Monday, November 23, 2015

ROCCO welcomes Sadie Hartwell!

  • Welcome Sadie! Tell us a little about your background.
Thanks ROCCO! I live in Connecticut with my husband, teenage son, and Elvira the Wonder Cat. I have a B.A. in history from St. Lawrence University, and I’ve worked as a waitress, office drone, handbag designer/manufacturer, and most recently as a freelance editor, in addition to writing my own stories. I love cooking, yarn, reading, puttering in my garden (not my greatest skill, but I’m trying), and traveling. And of course, making stuff up!
  • Tell us a bit about your Tangled Web series! The first is YARNED AND DANGEROUS. Where did that idea come from and do you knit in real life?
I do knit (and crochet) in real life, having mostly taught myself with some assistance from my Aunt Rae and a family friend, Martha, when I was a kid. When my agent came to me and said he had an editor looking for a knitting mystery, I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven. Or found the Holy Grail. I had the beginnings of a cozy series that we couldn’t sell because the hook was too similar to another one out there, so I took the premise—city girl returns home to care for her injured great-uncle—and morphed it into the story that became YARNED AND DANGEROUS. It was an easy transition, so I feel like this story was always meant to be told about yarn and not the other thing (ooh, I’m super mysterious, aren’t I, not telling you what the other story premise was?)
  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
Generally, I don’t get to know anybody until they appear on the page. My writing process involves a bit of woo-woo in that when a character pops into my head and inserts her/himself into the story, I just let it happen. Eventually, most often while I’m doing something else like housework—or knitting!—they will tell me why they are there and what their backstory is and I’ve never had to cut a character later. I know some authors like to do detailed character studies before they sit down to write or plot, and that works well for them. For me, knowing too much ahead of time inhibits the creative process.
  • You also write as Susannah Hardy. Tell us about your “Greek to Me” mystery series.
The Greek to Me Mysteries are set in a fictional Greek restaurant in a fictional village in the Thousand Islands area of Northern New York State. My heroine/sleuth, Georgie, isn’t Greek, but she married into a Greek family, and she manages the Bonaparte House restaurant for her soon-to-be-ex-mother-in-law, Sophie. Each mystery contains elements of local legends and history, but the series is mostly about what it means to be part of a family, whether related by blood or not. And I include Greek and other recipes. This series has a slightly over-the-top soap-opera feel, which will be very obvious if you read book 2, OLIVE AND LET DIE.
  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I am a pantser, with elements of plotter, making me a plotser. Because my books were all sold on proposal, I did have to provide my publishers with brief outlines of the stories. But as I’m writing, I usually only know the major turning points of the story. As much as possible, I like to let the story unfold naturally. When starting a story, I know who the victim is and how and where he/she was killed. Then I think about the town, and people connected to the victim, and I give each suspect a reason to want the victim dead. That quite often develops as I go along, not as I’m just beginning to write. This process won’t work for everybody, by the way. It requires a certain faith in your own creative process. And it’s not perfect, by any means, and can actually be a little scary, not knowing where you’re going. But if I trust myself, it’s worked out so far.
  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Well, neither can exist without the other. A character can’t exist on his/her own, without some kind of force (plot) acting on her/him. But if I had to choose, and this may be controversial among writers, LOL!, I would choose plot. Because it’s only through forces acting on the character, that character can be revealed. Given the exact same plot framework, a different character would make different decisions and grow in a different way. Imagine Scarlett O’Hara switching places with Elizabeth Bennett.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
I am challenged every day I’m working on a first draft, because I’m convinced what I’ve written is complete drivel. I have to keep reminding myself to keep going, that anything that’s broken in the story can be fixed later. As for what keeps me motivated, a couple of things: (1) the desire never to go back to a day job; and (2) chocolate. Lots of chocolate.
  • Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
Sure! I had a completed manuscript that would become FETA ATTRACTION (book 1 of the Greek to Me Mysteries). I’d dithered around with it for a long time, tweaking the beginning over and over, unable to move on to any new projects. So I gave myself an ultimatum: 6 months of diligent work to find an agent or publisher. After that, I would self-publish the book and start something new. I submitted to a number of agents and digital first presses. Interestingly, though it didn’t seem interesting at the time, all the digital first presses rejected me!
Within three months, I got an offer from an agent. However, I researched him and realized that he had never sold a cozy mystery, and did not appear to have the contacts necessary to sell a book to a major publisher. I then went back to my top choices of agents who still had partials or fulls of my manuscript and let them know that I had an offer. That moved me up in the queues. Within two weeks, I had an offer from John Talbot of the Talbot Fortune Agency. We put together a proposal for a three-book series, tweaked it, and one week after I first spoke to him on the phone, he had the proposal on an editor’s desk. One week later, I had a deal for the Greek to Me series and an advance check on the way. The whole process took me only four months out of my original six-month window.
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
Right now I’m finishing up the second book in the Tangled Web Mysteries, which will release late next year. I have one more book to write in that contract. I’m also planning a novella, and I’m in the preliminary research and planning stages of a darker general fiction story. I have lots of stories in my head! I just need to find the time to get them on the page.
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I am an early riser, usually up before 6:00 a.m. every day except the weekends, where I sometimes sleep until 7:00. I make coffee, get my son off to school, start a load of laundry if necessary, then review my email and do a very quick check of social media. If I have a deadline, as I do now, I get to work on the manuscript until lunch. I try to set weekly word count goals rather than daily, which tend to not get met. Actual writing, I’d say I spend about 10-15 hours per week, unless I’m on deadline, when I simply write until my brain quits for the day (I write in longer sessions when I’m near the end of a story).
I also freelance as a coach and developmental/line/copy editor (, so I need to intersperse my own writing and the jobs associated with that, with my obligations to my clients. I usually work on that in the afternoon. And I do sometimes work evenings as well, depending on where I am in my own or others’ projects.
This is definitely not a 9 to 5 job, LOL!
  • If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
The Crocodile on the Sandbank, Elizabeth Peters. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. On Writing, by Stephen King. When do we leave?
  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
First, don’t strive for perfection. There’s no such thing, and it can paralyze you. Just tell your story from beginning to end, then you can fix it later. I’ve never seen a story that can’t be fixed—but the author needs to decide how much work s/he is willing to do. And second, find a writers’ group. I would suggest your local RWA chapter ( No matter what genre you are writing, RWA is focused on teaching craft and business. I would NOT be published today without the Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writers of America.
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Well, my mom might read this and there are still things I don’t want her to know about, LOL! But I’d have to say taking a leap of faith and thinking I could actually make a go of this writing thing. It still seems a little crazy!
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
Hmmmm. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a ghost. I know I’ve heard one, twice, in different houses. When I investigated, there was no other explanation for what I’d heard.
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
“Sadie/Susannah? How do you like your cheesecake? With or without raspberries?” And the answer would be “with, thank you.”
  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?
·        Yarned and Dangerous:
·        Website:
·        Facebook:
·        Twitter:, @sadiehartwell
·        Olive and Let Die:
·        Feta Attraction:
·        Website:
·        Facebook:
·        Twitter:, @susannahhardy1

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Day. I get tired at night J
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Puh-leeze. Cat, tuxedo if possible.
Beach or Pool?   Beach. I love the sound of the ocean.
Steak or salad?  Steak. Though steak on salad is good, as long as there’s bleu cheese to go with it.
Favorite Drink?  Fancy coffee drinks. Love ‘em!
Favorite Book?  Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte.
Favorite TV Series?  Fluctuates. Lately I’m obsessed with Longmire on Netflix. I love any kind of documentary about historical stuff, archaeology, myths/legends, or anything that includes a facial reconstruction of some ancient person of any species J And when the next season of Poldark comes out on PBS next year, go away, kid, don’t bother me. I’ll be binge-watching.
Favorite Movie?  Gone with the Wind
Favorite Actor: Old time: Cary Grant. Now time: Robert Downey Jr. (sigh!)
Favorite Actress: Old time: Katherine Hepburn. Now time: Meryl Streep.
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Dirty Martini. Which I hope I’m drinking with James Bond.
Hawaii or Alaska? Would love to visit both! But I’d choose Hawaii first, then Alaska.
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be… William Shakespeare. I’d like to find out if he did, in fact, write his own stuff.
If I had just one wish, it would be… at the risk of going all Miss America on everyone, world peace and tolerance. I worry for our earth and our future generations and I don’t understand the hate I see everywhere.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be …Nobody! I’m very happy with my life and all the friends and family in it.

Thanks Sadie! 
Sadie/Susannah will give away to one lucky commenter a copy of her/his choice of Olive and Let Die or Yarned and Dangerous. To enter, leave a comment below with your email address and choice of book!  Contest closes midnight, November 30. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

ROCCO goes to the dogs!


ROCCO here!  As many of you know, I am also a cozy mystery reviewer for Night Owl Digital Magazine (the Human writes their monthly Suspense Column, Dark Streets).  I love to read and review other author's cozies, in between advising the Human on our series, Nick and Nora!

I recently read the latest in the Barking Detective series by Waverly Curtis, THE SILENCE OF THE CHIHUAHUAS.  Granted the main character is a dog - and a talking one at that - but putting that aside, this is a really fun series!

IN this, the fifth volume in the series (if you don't count the e-novella A CHIHUAHUA IN EVERY STOCKING) aspiring PI Geri Sullivan's partner and pet Pepe has suddenly decided to stop talking, and at the most inopportune time. Not only is her best friend Brad missing, but her sister has found herself in grave danger.  Not all is lost, though, as Pepe turns out to have muy excelente blogging skills (much like moi's) and he soon puts his nose to the ground hunting for clues to help Geri solve the mysteries.

This series definitely puts a smile on your face while you are reading about the antics of Pepe and Geri. Pepe is a pup with personality - albeit maybe a little too much personality at times, but Geri is a perfect foil for him.  The mysteries sometimes take a backseat to the comic banter, but overall are well plotted and the characters are lively and appropriately quirky.  I give this instalment four paws and the series a rousing five paws up!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hamlet and ROCCO interview.....Ali Brandon and T. C. Lotempio!!!!!!!

Two great felines have books debuting today!  Hamlet, from the Black Cat Bookshop series fifth adventure, PLOT BOILER,

and Nick for which moi is the inspiration, in the second Nick and Nora mystery, CLAWS FOR ALARM.

Today, Hamlet is my guest interviewer! He will interview the Human, whilst I interview Ms. Ali Brandon (aka award winning author Diane L S. Stuckart). So without further ado....I interview Ms. Brandon!

Hello, Ali.  How did you and Hamlet get together? Hi Rocco. Nice chatting with you again. As you may know, with PLOT BOILER we are at Book #5 in the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series, so Hamlet and I have been together for awhile. Our original editor needed a bookstore cat for a new series, and Hamlet applied for the job. I rather suspect that the folks at Berkley were looking for a, well, less snarky feline to fill the role. You know, the kind of cat that curls up in baskets to sleep and then runs and greets the customers with a friendly meow. But, I thought we should go in another direction, and so I convinced them that Hamlet was right for the part.
Tell us about Hamlet’s latest adventure, out today! Hamlet’s caretaker, bookstore owner Darla Pettistone, is trying to help all the neighborhood  shop owners beat the summer doldrums by putting together a Fourth of July block party and inviting the public. In the meantime, Darla’s new coffee bar has caught the not-so-nice attention of the local coffee shop owner, who thinks she’s trying to poach his business. As for Hamlet, he suspects something’s not kosher with the man’s coffee. And, of course, Darla stumbles over a dead body there at the block party, which really sets off the fireworks.
Does Hamlet receive any fan mail?  Do you? Hamlet and I both receive the occasional nice card in the mail, but these days most readers contact us via my website or else via Hamlet’s Facebook page: . Hamlet is on Facebook quite often posting comments and pictures, and he very much enjoys talking with the “clever humans” who chat back with him.
What’s the most challenging part about writing for Hamlet? How often does he dictate the storyline? Because Hamlet is not a talking cat in our books (though he does plenty of yakking on his page) I have to make sure that he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. After all, he is the primary sleuth! He doesn’t dictate the storyline but he “paws” it along with his book snagging clues. I work very hard at keeping him a regular, non-magical cat, and I think the readers appreciate that.
What are some of your other favorite cat mysteries? Of course, I enjoy the Nick and Nora mysteries! And the classics like the Midnight Louie books and the Cat Who books (with Hamlet being something of a homage to KoKo and Yum Yum). I’ve also enjoyed the Sunny and Shadow books, and several other of the newer cat series (but there’s just never enough time to read them all!).
Describe a typical writing day for you? Actually, writing is my second job. I get home from the day job around 6:30 pm, and after getting all the critters (four cats and four dogs) fed, and then me and the hubby fed, and email at least looked at, it’s about 8 pm. So, depending on where I am in my writing schedule, I’ll write from 8 pm until I conk out. I also spend my lunch hour writing when I’m on deadline. If I’m at the very deadest of my deadline timeframe, I’ve been known to work straight through the night, grab an hour or so of sleep, and then head off to the day job again. That part is not fun. But once I’ve turned in my book, I plop myself in front of the TV every night for a few weeks so my brain can decompress.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?  If I didn’t write at night, I’d be doing fun crafty things. I like making feather fascinators, and now I’m wanting to move into refinishing/upcycling small furniture pieces.
What can you tell us, if anything, about any of Hamlet’s future adventures? Book # 6, working title BY BOOK OR BY CROOK, has some interesting changes for all our characters. Hamlet, of course, remains his usual self, but he may find himself with a new feline friend.
Describe Hamlet in one word. Imperiously Elegant. Oops, that’s two words. I think the word that Hamlet would prefer is, Brilliant.
Thanks Ali!  and now my good friend HAMLET will interview the Human, also known as T. C. Lotempio!

Greetings, Human.  Or would you prefer I called you TC?  Greetings back to you, Hamlet!  TC or Toni is fine.

Well, let's get started then.  How did you happen to make the acquaintance of this fine furry fellow, ROCCO?   My beautiful calico that I'd had for 11 years, Phyllis Rose, had passed and I'd adopted Maxx.  I felt he needed a companion, so I went on PetFinder and saw baby ROCCO's photo. He happened to be at the Clifton Animal Shelter, so I went for a look and took Maxx along to make sure they got along.  They seemed to (although Maxx did more hiding under the table than anything else) so I brought ROCCO  home. From the moment he stepped out of the carrier and raised his paw, he's been 'The Boss" - a feline Bruce Springsteen.

As it should be, of course!  So tell us how Rocco started in the blogging business.   I'd just acquired my agent and I wanted to set up a blog, but I wanted it to be a little different.  ROCCO just seemed to scream STAR.  After about a month I got the idea to start interviewing authors, and I believe Janet Evonavich was our first.  It just seemed to escalate from there. ROCCO is a natural born interviewer (take note, Jimmy Fallon and Barbara Walters!)

How did you get the idea to pattern ROCCO after the original Nick Charles, aka the Thin Man? The man who was my supervisor at my day job at the time suggested I stop writing about vampires and write something about my cat.  When I went home The Thin Man was on tv, and ROCCO leapt onto my lap.  Then I got an idea - what if Nick Charles, or a detective similar to him, came back as a cat?  And it was born from that (and changed by Berkley before the publication, LOL)

In the original version, Nick the cat was the reincarnation of Nick Atkins, and he talked, but talking is a no-no so....Nick became a world-class Scrabble speller.

Tell us a bit about Nick's second adventure, CLAWS FOR ALARM!  Nora has every intention of investigating Nick Atkins' strange disappearance, but unfortunately it takes a back seat when her sister Lacey is arrested for the murder of her art professor, who wasn't a very nice man :)  During the course of the investigation, Nora reconnects with a blast from her past in the form of homicide detective Leroy Samms.
Are there more adventures planned for Nick and Nora?  Oh, absolutely. As long as people read them and Berkley continues to buy them, Nick will keep on spelling out clues with his Scrabble tiles. 

What other cat mysteries do you enjoy?  Careful now....  Why, Hamlet's of course!!!!!!!!!  Also the Cat in the Stacks, the Cat Who's, Mrs. Murphy....there are too many to mention! We love 'em all.

What's a typical writing day like for you and ROCCO?  I have a full time job, so most of my writing is done after work and on the weekends. I crank up the CD player and sit down with my outline with ROCCO at my feet. After about an hour of ROCCO chewing the cable wires and wanting to play fetch, we finally get something done LOL.  I like to try and write at least a chapter whenever I sit down, but most days its only a page or two.

If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing? - I've always been fascinated by the criminal justice system, so maybe a profiler for the FBI.
Describe ROCCO in one word!  I've got two...BOSS or KING!

TC and Ali will give away a copy of CLAWS FOR ALARM and PLOT BOILER to two lucky commenters. One will win TC's and one will win Ali's.  Just leave a comment stating which book you would like and your email address. 
Contest ends midnight, November 7.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

ROCCO welcomes Chris Wenger!

Meow, today my guest is author Chris Wenger!

ABOUT CHRIS:              

I have worked in the criminal justice field for more years than I care to remember! It seems like I was forever going to school while I was working full time, but in the end, I received a dual master's degree in Probation and Parole Studies and Sociology from Fordham University. 

               Unfortunately, the knowledge gained from way too many years in night school, didn’t prepare me for what I love to do the most – writing romances for Harlequin and cozy mysteries for Penguin books.


               The year 2013 began my series of “comfort food” cozies  that are set in a small-town 1950’s diner: the Silver Bullet (open 24 hours, air conditioned).  The Silver Bullet sits on the shore of Lake Ontario and many colorful characters, including the owner of the diner, Trixie Matkowski, live in Sandy Harbor or are just visiting.

               The first book, DO OR DINER, from Penguin/Obsidian books was released in August, 2013.  A SECOND HELPING OF MURDER came out in April, 2014.  My third cozy mystery DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DEATH came out in January, 2015 followed by MACARONI AND FREEZE (July, 2015). Watch for IT’S A WONDERFUL KNIFE in February of 2016). 

I’d like to continue with this series for as long as readers keep reading about sleuthing Trixie Matkowski’s way. 


               I enjoy watching professional bull riding and rodeo with my favorite cowboy, my husband Jim. We put on our cowboy regalia (I look horrible in a cowboy hat!) and have traveled to events in Las Vegas, Florida, Connecticut, and other states. 

               Of course I have to do research for my comfort food diner series.  That takes me to diners all over the U.S. and Canada.  It’s a tough job, but I just have to do it!

               Best wishes to you, and I hope you smile when you read my books!

                                                                            CHRIS WENGER


And now, I interview Chris!!!!

  • Welcome Chris! Tell us a little about your background

I have worked in the criminal justice field forever and love writing mysteries and romances.  Currently I write for Penguin (Obsidian) and Harlequin.

  • Tell us a bit about your latest book

MACARONI AND FREEZE takes place in small town Sandy Harbor in the middle of a fundraiser  for a new library roof.  Trixie Matkowski, the owner of the Silver Bullet Diner, is elected as the chairperson and decides to hold a macaroni and cheese cookoff.  Unfortunately, the celebrity judge turns up frozen in a snowbank.

  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?

MACARONI AND FREEZE is the fourth book of my “comfort food” series.  I got to know my characters before I wrote the first book (DO OR DINER).

  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

I work from a synopsis for the basic plot, but then I fly.

  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?

Character.  If readers don’t care about the characters and what happens to them, then why read the book?

  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

The biggest challenge is sitting down to write.  I’d rather be playing with my dog or working around the house or shopping!  What keeps me motivated is my readers-they keep asking for the next book!

  • Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?

I “stalked” my agent at a conference, and asked to submit to her.  We got along wonderfully, and had a great time.  Eventually, after more stalking, she signed me! 

·       What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?

I would love to do more “comfort food” cozy mysteries for Penguin Obsidian and continue to write romances for Special Edition (Harlequin).  I love doing both!

  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?

I’d love to say that I work on a regular schedule, but  just  like homework, I procrastinate and then race to the finish!

·       What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?

Keep writing!  And keep honing your craft!  It took me TWELVE LOOONG YEARS to get published (THE COW BOY WAY, Harlequin), and I gave up 3.4 million times.  But soon after those 3.4 million times, I kept writing and kept trying and kept going to conferences, etc.  Never, ever, ever give up.

  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Probably going on home visits alone, without backup, and without the adequate tools to do my job.  It’s lucky that I have a big mouth. 

  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?

That I was a probation officer and a supervisor for the county probation department for many years and that I have a dual Masters Degree in sociology and probation and parole studies from Fordham University.

  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)

QUESTION:  “So, Chris Wenger, what would you like to happen next for your wonderful comfort food series?”

ANSWER:  “Oh, excellent question!  I would love for my wonderful comfort food series to be made into movies for the Hallmark Channel’s Movies and Mysteries TV show.  My cozy mystery series would be just perfect for what Hallmark is doing.”  (pause for effect)  “And if any readers here have a connection to Hallmark, please contact me!”

  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?

They say that writers should write what they know, and I know about food and diners and small town life! 

Little tidbits of my life are frequently scattered throughout my books.  Beware!


Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  .Night

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  I’ love cats!  I go to the SPCA to the cat rooms and snuggle them, but I have a golden retriever, age 4, by the name of Blondie (she’s on all of my covers!)

Beach or Pool?   Both!  And a lake, too.                                                       

Steak or salad?   Steak.  I am a carnivore!

Favorite Drink?   Lime green Kool-Aid or ice tea (sweetened)

Favorite Book?    A historical western romance      

Favorite TV Series?   Castle      

Favorite Movie?  Romancing the Stone        

Favorite Actor:   Nathan Fillion

Favorite Actress:   Melissa McCarthy

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?  Pina Colada (with an umbrella)

Hawaii or Alaska?  Hawaii (because I’ve never visited there)

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be WALT DISNEY

If I had just one wish, it would be:   to make the NY Times Top Ten List!

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be Nora Roberts because she’s such a   prolific writer and very generous.



Thank you for a wonderful interview, Chris! You can find her at:

Regular mail:  PO Box 1823, Cicero, NY 13039-1823



Chris will give away an autographed book of any of her books (you pick it!) to not one, not two but THREE lucky commenters!  Just tell Chris what your favorite diner experience has been.  Be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you. Contest closes midnight, October 31.  Good luck!


Saturday, October 24, 2015



Today my guest is author JJCook AKA the writing team of Joyce and Jim Lavene!

Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, best-selling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Penguin, Amazon, and Simon and Schuster along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family. 

R:  Welcome! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.

We became interested in writing the old fashioned way – we were readers who wanted to create our own stuff. We both love reading anything, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery are our favorites.

 R: What drew you to the cozy mystery genre?

We liked the personality of it – giving characters quirky names and jobs. It’s fun to write and to read. Plus we aren’t great with too much blood and guts.

R: Tell us about your series, the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade. What  made you decide on firefighting as a career for your sleuth?  And a ghost who cooks???????

Jim was a volunteer firefighter for a while. Joyce has three generations of firefighters in her family. The ghost is just a fun bonus! We wanted to write a firefighter mystery series because we liked the concept. Stella is from Chicago, a professional firefighter. She comes to Sweet Pepper to set up their volunteer squad, and stays because she loves the place. She and Eric, the ghost of the former fire chief, get in scrapes together.

  R: Tell us about your latest release, IN HOT WATER.

In Hot Water is the third book in the Fire Brigade Mysteries. Stella is trying to keep an overzealous councilman from tearing down Eric’s old cabin and investigating a fire that killed a local representative. There is always Sweet Pepper Festival action too as the town celebrates their hot pepper roots.

 R: Which of (your character) adventures was the most fun for you to write? Were any of them the least amount of fun?

Stella and Eric are always fun to write. The volunteer firefighters have issues too. In this book, they deliver a baby after a wreck. We probably don’t write any characters that aren’t fun to write.

R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?

We were very excited when Harlequin called because we’d sold our first book. That’s right. We started as romance writers! It was years after that before we got our first agent. We got our agent because she was just getting started and wanted to represent us. It seemed like a good idea.

R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?

Plenty of coffee! That’s the only must have besides each other and the computers.

 R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?

Probably the age of castles and knights. We’d like to meet Merlin.

R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?

That we are Doctor Who fanatics?

R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?

Driving down to the beach (about 4 hours) to watch the sun rise and driving right back.

R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?

That all people are interesting and special.

 R: What are you working on at the moment / next?

Our next Taxi for the Dead Paranormal Mystery, Dead Girl Blues, and the next Retired Witches book, Looking for Mr. Good Witch.

 R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Both. There is no absolute for us. You do what you need to do with each book.

 R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)

We read. Drive. We like to take pictures and go to weird little places most people don’t want to go. Jim likes to take apart computers and put them back together. I’m trying to get back into watercolors.

 R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Write. Write. Write. That’s the most important thing.

 Thanks for a great interview!