Joanna Campbell Slan is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us about Ink, Read, Dead, her latest novel in the Kiki Lowenstein mystery series.
Welcome, Joanna. 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.
INK, RED, DEAD is Book #3 in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series. Sort of. If you count the prequel (Love, Die, Neighbor) and the free book (Bad, Memory, Album https://dl.bookfunnel.com/jwu6iipe1g), it’s the fifth book. But you can read INK, RED, DEAD as a stand-alone.
INK, RED, DEAD begins when Kiki finds a friend unconscious, suffering from heat exhaustion. The woman was a cat hoarder, and the house is crawling (literally) with cats. Yes, it’s hot outside, but why is the woman’s air-conditioner disconnected? Why are the windows sealed shut? Kiki believes the woman’s poor condition is not an accident—and Kiki wants to know why the hoarder was targeted.
The Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series is a fun, cozy series that touches on social issues in a thoughtful, engaging way. PAPER, SCISSORS, DEATH (Book #1) was a finalist for the Agatha Award.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
A letter in an animal rescue organization’s newsletter caught my attention. It was written by the daughter of an animal hoarder. The daughter described the misery caused by her mother’s mental illness. I’d never considered the problem from that viewpoint, and I found it compelling.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
My characters are patchwork quilts. On occasion, I have a friend or acquaintance in mind, but typically the character develops in my head over time. I do my best to be observant and to ask questions of everyone I meet. By doing so, I learn fascinating bits and pieces that I keep in a mental file box. I don’t have favorites. If I don’t like someone, I kill them. (On paper!!!)
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
I’ve lived in all of the places I write about. Although research is easier than ever now, thanks to the Internet, there’s no substitute for physical knowledge of a place. Everywhere I have lived has a different tempo, mood, and sound. When I was an ex-pat in England, a sociologist told me that we don’t realize how different other places are until we live there. For example, different local birds mean different birdcalls. You wake up to a different sounding world! Menus change. Even brand names are adjusted for local preferences. Styles of housing are unique. The list goes on and on. The big challenge is bringing all of this life for my readers. Typically, that means finding a telling detail that brings a specific place to life.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
I research before, during, and after. My first stop is Amazon to buy books. Then I collect articles in Evernote. Often, I call experts and ask questions.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book? I think the cover with the adorable kitten says it all, don’t you?
Thanks for answering my questions, Joanna, and good luck with Ink, Read, Deed, the latest book in Kiki Lowenstein mystery series.
The novel is available online at Amazon
About Joanna Campbell Slan: Joanna is a New York Times Bestselling, USA Today Bestselling, and Amazon Bestselling author as well as a woman prone to frequent bursts of crafting frenzy, leaving her with burns from her hot glue gun and paint on her clothes. And the mess? Let’s not even go there.
Otherwise, Joanna’s a productive author with more than 80 written projects to her credit. Her non-fiction work includes how to books, a college textbook for public speakers, and books of personal essays (think Chicken Soup for the Soul).
Currently, she writes five fiction series: The Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series (Agatha Award Finalist, contemporary, St. Louis setting, crafting), the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series (contemporary, Florida setting, DIY, and recycling), the Jane Eyre Chronicles (Daphne du Maurier Award Winner, 1830s England, based on Charlotte Brontë’s classic), the Tai Chi Mystery Series (contemporary, senior citizen female amateur sleuth and Washington, DC setting), and the Friday Night Mystery Club Series (traditional mystery, 1980s setting, Midwest).
A former TV talk show host, college teacher, and public relations specialist, Joanna was one of the early Chicken Soup for the Soul contributors. She won a Silver Anvil for her work on the original FarmAid concert to benefit farmers.
In her ongoing quest never to see snow again, Joanna lives with her husband and their Havanese puppy, Jax, on an island off the coast of Florida.