Rye and Wanda are visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us about Death at Fair Havens.
Welcome to both of you. 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.
Rye: Well, I want Death at Fair Havens to be more of a fluke than a series. Obviously, my friend Wanda and I don’t want to chase murderers every week-
Wanda: Speak for yourself! Just because this mystery happened to surprise us doesn’t mean we weren’t essential in bringing justice to that poor man and his family.
Rye: Of course we were essential! Your ex, the so-called “sheriff,” couldn’t detect his way out of a paper bag.
Wanda: That’s not true. I know you and Ryan don’t always get along-
Rye: Ever. We don’t ever get along.
Wanda: But even you have to admit he’s pretty good at his job.
Rye: If he’s so good, why did it take two complete amateurs to take care of this mess? I mean, sure, as vice principal at the high school, I see my fair share of drama, and I’ve definitely taken a punch or two from those kids, but that doesn’t mean I’m qualified to deal with death on a regular basis!
Wanda: I see death all the time. And as a minister, I’m at the center of drama maelstroms weekly.
Rye: That still doesn’t qualify you for a fulltime sleuth position, and, if you remember, you were not an easy patient in the hospital. I think there was a staff party when you left.
Wanda: I’m not going to quit my day job, if that’s what you’re asking – I need the benefits, for one thing – but I’m going to stay open. And I am going to be more careful. Look at all these books on investigating I checked out from the library!
Rye: Here we go…
Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?
Wanda: Well, we have two authors, and you know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen? It makes for a great restaurant!
Rye: Was that a joke you stole from one of your sermons?
Wanda: …Maybe. It was a good one though, wasn’t it?
Rye: It was terrible, but I will say you delivered it well, and with jokes, that’s more than half the battle.
Wanda: I do have a lot of practice!
Rye: What were we talking about? Oh, do we have a lot of control? I’d say we have most of it. The writers nose around in here on occasion, but only after we’ve done all the hard lifting.
Wanda: I have to agree with you there. We solve the mystery, and they do, what? Sentences and paragraphs! Then they take the credit.
How did you evolve as the main character?
Wanda: I’ve always felt like the main character in my own story, haven’t you, Rye?
Rye: Not at all. Half the time I feel like I’m the pretty heroine’s best friend…although in this case, the pretty heroine was my father during most of childhood while he held the position of sheriff around here.
Wanda: He does have a…robust presence, doesn’t he? Nevertheless, you’re clearly leading lady material. I have a wonderful collection of self-image boosting tee shirts to inspire you next time you’re feeling like a supporting character.
Rye: Inspirational shirts? Am I being punished?
Wanda: They’re clever! And soft too. I wear them as pajamas for the most part, although sometimes in the summer, I wear one under my robe with shorts and heels.
Rye: That I would like to see!
Wanda: I think when it comes to women like us-
Rye: Persistent, clever, intuitive, immune to criticism-
Wanda: I wouldn’t say either of us is immune!
Rye: You know what I mean. We’re willing to justify stretching our authority to a ridiculous degree, even though it will almost definitely land us in hot water.
Wanda: …that part is true. And Ryan did mention something to me about being “too nosy for my own good.”
Rye: I love when men call me “nosy.” It means I’m onto something.
Wanda: Exactly! See? You’re a natural at this main character business.
Rye: Then there’s the fact that nobody else in the book volunteered.
Wanda: There’s that.
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
Rye: Is there anyone in either of our lives we wouldn’t call a “character” … with love, of course? Certainly my boss, Gerald Mendoza.
Wanda: “Principal Duck-the-Hard-Stuff?” How about my best friend Tony-
Rye: Oh, Tony’s great. Between being the church musician and the high school drama and chorus accompanist, he has all the best gossip. People “sing” for him. Then there’s the funeral director you’re always making eyes at – Luke?
Wanda: Our relationship is strictly professional, thank you very much…can he ever wear that black suit though!
Rye: Wanda! He’s old enough to be my dad.
Wanda: Your dad cuts a nice figure too, you know. Just because a few of us are pushing fifty doesn’t mean we don’t think about …
Rye: La la lal la la I can’t hear you!
Wanda: Very mature. Sticking your fingers in your ears!
Rye: It’s that or listen to you talk about how attractive you find the men in this town. I choose ignorance. Next it will be that creepy new aide at Fair Havens or the bartender at Laredo’s.
Wanda: Listen, when you are divorced and clergy and can’t date most of the people you know because of boundary issues, the pickings are slim. Some of us have to fish where we’re planted.
Rye: …that makes no sense…and also complete sense.
Wanda: Story of my life.
What’s the town like where you find yourself in this story?
Rye: Small. Invasive. Imagine a bear trap closing over your foot-
Wanda: It’s completely charming. New England at its finest! The bakery downtown is the best. You have to try their scones. Wing-Time is fantastic. Locals has amazing burgers. Whoops, guess I eat out a lot! We do have miles of gorgeous walking trails-
Rye: As long as you don’t mind potential murderers taking pot shots at you.
Wanda: And we’re a relatively short drive to the ocean and the city, but not so close that we’re overrun by tourists every year.
Rye: That’s true. I do like that.
Wanda: The people are…well, maybe not universally friendly, per se.
Rye: Some still say you are “from away.” How many years have you lived here?
Wanda: Hey! I have it on biblical authority – nowhere is perfect.
Rye: And we’re a ways from nowhere … or Boston.
Wanda: Now, that’s a joke I’m saving for a sermon.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
Wanda: I’ve heard the cover is gorgeous and what’s inside is “to die for.”. I haven’t seen a copy myself, but – Father Brown to Grantchester, I do love a good holy-clue mystery.
Rye: Same here. And I heard a free short story is coming out in July. You know, a good book beats a Netflix binge at least five days of the week.
Wanda: Every day of the week. The phrase is “every day.”
Rye: But you don’t work with teenagers “every day.” Sometimes, tv wins.
Wanda: Fair enough.
Thank you for answering my questions, Rye and Wanda, and good luck to you and your authors, Maria Mankin and Maren C Tirabassi, with Death at Fair Havens.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Maria Mankin and Maren C Tirabassi: After teaching and working in early education for a decade, Maria Mankin has published six books with Pilgrim Press and has contributed to several anthologies. She is also a co-author of Circ, a mystery set in Skegness England, published by Pigeon Park Press, and Pitching Our Tents: Poetry of Hospitality. She is a regular contributor to Living Psalms, a collection in which the Psalms are reinterpreted in poetry and art as a reflection of God’s work of justice and compassion. She is currently working on a book of poetry and the third novel in the Rev and Rye Cozy Mysteries.
After trouping the country in the 70s as assistant manager of theatrical tours for choreographer Agnes de Mille, The National Theatre of Great Britain, The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Black Broadway production of ‘Guys and Dolls,’ Maren Tirabassi changed careers, to the surprise of everyone, to study at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and later Harvard Divinity School. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, she served as a bi-vocational pastor to seven churches in Massachusetts and New Hampshire while developing her writing career. Maren is the author of twenty-two books, fiction, non-fiction and poetry, the majority published by The Pilgrim Press.
A former Poet Laureate of Portsmouth, NH, and LAMDA Prize nominee for Transgendering Faith, Identity, Sexuality and Spirituality she currently facilitates programs for the NH Humanities Council with New Americans and people with cognitive difference and leads poetry and memoir workshops in prisons, recovery groups, churches and synagogues, hospice and survivor groups. She blogs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With frequent writing collaborator, Maria Mankin, she is currently editing Death in the Woods, the sequel to Death at Fair Havens, as well as plotting the third novel.