Welcome, Debra! Because you're a debut author, I'm sure most of my readers don't know you. Would you start by introducing yourself?
Thank you for having me here today, Lesa. I’m the author of the new cozy mystery series, Food Blogger Mysteries published by Kensington. I live in Connecticut and am a full-time writer. A few years ago I began a food blog, The Cookbook Diva (I’ve since then closed down the website), when I took a break from fiction writing. After a couple of years I decided that I wanted to go back to writing fiction and pursue publication. After a few completed romantic suspense novels I had the idea for a cozy mystery revolving around a food blogger. I went with the idea and wrote the first draft of The Uninvited Corpse. When I’m not writing I can be found either baking, which I love, hanging with my two Shih-Tzus, Susie and Billy, curling up with a good book or tackling a workout.
Would you introduce us to Hope Early?
Hope Early is a food blogger who stumbles into solving murders. When The Uninvited Corpse opens she’s still settling into her fixer upper and building her food blog into a full-time career. Just prior to moving back to her hometown, she had a stint on a reality baking show. She didn’t win, rather she ended up divorced and unemployed. With her life turned upside, she made the decision to move back to Jefferson, Connecticut. Starting over in the place where she came from sounded like a good idea until she got caught up in a murder investigation.
Tell us about The Uninvited Corpse, without spoilers.
Hope attends a garden tour hosted by a close friend and the event is turned upside down by the arrival of an uninvited guest, real estate agent Peaches McCoy. By the end of the day, one of the guests has committed murder, and Hope’s sister, Claire Dixon, is a suspect. She and Peaches were professional rivals and text messages reveal a deep animosity between the two women. Hope is determined to prove her sister innocent. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she gets to the killer intent on making her the next corpse du jour.
This is your first mystery. What has surprised you about the publication process?
I’ve been writing for several years and I have many friends who are published so over time I’ve learned a lot of what to expect from the publication process. One of the things that surprised me was how long it took from the contract to the publication date. I received my contract offer in November 2016 and the book releases on March 27, 2018. That’s a long time.
You were a blogger before you became a mystery author. How have you incorporated that background into The Uninvited Corpse?
I use my experience to give an authentic feel to Hope’s character. I’ve written scenes where you’ll find Hope in the midst of recipe testing or filming a video for her You Tube channel or taking a class to improve her skills. These are all things food bloggers do on a regular basis. I also add in some angst because it sometimes seem that there’s never enough time to do all the things that need to be done or enough comments or likes on social media.
You also have a second mystery series coming out next year. Would you tell us about that, and how the idea came about?
The second series, Resale Boutique Mysteries, grew out of a short story I wrote years ago. I’d been trying to get the story published in a mystery anthology but it was rejected. I liked the characters and the town so I decided to expand it into a book. Murder Wears a Little Black Dress, which releases in January 2019, is about Kelly, a twenty-something fashionista who’s recently unemployed and inherits her grandmother’s old and tired consignment shop. She has her own ghosts of the past to deal with by coming back home and there’s a black dress in the shop that’s associated with a murder. Like Kelly I attended fashion school and worked in a department store before moving to Connecticut. So it was a nice fit to write about Kelly and her world.
How are you juggling your time to write two series and maintain your life?
It can get a little crazy at times but I’ve always been organized. I rely on my day planner and set achievable goals for each day and week. It does help that I’m a full-time writer so my time isn’t shared with a day job any longer.
What authors have been your greatest inspiration or of assistance to you?
My critique partner, Ellie Ashe, has been a tremendous help to me over the years. Working with her has made me a better writer. The cozy author community is a wonderful group of people and I’ve been welcomed into it. Sherry Harris has been very kind and generous to me since I announced my sale to Kensington. Katherine Hall Page has been an inspiration to me over the years. I remember discovering her Faith Fairchild Mystery series at our now-closed local bookshop. I look forward to each new installment of the series.
What author isn't as well-known as you think they should be?
That’s a tough question. There are so many authors that I adore. The first author that springs to mind is a relatively new author. Bethany Blake writes the Lucky Paw Pet Sitting Mystery series for Kensington. After reading her first book, Death by Chocolate Lab, she’s become one of the authors I automatically buy when a new book comes out.
My final question, because I'm a librarian, is always the same. Please tell me a story about you and a library or librarian.
I’ve always loved libraries. I grew up in New York City so our branch library wasn’t small and I don’t recall the librarians who worked there. Being an only child, I’ve always been independent so I didn’t participate in any programs, I just wanted to find a book to read. My mom would let me wander around the stacks while she waited patiently for me. Probably the best thing about the library was the opportunity to explore and learn because I was a kid using the library before the internet. The librarians were my search engines. ☺ I’ve always appreciated the work they do and fully support libraries. I can’t imagine a world without libraries.
Thank you, Debra, for taking the time to answer questions. Debra's website is http://debrasennefelder.com/
Check back tomorrow when I have a review of her first book, The Uninvited Corpse.