Blooming with Murder

Kathryn Long is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Blooming with Murder, the latest book in the Sierra Pines B&B Mystery series.

Welcome, Kathryn. 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.

Blooming with Murder is the third book in the Sierra Pines B&B cozy mystery series. Alexis Winston, an unemployed screen writer, comes to California to visit with her great aunt Julia, only to learn she’s passed away. Alexis soon finds out she’s inherited the B&B as well as the octogenarian siblings, Gladys and Ollie Bellwether, who were once in show biz with Julia and now take care of the B&B. Mystery, of course, enters into their lives with murder, while Alexis tries to juggle running a B&B and solving crime. Blooming with Murder starts with the murder of the school board president who has a fatal allergic reaction to face paint. And the artist who is a dear friend of Alexis of course becomes the prime suspect.

Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?

Actually, I’d been finishing up a book in my other series written as Bailee Abbott which involves a sister duo who run a painting event business. I had all things artistic on my mind and thought how neat to have face paint as the murder weapon in Blooming with Murder! Also, it was in the dead of winter when I wrote this. I longed for springtime and flowers, so of course the book had to involve a spring festival and where everything is in bloom.

Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?

I wanted a unique and fun way to provide clues, so I decided to use flowergrams and lines from classic movies to help and encourage Alexis in her venture to solve the crime.

How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?

I often think of people I’ve encountered in real life as well as the ones I see on TV and in movies. For instance, the quirkiness of the Bellwether siblings was inspired by the Brewster sisters in the movie, Arsenic and Old Lace. Florence Greeley, the over dramatic character in this series has a similar personality to Martha in the Good Witch movies. I won’t mention anyone in real life that has inspired my characters. Wouldn’t want to upset anyone! As for my favorites in this series, the Bellwethers are at the top. I love that quirkiness in them but also their caring nature. They’d do anything to protect Alexis.

How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?

That involved a bit of research. With the advice from my editor, I searched, checked, and double-checked what could be plausible in my fictitious town that is located in the foothills near Lake Tahoe. Everything from weather charts to tire chains that must be used during winter weather. I even contacted someone I know who lives in Folsom to ask how soon in the season it snows. I didn’t want to get anything wrong. In creating my town, I have detailed descriptions about the quaint shops along Main Street, the park with its redwood gazebo, the description of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the flora and fauna indigenous to the area, historic references to Sutter’s Mill and gold mining where one of the oldest citizens of Sierra Pines tells the story of his great grandfather discovering gold, the ski lodge where murder happens at the bottom of a ski slope…I could go on and on. It was so much fun digging up the history of the area and somehow adding stories to the plot that would enrich the reader’s experience of living in Sierra Pines. I know it’s important to readers of cozies to feel like they’d want to go to those locations, cozy towns with friendly people. I like making that happen.

What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?

In Blooming with Murder, I had several things to research, beyond the weather and geography of central California. First, I wanted to know if it was possible for someone to die from face paint and learned that some people are highly allergic to peanut oil which is found in store-bought paint. If too much gets into the skin pores, someone could go into anaphylactic shock and die. On a lighter note, the next thing I researched was about floriography, the study of flower symbols. Such an interesting topic! There’s so much history that goes back centuries where lovers would communicate with flowers, using their symbolism to convey what they were thinking. Also, researching for movie lines that fit the clues Alexis needed were both frustrating and fun to do!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?

Well, I’m rather sad to tell you that Blooming with Murder is the last one I’ll write in this series. I thought long and hard before making that decision, but I want to focus on other projects for now. Meanwhile, readers can still find me by searching for the Paint by Murder mysteries which I write as Bailee Abbott.

Thanks for answering my questions, Kathryn, and good luck with Blooming with Murder, the latest book in Sierra Pines B&B Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Kathryn and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon   Barnes&Noble   Kobo   Apple

About Kathryn Long: Kathryn is a native Ohioan who spends her days plotting murder and writing mysteries. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime as well as of International Thriller Writers. She’s actively involved in the writing and publishing worlds and stays up to date on her social media platforms. Kathryn lives with her husband and furry friend Max in the quiet suburbs of Green, Ohio. The B&B series also includes Boarding with Murder and Snowed Under Murder. Inspiration for the storyline comes from her classic movie obsession, particularly Arsenic and Old Lace, and her love for Cary Grant. Kathryn also writes the PAINT BY MURDER mystery series under the name Bailee Abbott.


About Dianne Ascroft

I'm a Canadian writer and author, living in Britain. My first novel, 'Hitler and Mars Bars' was released in March 2008. More information abo
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1 Response to Blooming with Murder

  1. Rita Wray says:

    I enjoyed the interview, thank you.

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