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

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

An Interview with Fran Rizer

Fran Rizer
When she retired after twenty-five years of teaching, Fran Rizer embarked upon another career as a successful author, writing the Callie Parrish mysteries. Now she’s penned her first thriller, KUDZU RIVER, a novel of abuse, murder, and retribution. Along with a new Callie, she’s also working on a series of spine-tingling horror books. In her spare time, she writes bluegrass lyrics. Welcome the wonderful, witty, winsome, and wily Fran Rizer to Writers Who Kill! -- Paula

Prior to writing fiction, you were a teacher and wrote magazine articles. How did the experiences from those professions help you develop as a mystery author?

“Shower the Bride without Soaking Your Budget” during my undergraduate days at the University of South Carolina was my first major magazine sale. Through my teaching years, I sold many articles including “How to Field Dress a Deer” though I’d never even watched that happen. The magazine experiences taught me the value of research when I want to write about unfamiliar subjects. Teaching high school English made certain that I knew grammar. This benefited my writing because I believe writers need to know the rules so that when a rule is broken, it’s intentional, not a mistake.

Fran with songwriter Randall Hylton
Through article writing and dancing, you discovered bluegrass music. How has being one of the “grassers” influenced your life?

Actually, I discovered bluegrass through writing country songs. A friend in the Nashville Songwriters Association and I went to a three-day bluegrass festival for him to pitch a song to Ralph Stanley. After three days of bluegrass, a non-grasser will either join them or run away and hide. I found that I liked the music, especially Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen. When we returned to South Carolina, we went by Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor in West Columbia. I wrote a magazine article about the proprietor, Bill Wells. “Moon Pies and Hillbilly Dust” in 1994 was the first of many sales to Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine. Most recently, “More Moon Pies and Hillbilly Dust” about Bill’s son Willie Wells taking over the pickin’ parlor after Bill’s death appeared in the February, 2015, issue of Bluegrass Unlimited.
The greatest result of bluegrass in my life has been the wonderful friends and musicians I know, including co-writing songs and recording with Gene Holdway. The second Callie book, Hey Diddle, Diddle, the Corpse and the Fiddle, tells about murder (of course) when Callie and Jane attend a bluegrass festival off the coast of South Carolina.

In a 2011 post from SleuthSayers blog, you mention that your early attempts at writing fiction were “miscategorized.” Why do you think that occurred and how do you describe your fiction?

I wrote the first Callie book intentionally trying to write a cozy though I’d only begun reading cozies a short while before. I was fortunate enough to get a contract with Berkley Prime Crime for three Callie books. They published them as “mainstream mystery.” Why? I don’t know. I didn’t have a formula for a cozy. I simply left out profanity, closed the door on sex scenes, and limited the killings to finding bodies with no description of violence. Since I don’t know why Berkley didn’t classify Callie as cozy, I refer to her books as “cozyesque.”

Your cozy protagonist is Calamine “Callie” Parrish, a mortuary cosmetologist. What gave you the idea for writing about Callie and why do you link many of the series’ titles to nursery rhymes?
The titles based on nursery rhymes usually come to mind before the plots. My original editor at Berkley liked the nursery rhyme pattern of the first title, so I continued with it. I generally think of a title and write the last chapter before developing the plot and writing the book. Tamar Myers had told me my protagonist should have an unusual occupation. To me, a cosmetician (funeral lingo for cosmetologist) does interesting and unusual work. I’m always pleased when I receive emails from people who want to know about the funeral homes where I’ve worked because my knowledge is based on research, tours, and interviews.

Callie’s best friend Jane has dealt with a number of issues:  she’s blind, has overcome a shoplifting habit, and works as a phone sex operator. What was your inspiration for Jane and why do she and Callie make such a resourceful team?

Thirteen of my teaching years were in an elementary school where I mainstreamed visually handicapped students. I’ve always been amazed at how completely blind individuals function so well and achieve so much, and I try to show that through Jane. She is a combination of many of the students I taught. Jane and Callie have separate strengths, and their differences work well with each other.
Fran with fans dressed as Jane and Callie

Your Callie Parrish series has had two different publishers. How did that happen and did it result in changes to the series?

The first three Callies were published by Berkley Prime Crime, New York, the second three by Bella Rosa Books, Rock Hill, SC.  How did that happen? I was foolish to leave Berkley. I was, however, fortunate to have Bella Rosa pick up the series. The only change was that the Berkley books are mass market paperback and the Bella Rosa ones are trade market paperback. 

After six Callie Parrish cozy mysteries, you’ve gone in a different direction. How do you explain Kudzu River to your readership? Is it a standalone or do you anticipate sequels?

Kudzu River is a standalone thriller—a novel of abuse, murder, and retribution—released by Odyssey South Publishing in January, 2015. I anticipated a totally different audience, but many of my regular readers have responded well. The disclaimer at the beginning is because I have some middle-school readers who read Callie. Kudzu River is not a book for students that young, nor is it a novel for adults who don’t like gritty thrillers. Yes, I know that in today’s society f-bombs are commonplace, but I feel that some of the scenes necessary to tell the story in Kudzu River are inappropriate for youngsters.

While there’s a new Callie in the works, you also are writing a paranormal series. Can you tell us about your new series?

Tentatively titled The True Haunting of Julie Bates, the first paranormal book takes place in the SC midlands, rather than the coastal setting of the Callie books and Kudzu River. Protagonist Julie Bates returns to Columbia, SC, after her mother’s death and is haunted by a sinister seducer who would have her believing she’s lost her mind if the specter didn’t leave behind physical proof that the strange events aren’t hallucinations. Relentless, her stalker wants her entirely at his mercy and sends her through space and time as she fights to remain safe. My agent is negotiating a multiple-book contract for this series, and I have begun a sequel. I know that genre-hopping is frowned upon by some, but Kudzu River and Julie Bates aren’t changes, they are additions to my writing. Callie absolutely refused to be ignored, so Hickory, Dickory, Dock, There’s Murder on the Clock, her seventh mystery, is scheduled to be released toward the end of 2015.
Fran with author Richard D. Laudenslager
E.B. Davis always likes for us to ask authors if they prefer the beach or the mountains. Do you have a preference?

That’s your hardest question. I love both the beach and the mountains, but a screened porch overlooking a mountain stream probably edges out the beach for me.


Warren Bull said...

Thanks for sharing on WWK. It amazing the varied backgrounds writers come from. Your experience with writing non-fiction articles served as good preparation for your current "gig."

KM Rockwood said...

I love hearing how people developed their backgrounds and talents into becoming successful fiction authors. Best of luck with your ventures (although I know there's more hard work than luck involved!)

Paula Gail Benson said...

Fran, we're so delighted to have you join us at WWK. Thanks for sharing your insight and life experiences! Best wishes in all your future writing.

Shari Randall said...

Whew, all those series you juggle! And song writing! And dancing - You sound like one busy lady, Fran. What kind of dancing do you do? I love country line dance.
Thank you for stopping by WWK today.

Georgia Ruth said...

Fran, I am intrigued by your new thriller. Sounds like a plot I will like. Shari asked about dancing. Country music I know because I'm from Nashville. Now I live in NC. What about the Carolina Shag dancing?

Gloria Alden said...

Welcome to WWK, Fran. I'm a retired elementary school teacher, too, and I love bluegrass - well most kinds of folk music. I think your Callie series sounds like something I'd really enjoy. I've written it down on my TBO list.

Fran Rizer said...

Thanks to each of you for your comments. I feel fortunate to have moved into the fiction field because writing fiction (especially Callie books) is a whole lot of fun.
Re: music -- There's not much I don't enjoy. I grew up listening to old country and added rock 'n roll before I discovered bluegrass. So far as dancing is concerned, I've danced to almost everything including shagging and clogging. Thanks again.

Kara Cerise said...

Welcome, Fran! Your Callie Parrish books sound fantastic. I enjoy reading about protagonists who have unusual occupations. Many years ago my mom worked as a mortuary cosmetologist although I think the job had a different title at that time.

E. B. Davis said...

Fran--I found it interesting that you have the title and last paragraph finished prior to writing the book. I often begin at the end. Problem is, often I don't understand I'm at the end! Thanks for spending some time at WWK.

Sasscer Hill said...

Fran, very interested to hear your story, especially your journey through different publishers. Many writers are faced with that journey now, and many of us have tough decisions to make. Stick with the old, jump to the new, self publish? It's hard times and always wonderful to read about others who have traveled successfully!

Di Eats the Elephant said...

How clever you were to see the article and to come up with such a catchy title for your first magazine article on bluegrass.