Today Ruby Shaw is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Aloe & Goodbye, the first novel in the Ruby Shaw mystery series.
Welcome, Ruby. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
My name is Ruby Shaw. I live in a cozy mystery titled Aloe and Goodbye. It’s the first book in the Ruby Shaw Mysteries, which is about me—I’m an artist from New York City—and my daughter Allie who enter the witness protection program and must start over with new identities to stay safe.
Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?
The author put me in witness protection, plopped me into this town, and set up the murder of a local real estate maven the night we moved in. Janice Peacock points me in the right direction, but she has told me she is often surprised by what I discover. While I explored my new terraced, barren backyard, I found a glass vase used to kill our neighbor the night we moved in. When I met the townspeople, I discovered each of their motives for killing Mrs. Stramtussle, my now-deceased neighbor.
How did you evolve as the main character?
When I first came to the town of Paradise, Arizona, I was frightened and felt vulnerable. I had a new name and identity, and I wasn’t sure how I should interact with others or what to tell people about myself and my daughter. As I continued to live in town, I realized I could be myself without being my old self and that I had an excellent opportunity to start over in life—something that not many of us get to do. By the time we catch the murderer, I have become a new, better version of myself—I found employment (after getting fired from a couple of jobs), I learned to accept help, and I learned that I could find other creative endeavors to fulfill me. And while not the most important thing, I may have found a boyfriend, which gives me hope that I can live in this tiny town with my daughter and be happy.
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
Of course, I am most partial to my daughter Allie. She’s twelve now and a bit of a handful. She’s entered that pre-teen phase when her attitude and clothing are equally dark. It’s such a change from the delightful girl she was just months ago. Our move to Paradise, leaving behind all her friends and the life she knew in New York, has been hard on her. I’m trying my best to be supportive of her during this difficult time. Every once in a while, I see a glimmer of the old Allie—a sweet girl—but I know that things will be challenging as she enters adolescence.
I’m also partial to the cook at Bette’s Place. His name is Luke, and in addition to being a chef, he has a farm on the edge of town. I like his rugged looks, but what I adore is his gentle nature and his passion for gardening—especially succulents. Luke has taught me a lot about cacti. He even gave me a small barrel cactus, which Allie thinks is hilarious. I think it was a sweet gesture and way better than a bouquet that dies in a matter of days.
What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
Paradise, Arizona, is nothing like the name implies. The whole town clings to the side of a steep, rocky mountain. There are no flat roads in this town. Even the main street has a switchback in the middle of it. Allie and I are getting a lot of exercise walking up and down the hill to and from our house since the marshals didn’t think we needed a car. I beg to differ. I haven’t yet convinced Victor, the marshal who is our contact in the witness protection program, that a car would be helpful.
One of the best things about Paradise is that it’s full of artists and other creative people. Even though I can’t be an artist, I feel like I’m with kindred spirits in this town.
As for our house, it’s nothing like my beautiful art-filled apartment, just off of Central Park. In a word, our place in Paradise is scruffy. In my more optimistic moments, I like to think of it as vintage. I can tell you this: It’s not the Ritz-Carlton.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
I’d like to say that this is such an unusual and fulfilling journey. I thought my life was over when Victor dumped us in this god-forsaken little town. I’m learning to love it here and appreciate the new version of me. I don’t know what the future for Allie and me will hold, but I know it will be fantastic.
Thank you for answering my questions, Ruby, and good luck to you and your author, Janice Peacock, with Aloe & Goodbye, the first book in the Ruby Shaw mystery series.
Readers can learn more about Ruby and her author, Janice Peacock by visiting the author’s website.
The novel is available online at Amazon
About Janice Peacock: Janice is a cozy mystery author who specializes in craft and hobby mysteries. She loves to write about artists who find new ways to live their lives and perhaps catch a criminal or two in the process. While working in a glass studio with several colorful and quirky artists, she was inspired to write the Glass Bead Mystery Series. The Ruby Shaw Mysteries, which are set in a small hillside mining town, were inspired by her trips to Jerome, Arizona, and Jacksonville, Oregon.
When Janice isn’t writing about amateur detectives, she wields a 2,500-degree torch to melt glass and create one-of-kind beads and jewelry. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and an undisclosed number of cats.