Date Published: June 2016
Publisher: Asdee Press
It’s Monday of spring break when Professor Lyssa Pennington’s backyard garden project unearths a loaded revolver. With no record of violence at their address and no related cold case, the Tompkins Falls police have no interest. But the Penningtons and a friend with the State Police believe there’s a body somewhere. Whose? Where? And who pulled the trigger?
Bree explored the outside of the pouch with her fingers. “It feels hard, like metal.” She fully loosened the drawstring and peered inside.
Her voice deepened. “Holy cannoli.”
“What?” Lyssa asked.
“What is it?” Dick said.
“What’d they bury?” Richie’s eager voice asked.
Bree drew out a handgun, gripping the wood handle with her thumb and two fingers.
“Oh my gosh.” Lyssa’s head and heart pounded. “Put it back. We’re done with this.” She started toward Bree, but Dick shifted on his feet and tightened the circle, blocking her access.
“Revolver,” Dick said. “It’s in good shape for something that’s been buried as long as that tree’s been there. Look at the gleam on parts of the barrel. Someone shined it up before they buried it.”
“Buried is right,” Bree said with a short laugh. “It was wrapped in—what? —three layers like a mummy inside that metal box.”
Lyssa shivered and sank onto the arm of the nearest chair. “How can you joke?”
“This is an old Smith and Wesson with a wooden grip,” Dick said. “My aunt lived way out in the country and got a gun like this for protection after her husband died.”
“Can I see, Dad?”
“Ask Mrs. Pennington.”
Dick and his son looked her way.
“No.” Lyssa scowled at Dick.
“I’ve shown Richie how to handle a firearm, and we’ve shot together at the rifle range.”
“Come on, Lyssa.” Bree rose to her feet and struck a pose, one fist on her hip, the gun resting on her other palm. “You’ll be very careful, right, Richie?”
“No worries.” Richie took the gun reverently from Bree, his eyes bright with curiosity.
“Son, remember it might be loaded.”
- What made you start writing?
In January 2012 we took a friend to brunch at beautiful Belhurst Castle for their famous Sunday brunch for his birthday. I was blown away by the spread of food, the fabulous service, and the beauty of the setting. Everyone bent over backward and worked as a team to make the experience special and memorable. On the way home I thought about all those workers and how they came together day after day to make the Belhurst a top-notch inn, dining place, and spa. Wouldn’t it be cool, I thought, to write a series of romances about just such a place, highlighting all the features of the experience I’ve described. Sigh . . . How could I possibly dot that while I was working full time? But I couldn’t NOT get started! So I carved out one hour every day and got to work. Within a year I had a contract (with Soul Mate Publishing) for the first book of my Lakeside Porches series (written as Katie O’Boyle). As I progressed, I learned so much and gained confidence that I could one day write a darned good murder mystery series. And now that’s what I’m doing. Bonus: Kyle and Lyssa Pennington of Waking Up To Love became my protagonists for The Penningtons Investigate series. Their first mystery is Planted, which kicks off with the discovery of a loaded gun in the neglected rose garden in their new back yard in Tompkins Falls.
- What is your favorite genre to read? to write?
I love mysteries in all forms—traditional, suspense, romantic suspense, thriller, Gothic, you name it. I’ve read nearly every academic mystery written (academic meaning a mystery featuring a college setting or a professor as sleuth). My series, The Penningtons Investigate, is a contemporary academic mystery series with an economics professor (Lyssa) and a computer security expert (her husband, Kyle) as co-sleuths. As a couple, they crack me up with their witty conversation, smart problem-solving and intrepid attitude toward tricky situations. It is never dull when I’m writing a Penningtons Investigate mystery.
- What author inspired you most?
It’s so hard to pick just one! William Kent Krueger, keynote at the New England Crime Bake this past November has been inspiring me since his first Cork O’Connor mystery more than a decade ago. I love the way he interweaves high-tension plots with spiritual themes and deeply meaningful character development. At Crime Bake I accidentally sat at a table next to his wife and him (swear to God! I wouldn’t have had to gumption to do it deliberately!), and he and I had a conversation that reinforced who I am as an author and how I relate to my readers.
- What is the best advice you can give to an aspiring writer?
Believe in your voice and develop it—by writing, by opening yourself to constructive feedback, by sharing your writing with helpful readers, and, finally, by getting yourself published. What you have to say and how you can best say it are unique and important. Develop your writing voice and believe in it!
- What has been the best way you’ve found to promote your book?
Personal contact trumps social media for me. I get so much pleasure from local readings and book signings. Last summer, four of us local authors had a booth at the Keuka Lake Arts Festival, and we were approached by an advertising specialist for a regional winery who wanted Finger Lakes authors to participate in an event with Kristan Higgins (seriously! wow!) in the fall. It was a thrill to meet Kristan and to meet so many enthusiastic readers. Facebook and my website are perfect for staying in touch, but that personal contact works best and works beautifully for the initial promotion of both my series.
- If you couldn’t write, what would you do?
It’s too painful to contemplate. I’ll have to let you know the answer if and when I cross that bridge.
- How long does it typically take you to write a book?
Gone are the days when I could dash off a novel in a few months . . . and, wink, there’s a reason those books never got published! Writing for publication is different from “writing a book.” These days, a first draft may take a few months, but maybe more than a year because I’m challenging myself to try a new technique or I’m working with difficult new characters. Either way, producing a publication-ready book takes a minimum of a year for me. I involve many people in the process—critique groups, my writers groups, trusted beta readers, a first-rate editor, a book cover designer, and so on. Those folks can’t be rushed, and I need time to revise based on their thoughtful, expert feedback.
- What is your favorite point of view and why?
I love first-person point of view, and I thought that’s what I’d choose for my series. I was wrong. What works best for me is “third-person close” point of view. That is, Lyssa may have the lead for one scene, and the reader is privy to her internal dialogue and reactions throughout that scene. Kyle may have the lead for the next scene, in the same way. Because they’re co-sleuths, both points of view are represented, but not at the same time.
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
Travel, photography, long walks in the fresh air, birding, coffee with friends. reading. There aren’t enough hours in the day!
- What do you think would be the hardest genre for you to write and why?
Horror. While I have plenty of material, I don’t have the heart for it. I leave it to the very talented authors and eager readers who love that genre.
Thank you so much for asking great questions and patiently listening to my take on each of them!
C. T. Collier was born to solve logic puzzles, wear tweed, and drink Earl Grey tea. Her professional experience in cutthroat high tech and backstabbing higher education gave her endless opportunity to study intrigue. Add to that her longtime love of mysteries, and it’s no wonder she writes academic mysteries that draw inspiration from traditional whodunits. Her setting: entirely fictional, Tompkins College is no college and every college, and Tompkins Falls, is a blend of several Finger Lakes towns, including her hometown, Seneca Falls, NY (AKA Bedford Falls from It’s a Wonderful Life).
Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/huqsd54
Lorana Hoopes is a Christian author who focuses on children’s book and adult inspirational books with a touch of romance.Her books are available at Amazon.