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

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

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. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

An Interview with Debra Goldstein by E. B. Davis

 Carrie Martin's precarious balancing of her corporate law job and visiting
her father at the Sunshine Village retirement home is upset when her mother
appears, out of the blue, in Carrie's office twenty-six years after abandoning her family.
Her mother leaves her with a sealed envelope and the confession she once considered
killing Carrie's father. Carrie seeks answers about her past from her father prior to
facing what is in the envelope. Before she can reach his room, she finds her mother
murdered and the woman who helped raise her seriously injured.

I know Debra Goldstein is a wonderful writer since she’s been a critique partner of mine for years. Debra’s first novel, Maize in Blue, won the 2012 IPPY E-Book Regional Bronze Award and was picked up by Harlequin Worldwide Mysteries in 2014. Today, Five Star releases Debra’s second novel, Should Have Played Poker.

I love the title and the cover art, which shows Mah Jongg tiles. Like the main character, Carrie Martin, I’d heard of Mah Jongg but never played. Carrie learns the game from a group of senior-citizen women who live in her father’s care facility, which provides step living from independent through Alzheimer’s level patient care. Carrie receives jolts and revelations about herself and her family. Should Have Played Poker is a whodunit, but it is also a self-discovery mystery.   

Please welcome Debra Goldstein to WWK.    
E. B. Davis

Not to pry, but does your family history have elements of Carrie’s?

My family history can’t rival Carrie’s, but stories from family members and friends provided seeds for Should Have Played Poker. Like Carrie, I began my career as a corporate attorney, but my mother, who was sharp as a tack and an avid Mah Jongg player, was in my life from my birth until her recent death. Carrie’s father’s tale grew out of events my husband and I had when Joel’s mother went through the different stages of dementia, as well as the experiences several of our friends have had with their parents.

Do you play Mah Jongg?

My mother, an expert player, taught me Mah Jongg when I was a child, but I didn’t join a regular game until a year ago. Now, you can find me at Barnes & Noble on Thursday afternoons playing Mah Jongg and often substituting for a second game during the week. Mah Jongg is addictive.

Like Carrie, you are an attorney. Have you ever worked as an on-staff corporate lawyer? It sounds really boring!

It was. As a single twenty-four year old female with a passport that had a lot of blank pages, I began my career practicing international tax for a large corporation. I soon learned that the pages would be staying blank because most of my work was being done by phone or wire. Within a year, I decided rather than playing with numbers, I was more suited for work that dealt with people’s needs. My second job, that I held until I went on the bench, was as a labor litigator specializing in wage and hour, equal pay, and safety cases for the Department of Labor.

You set Should Have Played Poker in the small Alabama town of Wahoo (a tasty fish!). It’s not on the coast but it is set on a river. Is it real? Is there a real town you modeled Wahoo upon?

When my first book, Maze in Blue, a mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus in the 1970’s, was released, I had the opportunity to be a Murder on the Menu panelist in Wetumpka, Alabama. I’d never been there before, but I became enchanted with this small riverside town. Wahoo doesn’t exist, but certain elements of Wetumpka, like the river and Alabama marble used in the buildings in its town square, found their way into Should Have Played Poker.

Carrie is thankful for her job since she must help pay for her minister-father’s care at Sunshine Village. But Carrie works seven days per week for Carleton Industries with few benefits, such as international travel, which she anticipated because she works on international contracts. Is Wahoo such a one-horse town there isn’t anywhere else for her to practice?

Although there are private firms in Wahoo, Carleton Industries is internationally recognized and pays at a level unlike other Wahoo jobs. Carrie might be able to make a similar salary in a big firm in nearby Birmingham, but she’d still be working long hours and wouldn’t be near her father.

After VW was caught altering its car computers to produce passing environmental data, your scenario of Carrie’s boss destroying documents the opposition was to use against his company, seems reasonable and real. Was there a real instance of this illegal action you ran across in your career?

My first instinct is to plead the Fifth Amendment, but the reality is that as a litigator and a judge, I saw many different “games” played with discovery. Hopefully, I’ll be able to use some of these in future books and short stories.

When Carrie finds her mother’s body at Sunshine Village why does she assume it is another woman and who is that woman?

After Carrie’s mother abandoned her, Carolyn Holt, Wahoo’s children’s librarian and a member of her father’s congregation, helped Carrie’s father raise her. The two women developed a special bond. Having retired and moved into independent living at Sunshine Village, Carolyn now is its most active resident. When Carrie goes to visit her father and hears a Code Blue being called, she recognizes the room number as being Carolyn’s.

Why does everyone dislike Officer Robinson (aka Babyface), and why does he remind Carrie of Barney Fife?

The pink-haired Sunshine Village Mah Jongg players originally appeared in Legal Magic, my first published short story. In that story, a crime was committed but the arresting officer, Robinson, refused to take into account any mitigating circumstances. His attitude and behavior remain the same in Should Have Played Poker – reminding Carrie of the way Don Knotts portrayed Barney Fife.

Detective Brian McPhillip investigates Carrie’s mother’s murder, but he turns out to have been a past live-in boyfriend of Carrie’s, one she parted ways with a few years earlier. Why did they break up and what was the reason for her decision?

Carrie and Brian were students when they lived together, but their life wishes diverged. Brian knew he wanted to serve the public by being directly involved in legal enforcement while Carrie determined that her skill set and personality were better suited to being a lawyer. There is some question whether she had commitment issues because of being abandoned by her mother.

Carrie seemed to have a lot of mothers. Why doesn’t she have girlfriends?

We can either say I forgot to write them in or that most of her friends began their careers in bigger cities or moved on from working in Wahoo. As she noted, her friends encouraged her to leave Carleton Industries and Wahoo, but she decided to stay to be near her father while he still could recognize her.

Why Reno and not Las Vegas?

I actually started the story sending Charlotte to Vegas, but my research revealed that Reno was the only place with no-fault quickie divorce laws at the time Charlotte sought a divorce.

Nurture or nature – which do you think dominates?

This one is a toss-up throughout the book. I defer to the readers to answer this question.

What is it about cake, Mah Jongg, and matchmaking mothers?

Satisfaction – ask any mother.

What’s next for Carrie? What about Five Star?

There is quite a bit more to tell of Carrie’s story of self-discovery and her interaction with Brian, Michael, her father, the Mah Jongg players and some of her girlfriends who don’t live in Wahoo, but it can’t be told through Five Star. Cengage, Five Star’s parent, is fulfilling its 2016 catalog and the first three months of 2017 but then discontinuing its mystery line.

What is your dream vacation, Debra? Palm Springs, Palm Beach, Lake Como, a Polynesian Island, St. Barts?

Because I have never been there, but love beaches and solitude, my dream vacation would be St. Barts.


Warren Bull said...

Hi, Debra. I'm glad to see your book come out. Best of luck with it.

Jim Jackson said...

Debra – what an interesting premise and protagonist. I’m afraid to learn anything about Mah Jongg – I don’t have enough time to play bridge as it is!

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

Welcome to WWK, Debra. I enjoyed your first book and look forward to reading your new one. I have a cousin, who recently started playing Mah Jongg and plays with two different groups two or three times a week. Like Jim, I think it might be fun, but I don't have the time to commit to it especially since the groups she plays with are a good half hour away, and I have so many other interests and commitments, too. I hope to see you at Malice again this year.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Debra! Love the title of your book! Wishing you much success and hope I can congratulate you in person at Malice.

Carla Damron said...

Sorry to hear about the discontinued mystery line. Ugh.
Nice to learn about your work though!

Julie Tollefson said...

Congratulations on today's release, Debra! Champagne and chocolate for all!

Margaret Turkevich said...

congratulations on your release!

Kait Carson said...

Happy book birthday! What a great story. Brought chills to my short neck hairs. Kudos!

KM Rockwood said...

Since we write crime fiction, I always choke on "Congratulations on your release," which conjures up images of someone "going home" after an incarceration.

But congrats on the novel! I read Blue Maze and loved it. I'll have to add this to my TBR list.

Kaye George said...

Happy release day! Great interview, as usual, Elaine and Debra. What a bummer about the dropping of mysteries by the publisher--I hope this series gathers enough steam to continue somewhere else--good luck!

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Sorry for the delay responding to all of you wonderful friends.... there was a little glitch ... but here I am. So, if you will let me dance with joy:
1) Warren -- thank you. It's been an interesting road but a great journey.
2) Jim, with your math mind, you'd be a whiz at Mah jongg. I'm a college bridge player, but I think the biggest difference is that there can be a little more socialization during play, depending on the people involved. Both games are addictive and time flies doing them.
3)Gloria, looking forward to seeing you at Malice, too. Appreciate your kind comments about Maze in Blue and wishing me well on this book. If your cousin teaches you, you'd find a way to teach others, but it does take time. Congrats on finishing your new book.
4) Shari, we can both celebrate at Malice!
5) Carla, this makes twice I've been orphaned by publishers, but things will work out.....Glad you found out about my books and short stories.
6)Margaret, Thank you. and thank you for the wonderful critiques in the Emerald group. What I learn writing short stories translates for my longer works.
7)Kait, Thank you! A little concerned about those hairs.....
8)KM, your mind works in a funny way....but I think all writers have a feeling of having "broken out" when a work is finished. Hope you enjoy Poker as much as you enjoyed Maze.
9)Kaye, give Elaine the credit. She asked the questions. Thanks for the good wishes ... and congrats on having two (2) books released this month.

Elaine ---- thank you for having me today. I love Writers Who Kill!!!

E. B. Davis said...

Sorry, Debra, to have missed your big day. You wouldn't have believed my day--starting at 6 a.m. and ending with our moving truck showing up a day early after we had finished eating dinner! We got to bed by 11, but there's more today!

I think your series has great potential. Readers want to see good things happen for Carrie Martin. I hope you find another home for her! Thanks so much for the interview and wish we could meet again at Malice, but I hope to attend in the future.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Loved reading this interview and learning more about you. Sorry I won't be at Malice for a get-together dinner.:(

Debra H. Goldstein said...

No problem. Sorry we both had crazy days...but yours wins the cake. The van was early???????? When does that happen? Thanks again for having me and for your kind words. A drink at a future malice.....

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Happily, there will be many more get-together dinners for us in the future! Consider this year simply a blip for you. Glad you enjoyed the interview. E.B. asked tough but fair questions and elicited a lot of info. Can't imagine her drilling her characters.