Meow, my guest this week is author Laura Benedict!
Laura Benedict is the Edgar- and ITW Thriller Award- nominated author of seven novels of suspense, including the forthcoming The Stranger Inside (February 2019). On the lighter side of mystery, Laura wrote Small Town Trouble, a cozy crime novel, for the Familiar Legacy series (January 2018). Her Bliss House gothic trilogy includes: The Abandoned Heart, Charlotte’s Story (Booklist starred review), and Bliss House. Her short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and in numerous anthologies like Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads, The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers, and St. Louis Noir. A native of Cincinnati, she lives in Southern Illinois with her family. Visit her at www.laurabenedict.com to read her blog and sign up for her quarterly newsletter.
Welcome Laura and Hi! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
First, I’d like to say I’m delighted to be here. I love to connect with readers and make new friends. Thanks for having me!
I’ve been writing for approximately 800 years. Okay, maybe not quite 800, but several decades. Writing is the thing I do to keep myself sane and happy, and I’m never more content than when I’m deep into a writing project.
I’ve lived my entire life in a strangely narrow band of the Upper South and Midwest: Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Missouri, and now Southern Illinois. (Wait—there were two very cold years in Michigan!) That’s given me an unusual perspective on life and loyalties. And I’ve always lived within a very few miles of a river.
I’m a sucker for kittens, big dogs, muscle cars, country boys, dark chocolate, sushi, and my kids.
Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?
The most important thing I can say is thank you. Without readers, my work would be devoid of a critical element: readers’ imaginations. Every book is different for every reader because each reader brings their own perspective and energy to it.
Check out samples of my work via my Amazon Author Page or at my website before you borrow or buy. I write in several different genres—something for everyone--and I want every reader to be a happy reader.
Please tell us about your newest release
I had more fun writing SMALL TOWN TROUBLE than any other novel I’ve written. As a cozy, it was a new direction for me, and I found that my light side is just as happy writing as my dark side.
SMALL TOWN TROUBLE is the fifth book in the FAMILIAR LEGACY SERIES. The series features Trouble, a very clever black cat who is excellent at solving mysteries.
In SMALL TOWN TROUBLE, Erin Walsh arrives home to tiny New Belford, Kentucky from college only to clash with her young stepmother, Shelby Rae. When Shelby Rae is kidnapped and a dear friend of the family is murdered, Erin discovers that both victims had secrets connected to the violent death of her mother seven years earlier. In a small town the pool of suspects is limited, but it also means the danger to Erin’s own life is deathly close. Noah Daly, an old high school friend, is the son of the man everyone blames for the violent death of Erin’s mother. But he’s also the one person Erin feels she can trust to help her find Shelby Rae’s kidnapper and her friend’s murderer. Or is her sudden attraction to him blinding her to his true nature? Enter Trouble, the wise and wily black cat detective. His paws have barely landed in the bluegrass when he realizes Erin is about to put herself in danger. Can he lead Erin to the truth before she becomes a victim herself?
Do you think you may ever go into another genre? If so, which one?
I’ve never felt like I had to remain in one genre. Twenty years ago I was writing literary short fiction and had several stories published. But it wasn’t until I had my first crime story published at Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine that I realized how much I loved writing crime and mysteries. My first published novel, ISABELLA MOON, was a mystery, but also had supernatural elements. With the Bliss House series, I explored the gothic. And with SMALL TOWN TROUBLE I’ve tried a cozy—something I’ve always wanted to do. Maybe science fiction next? Who knows!
What book are you reading today?
I’m listening to Cal Newport’s DEEP WORK, which I highly recommend for anyone struggling with prioritizing their need to take their life and work more seriously. Also Amy Tan’s THE JOY LUCK CLUB.
I’m inviting your main character to dinner. What should I make?
Since my main character for SMALL TOWN TROUBLE is a cat, I would recommend a fish or shrimp dish with a light cream sauce and a side of asparagus. He’s quite the gourmand. Every cat I’ve ever had has been mad for asparagus and fish.
Do you have any upcoming appearances that you would like to share with us?
Come February 3rd, I’ll be at Murder in the Magic City Conference in Birmingham, Alabama with all the Familiar Legacy Trouble authors. On the 4th, we’ll be in nearby Wetumpka, Alabama for Murder on the Menu.
What do you do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m often reading, but more often being the chief operating officer of our home operation, which includes one teenager (plus one daughter out of the house), a husband, four furbabies, and twelve acres of woods, pond, and meadows. I embroider—needlepoint and crewel—as often as I can, and practice playing the piano (Chopin is my favorite).
Would you ever write a screenplay?
I have actually written a screenplay! It was produced by and shown on West Virginia Public Television. I was so touched and amused by my writer husband’s (Pinckney Benedict) short story, Getting Over Arnette, that I immediately volunteered to write it when the producers approached him. It was great fun, but now I leave screenplays to the real professionals. Novels are my favorite.
What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Read everything you possibly can. Books, both fiction and non-fiction, including some classics, cereal boxes, poetry, biographies and memoirs. Watch smart contemporary films and television. We’re in an era of great televised storytelling. You should spend three hours reading for every hour you write for several years. You can’t write if you’re well isn’t filled with good prose and compelling stories written by the great and not-so great. Definitely read and watch things out of your chosen genre, or your work will be too derivative. Most of all, enjoy it. Writing is a privilege.
Where can we learn more about you and your books?
My website, laurabenedict.com, is the best place to find me. I blog there, keep a schedule of events, and you can read all about and purchase my books.
(If you’re in a hurry, grab SMALL TOWN TROUBLE here or at most online booksellers!)
I’m also on Instagram at @laura_benedict, Facebook at AuthorLauraBenedict, and Twitter at @laurabenedict.
When you sign up for my quarterly-ish newsletter at my website, I’ll send you a link for a free ebook. Do come by!
P.S. Some quick answers!
1. Pepsi or Coke? Coke (not diet)
2. Favorite kind of chocolate? Dark
3. Cats or dogs? Both
4. Do you read more than you write? Equal
5. Favorite movie? Anything with Doris Day or Idris Elba
6. Favorite book to movie? Pride and Prejudice
Favorite book or author? Yeah we know it can be hard to choose! Margaret Atwood
Giveaway time! Laura will give away a copy of SMALL TOWN TROUBLE to one lucky commenter!
To enter, leave your name and email address in our comments section. One winner will be selected at random using random.org. Contest closes midnight, January 28!