Karen A. Phillips is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about A Deadly Combo, the first novel in the Rocky Nelson Boxing Mystery series.
Welcome, Karen. 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.
“A Deadly Combo” is book one in the Rocky Nelson Boxing Mystery series. The title is about the deadly combination of boxing punches and a hint to how the victim dies. I got the idea for the story after my first trailerfest (see question #2). The protagonist, Raquel, is a lot like me when I first started writing the story—wayyy back when I was 55 years old and still dying my hair. LOL. I had started taking boxing lessons and thought to include the sport as her hobby. I haven’t seen any mysteries with a protagonist boxer. I thought it would be a good hook. Raquel’s dad nicknamed her Rocky after the movie came out. Her dad is also a boxer. He becomes her “sidekick” in the story and is a good source of humor.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
I came up with the idea after visiting a local winery where vintage trailers were on display. It was the first time I had ever seen a display of old trailers and I was enchanted. The owners are dressed in period costumes relating to the year their trailer was made. They invited you to come inside and look around. They loved talking about all the work done on their trailer. Each trailer was unique. It was so much fun. And I thought, “What a great place to find a dead body!” Because that’s how mystery writers think, you know.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
The theme is family and how far you might go to protect the ones you love. It’s a dysfunctional family because I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “normal” family. I lost two brothers much too soon—one to cancer and one to alcoholism. I definitely relate to the loss of loved ones, the guilt one feels, and if I could have prevented their deaths, I certainly would have.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
My favorite character is the father in the story because he is much like my own father. My dad is cantankerous and yet he has a sense of humor. I also like Detective Thompson. He does his job but develops a soft spot for Rocky.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
I have tried to include sensory detail. I have taken many writing classes and have learned sensory detail is very important to ground the reader. You want the reader to feel they are in the scene. Many of the scenes are based on a county I used to live in, so I am familiar with those areas and can describe them well.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
I did quite a bit of research on vintage trailers using both my experience of owning one and searching the internet. I take boxing lessons and so I have intimate knowledge of the sport. I also asked my boxing trainer lots of questions!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
The story is a blend of traditional and cozy mystery. I started out writing the story as a cozy, but it became a little darker—a cozy-noir, if you will. The cozy elements are an amateur sleuth, a small town setting and the murder happens off the page. There are a few swear words, but absolutely no f-bombs.
Thanks for answering my questions, Karen, and good luck with A Deadly Combo, the first book in the Rocky Nelson Boxing Mystery series.
Readers can learn more about Karen and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Karen A. Phillips: Karen lives in Northern California and writes humorous, fun, action-packed mysteries. She has several short stories published in various anthologies. Her characters are engaging and fearless. “A Deadly Combo” is her first full-length novel. In real life, Karen takes boxing lessons but would hesitate if she had to punch anyone in the face. Let’s face it. Karen wouldn’t last one round in the ring.
Thank you, Dianne for having me on your blog. I appreciate your support of writers and readers.
I first got a taste of Karen’s delectable prose in the Capitol Crimes Anthology: Cemetery Plots of Northern California. It was like a taste of my favorite cake frosting on the end of a spoon. I wanted more! Thrilled to devour her debut novel and hope to see much more of Rock Nelson!
Thank you so much. You bring tears of joy to my eyes!
The Deadly Combo is a page turner with great characters and an engaging protagonist. The storyline will keep you guessing until the satisfying end. I’m hoping there will be book two–fingers crossed.
Thank you for reading! I am working on book two!
Fun interview and I’m looking forward to reading this one!
Thank you for commenting and I hope you enjoy the story.
Karen Phillips’ new book, A Deadly Combo, sounds intriguing! I want to know everything about her main character, Rocky, a mature, female boxer and her part-cozy, part-tradition story. Great job, Karen!
Thank you, Chris!
This story sounds fabulous, Karen. I love that you saw the charming vintage trailers and immediately thought what a great place it would be to discover a dead body. Looking forward to reading.
Thanks, Jessica. And I encourage you to attend a vintage trailerfest some day. 🙂
I love hearing about the inspiration for your book, Karen!
I appreciate you reading my interview.
A Deadly Combo is a knockout! A fun and exciting read that pulls no punches. I sure hope she has a few more rounds in her because I can’t wait for the next bout.
LOL Richard Meredith! I should hire you to write my marketing copy!
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