for the Arts. "Reina" and "Bell Gardens 90201" received Equity productions and toured for a total of eight years.She delights in the exploration of contemporary issues of injustice and inequality, via her mystery series featuring private investigator, Inez Leon, published by Lucky Bat Books. Human Cargo was Latinidad's Mystery Pick of the Year.Her novel, Modern Cons is a story of psychological suspense where she explores the reverberations of being raised by a con artist.Laura Brennan: Thank you for being here. I'm so excited.DĂ©sirĂ©e Zamorano: Whoo-hoo!LB: How are you, DĂ©sirĂ©e?DZ: Me, too. I'm excited, too.LB: Tell me a little bit about yourself. How did you get started writing?DZ: We writers are all a crazy bunch and we probably as kids said, Oh, I want to create something so wonderful, because as kids we have fallen into this world. And as kids we have this naĂŻve perception that writers just magically put those words on the page. Well, I wanted to magically put those words on the page! But as I got older I realized it took a lot of work to make the work look seamless. So you asked how I got into it. I always wanted to be a writer and I started sending off my short stories -- those were a big deal as I was my twenties, short stories were the thing -- and after about 100 rejections, two acceptances and $50, I thought wow, that's a lot of heartache! I mean, if I'm going to deal with rejection, I might as well go big time. So I sat down to write a novel. I'm going okay, I'm going to write the Great American novel. And I sat down to write a novel and I thought, I have no idea what I'm doing. And I thought about all the books I loved to read and I love classics, I love contemporary modern fiction, but have a real soft spot for mysteries. And what I love about mysteries, and what I loved as I sat down to write mysteries,

  • Episode 2: Steph Cha
    Wed, Apr 06, 2016

    Episode 2 is an interview with Noir author Steph Cha and her Juniper Song Mystery Series. You can listen to it here, or if you'd prefer, you can listen on i-Tunes.In this interview, we talk about all three of Steph's novels, Follow Her Home, Beware Beware and Dead Soon Enough. She also gives a shout-out to the Los Angles Review of Books as well as two authors she loves. You can check them out on their websites: Megan Abbott and Denise Mina. And you can find Steph on her website.In case you missed it, I am giving away a big bundle o' books by three mystery writers (Steph Cha's Dead Soon Enough, Lisa Klink's All In (signed by the author), and Krista Davis' The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss), plus a $10 Amazon gift card. If you'd like a chance to win the book bundle, all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter before April 30th. Everyone on the list at midnight Pacific Time, April 30th, will be automatically entered to win.No spam, by the way, just a monthly newsletter. I won't sell, rent, lend-out, or ransom your e-mail address.If you'd rather read the interview than listen, here's the transcript!Enjoy!Episode 2: Steph Cha TranscriptWelcome to Destination Mystery, a podcast for readers who love a good mystery. I'm Laura Brennan.My guest today is Steph Cha. She is the author of Follow Her Home, Beware Beware and Dead Soon Enough, the third book in the Juniper Song Mystery Series. Her writing has appeared in the LA Times and she is currently the Noir Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books. A graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, she lives in her native city of Los Angeles, California, and I am thrilled to have her here today.Laura Brennan: Welcome! How are you doing?Steph Cha: I'm doing well. Thank you for having me on.LB: Absolutely! I really love your work, it's just so rich and so full of the characters and the relationships -- it’s just so good. But let’s start by talking about Juniper Song. She’s your series protagonist, and really, what was her genesis?SC: Well, I wanted to write an LA novel. I guess even before I started writing, I had the idea -- I’d read Raymond Chandler in college -- and I just had the idea that it would be cool if a book like Follow Her Home existed, in that I wanted to -- I really love the way that Chandler represented Los Angeles, but it did seem very much a representation from another era, where it's a very starkly white man's vision of the city. And it just did not really jibe with my experience growing up in LA. You know, I’m Korean-American and what I really wanted to represent was the kind of upbringing that I had, the kind of 1.5 generation experience. I have a lot of Korean-American friends who were born and raised in LA and we have the largest Korean population outside of Korea, in Los Angeles. But it had not been, that experience had not been represented in fiction, like anywhere, or very scantly. So I just decided that I wanted to write a Korean-American Los Angeles novel and since Chandler is the biggest Los Angeles writer, it made sense to me to have a conversation with him.LB: Oh, that is such a great way of putting it, because I can absolutely see how all three books are a conversation with that and with his -- his vision of LA. It was so interesting, you were talking about -- well, I was reading it and I was thinking about Chandler and the whole lone hero thing. And then about 10 pages later you actually took that head on, in that your third book, and the thing that I was interested in was sort of the gendered issue of it. Song is very much a lone wolf private investigator, but at the same time it seems like she's longing for familySC: Actually, I really liked the fact that Philip Marlowe is this ‘man without a past’ character. I found it kind of fascinating. You know, you dive into those books and you know very little about him, except his age, his height, that he is a private investigator
 But I wanted to ...

  • Episode 1: Lisa Klink
    Tue, Mar 29, 2016

    Episode 1 features thriller author Lisa Klink and her terrific book, All In. You can listen to it here or you can listen on i-Tunes.I am giving away a copy of All In, autographed by Lisa, as part of my April giveaway, in one big bundle o' books: All In plus Steph Cha's noir, Dead Soon Enough, and Krista Davis' cozy, The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss. And a $10 Amazon gift card. If you'd like a chance to win the book bundle, all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter before April 30th. Everyone on the list at midnight Pacific Time, April 30th, will be automatically entered to win.No spam, by the way, just a monthly newsletter. I won't sell, rent, lend-out, or ransom your e-mail address.In this interview, we talk about Lisa's novel All In (thriller) and her work in The Dead Man book series (horror/thriller). If you'd rather read the interview than listen, here's the transcript!Enjoy! Episode 1: Lisa KlinkWelcome to Destination Mystery, a podcast for people who love a good mystery. I'm Laura Brennan.Lisa Klink started her career in the world of Star Trek, writing for Deep Space Nine and Voyager before coming back to earth on shows such as Martial Law and Missing. In addition to writing for television, she scripted a theme park attraction and authored graphic novels, short stories, and three novels in The Dead Man series. Lisa is also a five-time champion on Jeopardy, but most important for today's chat, Lisa is the co-author, with Joel Goldman, of the thriller All In.Laura Brennan: Lisa, hi and welcome!Lisa Klink: Hi! How's it going?LB: I'm doing very well. I'm so excited to be here. I loved All In.LK: Oh, thank you.LB: You're welcome. And I want to talk to you about it, and about the genesis of the project, but the first thing I want to do is gush about Cassie. Because it's so rare that we see, I mean it's not rare these days to find a kick ass woman protagonist, but to find a book where the woman is actually more kick ass than the man – –LK: Yeah.LB: I mean, love Jake, Jake's great and he's great at what he does, he's super fantastic at poker and at his life – –LK: Mmm-hmm.LB: And his livelihood, but you know, Cassie's the one who saves their ass. Again and again. So tell me a little bit about her first. How – – was it deliberate? Did you guys decide – – because you wrote this book with Joel Goldman.LK: Yes.LB: Did you guys decide to do that deliberately?LK: I wish I could take full credit for Cassie, but Joel Goldman is actually the one who came up with Cassie and Jake. He has written several ongoing series with detectives and cops and lawyers. He has a whole bunch of series going on and he wanted to start a new series with this pair Cassie and Jake, an asset recovery specialist and a poker player. So he kind of had all of that in his mind when he brought it to me, and had a couple of paragraphs bios for each of them. So he was the one who decided that she was going to be the pro at this, kind of doing the Oceans Eleven stuff. And that Jake was going to be, as you said, talented in his own way but kind of the sidekick in her business in a way.LB: Oceans Eleven is a very apt comparison, not just because of the casino settings but also for the tone and the depth of the characters. It's such a well-balanced book, it's hard to call either of them a sidekick, certainly in terms of their emotional development. It's really Jake almost who gets more of that, in this first book anyway.LK: Yeah, well that obviously is the interesting part. I mean you can have all the fireworks and escapades that you want but really what you're reading for and hopefully what you're reading a whole series for is the people. And they need to start from a place that needs some development.LB: All of the characters are so distinct. Even your thugs are not just sort of the typical henchman. They have back stories and personalities and -- how much of that was sor...

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