Today I’ve invited Kathleen Valenti to Ascroft, eh? as part of her Great Escapes virtual book tour to tell us about her new mystery, As Directed.
Welcome Kathleen. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
KV: AS DIRECTED is the third book in the Maggie O’Malley Mystery Series.
In it, former pharmaceutical researcher Maggie O’Malley is rebuilding her life, trading test tubes for pill bottles as she embarks on a new career at the corner drugstore. But as she spreads her wings, things begin to go terribly wrong. A customer falls ill in the store. Followed by another. And then more. The spectre of poisoning arises, conjuring old grudges, past sins, buried secrets and new suspicions from which no one is immune. As Maggie and her best friend Constantine begin to investigate, they discover that some of the deadliest doses come from the most unexpected places.
The series features books in the “traditional” mystery style with a medical angle. The books offer up suspense, intrigue and plenty of witty dialogue.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
KV: The book’s central mystery surrounds customers becoming ill at the pharmacy at which Maggie works. The idea is based both around the Tylenol murders of the 1980s and Maggie’s new role as a pharmacy tech. Add in the fact that Maggie is recovering from a head injury and isn’t quite herself, and there are questions aplenty!
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
KV: At its heart, AS DIRECTED is about trust. This trust applies not only to the faith we put in others, but also the belief we have in ourselves.
This theme was important to Maggie’s growth as a character. She begins the series as a twenty-something on the brink of a new career. By the time the events in AS DIRECTED get under way, her world has crumbled, her confidence has eroded, and her trust in others (and herself) has diminished. Like us all, Maggie grows and changes in the crucible of life.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
KV: In many ways, my characters come to me fully formed. They’re like the people in our lives: wonderful, flawed, heroic and broken. Although Maggie is the series’ eponymous protagonist, my favorite character is Constantine. I love him for his goofiness, his loyalty, and his ability to lighten the mood.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
KV: The places that I write about in this series are fictional, but I infuse a lot of detail into the story so that they truly come to life. That means describing in broad brushstrokes as well as finer details to make these locations seem as real as your own hometown.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
KV: Because I write medical-ish mysteries, I do a TON of research. Most of it begins online, but I’m fortunate enough to have friends who are pharmacists, physicians, and in pharmaceutical development to keep me on the straight and narrow.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
KV: This is a book I’m particularly proud of. I love its combination of action, suspense, and humor and was delighted to receive this lovely quote from Liv Constantine, international best-seller of The Last Mrs. Parrish:
“A chilling game of cat and mouse that moves with lightning speed and stunning twists. Lies, secrets and evil spin a deadly web in this gripping tale of malice and deceit.”
Thanks Kathleen for dropping by today. Good luck with your latest book in the Maggie O’Malley Mystery Series.
The book is available at the following online retailers:
About Kathleen Valenti: Kathleen is the author of the Maggie O’Malley Mystery Series, which includes her Agatha- and Lefty-nominated debut novel, Protocol. When Kathleen isn’t writing page-turning mysteries that combine humor and suspense, she works as a nationally award-winning advertising copywriter. She lives in Oregon with her family where she pretends to enjoy running.