Meow! My guest this week is author Vickie Fee!
Vickie Fee blesses hearts and makes Jack Daniels whiskey balls that’ll scorch your tonsils. The third book in her Liv and Di in Dixie cozy mystery series from Kensington, One Fete in the Grave, comes out this month. Books 1 and 2, Death Crashes the Party and It’s Your Party, Die If You Want To, featuring intrepid party planner and amateur sleuth Liv McKay and best friend Di Souther, are available at bookstores and the usual online retailers. Vickie is hard at work on Til Death Do Us Party, which will release in March 2018.
• Welcome Vickie! Tell us a little about your background
Thanks ROCCO! At the moment, it’s a window with a view of Lake Superior, but I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. I was an adult before I visited Graceland, so I wasn’t scarred too much by seeing the Jungle Room. I was weaned on Nancy Drew and sweet tea before discovering Agatha Christie and fantasizing that Miss Marple was my aunt, with whom I’d spend summers unraveling mysteries in quaint English villages. (Yes, I’m that big of a dork). I earned a degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and worked most of my adult life as a reporter at small town newspapers in western Tennessee. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my former newspaper career was actually research for my current career writing cozy mysteries set in the fictional town of Dixie, Tennessee.
• Tell us a bit about your Liv and Di in Dixie series. Where did that idea come from?
Dixie is fictional, but authentic to many of the small towns I covered as a reporter. So, those experiences informed the setting, complete with a charming town square and a supporting cast of colorful characters. As for the main characters, I wanted my protagonist to have a best friend. I thought that would make the murder-solving adventures more fun for her—and, hopefully, for the reader. I kind of see Liv and Di as a little bit Thelma and Louise and a little bit Lucy and Ethel.
• Tell us about your latest release… One Fete in the Grave, which comes out May 30, 2017
Party planner Liv McKay has outdone herself this time. She’s put together an unforgettable Fourth of July celebration for the town of Dixie, Tennessee—including breathtaking fireworks and an exciting Miss Dixie Beauty Pageant. Maybe a little too exciting.
As the party is winding down, Liv’s sense of triumph fizzles like a dud firework when the body of town councilman Bubba Rowland is discovered on the festival grounds. And now the prime suspect in his murder is Liv’s mother’s fiancé, Earl, who had a flare-up recently with Bubba. To clear Earl’s name, Liv and her best friend Di burst into action to smoke out the real killer before another life is extinguished…
• How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
Since I write a series, I feel like I know my main characters pretty well by now. They definitely look over my shoulder as I’m writing, and if I have them say or do something that’s not true to their character they smack me upside the head. (Figuratively, of course, but it still hurts.) The same is true for the recurring characters in the supporting cast. Minor characters kind of show up as needed—sometimes fully formed, complete with a name, and other times as a rough sketch I flesh out as the story develops.
• How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I only have a rough idea of the story when I start. I always have a clear idea for the discovery of the body scene, along with who gets killed and why some people wanted to kill him or her. For the first three books, I had to turn in a synopsis before I started the manuscript for the next book. So, I would make up a plot, but it always changed substantially as I wrote. The only things that don’t/can’t change are what’s included in the back cover teaser. That’s the information the cover artist uses to design the cover, and the cover design goes into production well before I turn in the manuscript.
• Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
A mystery isn’t complete without a compelling plot. But my books are definitely character driven. I think people who follow the series do so because they enjoy spending time with Liv and Di.
• What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
Like most writers, I guess, my biggest challenge was finding an agent and getting that first book deal. I had shopped around two previous completed manuscripts before I landed an agent with the Liv & Di manuscript that became Death Crashes the Party. Deadlines and contractual obligations keep me motivated! Actually, that’s not completely true. I was writing—and finishing—manuscripts long before I had a contract.
• What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m on deadline to finish Book 4 in the series, Til Death Do Us Party, which will be released March 27, 2018. Liv and Di and the gang go to Las Vegas!
• Plotter or Pantser?
• What advice do you have to offer an aspiring author?
Take the time to polish your query letters, carefully research agents and only send queries to agents who represent what your write
• What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Probably the craziest thing any of us do is get married. But, I’m coming up on my 29th wedding anniversary, so I suppose he’s a keeper!
• What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
That I don’t like syrupy sweet iced tea, the Southern standard. I drink mine straight up, unsweet.
• If you entered the witness protection program and had to start over, what job would you want to do?
• What would you love to have a never-ending supply of?
Fresh brewed coffee
• What’s the last TV show that made you laugh?
The Andy Griffith Show. It was a re-run; I don’t mean to imply I haven’t laughed at a TV show since the 1960s!
• What store could you browse in for hours?
Just for fun:
Night or Day? Night
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) I like both
Beach or Pool? Beach
Steak or Salad? Steak salad with bleu cheese
Favorite Drink? Coffee
Favorite Book? I guess Mystery on the Nine-mile Marsh by Mary C. Jane. I checked it out so many times that my elementary school librarian told me I couldn’t check it out again.
Favorite TV Series? The X-Files. I’m totally geeked out about the upcoming new episodes!
Favorite Movie? That’s hard. Either The Thin Man or Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I’ve watched them both umpteen times.
Favorite Actor: Cary Grant
Favorite Actress: Katherine Hepburn
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii, although I live in Michigan’s upper peninsula, which is more like Alaska
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Agatha Christie. I know that’s cliché, but I have questions for her!
If I had just one wish, it would be to finish my current manuscript by deadline!
If I could trade places with anyone in the world it would be no one. My life’s pretty sweet, and you never know what burdens other people are carrying.
• Where we can learn more about you and your books
Group Blog: www.chicksonthecase.com
Vickie will be giving away a signed copy of her latest novel, ONE FETE IN THE GRAVE, to one lucky reader!
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:
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Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest ends midnight, May 27!