Rook Campbell is visiting Ascroft, eh? today to tell us about Devil’s Kiss, the first novel in the Small Batch mystery series.
Welcome, Rook. 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.
Hey y’all! I’m Rook Campbell. I live inside Devil’s Kiss in a small town called Rothdale in Kentucky. It’s the first book in the Small Batch series. At the beginning of my story, I’m having a hard time finding viable employment and thanks to my best friend and neighbor, Bryan, I land a cool job at the Four Wild Horses bourbon distillery. I thank my lucky stars because it seems my life is finally on the right track—that is, until some crazy stuff starts happening at the distillery: murders and stolen Devil’s Kiss bourbon definitely keep the workplace interesting. I can’t help myself, I have to get involved in trying to figure out who’s behind the crimes—especially since my own life is being threatened, too.
In the second book, Mermaid Cove, a friend from the Mermaid Cove distillery goes missing and I need to help find her because I’m not the sort of person to stand by and let my friends suffer. I have to do everything in my power to help. Tensions are high in the bourbon community as local distilleries are vying for a prestigious award and I’m willing to bet my eye teeth that Patrice’s disappearance has something to do with that.
The title of the third book, Unbridled Spirits, is play on the Kentucky Commonwealth’s motto: Unbridled Spirit, but it’s also set during the Halloween season. My distillery, Four Wild Horses, is hosting a bourbon event at a historical home once owned by a bourbon baron from the 1800s. The best part is that the house is supposedly haunted. The event includes not only a tasting of our new bourbon, but a ghost tour of the newly renovated home. I mean, really, is there anything more fun than bourbon and a ghost tour? But things go sideways real fast when a body is found during the ghost tour.
Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?
The writer is the medium I pass through. She comes up with some things and helps keeps the story organized. But a lot of times, I tap her on the shoulder and say, “Hey, what if this happened instead?” She’s pretty flexible and open to new ideas, which means we go off the planned course a lot. But that’s part of the fun and the adventure, isn’t it?
How did you evolve as the main character?
I’m still evolving, growing, and changing. I have trouble being open, trusting, and vulnerable, so I’m learning to do that with the other people in my life—though begrudgingly. I admit I’m fighting it every step of the way.
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
My grandma, Prim, is my favorite. Of course! She took me in when my mother was murdered and my dad went to jail for the crime (though I’m convinced he’s innocent—at least of that particular crime). I was still young, so she basically raised me. Prim is this petite, frail-looking woman who looks like a stiff wind would carry her off, but she’s possesses a backbone of steel. Prim makes no bones about speaking her mind. She’s tough, sassy, and fiercely loyal to the people she loves. I hope I’m even half the woman she is and my main mission in life is to make her proud.
What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
Rothdale is a typical small town in Kentucky. It has its newer, more modern parts alongside the historic areas that date back to the early 1800s or even earlier in some cases. Rothdale has its sweet, charming side with neatly trimmed yards and pristinely kept homes. But it also has areas that are run-down, in disrepair and poorer neighborhoods where people struggle to get by. Prim and I live in an old farmhouse on a winding country road just outside of the town. The house sits on a chunk of land that had been passed down through the generations and it had been a fully operational farm complete with livestock and a large garden until my Papaw died. Once he died, Prim and I couldn’t handle the workload by ourselves, so we had to sell off the livestock and reduce the crops to a small personal garden. I lived in Lexington for awhile, but when my marriage to Cam dissolved, I moved back in with Prim. And, honestly, I like the quietness and the slower pace of rural life.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
I love my town, Kentucky, and my friends and family. We’re a bit rugged, but we’re loyal and loving, and we value resilience. Most of all, we value a sense of humor. Why else would my mother name me Rook? You might think I was named after a bird or because I have black hair the color of a rook’s wings. Nope. I was named after my grandma Prim’s favorite card game. But y’all should also know that I love books. In fact, I studied English Literature in college and was going to get a PhD in English until I couldn’t continue financially. Anyway, I love to read, especially true crime, mysteries, and forensics books, and I love to watch Forensics Files. So, if y’all are interested in talking about books, you should definitely check out Michelle’s website, www.michellebennington.com, and link to her social media. She and I are cut from the same bookworm cloth and would love to connect with you!
Thank you for answering my questions, Rook, and good luck to you and your author, Michelle Bennington, with Devil’s Kiss, the first book in the Small Batch mystery series.
Readers can learn more about Rook and her author, Michelle Bennington by visiting the author’s website and her Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram and Pinterest pages. You can also follow her on Twitter and YouTube.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Michelle Bennington: Born and raised in the beautiful Bluegrass state of Kentucky, Michelle Bennington developed a passion for books early on that has progressed into a mild hoarding situation and an ever-growing to-read pile.
When she’s not creating contemporary or historical fictional worlds full of mysteries, she obsesses over all things British and historical. In rare moments of spare time, she can be found engaging in a wide array of arts and crafts, dance, and attending ghost tours.