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

August Interviews

8/5 Lucy Burdette, The Key Lime Crime

8/12 Maggie Toussaint, All Done With It

8/19 Julie Mulhern, Killer Queen

8/26 Debra Goldstein, Three Treats Too Many

August Guest Bloggers

8/8 Leslie Wheeler

8/15 Jean Rabe

August Interviews

8/22 Kait Carson

8/29 WWK Authors--What We're Reading Now


Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

Look Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Susan Boyer's Lowcountry Boil

If you haven’t read Lowcountry Boil by Susan Boyer, expect a fun rollercoaster read. In addition to winning and placing in respected RWA contests, Lowcountry Boil’s nomination for the prestigious Agatha mystery award was no surprise. Please welcome Susan Boyer to WWK.

1. There is a delicious soup mixed into Lowcountry Boil, an apt title. Did you plan the ingredients of your novel, or throw all the ingredients in at once, pantser-style?

First, thank you so much, Elaine! I really appreciate you having me on Writers Who Kill today. I’m a hybrid model writer. I start out with a rough outline. But as I write, my characters often take me in directions I hadn’t planned. 

2. How long did it take to complete the manuscript? Could you describe your process?

This is a straightforward question, but the answer is complicated. I started writing Lowcountry Boil in 2004. I finished the first version in 2005 and started researching publishing. I went to conferences and queried agents. To make a long story short, I went through several “revise and resubmits,” all with disappointing results. Everyone had different visions for my manuscript. It was very confusing. I hadn’t yet internalized how subjective publishing is, and all the differing advice I received made my head spin. I revised, edited, rinsed, and repeated. I’ve heard it said that there are two kinds of writers: the ones who write five manuscripts before they have one published, and the ones who write the same manuscript five times. I’m stubborn enough to be in the second category. Lowcountry Boil was the first book in a planned series—I felt as though I had to get it right before I could move on.    

3. Lowcountry Boil won the 2012 Daphne du Maurier award and finalized in the Golden Heart contest. I was surprised to find that you won in the Mainstream/Suspense Category. How did you determine which category to enter in each contest?

Mainstream Mystery/Suspense is the category for entries that don’t have a romance as the central plot of the story. Lowcountry Boil is romantic fiction, but the main story is the mystery. This category seemed the best fit to me.

4. Are you active in RWA as well as SinC?

Yes, I love both! I’ve learned so much from both organizations. And honestly, I think what I write fits both genres. Like me, my work is a hybrid.

5. Do you have an agent, and if so, did winning the award help find an agent or secure a publishing contract?

Yes, Stephany Evans at FinePrint Literary Management is my agent, and she is fantastic. I did every single thing backwards! I signed the contract for Lowcountry Boil with Henery Press the Thursday before I found out Lowcountry Boil was a 2012 Golden Heart finalist. Later, I learned it was a Daphne finalist as well. Several agents contacted me before, during, and after RWA Nationals last year, when the winners were announced, but because I’d already sold Lowcountry Boil, most asked to see my next project when it was ready. I met Stephany in Anaheim at the national conference and instantly liked her. We were in contact several times after that, and in December of last year I signed with her. I honestly don’t know if the award helped me get an agent, but I don’t think it hurt.

6. Although this is your first published novel, it is obvious that you are an accomplished writer. How long have you written? How did you decide to enter the contests? Had you entered previously with other manuscripts?

Thank you so much! Oh my goodness—I think I came out of my mother’s womb telling stories. As soon as I could hold a crayon, I started writing them down. For many years, life got in the way of me pursuing writing as a career—marriage, kids, day job to pay for the kids, all the activities the kids were in—you get the idea. In early 2004, the company I worked for went out of business. The kids were mostly grown, and my husband and I decided that instead of relocating for a similar job, I’d chase my dream. I had a few short stories published. A couple of those placed in contests. After I edited and revised Lowcountry Boil until I was happy with it, I thought, “Why not?” If nothing else, I could get feedback from the Daphne, and see how my manuscript compared to others. Lowcountry Boil was my first novel and my first entry in the Golden Heart and Daphne contests.

7. Is Stella Maris your fictionalized setting based on Sullivan’s Island? If so, why did you decide to fictionalize the setting?

No, it isn’t based on Sullivan’s Island, although I love Sullivan’s Island. But I needed a town a good bit larger both in population and area. I had this town in my head that was the quintessential small Southern town. It was on an island with limited access and limited development. I couldn’t find a town that was exactly what I had in mind, so I made one up.

8. Adding a spicy supernatural element complicates the plot and makes life difficult for main character, Liz Talbot. Did that element complicate the writing of Lowcountry Boil?

In some ways it did complicate things. I had to determine what the limits of Colleen’s powers were and abide by them. But once that character popped into my head, I couldn’t get her out. She was well worth the trouble she caused.

9. Two mothers become unhinged in the book. Do you think how people are treated changes their character or do people determine who they become by self-determination (how they react and what they choose)?

Oh, wow—that’s a hard one. I think some people—not all people—are changed by the way others treat them and by things that happen in their lives. Other folks are much more self-determined. And, I think some people grow into self-determined individuals because of the trials in their lives. It’s also possible, I think, for circumstances to cause people to act out of character, though not essentially change their characters.

10. I finished reading the book with a lot of unanswered questions, such as how Liz became an investigator and how Liz came to team with her ex’s brother. Are you planning to make this book the start of a series?

Yes—thank you so much for asking! This is the first book in a series. The next book, LOWCOUNTRY BOMBSHELL will be released September 17, 2013. Two books are planned for 2014.

Bonus Question: I’m forgoing my usual bonus question. Since the setting of your book was the beach, you’re obviously a beach person (like me) so instead I’d like to know which beaches you consider second homes to you?

I love the South Carolina coast and spend time there every opportunity. I grew up going to North Myrtle Beach for vacations. I love the Garden City/Murrell’s Inlet area. In fact, my husband and I were married in Garden City. We lived in Mt. Pleasant, SC, for a while, and I could ride my bike to Sullivan’s Island, which I truly love. I’m very much at home on Isle of Palms. I’m a big fan of the Pawley’s Island/Litchfield area. Oh, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina—lovely. I may have missed a few, but I guess it’s obvious: I love all the Carolina beaches.

I’m also a huge fan of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.  

Susan proves that waiting to publish until you’ve perfected your script and honing your craft make for award-winning novels. I applaud Susan’s fortitude and perseverance. After reading Lowcountry Boil’s blurb, below, continue on to your favorite bookseller and treat yourself.

Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her.


Jim Jackson said...


I'm interested in how and why you decided to use paranormal elements into your story. Were they there in 2004 in draft 1 or did they enter later in the process.

Good luck with the Agathas. Hope to see you at Malice.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

I love the supernatural elements. They are a fun addition and say so much about the main character. It's a mystery, but there are elements of romance and comedy, which make the title so appropriate. You've got to read this book.

I must fall into the first category of writers. How Susan had that much confidence in her story to keep at it amazes me. I may feel strongly about a script, but at some point, I give up and go onto the next concept.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I use paranormal elements in my Kim Reynolds mysteries as well and believe it adds something beneficial to the novels.

An interesting interview! Always good to know more about other mystery writers and their work.

Barb Goffman said...

Nice interview.

Susan M. Boyer said...

Hi Jim!

It's interesting you ask that. The paranormal elements were not in my early drafts. Colleen, my ghost/guardian spirit, just popped into my head sometime around 2006, I think. Once she was in the story, I loved the character and it felt like she really belonged in the story.


Susan M. Boyer said...

I'm clearly comment impaired this morning! Thank you so much, Jim!!


Susan M. Boyer said...

Hi Elaine! Thank you so much! I'm thrilled you liked Lowcountry Boil! I think I just wrote what I like to read, and I read very eclectically.

I think, at the end of the day, I really just wanted to get the first book right before I moved on as it is the first in the series--and I'm stubborn. :)

Thank you again for having me here today!!


Susan M. Boyer said...

Hi Jacqueline! Thanks so much for coming by!

Susan M. Boyer said...

Hi Barb!! *waves*

Thank you so much!


Gloria Alden said...

Susan, I loved, loved, loved Lowcountry Boil and only wish the next one was coming out sooner. I don't care for paranormal in all books, but Colleen was perfect. And I do hope Liz chooses Nate over Michael.

Susan M. Boyer said...

Hi Gloria! Thank you so much! I'm so happy you enjoyed Lowcountry Boil, and Colleen's character worked for you. Although she wasn't originally part of the series, I can't imagine it without her now.

Liz has a big decision to make... :)

Take care,


Polly Iyer said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Low Country Boil. I imagine you had to reel Colleen in to let Liz actually solve the crime. Those characters have a way of taking over. (I've got a bit of the otherworldly myself in a couple of my books.) Looking forward to more of Liz. A good book makes a reader want more. :-)

Susan M. Boyer said...

Polly, thank you so much! You're absolutely right--I have to reel Colleen in so she doesn't hand Liz answers. I try to make Liz work hard to solve the case. :)

Terri Herman-Ponce said...

What a wonderful story about what happens when you stick to it. This was a great interview, Susan, and it's wonderful to hear how things have worked out for you, your writing and your books. Best of luck as you continue with your career!

And PS - I love supernatural elements in mysteries, too. Makes them even more fun. :)

Susan M. Boyer said...

Hi Terri! Thank you so much! Best of luck to you as well!!

I can see we share an interest in the otherworldly. :)