If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sasscer Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An Interview With Lesley A. Diehl By E. B. Davis



 Years ago, when I started reading Lesley Diehl’s books, her mystery series featured a commercial microbrewer. Now, several series later, Lesley writes the Eve Appel mystery series set in rural Florida. Her main character, Eve Appel, co-owns a consignment shop, which sets the stage for murder.

Although the characters and setting are quite different, Lesley’s series reminds me of books written by one of my favorite authors, Jana DeLeon, because readers can count on mud, swamps, and alligators to show up and play a part in the plots. Like Jana’s books, Lesley’s are fun reads with pure Americana flavored prose.

Camel Press released Lesley’s latest book in the Eva Appel series, Mud Bog Murder, last week. This is the fourth book in the series so start with the first book, A Secondhand Murder, and catch up.

Please welcome Lesley Diehl to WWK.      
                                                                                                                                                      E. B. Davis  

What is a mud bog and why are they significant to your story?

Mud bogs are created out of swampy ground and used to run big trucks through in a competition to determine which giant truck can go the farthest distance through the mud. Altering the swamp destroys wildlife habitat not only for feeding but for nesting and breeding species, and, yes, this includes alligators and other reptiles, the less than cuddly animals that make for a natural balance along with mammals such as raccoons and otters and wading birds. It also destroys vegetation and creates runoff filled with silt, oil and gasoline, impacting streams and canals nearby and eventually dumping this junk into coastal areas. It’s just one more insult to the already negatively impacted ecosystem in Florida. In my story, Eve and Madeleine understand these races are seen as good for the local economy, but they also worry about the environmental impact. Taking a public stand against the races puts the two at odds with many members of the community.

Eve Appel, your main character, owns a consignment shop along with business partner, Madeleine. In Mud Bog Murder, they are operating the shop out of an RV. What happened to their shop, and what advantage do they have with the RV?

They actually operate out of two shops, the RV and a shop they recently renovated in a small strip mall in Sabal Bay. They took over the second shop from a woman who tried to compete with Eve and Madeleine with a consignment business and failed. That’s an interesting story in itself and one you can read in A Sporting Murder.

Is Sabal Bay a real place or based on a real place?

Sabal Bay is based upon the city of Okeechobee, FL, the town that sits at the north end of Lake Okeechobee, sometimes called “The Big Lake.” It is the largest municipality in Okeechobee County, a county I like to point out that has more cattle than people, and probably more alligators than people, too. The town triples in number of residents when the winter visitors or snowbirds invade during the winter months. Most of these folks are there to fish the lake. My husband and I head there to escape the winters in the North and find it a quiet place to write. It does not have the traffic of the Florida coastal regions. The natives refer to it as “old Florida,” as it was before the interstates came and that large mouse complex took up residence in Orlando. I try to capture this atmosphere in Eve’s adventures. She’s an outsider finding her place in the community, and she may have ruined her chances for acceptance with her attitude toward mud bog racing.

How did a Connecticut gal end up in Sabal Bay?

Her best friend and now business partner, Madeleine Boudreaux Wilson, inherited a house from her aunt and decided to move to rural Florida. Madeleine and Eve have been close since they were children, and Madeleine convinces Eve they should set up a high-end consignment shop in the wilds of Florida to bring designer fashion at a bargain to the women in the area. This is an ideal move for Eve, who is trying to lose her philandering husband and get him out of her life. Unfortunately, he follows her there.

Young and insecure girls like Shelley, the victim’s daughter, always seem to attract dirtball men. Are they prey and predator?

What is it about the bad boys that seem to attract naïve young women? I had my share of attractions to these characters when I was a teen, but it was always at a distance. Shelley’s dirtball moves in on her insecurities, and they become a couple. Her mother’s death cements the relationship. We can only hope Shelley will come to her senses, and with Eve in her camp, it’s a certainty.

Why does Eve identify with Shelley?

If Eve has a character flaw, it is that she, too, has had poor taste in men. She married Jerry, a man everyone told her wasn’t right for her. Eve took action and divorced the guy. If she could free herself from Jerry, she feels Shelley can do the same with dirtball Darrel.

Eve always seems to encounter Florida’s wildlife and exotics, such as buffalo and alligators. What’s next—boa constrictors?

Take a look at Dead in the Water and you’ll find that Eve takes on a passel of reptiles with a little help from a friend. Constrictors are not indigenous to Florida, but more Burmese Pythons and other constrictors are appearing in the Everglades area because people buy them as pets (pets?) and then release them. A seventeen-foot constrictor was found in Okeechobee near the veterinary hospital. That’s a darn big pet!

My favorite character is Grandy. Can you guess why?

Well, I can only guess that Grandy has the spunk of Eve but it’s packaged in a chubbier and more warm and enveloping package, maybe like your grandmother…and one of mine. But don’t forget, Eve gets her snoopy, in-your-face nature from Grandy. It can soften with age and wisdom, but it’s part of Eve’s family tradition.

In one chapter, Eve is sexually assaulted. It shocked me. Why did you write the scene?

Eve is a tough cookie, but she’s also vulnerable, as vulnerable as all women are to sexual predators. That scene was written to show another side of spunky, nothing gets in her way, Eve. We don’t control the world. The violence out there that we sometimes think we’re immune to because we are cautious or, in Eve’s case, courageous, but it invades our lives. The scene also reinforces the suspicions Eve already has about her attacker and provides her with evidence of the kind of person he is.

Eve prays a lot. But her prayers aren’t typical. What are the topics of her prayers?

Eve is an impulsive gal. Sometimes she does foolish things and then hopes she can get out of a mess or formulate a plan to handle a situation. There’s a lot of hoping, finger crossing, wishing I’d done this in a different way internal dialogue going on in her life. And she also relies on the amulet Grandfather has given her to protect her in really tight spots.

Nappi Napolitani is a mob boss, but he also seems like Eve’s fairy godfather. Is the pun intentional? Is he a good or bad guy?

On the face of it, Nappi couldn’t be a badder bad guy. He is a mob boss. Or is he? He seems to have the right connections, and he has a mob boss reputation. However, we don’t have any information that he’s been accused of any crimes or spent time in prison. Maybe he’s an informant, a plant with the mob. Or maybe he is so slick that he’s flown under the radar all these years. I like to leave that up in the air, but regardless of his true position with the mob, he is a kind man, an admirer of Grandy and fatherly toward Eve, whose father died when she was nine. She’s drawn to him because he has the same irreverent attitude toward rules and regulations that she has. She skirts just this side of the law, and so, it appears, does he. What better a man to partner with than Nappi? Of course, her friends have reservations about him, but note that Grandy does not. That’s quite a recommendation.

Why does Eve drive a Mustang?

She did drive a little red Mitsubishi convertible, but someone blew it up outside her favorite Mexican restaurant. The Mustang convertible is more in keeping with Eve’s attempt to fit in with her adopted home in rural Florida, a muscle car for a gal whose hair looks like she stuck her finger in a light socket. Confession: I drive a Mustang convertible.

I’m thinking PI Crusty McNabb might play a big role in the next Eve Appel book. Am I right?

You’re right. Crusty will be back, and Eve will develop an interesting relationship with him.

As your publisher, what does Camel Press do to better your books?

I have the best editors at Camel Press, Jennifer and Catherine. They ask the tough questions about Eve and why she does what she does and who she is. They force me to really think about the development of Eve as the series evolves.

How do you like working with your agent Dawn Dowdle?

Dawn is a real go-getter, committed to doing the best for her clients. I knew her first as an editor when she worked on one of my early manuscripts about ten years ago. When she became an agent, I knew she was the person to represent my work. She edited the manuscript of A Secondhand Murder before sending it out to publishers to make it the best it could be. I think she was instrumental in obtaining a multiple book contract for me.

Would you give our readers the title and cover blurb for your next book?

The fifth book in the Eve Appel mysteries is entitled Old Bones Never Die. When bones are uncovered at a construction site, Sammy Egret, Eve’s Miccosukee Indian friend, thinks he has discovered the story behind his father’s disappearance over 30 years ago. While Eve and Sammy fight to uncover the facts behind the burial, another Miccosukee family is equally determined to make sure the secrets buried with the bones stay hidden.

Your preference: Cinnamon rolls, crusty French bread, or Saltines?

Absolutely not saltines. I’d have to say crusty French bread so I can dip it in the sauce surrounding my clams. But then I secretly love a good cinnamon roll, but don’t tell anyone.

Are you a beach or mountain gal, Lesley?

I used to go to the mountains and loved them. Now, because of my severe vertigo, I can only look at them from a distance. I’ve always loved beaches, so I’d say I’m a beach gal. I especially love the feel of wet sand on my bare feet.


17 comments:

Lesley Diehl said...

Thanks for interviewing me on your blog. It was a lot of fun.

Margaret Turkevich said...

I look forward to reading your books and learning more about your part of Florida.

Dac said...

Wow, nice interview!

Grace Topping said...

Congratulations, Lesley, on your series. You put your characters in situations that we readers only want to experience vicariously. Such fun!

It's fall and time to pull out your terrific recipe for ginger bread.. I got it from one of your blogs. Always a hit.

Lesley Diehl said...

Thank you, Grace. I'm glad you remembered the recipe and like it. Good idea. Maybe I'll bake some ,too!

As for the interview, you'll always get the best interview if the questions are great, and these were spot on.

E. B. Davis said...

I love that main character, Eve, isn't a girly girl. She takes on a lot of challenges and mostly wins. Thanks for the interview, Lesley!

Shari Randall said...

Wonderful interview. Your series sounds like so much fun, Lesley.
I love gingerbread, so I'll be hitting up Grace for that recipe!

Warren Bull said...

Sounds like a fun read.

Kait said...

Mud bogs! Indeed. I have two words for you - Hendry County. That's where I live. We often fly to Okeechobee Airport for breakfast/brunch on the weekends. We should plan a get together when you've flown back south.

Your books sound delightful. I'm off to Amazon to catch up on my own backyard!

Lesley Diehl said...

Thanks for your comments about liking Eve. I love her, especially her sense of loyalty to her friends and her can do attitude. Let me know how you like that ginger stout recipe.

Kait-we'll be back in Okeechobee by the end of the first week of Nov, so contact me through my website and we'll do breakfast. Sounds like fun.

Glenn Nilson said...

Love your colorful characters and incredible imagination. Great interview.

Elaine Faber said...

Great interview, now that I've found it. Your characters sound complex and interesting, though this doesn't sound like a cozy mystery, my preferred reading genre. Best wishes for continued success with this series. How do you keep thinking up new disasters for your gal to engage in? LOL?

jrlindermuth said...

Sounds like a fun read but with some serious themes.

Leslie Karst said...

When my wife and I were in Florida many years ago, we went to the Cypress Knee Museum, which turned out to be run by an eccentric old man who was active in the John Birch Society. We talked to him for a long time, and he went on and on about how "it was the ditches that caused all the problems" in Florida, i.e., the draining of the swamps, which completely altered the ecosystem. It was the first time I'd heard about this issue. Great interview, my fellow Lesley/Leslie!

Kaye George said...

I need to get going! I haven't read any of these, but they sound like fun. Florida is its own place and so much distinctive literature comes from the state. Good luck with the series!

James R. Callan said...

Great interview, Lesley. And some good insight into Eve.

Nancy LiPetri said...

I enjoyed learning what mud bog racing is, and its impact, as well as learning about all the rest.