Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Jawin' with Amy Metz

Last month on WWK, I mentioned that I had started reading SinC members’ books that were featured on SinC’s homepage (embedded link: That’s where I found Amy Metz’s book. Taking a gamble, I downloaded her first in series. After reading Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction, I felt—tickled. I had to read her second in the series, Heroes & Hooligans in Goose Pimple Junction. Rarely do I laugh aloud when reading books, but Amy Metz has that Southern-gal power. It’s no wonder she can write mystery well, her word play alone causes delight. I think you’ll see why before too long.

Please welcome Amy Metz to WWK by saying, all together now, “Hireyou!”                   E. B. Davis

Starting a new life in the colorful town of Goose Pimple Junction, Tess Tremaine tries to learn the foreign language of southern speak and to resist her attraction to local celebrity Jackson Wright, while dealing with the strange things that happen to her when she begins looking into a seventy-five-year-old murder.

A bank robbery, murder, and family tragedy are the background of the mystery which Tess and Jack attempt to solve. As Tess gets close to the truth, she encounters danger, mystery, and a lot of southern charm. Her quest to find answers brings her friends, enemies, and a new temptation for which she’s not sure she’s ready.

The first book in your series was released in 2012. But you re-released the book in 2014 after reformatting and reconfiguring the book. Why?

The book was first published in August 2012 by a small press, and it was riddled with problems. It was poorly edited and the eBook formatting was a mess. When I was finally able to break free from that publisher, I had the manuscript re-edited and formatted by professionals. I republished it last September, and I think it’s a better quality book.

Behind your mysteries is a strong aroma of “good eats.” Even without Honey, Butterbean and Pickle Culpepper, the police department personnel names could fill a menu; Velveeta Witherspoon, Johnny Butterfield, and Hank Beanblossom. You have a fun time thinking all this up, don’t you?

Ha! I never thought of the names as tying in with food and eating, but you’re right. And yes, I do have a fun time in my head. In the South, names and food are extremely important, so I do put a lot of thought into those aspects of the books. Sometimes, though, a character names him or herself and I have no choice but to go along.

Slick and Junebug’s Diner is featured on the cover of your first book. The citizens of Goose Pimple Junction enjoy a good mill (that’s Southern-speak for meal). A lot happens at the diner. It’s where people meet and exchange gos—I mean, information that helps solve criminal investigations. Two regulars taking up counter space are old timers Earl and Clive. How long have they been friends and what did they do before driving Junebug crazy?

Good question! Earl and Clive have been friends since dirt was new. They both were farmers, and in fact, they’ll get into a little tiff in a future book over the small plots of land that they still tend. They love to argue with each other and always try to one-up the other in insults, but they’re lifelong friends who would do anything for each other. 

In Murder & Mayhem, Tess Tremaine buys the old family home of Louetta Stafford. When Tess’s house is broken into repeatedly, Jack Wright, ex-lawyer and now novelist, helps her investigate with the help of his Basset Hound,  Ezmeralda. Louetta seems like one of the most level-headed people in the book, especially since she owns A Blue Million Books. How could she be so “normal” when she’s had two people in her family murdered, and how did she name her bookstore?

Wow, again you’re right. Louetta is the most level-headed person in the town. She’s a mother figure to a lot of the characters because she is so wise and has a lot of common sense (what the locals call “walking around sense”). I guess because she has had tragedy in her life, it’s made her value family more. Growing up , she had a great support system with her siblings, her mother, and her extended family. She also depends a lot on God, and her faith has seen her through hard times. Maybe a combination of good genes, family support, and faith in God is what makes her who she is. She’s formidable but also a ton of fun.

As far as the bookstore’s name, that’s something I changed when I re-published the book. I went with “Stafford Books” in the first edition, because I couldn’t get the publisher to agree to anything I suggested, but I never was happy with the name. When I self-published, Louetta urged me to change the name, and she liked “A Blue Million Books” because a “blue million” means a LOT of something.

Whenever Tess needs to kill time, whether as a diversion from telling someone off or when she’s in a pickle, multiplication tables fill her head with the answer, and I’m not talking 2 x 2=4. How did Tess get to be such a mathematician?

She’s actually very bad at math, and that’s why she chooses to work math problems in her head to keep her mind off of other matters. She has to really concentrate to solve the mathematical problems, so she can’t think about anything else.

Martha Maye, Louetta’s daughter, has incredibly bad taste in men. Unlike Tess, Martha Maye can’t add up an equation like, Lyin’ man + Womanizer + Drinker=Bad Husband. Yet, she’s a schoolteacher. How could a smart, college graduate be so dumb?

Martha Maye is very naïve and even more trusting. She sees the good in people, and because she’s a good person, she can’t see that other people might not be. The expression, “The heart wants what the heart wants” also applies to Martha Maye.

When we met Aunt Imy as a child in the first book, she’s normal. What happened to Aunt Imy? Her mind intrigues. She speaks in TV ad slogans that you’ve replaced for dialogue, but they fit in so appropriately, for example, when Martha Maye says, “Where’s Mama?” Imy answers, “Ancient Chinese Secret.” Did you research old commercials for hours?

“Ancient Chinese Secret” is one of my favorites! I still laugh when I read that. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always remembered commercial slogans. I used to drive my family crazy singing along to the jingles. I think the commercials were a lot better in the 70s, when I was growing up, and so I use a lot from back then. I actually didn’t research commercials, I just made a list of ones I remembered. It’s a long list!

Imy had a stroke, which is what caused her to speak in commercials. I’m writing a series of short stories and plan to publish them in an anthology that will explain a lot of little things like Imy’s penchant for commercial slogans and how Johnny got to be chief of police, etc.
Funny story: my daughter-in-law is a nurse, and after she read the book, she had a patient who talked in commercials! I was amazed, because I’d never heard of that happening before, outside of my oddball mind.

How could Lenny have such a wonderful daughter like Butterbean? (And why is she nicknamed Butterbean by Louetta?)

Again, I think the answer is in good genes. And thankfully, Butterbean got more of Martha Maye’s side than Lenny’s! We haven’t seen Butterbean as an adolescent yet, though, and I have a feeling some of Lenny’s genes will influence her actions in her teenage years. Look out!

As for how she got the nickname: that came from real life. I have a good friend whose niece is nicknamed “Butterbean,” and Mary has a wonderful Southern accent that makes the name sound like “Buttabean.” I loved it when I heard it, and when I started writing the book, the character and name was just a natural addition. In the book, Louetta was called Butterbean by her dad, and she passed the name on to her granddaughter.

Why are July 4th and Apple Day the “best” in Goose Pimple Junction?

Now that is spooky. The festivals in the first and second books are the Fourth of July and Oktoberfest, respectively, but I’m writing a short story that occurs during an Apple Day festival. How did you know that?! Anyway, back to your question: I think festivals like that are best in small towns. They bring the community together, they enrich lives, and they’re a ton of fun. So I will always have some type of town to-do in each book.

Junebug seems to know what’s going on in town because the diner is information mission-control. Will she ever solve a crime?

That’s entirely possible. It’s also possible that Slick and Junebug will be main characters in a future book. Stay tuned!

Pickle’s T-shirt slogans were fun, like “Cereal Killer,” “Federal Witness Protection Program-you don’t know me,” “Lock Up Your Daughters!” He possesses the art of wearing the appropriate slogan for the day. Are these real T-shirt slogans or did you make them up?

They are actually real T-shirts that my oldest son used to wear. He got some kind of award in middle school for wearing the funniest T-shirts. Because of that, some people in my family thought I was basing Pickle’s character on my son. NO! No way. Just his T-shirts. I keep a list and add to it every time I see a new one I like. There are a lot of them out there—enough to keep Pickle in T-shirts for years.

Although Tess and Jack are characters in both books, Martha Maye becomes the main character in Heroes & Hooligans. Will each book feature another Goose Pimple citizen? What’s next for our heroes?

Yes, each book will feature a new main character or characters. I heard from a lot of readers that they missed Tess and Jack in the second book, so they’ll play a bigger part in book 3, but Rogues & Rascals in Goose Pimple Junction will feature Pickle’s mother, Caledonia , as the main character. I’m working on it now and very excited about it. I’m having fun getting a Southern Belle, who’s the hostest with the mostest, into hot water!

Goose Pimple Junction is just recovering from a kidnapping and a murder, its first major crimes in years, when trouble begins anew. Life is turned upside down in the quirky little southern town with the arrival of several hooligans: a philandering husband intent on getting his wife back, another murderer loose in town, a stalker intent on frightening Martha Maye, and a thief who’s stealing the town blind of their pumpkins, pies, and peace. Together, they’re scaring the living daylights out of the residents and keeping the new police chief busier than a set of jumper cables at a redneck picnic. Suddenly he has his hands full trying to apprehend a killer, stop a stalker, and fight his feelings for the damsel in distress.


Amy and I would like to challenge our readers to translate one of Junebug’s orders to husband/short-order cook, Slick. If you know what her customer ordered, please tell us in our comments section and include your Facebook account name so we can contact you. Amy will give a free e-copy of one of her books to the first reader who knows. Give it a try! Here goes:

“Burn one, take it through the garden and pin a rose on it. Cow feed. I need an MD and a tea with high octane.”

If you haven’t understood some of the lingo used in this interview, all will be explained. Easy to read lessons can be found in Amy’s books. Thanks for the interview, Amy. I preshade it. Abyssinia!
;>) E. B. Davis

Thank yew, so much, Elaine! Your questions were great! This was a lot of fun.                                     


Warren Bull said...

What fun! Thanks for joining us at WWK.

Susan Alice Bickford said...

My grandmother's name was Louetta and we all thought this was completely unique. It was the combination of Louis (her father) and Etta (her father's first wife, NOT my grandmother's mother, who had died in childbirth). The name was constructed by Louis' parents.

Gloria Alden said...

Your books sound great, Amy. I just wrote them down to order from Amazon.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Amy! Thank you for stopping by WWK - your books sound like so much fun. I will check them out.
Ancient Chinese Secret? Oh those 70s commercials - nothing like them any more.
Oh, and the contest: A hamburger, well done, with lettuce and tomato. And that's where I'm stuck…
Gotta go - time to make the donuts!

Michele Drier said...

Your books are gong on my TBR list! It's not often one runs across a laugh-at-loud book. Great interview!

A Blue Million Books said...

Thank you, WWK, for hosting me today and to Warren, Unknown, Gloria, Shari, and Michele, for stopping by and taking time to comment. Shari, you've very close, but I can't give it away yet!
"Unknown," I recently found out that my great grandmother's name was Louettie. I wish I'd named Lou that, but Louetta is what she demanded to be named.
Thanks, everyone, again. I hope you like the book(s)!

Louise said...

I have read everyone of Amy's books and will continue to do so. As a lover of Cozy Mysteries, I have never seen any author describe the lifestyle of the deep south as Amy does. It trulytakes me back home. Read and enjoy these really down home southern people.

A Blue Million Books said...

Louise, thank you! That means a great deal to me. I'm so glad you like the books. And thanks for taking time to say so!

E. B. Davis said...

Amy, I thoroughly enjoyed your books. I loved the vocabulary lessons in your first book. It was such fun to read. Great characters. I'm looking forward to reading the entire series. I think you've got a long road of success with this series. They remind me in some ways of the Miss. Julia series by Ann B. Ross. Keep up the great work. Love it!

KM Rockwood said...

I love your covers! They look like your books will be fun reads.

You're right--I don't think today's commercials have the appeal of the older ones. Perhaps my favorite was the Firestone jingle-it just seemed so perfect. And if I ever forget and say to my husband "How are you fixed for..." he launches in a Gilette Blue Blades commercial.

A Blue Million Books said...

E.B. Davis, thank you so much for your kind words. I preshade it so much!

K.M., thank you so much, too! I will add those commercials to my list! Good ones. It's funny how commercials get into the fabric of daily life. Anytime someone says something about Sears, I always respond with, "There's more for your life at Sears!"

Unknown said...

Hamburger, well done with lettuce and tomato; salad; Dr Pepper and sweet tea.
Theresa Anderson, Facebook
Elko, Nevada