Saturday, June 29, 2013

Kathleen Delaney Combines Mysteries with Reality

Welcome to Mysterious Writers, Kathleen. When did you begin your Ellen McKenzie mysteries?
I came to writing rather late in life. Marriage, five children, a divorce and learning to live as a single mom took up a large portion of my early adult years. However, I think it was during those years I learned about writing through the hundreds of books I read, mainly mysteries. Without realizing it, I learned about plotting, character development, building tension and when to ease off with a little humor. Or, what I hoped was humor when I finally took a deep breath and decided to do what I had always wanted but had been afraid to try. Write.
The first piece I sold was an article about my children’s adventures in 4H and how they dragged their parents, kicking and screaming, into the up to then foreign world of animal husbandry. Family Fun bought it. For money! I was a writer.

 They say, write what you know. So, I did. My first mystery featured a woman in her middle years, divorce decree in one hand, new real estate license in the other, who returns to her home town to start life over. I knew about divorce and starting over. I even knew a little about real estate. There the similarity ended. For one thing, I have never found a dead body while trying to show a house. And, Ellen only has one child. If I gave her five, I knew she’d never have time to solve any murders, and I had several in mind.

Each of the five Ellen McKenzie mysteries has a setting that relates to the murder. Growth in a small town, horse shows, wineries, a bakery, and In Murder by Syllabub, murder that has its roots in the eighteenth century. The story opens when Ellen’s Aunt Mary bursts into her kitchen, stating she is going to Virginia. Her best friend has inherited an eighteenth century plantation, complete with a ghost who is trying to kill her. Ellen doesn’t believe in ghosts, murderous or otherwise but its clear something strange is going on at Smithwood.
When she can’t talk Aunt Mary out of rushing to the rescue, Ellen states she’s going with her, even though she’s convinced the ghost will turn out to be a common prowler. Instead, they discover a man, dressed in colonial garb, lying on the dining room rug, quite dead. Beside his outstretched hand is a small crystal glass, empty. The man had no way to enter the locked house, neither did whoever fed him the contents of the glass, nor did he have a way out as the doors to the old house only work with a key and the locks have been recently changed. But someone is still prowling the upstairs hallways of Smithwood, looking for something, and doesn’t seem to mind how many bodies he leaves in his wake. Looking for what? And, how is he getting into the locked house? And out again? Ellen has to travel far into the past to discover the answers.
KathleenDelaney enjoys writing characters over thirty. Her protagonist, Ellen McKenzie, is a woman in her forties but possibly the most memorable and certainly the most eclectic character in her books is Ellen’s Aunt Mary McGill, a woman of strong character who doesn’t let a little thing like being past seventy bother her at all. She lives in Georgia with her dog and cat and is close enough to two of her grandchildren to be a functioning part of their lives.

Kathlee's website is:, her  Facebook page is:  Kathleen Delaney Koppang. She's also on Good Reads, Twitter, and LinkedIn

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lea Wait Guest Blogs About Her Shadows Antique Mystery Series

Welcome back to Mysterious Writers, Lea. I write about senior women, so I'm  happy to have you join us here. 
Seniors need to stick together, and since I’m celebrating my 67th this week … I qualify, and I’m definitely feeling the need for some senior society!
But I’ve had fun in the past month, celebrating the release of the sixth in my Shadows Antique Print Mystery series, with the wedding of my protagonist, Maggie Summer’s, best friend, Gussie White in Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding. Gussie’s over fifty, and in a wheelchair because of post polio syndrome, but she’s one of my favorite people to write about because she’s spunky and bright and she doesn’t let a little thing like being in a chair hold her back. She runs her own business, and she’s finally decided to let her lawyer beau marry her. (He’s a pretty smart guy to do that, too.) I loved choosing wedding gifts for them.
I’ve always planned to set a mystery on Cape Cod, where Gussie lives – and having her finally get married seemed the perfect excuse to do that. Plus, every wedding has its own built in last minute panics, and, of course, in a mystery those panics are magnified. If a usual wedding has a teetering wedding cake .. this wedding has a … but I’m not going to give away all the secrets.
I can say that the mother of the groom has her own ideas about the wedding … the maid of honor finds a body on the beach …a late season hurricane bears down on everything … and Maggie Summer herself is distracted, not only by the wedding preparations and helping Gussie to move her store and her home … but also by a major decision she’s made that she hasn’t told her own guy about. And, of course, he’ll be at the wedding. And she has to tell him.
Since it’s a Shadows Antique Print Mystery, and both Maggie and Gussie are antique dealers, (Maggie’s an antique print dealer; Gussie deals in antique dolls and toys,) there’s plenty of talk about antiques, and the antiques even provide a few clues along the way.
But then hurricane winds and bullets start flying, and tempers are out of control, too. And I’m hoping there are enough hidden twists and surprises behind the doors of this Cape community to keep all my readers happy. 
Maine author Lea Wait writes the Shadows Antique Print Mystery series, staring protagonist Maggie Summer. Sixth in the series, Shadows on a Cape Cod Wedding was released this week. The first novel in the series was an Agatha nominee reviewed by the New York Times and has been well received. She also writes historical novels based in Maine for her juvenile readers.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sara Hoskinson Frommer Talks About Her Brother's Keeper

Welcome to Mysterious Writers, Sara. Tell us about your mystery series.

The continuing characters in this series have aged very little over the long years since the first one, Murder in C Major. It began because I was
mad at an oboe player in the orchestra I played in for many years. I gave my protagonist Joan a viola and a seat in a small-town orchestra so she could sit next to the oboist when I bumped him off. I widowed her and gave her a couple of
mostly grown children to complicate her life, which it certainly did.

Back then, I didn’t think past that first book. But then I thought "what if?" and was off on the next one. It’s natural that I hear Joan’s voice in my head–we’re a lot alike. But how do I hear my cop's? No idea, but I’m grateful, as I am to all the walk-ons who don’t ask me how to talk but just spout off on their own. The awful mother-in-law in the new book is a gift. Someone asked me whether I’d kill her off. I wouldn’t dream of it–I want to know what she’ll pull next time.

Her Brother’s Keeper is a long-overdue book. In The Vanishing Violinist, the fourth of the Joan Spencer mysteries, Joan’s daughter, Rebecca, announces her engagement to a violinist competing in the very real International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. Joan, who has just promised to marry Detective Lieutenant Fred Lundquist, of the not at all real Oliver, Indiana, police force, promises her daughter that they’ll wait till she can be there. But in fact, they don’t wait beyond the end of that book.

Instead, it’s Rebecca and Bruce who have to wait–for three whole books–to be married. The trouble starts when Joan’s ex-con brother arrives early for the wedding, Bruce’s mother shows her controlling, interfering self even earlier, and Joan’s own mother-in-law, whose mind is failing, shows up in the middle of a bloody murder, with the bloody murder weapon in her hand. (The knives on that book cover aren’t just for decoration.)

My new publisher, Perseverance Press, chose me. Some years back, Meredith Phillips, the editor, invited me to submit a book to her. I knew books by some of her other authors, and so I was glad to send her this one and have enjoyed working with her on it.

Sara Hoskinson Frommer, author of the Joan Spencer mysteries, lives with her husband in Bloomington, Indiana. They have two adult sons. Her seventh Joan Spencer mystery, Her Brother’s Keeper, is just out from Perseverance Press. Thank you, Sara. You can learn more about Sara at her website:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

"Mysteries Began with Vidocq" by William Shepard

Mysteries have always appealed to me, from the Sherlock Holmes stories that I devoured as a teenager to the Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie books that expanded their audience through movie and television adaptations. As I began writing my own mysteries, the thought naturally arose to study the genre itself. Where did mystery stories begin? Who invented them, and what was the audience?

I was amazed to discover that a very odd Frenchman, Eugène François Vidocq, laid the basis for the modern detective story. He was a criminal, in fact a galley slave, who turned on his fellow criminals and became a police informant, then a police officer! He was so skilled that his work produced a descending crime rate in Paris, and he was responsible for many methods that criminologists today employ. Vidocq became the model for many authors, including Victor Hugo, whose “Les Miserables” used Vidocq as the model for BOTH Jean Valjean and his police nemesis, Inspector Javert!

The first detective story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” by Edgar Allan Poe, was modeled in part after Vidocq’s bestselling “Memoirs.” Meanwhile, Vidocq established the world’s first detective agency in Paris, and as an international celebrity had actually consulted on the formation of Scotland Yard.
It All Began with Vidocq!
From there, the detective story started to grow. Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle broadened the detective story with their immortal sleuths, and in the twentieth century the development of the “cozy” mystery by Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers reached new audiences. In America the competing “hardboiled” genre featured Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Gradually the detective story took new forms, including short mysteries for readers to solve on their own.           

 And so my latest work, “The Master Detective Trio,” combines three Ebooks. First, “The Great Detectives: From Vidocq to Sam Spade,” traces the detective story from its origins. And there are some interesting byways – just where did the name Sherlock come from, anyway? And who did murder the Sternwood chauffeur in “The Big Sleep?”

Then, “Coffee Break Mysteries” is a collection of twenty short mysteries, for those days when the reader wants a short reading break. The settings are varied and interesting. We first have “The Plot to Poison George Washington.” The London of Dickens and Salem, Massachusetts during the witchcraft hysteria are both found here.

In “More Coffee Break Mysteries: The Sherlock Holmes Edition,” there are twenty new short mysteries to solve. If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, like me, you’ll be pleased to find five brand new adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty, all of which were approved by the literary estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

William Shepard felt that there was something missing in crime novels. And that was the world of diplomacy, a real world for all its glamour. He invites readers to "Come into that world and solve a crime or two, while you explore with me the Embassy life, its risks and rewards, and yes, its occasional murders! His novels include include Vintage Murder, Murder On The Danube, and Murder In Dordogne. Also, Diplomatic Tales, a memoir of life at American Embassies, is also available. For those who want to know more about enjoying fine wines, Shepard's Guide to Mastering French Wines is a reliable and entertaining guide to the regions and wines of France.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Guest Blog by Jeannette de Beauvoir (Alicia Stone)

Welcome to Mysterious Writers, Jeannette. Tell us about Murder Most Academic--academia with a twist. 

A good mystery is like a good recipe: it takes fresh local ingredients and mixes them just right: characters, plot, background, dialogue. One of those ingredients is both important and elusive: the main character’s background. There are mysteries involving people who do dog-sled racing, about people who appraise antiques or knit or sail, about archaeologists and poker players and restaurant owners … mysteries involving mystery writers, even.

 So it’s a challenge to ensure the freshness of that particular ingredient.

 That’s why I wrote Murder Most Academic, the first in a series about Trinity Pierce, a young professor at a Boston-area college. No, wait: there’s more. Because of some horrific circumstances, Trinity’s mother is confined for life to a psychiatric institution, and when a problem with insurance meant that the policy had lapsed, Trinity ended up doing her doctoral work alongside a brief career as a high-class call girl to make ends meet.

 Not an everyday back-story, but far more common than most people think—there are in truth scores of young women who dabble as escorts to put themselves through college. And what an intriguing background for Trinity to draw upon!

I love Trinity’s past. And even more than Trinity’s past, I love the people it’s brought into her life. Meet Kate Kazanjian, who, as Trinity observes, is probably the only madam in the world who still lives with her mother. Mama is always making Armenian sweets for Kate’s girls, all the while yelling at the collection of family from the old country that drifts in and out of their Victorian house. Trinity lives above an auto body shop whose owner is in love with her and is constantly offering to sell her cars of slightly dubious provenance. And her best friend is Sean, a reformed alcoholic who drives Kate’s girls to their appointments and shares Trinity’s passion for Irish music.

In Murder Most Academic, George Kirkland, one of Trinity's colleagues—and also Kate's client—is being blackmailed, and Kate needs Trinity to figure out who's doing it. But when the blackmailer is murdered and George is in the next room, he becomes the immediate suspect. Now Trinity and Kate must determine who is the real killer ... before it's Trinity herself who ends up dead.

 I promise you’ve never met anyone like Trinity Pierce. Why not get to know her today?


Jeannette de Beauvoir (Alicia Stone) is an award-winning novelist, playwright, and poet, whose work has appeared in 15 countries and has been translated into 12 languages. You can learn more about her at