Longing is Violet Dusk

Hazel Dean is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Longing is Violet Dusk, the latest novel in the Hazel Dean mystery series.

Welcome, Hazel. 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.

It’s rather odd to think of my life as a novel. I suppose the author thought my ability to see other people’s emotions in color would be interesting to write about. She is writing a series about a rather unfortunate period of my life when people seemed to be dying left and right. My ‘superpower,’ as my husband teasingly calls it, puts me in a position to be able to help figure out what happened to them. My grandmama always taught me that it is a Randolph’s responsibility to help whenever she is able. And with my husband being the district attorney and my dear Uncle John as the police captain… Well, I can’t help overhearing things, can I?

I own a bookstore/bakery called Books and Chocolate. Sometimes when people come into the shop, a book will turn the same color as their emotion, and I know that it’s a book they need to read. So I give it to them.

In the most recent installment of the series, Longing is Violet Dusk, a young mother that I know goes missing and I am desperate to find her. I’m worried about her, you see, because she seemed to be struggling with depression and I gave her a book to read that may or may not have been helpful. And then my high school sweetheart shows up in crisis. It was terribly stressful. 

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too? 

Oh dear. The idea of Josalyn having control of what happens to me is a bit off-putting. I mean she’s a nice enough girl, but I don’t know if I’d just relinquish control to her. But honestly, I can’t imagine that she has much to do with it. She brings characters to life on the page, but their personalities and motivations are what drive their decisions and their decisions are what create the story.

How did you evolve as the main character?

As I said, this was a difficult time in my life when a lot of people close to me turned up dead. I feel a lot of responsibility for my community, and I want to take care of them, but I learned better ways to do that as tragedy continues to strike. I learned that preventing terrible things from happening isn’t always possible and that sometimes the best we can do is be with people in their crisis. I also hope that I learned to be a little less impulsive and nosy. And how to communicate with my husband better. 

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?

I love sharing the story with so many people. First, of course, is my family. My husband Jason, and my sons Jeremiah and Elias. In this book, Longing is Violet Dusk, they are both in high school and living at home still. There’s also my Uncle John. He helped raise me after my parents died when I was a kid. He’s a little rough around the edges but he’s a dear. 

There’s also so many wonderful friends and neighbors that live in my community, like my friends Nora and LaShay. There’s also Waylon Gibbons who lives alone out in the woods but would give you the shirt off his back if it would help you. In Longing is Violet Dusk, I get to reconnect with my high school boyfriend’s family, which is a little hard but also wonderful. They meant so much to me when I was a teenager.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?

It’s in my hometown, Red Gap, Georgia, which is the most beautiful place in the whole world. It’s a little town up in the Smoky Mountains, surrounded by hiking trails, including the world-famous Appalachian Trail. I’ve lived my whole life there and I would never want to live anywhere else. 

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

I’ve been told I’m a comforting person to spend time with. A reader told the author just the other day that while my books are a little sad, she has the sense that everything will work out because I’m there and I’ll take care of everything. It was an awfully nice thing to say. I sure hope it’s true. I do try. Sometimes there’s not much I can do, but I care deeply and will never abandon a friend in need.

Thank you for answering my questions, Hazel, and good luck to you and your author, Josalyn McAllister, with Longing is Violet Dusk, the latest book in the Hazel Dean mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Hazel and her author, Josalyn McAllister by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads and Instagram pages.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N

About Josalyn McAllister: Josalyn is a cozy fiction author whose most recent works include Love Over Easy and Guilt is Midnight Blue. Josalyn started writing character descriptions at the tender age of seven, inspired by the works of LM Montgomery. In her teenage years, she moved on to Newsies fan fiction. Inspired by National Novel Writing Month, she wrote her first novel about a child she mentored in college. She has never stopped writing. Josalyn taught middle school history before deciding she would rather spend time with her own children than other peoples. A restless soul, she has moved all over the country and collected an eclectic array of hobbies. Her writing has a relatable quality that will charm and entertain you.

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Death on a Deadline

Joyce St. Anthony is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Death on a Deadline, her latest novel in the Homefront News Mystery series.

Welcome, Joyce. 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.

Death on a Deadline is the second book in the Homefront News Mysteries. In this follow up to Front Page Murder, Irene Ingram is becoming more comfortable being the editor in chief of her father’s newspaper while he’s overseas as a war correspondent. The whole town of Progress is excited that movie stars are coming to town for the county fair and some are sure that one of them will be Clark Gable. When it turns out to be B-movie actor Freddie Harrison instead, and Irene finds his body in the dunk tank at the fair, she’s determined to find out what happened.

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

Frankly, I’m not sure! I read about the Hollywood Victory Caravan that travelled from town to town encouraging citizens to buy war bonds. That kind of morphed into what if one of the stars was murdered? I couldn’t very well kill off a well-known star, so I came up with a B-movie actor instead. I made a connection to him through marriage to the sister of the town beauty shop owner. Irene had to get involved to clear the sister of murder.

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

Not really a theme, but just like in the previous book, prejudice is an issue. Instead of antisemitism, this time I feature a gay character who is terrified of his secret getting out. Back then, homosexuality was a crime and he not only would have been blacklisted, he might have ended up in prison. Friendship also plays a big role.

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

Characters have a way of just popping into my head, sometimes fully formed. One of my favorites is Irene’s younger sister, Lily. She’s fun to write. My all-time favorite character is in my previous contemporary Brewing Trouble cozy mystery series written under my real name, Joyce Tremel. Elmer Fairbanks is a 90 something WWII vet and pretty much says anything he thinks. He’s cranky, yet endearing.

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

Hmm. That’s a tough one. I chose to write a fictional small town in this series which made it easier. Although the town is entirely made up, it’s probably similar to real places in Pennsylvania during WWII. I just transferred what I saw in my mind to the page.

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

Historical fiction requires a good bit of research. Although the story itself is made up, I had to get the facts of what was going on in the world correct. I used newspaper headlines at the beginning of each chapter to ground the reader and let them know what was going on that particular day in the war. I even researched what the weather was like near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on the days in the book. If I hadn’t I guarantee someone would email me that I was wrong! I learned a lot of things about the war I hadn’t known before.

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

Buy it, lol? Seriously though, I love this story. It was fun to write about the movie stars and there’s even a somewhat nasty gossip columnist who comes to town. There’s some sadness as well—one of the boys in town is killed at Midway. And I hope readers love the surprise at the end as much as I do.

Thanks for asking such great questions!

You’re welcome, Joyce, and thanks for answering my questions. Good luck with Death on a Deadline, the latest book in Homefront News Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Joyce 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 – B&N – Kobo – Penguin Random House

About Joyce St. Anthony: Joyce was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. In addition to the Homefront News Mysteries, she is the author of the Brewing Trouble Mysteries and the upcoming Cider House Mysteries written under her own name, Joyce Tremel. She lives in the beautiful Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania with her husband.

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Silence Says the Most

Kathleen Bailey is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Silence Says the Most, her latest novel in the Olivia Penn Mystery series.

Welcome, Kathleen. 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.

Silence Says the Most is book two in The Olivia Penn Mystery Series. The series follows the story of advice columnist Olivia Penn as she goes through a transitional period in her life, partially due to a succession of murder mysteries she gets wrapped up in. The series is set in her hometown of Apple Station, Virginia, which is in the Shenandoah Valley. Silence Says the Most takes place five months after the first book, Where the Light Shines Through, and it’s a fall-themed cozy mystery. Olivia finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time as a body is discovered amidst a mysterious algae bloom at a park lake.

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

The idea for the mystery came partially from my experience working with children on the autism spectrum as a pediatric physical therapist. I often treated children who had expressive and receptive language impairments. Though many on the autism spectrum may not use verbal language to communicate, they often express themselves through other means. One of the main characters in Silence Says the Most is a boy on the autistism spectrum who doesn’t speak. He witnesses a crime and then draws a picture of what he has seen, implicating Olivia as the key to solving the murder. It’s up to Olivia to make sense of his drawing, because in his silence, he holds the key to the mystery.

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

The theme is in the title: silence says the most. Sometimes what is not said is more telling, important, and true than what is. In a literal sense, at the heart of a mystery is a boy who doesn’t speak. The theme plays out in Olivia’s life in different ways, especially as she revisits a past relationship as a new one is potentially beginning.

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

Character development is a process for me. The main characters who recur in the series get fleshed out in my imagination—I know what they look like, sound like, their mannerisms, etc. Characters play roles in the story in relation to the series’ protagonist Olivia Penn. For instance, Sophia, her best friend, is a physical therapist. Sophia is a nurturer who helps others heal and develop their full potential. As Olivia’s best friend, she serves the same function. She is someone Olivia leans on when she needs advice, unconditional acceptance, or a comforting voice to steady her. I like all my characters, and I don’t have a particular favorite.

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

Bringing the small town of Apple Station, Virginia, to life involves world building. This includes developing the setting: giving the reader enough details to ground them in the place and time. What does the setting look like? What are the sounds, sights, and smells of the season? Who populates the place where the story is set and what is life like there? You want to provide enough details for the reader to engage their own imagination so they feel they’re right there in the scene with the characters.

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

Loads of research goes into writing, but most of it is not detailed in the book. For instance, in Silence Says the Most, there is a mysterious algae bloom that occurs at a lake. I did a lot of research to ensure that the scenario was plausible, but the reader doesn’t have to know about specifics that aren’t germane to the mystery itself. In my first book, Where the Light Shines Through, I included an epilogue of sorts that spoke to two specific plot points that were key to the mystery because both issues aren’t well known or understood, and I thought some readers may be interested in learning the factual basis for them. Much of the research related to the crime gets done during the plotting phase, but there are always things I’m looking up as I’m drafting and editing to ensure accuracy.

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

I want to thank all my readers for their support! You can connect with me through my website at kathleenbaileyauthor.com. For updates, news, and occasional photos of my adorable feline fur baby, please join my newsletter!

Thanks for answering my questions, Kathleen, and good luck with Silence Says the Most, the latest book in Olivia Penn Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Kathleen and her writing by visiting her website and her Goodreads and Bookbub pages.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon    Barnes & Noble     All Retailers  

About Kathleen Bailey: Kathleen is the author of The Olivia Penn Mystery Series. She writes mysteries with heart and humor that keep to the traditional and cozy sides of crime. Kathleen has degrees in English, psychology, and physical therapy. She previously worked as a pediatric physical therapist for over twenty years with children who have special needs. She now spends her days obsessively plotting and sleuthing in Virginia where she lives with her husband and adorable feline fur baby. When she is not incognito, she is a member of Sisters in Crime and the James River Writers.

Posted in Archives, November 2022 | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

It Came Upon a Midnight Shear

Libby Beckett is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about It Came Upon a Midnight Shear, the latest novel in the Riverbank Knitting mystery series.

Welcome, Libby. 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.

I’m Libby Beckett, owner of the Y.A.R.N. yarn shop in Collinstown Maryland. My friends and I are looking forward to the shop’s best holiday season ever—complete with an event starring Vincenzo Marani, otherwise known as The Galant Herdsman. He’s demonstrating the shearing of a herd of vicuña, the adorable animals that produce the world’s most exclusive and expensive fiber. It’s a sellout success…until my ex husband Sterling shows up. And then shows up dead.

I’m afraid this isn’t the first time a murder mystery has come to Y.A.R.N. My previous sleuthing adventures are told in On Skein of Death and Knit or Dye Trying, the other books in the series. My high school romance Gavin Maddock, now mayor of Collinstown, his daughter Jillian, my outrageous mom Rhonda, and my best friend pie shop owner Margo all come together to help me untangle the mysteries that seem to continually arrive on my doorstep.

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?

Oh, Allie thinks she’s in charge. I’m a pretty opinionated woman, though, so I’ll wrangle the story in my idea of the right direction now and then. There were a couple of plot points where the twists and turns weren’t in Allie’s original plan. That’s always great fun—and makes for great reading, if you ask me.

How did you evolve as the main character?

I jumped into Allie’s brain fully formed, complete with my English bulldog Hank. That doesn’t happen often, and most of the story’s other characters revealed themselves in a slow progression. I don’t have time for that sort of thing. So I waltzed up and demanded my shop and my story. I’ve taken on new roles around town—like running for the Chamber of Commerce president—as the books have progressed. And things tend to be heating up between Mayor Gavin and me.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?

I love my friends. What’s not to love about a best friend who dispenses support, wisdom, and pie? And while my mom can be an enormous pain, I love her for how she stands by me (when she’s not standing in my way). I’m extra-partial to my dog Hank for his love and loyalty—except when he takes out his frustration on my couch cushions.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?

There’s nothing like Collinstown at Christmas. It’s picture-postcard perfect at the holidays, with every shop on Collin Avenue done up in cheery decorations. It has all the small-town charm—and all the small-town quirks—you can’t help but love. I grew up here, and left for a while when I married Sterling, but now I’m so glad to be back home.

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

If you love yarn and needles as much as I do, there’s a free knitting pattern in the back of every one of the Riverbank Knitting Mysteries books!

Thank you for answering my questions, Libby, and good luck to you and your author, Allie Pleiter, with It Came Upon a Midnight Shear, the latest book in the Riverbank Knitting mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Libby and her author, Allie Pleiter by visiting the author’s Facebook, Bookbub, and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – B&N – Kobo – Author – IndieBound 

About Allie Pleiter: The bestselling author of over fifty titles, Allie Pleiter‘s twenty-year career has sold 1.6 million books.  Allie also coaches on writing productivity and speaks nationally on time management for creatives. Allie is an avid knitter, confirmed coffee junkie and firm believer that “pie makes everything better.” She lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and the world’s most adorable dog.

Posted in Archives, November 2022 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A Book Club to Die For

Trudell Becket is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about A Book Club to Die For, the latest novel in the Beloved Bookroom mystery series.

Welcome, Trudell. 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.

Hi, I’m Trudell Becket, assistant librarian at the Cypress Public Library. I’m the lead in the Beloved Bookroom Mystery series. It all started when the town leaders had this bold idea to modernize the town. They did it hoping to attract high-tech industries to relocate to the town and bring in higher paying jobs, which we desperately need. As part of the modernization, they turned the library into a bookless, technological center. I hated that! That’s why I took the printed books that they were planning to get rid of and opened a secret bookroom in the library’s basement, complete with card catalog and book slips with rubber stamped due dates.

It would have all been perfect, except sometimes people involved with the modernization or the secret library have died. I need my library to remain a safe space for everyone. That’s why I have determined to help the police in their investigations.

In A BOOK CLUB TO DIE FOR, my latest adventure, there’s a murder at the local book club. And what looks like an open and shut case is anything but. Especially after a friend finds one of the secret library books at the scene of the crime.

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?

My writer (Dorothy St. James) thinks she controls things. But in reality, the characters—including myself—are adept and doing what we think it best. Actually, my clever tabby cat Dewey Decimal is the master at pulling the storyline this way and that. If not for him, I doubt any of the mysteries would have ever been solved and none of the books would have been written. Whether anyone wants it or not, he’s the one running the show.

How did you evolve as the main character?

I feel like I’m really growing into the role of sleuth. A BOOK CLUB TO DIE FOR is the third book in my series. At first, I wasn’t sure about investigating crimes. That’s a job for the police. And yet, the more I investigate crimes, the more confident I feel about myself. I’ve gone from a shy librarian to someone who isn’t afraid to speak up for herself, even when people aren’t willing to listen.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?

I have two best friends who help me with life decisions and with sleuthing. They are my best gals, and I can’t imagine my life without them. First is Tori, she’s been married more times than I’ve dated. But despite the horrible choices she makes when it comes to men, she is smart and popular and knows how to dress to impress. While I was the shy kid in the school, she was the popular beauty queen. But she has never let that go to her head. She picks me up when I’m down and gets me into more binds than I sometimes know what to do with. (Tell me again why I love her?) We’ve been best friends since kindergarten. And she’s exactly who I need in my life to keep me on my toes.

Flossie, on the other hand, is a calming influence…unless she’s researching weapons for one of her books. Then, look out! Flossie is much older than either Tori or I. But that doesn’t slow her down. While she’s in her eighties and uses a wheelchair, she travels the world, drives a flashy sportscar, and has recently purchased a speedboat. I hope I have half her energy when I’m her age. Flossie has always had my back, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?

I live in the small town of Cypress in the sandhills of South Carolina. Since the manufacturing plants have closed in town, the main draw for the town is the lake. Tourists will come to fish or boat and shop in the small shops in the even smaller downtown. It’s a lovely place. The Main Street is lined with cypress trees with limbs draped in Spanish moss. I’ve lived here my entire life. It’s the only place I want to be.

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

I love books like a dragon loves her treasure hoard. I’ll do almost anything to protect the books and the book lovers in my life. Books, you see, have given me the world. They’ve gotten me through my parent’s divorce when I was still a young teen. They lifted me when I was sad. Made me feel important when I felt small. And taught me invaluable life lessons that I hadn’t learned in my sheltered life. I’m grateful to books. As long as there is life in my body, I will do everything possible to stand up for the books and remind people the importance of libraries in the community. I hope you’ll join me.

Thank you for answering my questions, Trudell, and good luck to you and your author, Dorothy St. James, with A Book Club to Die For, the latest book in the Beloved Bookroom mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Trudell and her author, Dorothy St. James by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

 Amazon – Penguin Random House – B&N – Kobo – IndieBound 

About Dorothy St. James: Dorothy is the author of several cozy mystery series. She lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with her sculptor husband. Dorothy is a member of Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and the International Thriller Writers (ITW) and Sister’s in Crime (SinC). This is her second Beloved Bookroom Mystery.

Posted in November 2022 | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Minestrone Mischief

Rosie Genova is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Minestrone Mischief, her latest novel in the Italian Kitchen Mystery series.

Welcome, Rosie. 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. 

First, these are such great questions! Minestrone Mischief is Book 4 of the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, a cozy series set in an Italian restaurant at the New Jersey seaside. The main character, Victoria Rienzi, is a mystery author and an amateur sleuth. Minestrone Mischief takes place after the summer season in the fictional shore town of Oceanside Park. The major events occur between Halloween and Thanksgiving, after a body is found on the boardwalk dressed as the detective who features in Victoria’s mysteries.

Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from? I’ve wanted to do a Halloween story for some time. It actually began as a novella, and I got so into the idea of Mischief Night and a costume parade, that I developed a full-length novel around it. I knew I wanted to include costumes and disguises, Mischief Night pranks, and the generally spooky atmosphere of October.

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

Okay, let me start by saying that I have never had a fan who turned into a stalker! (My fans are the best, and they know it!) In this book, Victoria is harassed by an obsessive fan who ends up dead. In many ways, the story is about the relationship between writers and readers, especially in the age of social media. I always start my mysteries with What If? questions: What if the love of an author’s work crossed into obsession? What if a fan started harassing Victoria? What if he then ended up dead? And it took off from there.

How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them? Yikes, where to begin on this one? I love the whole Rienzi family, a tight-knit Italian clan who love each other to the point of annoyance. (I may have had some experience in this area.) So yes, while my own family has inspired the Rienzi gang, that’s as far as it goes. I will say that the formidable Nonna was absolutely based on my own grandmothers, bless ‘em. What I had great fun with in this book was giving little glimpses into Bernardo Vitali, the hero sleuth of Victoria’s mystery series. There are “excerpts” from Victoria’s book, which of course only exists in my imagination. Bernardo is sort of an Italian Poirot, and I delight in him. I’m thinking I should give him a novella of his own. . .

How do you bring to life the place you are writing about? I grew up going to the Jersey shore every summer of my childhood, and I have such great affection for the seaside towns that inspire Oceanside Park. I mostly rely on nostalgia and wonderful memories!

What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel? Another great question. I worked in Italian restaurants as a college student, so I have some sense of how they operate. I’ve interviewed friends and colleagues on everything from karate moves to the use of asbestos in construction. And for every book in the series, I have done lots of research regarding manner of death, effects of substances on bodies, health conditions, how long a corpse takes to cool, and other details which make my search history a grim place indeed. (The cause of the character’s death in Minestrone Mischief also required research, which I can’t share because, spoiler.)

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

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Thanks for answering my questions, Rosie, and good luck with Minestrone Mischief, the latest book in Italian Kitchen Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Rosie and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook, Goodreads and Bookbub pages.

The novel is available online at  Amazon 

About Rosie Genova: Bestselling and award-winning author Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for much of her work. The inspiration for her cozy series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, comes from her deep appreciation for Italian food, her affinity for the New Jersey seaside, and her love of classic mysteries from Nancy Drew to Miss Marple. A former journalist and teacher, Rosie also writes women’s fiction and suspense. The proud mama of three grown sons, she still lives in her favorite state with her husband and a charming mutt named Lucy.

Posted in Archives, October 2022 | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Christmas Candy Killing

Alex Wright is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us about A Christmas Candy Killing, the first novel in the Killer Chocolate mystery series.

Welcome, Alex. 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.

A Christmas Candy Killing is the first novel in the Killer Chocolate Mystery series. I’m Alex Wright and my sister, Hanna Eastham, and I own Murder and Mayhem: Killer Chocolates and Bookshop. For years I slaved as a business banker to save up enough money to open a bookshop. Then at the last minute Hanna quit her job as chocolatier at my parent’s restaurant and gift shop in Frankenmuth, Michigan to come work with me. You can imagine how that went over. Can you say angry? My mother didn’t speak to me for weeks. Like it was my fault.

Did I mention that we name all our chocolates after poisons? One of my favorites is Strawberry Strychnine. Oh, so good. Recently, the Sleuth Book Club met at the shop for our monthly dissection of a mystery novel. Jane Burrows gave a great presentation on M.C. Beaton’s, The Wizard of Eavesham. I just love Agatha Raisin. After the presentation Jane pulled me aside and told me she’d watched a true crime show and she was positive the killer was living in our village. To be honest, she’s said this more than once, so I wasn’t really too concerned. Until Jane ended up murdered.

When the sheriff named me as a suspect I ended up having to put on my sleuthing cap and look into the murder. Thankfully, I have some wonderful friends, not to mention my twin (did I mention Hanna and I are twins?) that helped me on my first case. My author says there’s another book coming out next year, so I’ll have to see what kind of mess she gets me involved in next time.

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?

The author that wrote the book is so controlling. She thinks just because the contract is in her name she gets to call the shots. But every now and again I say enough and I put my foot down when she’s trying to get me to say something I would never say. She’s a little too snarky for me at times. Don’t tell her, but I’m much nicer than she is. 

How did you evolve as the main character?

The author and I are still getting to know each other in the first book and so I continue to evolve as a fictional character. My divorce early in my twenties has made me very careful. Hanna says I have trust issues. She should talk. Throughout the book, I’ve discovered a bit of a daredevil streak I didn’t know I had. I usually make a list and check it twice before buying a new mascara, but lately I’m just diving into things and thinking about it afterwards. Who knew I had it in me.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?

Of course, I love the fact that Hanna and I get to be in this story together. I moved away from Michigan right after high school and I missed her terribly. It’s been so nice having her close by again. I also partial to my neighbor, Drew. He’s a retired pharmacist and a total hypochondriac. His wife works at the store occasionally, I think so she can get away from him for a bit. But he’s super nice and helpful.

Our next door neighbor, Tom, is also fun to be around. He’s got a wicked sense of humor, though you have to get to know him before he’ll let you see that side of him. He’s also the pastor of our church, and was recently widowed. He’s kind of handsome in a Clint Eastwood sort of way. Well, when Clint was younger.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?

Harriston, Montana is where I live. It’s a quaint village with twelve hundred of the nicest, nosiest people you can imagine. We are at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, right on the edge of Echo Lake, about half an hour from Kalispell. We do get some cold, snowy winters, but summer is wonderful here. The village does an annual Christmas festival with a tree lighting, carollers that wander main street, free hot chocolate and cookies, and a dance. It’s all so fun.

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

 Hanna and I love Christmas. It’s a big deal at our house. We decorate November first and watch all those made for television Hallmark Christmas movies. That’s what it felt like being in this book, like someone combined one of those Christmas movies with one of the Hallmark mysteries and threw us into the action. I’m curious what’s going to be happening next Christmas?

Thank you for answering my questions, Alex, and good luck to you and your author, Christina Romeril, with A Christmas Candy Killing, the frst book in the Killer Chocolate mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Alex and her author, Christina Romeril by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads and Instagram pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon – B&N – Kobo 

About Christina Romeril: Christina loves to plot murders, especially by poisoning. When she’s not plotting how to kill one of her characters she’s coming up with ways to dispose of the body. Since writing her debut novel her husband’s friends have been regularly checking on his well-being.

Christina also loves to read, eat chocolates, and travel when she’s not in her she shed writing. She grew up in Southern Ontario and spent most of her summers in Muskoka swimming, boating, and generally getting into mischief. She’s lived on both coasts of Canada and has a love of being near the water and close to a forest. Thus, it makes perfect sense that she moved to the prairies of Southern Alberta over twenty years ago.

During the warmer months you’ll find her escaping to nearby Waterton Lakes National Park with her cooler stocked full of chocolate and pastries. Occasionally, the once avid hiker will even set out on one of the many hiking trails and hope she doesn’t run into a hungry bear. 

Christina is a member of Sisters in Crime and enjoys interacting on social media.

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Kill Them With Canvas

Chloe Abbington is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us about Kill Them With Canva, the latest novel in the Paint by Murder mystery series.

Welcome, Chloe. 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.

Hi! My name is Chloe Abbington and I live in the picture-perfect town called Whisper Cove. My sister Izzie and I run a painting party event business. Of course, that makes sense since all of our family members are artists. We’d be lost and truly unhappy if we didn’t do something with art. Anyway, life doesn’t always turn out like you plan it. I’m the perfect example. My crazy journey took me from college and across the ocean to live like a poor and starving artist in Paris, then back to the states, living in Manhattan and thinking I could make my name as a successful artist by showcasing my work in some posh gallery. Yeah, that didn’t work out at all. Coming full circle to return home and run Paint with a View with my sister turned out to be surprisingly the move that fits me best. It’s a peaceful life with no stress. Wait. Did I say no stress? Murder kind of ruins that mood, doesn’t it?

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?

I’m pretty stubborn and opinionated so I’ll argue or spout off with my thoughts on which way the author should take the story. Especially when it comes to relationships. I mean, I had a boyfriend back in Manhattan. He’s a lawyer and very successful. Too successful because he spent most of his time at the office. I felt like something had to change. My issue is how the author tries to keep him in the story, as if his effort to win me back will change my mind. No way. I’ll dig my heels in concrete before that move happens. Now, the detective in town is altogether different. Author, you can drop him into the story whenever you like!

How did you evolve as the main character?  

Take one major breakup, a NYC career goal flop, and a much needed change of scenery. A new chapter in life with all the drama and challenges put the focus on me and how I learned to handle everything that’s been happening.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?

My sister is my bestie. She and I are a year apart in age, and even though our personalities are way different, we cherish the same things—family, loyalty to those we care about, and art. Our craft is a passion we connect to on every level. I definitely would share the story with her. Of course, our parents, all the craft shop owners along Artisan Alley, and most of our friends in Whisper Cove are welcome to take a scene once in a while. After all, we’re a close community. It’s hard to hide what goes on, and we care what happens to each other.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?

Whisper Cove is a touristy town in southwestern New York along the beautiful Chautauqua Lake. We have lots of craft shops on Artisan Alley, including our quaint little cottage where Paint with a View is located on the lakeshore. One very cool attraction is the ferry which can take visitors and their vehicles across the lake to the town on the opposite shore. It’s a fun ride for tourists…unless something tragic happens, but I won’t spoil the story. I’ll let you find out that excitement when you read it! Obviously, this may be a small place but we keep things busy with lots of festivals, like the Hallows Eve celebration coming up soon. All sorts of vendors with activities, games, and food. There’s even a special guest. Like all small towns with their folklore, Whisper Cove has the ghost of Chautauqua Lake, Abigail Bellows, who is known to haunt the town on Hallows Eve. Everyone hopes to get lucky and snap a photo of her rising out of the water! Creepy, right?

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

For all you pet lovers, I have to brag about my pooch Max. He’s twelve pounds of fluffy white fur and with an abundance of energy that keeps me on my toes. No wonder he “digs” in to help me and Izzie solve the murder case. Oh, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he even finds a four-legged friend to pal around with him soon!

Thank you for answering my questions, Chloe, and good luck to you and your author, Bailee Abbott, with Kill Them With Canvas, the latest book in the Paint by Murder mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Chloe and her author, Bailee Abbott by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, and Goodreads pages. You can also follow her on Twitter.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

AMAZON      BARNES & NOBLE     KOBO     APPLE BOOKS 

About Bailee Abbott: Bailee Abbott 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. Bailee lives with her husband and furry friend Max in the quiet suburbs of Green, Ohio. Bailee also writes the Sierra Pines B&B mystery series under the name Kathryn Long.

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Live and Let Grind

Tara Lush is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Live and Let Grind, her latest novel in the Coffee Lover’s Mystery series.

Welcome, Tara. 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.

My book is called LIVE AND LET GRIND, and while it’s the third in the Coffee Lover’s Mystery series, it can be read as a standalone. The series is about a former journalist-turned-barista on a fictional Florida island. She lives with her Shih Tzu named Stanley, and her boyfriend is the island’s police chief. She also has many friends and family members that are quite quirky, as people are in beach communities.

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

The victim in LIVE AND LET GRIND is someone who is an incessant leaf blower. This is based on my real-life experience of trying to focus and write in my office, while literally all my neighbors have their leaf blowers revving and roaring. As you can imagine, this gets quite annoying and breaks my concentration. Everybody in Florida complains about leaf blowers, because they’re so loud and ubiquitous. It’s as if you can’t ever have an hour of peace! So I decided to make the victim, and the crime, centered around someone who died from an exploding leaf blower.

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

The theme is the importance of family, both blood relatives and found family. Before moving back to Devil’s Beach, Lana lived and worked in Miami. And while she found great success there, she also didn’t form many deep relationships. On Devil’s Beach, she learns to let people into her life and to lower her emotional walls. She discovers that it’s actually a wonderful thing to be open to new experiences and say yes to life.

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

My character Lana Lewis is one that I will always love. She’s my first mystery heroine and like me, she’s a former journalist, so I think I’ve imbued her with my deep sense of curiosity. I also adore Stanley the Shih Tzu, probably because he is based off my own Shih Tzu, Gigi!

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

I make it easy: I write about what I know. All my mysteries are set in Florida, and are loosely based on Sanibel Island, which is just off the coast of Southwest Florida. The vibe of the fictional Devil’s Beach is similar to my city — St. Petersburg — and it’s a very laid-back, touristy, Jimmy Buffett kind of place. As I type this I have tears in my eyes because I’m thinking of the real life Sanibel Island, which was destroyed by Hurricane Ian. The west coast of Florida is a special, beautiful place. I’ve lived here for many years and it’s the inspiration for my fiction.

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

For this book and all the Coffee Lover’s series, I did a lot of coffee research — and not just drinking coffee, either! I befriended someone who works for a coffee wholesaler who does a café tour in my city. He takes people around to various coffee shops and explains the ins and outs of various brewing techniques. He became my go-to expert and helped me brainstorm the signature coffee drink in this book, the Orange Blossom Special.

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

If you want to be transported to a beach location with coffee, quirky friends, eccentric island characters and cute puppies, then this is the book for you. Oh, and there’s also murder, of course.

Thanks for answering my questions, Tara, and good luck with Live and Let Grind, the latest book in the Coffee Lover’s Mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Tara and her writing by visiting her website and her Facebook, Goodreads and Instagram pages.

The novel is available at the following online retailers:

Amazon  BARNES AND NOBLE   APPLE   KOBO   INDIEBOUND   GOOGLE PLAY

About Tara Lush: Tara is a Rita Award finalist, an Amtrak writing fellow, and a George C. Polk Award winning journalist. For the past decade, she’s been a reporter with the Associated Press, covering crime, alligators, natural disasters, and politics. She also writes contemporary romance set in tropical locations. A fan of vintage pulp-fiction book covers, Sinatra-era jazz, and 1980s fashion, she lives with her husband and two dogs on the Gulf coast.

Posted in Archives, October 2022 | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Hill to Dye On

Jemma is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about A Hill to Dye On, the latest novel in the Clear Creek mystery series.

Welcome, Jemma. 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.

Hi, I’m Jemma. A Hill to Dye On is the second book in the Clear Creek Mysteries. It all started when my grandmother, Mary, begged me to help her. When I arrived, she’d been killed and I inherited her yarn shop. After helping bring her killer to justice, I decided to stay. Things have been quiet for a few months, but now . . . well, we’re thrown into another mess.

Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?

Let’s just say I like to let Rebecca think she’s in charge. I don’t think she realized quite how stubborn the people of Clear Creek can be, and while she’s dealing with them I can sneak around, leaving enough hints of what I want to do that she thinks it was her idea. Then we’re both happy.

How did you evolve as the main character?

I actually didn’t start out as the main character. Rebecca was trying to tell some other woman’s story. Eventually she realized that I really was the right person to highlight, and I headed to Clear Creek. I just wish I’d arrived to a happier scene.

Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?

I have a few dear friends in Clear Creek. Kitty, of course — I spent summers with her as I grew up.

Emmilene is a southern belle who moved here recently, and she keeps me laughing with her southernisms.

Granny — well, Granny helped me get into all kinds of trouble when I would visit as a teenager, and she hasn’t stopped.

Then there’s Brandon. There’s a lot of attraction there, but I can’t tell you too much about it because we’re trying really hard to keep our budding relationship a secret.

What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?

After I made up my mind to stay in Clear Creek and take over the yarn shop, my friend Emmilene stepped forward and started organizing a whole bunch of things. Because of her, the town has a new community center that hosts everything from classes to an open gym.

Running the shop hasn’t been as hard as I’d worried it would be, and business is better than I hoped! I’m also trying to figure out how to keep my travel vlog going at the same time, which is a bit of a handful, but I hate to give it up after spending fifteen years of my life on it.

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

In this book you’ll get the chance to know Kitty better. She finally tells me what happened to turn her from the vibrant girl I remembered into the quiet, timid woman she became. I have a feeling you’re going to be as angry about it as I am.

Thank you for answering my questions, Jemma, and good luck to you and your author, Rebecca McKinnon, with A Hill to Dye On, the latest book in the Clear Creek mystery series.

Readers can learn more about Jemma and her author, Rebecca McKinnon by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads and Instagram pages.

The novel is available online at  Amazon   

About Rebecca McKinnon: Rebecca enjoys playing with her imaginary friends and introducing them to others through her writing. She dreams of living in the middle of nowhere but has been unable to find an acceptable location that wouldn’t require crossing an ocean.

Posted in Archives, October 2022 | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments