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

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

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, November 23, 2016

An Interview With Gail Oust

by Grace Topping

Mysteries that include humor are among my favorites. So it was a pleasure to discover Gail Oust’s Spice Shop Mystery series. Her books were just what I needed to spice up some recent glum days. I learned that Gail has another humorous series, the Bunco Babes/Kate McCall series. With a stack of her funny books at hand, the upcoming winter months might not be so dreary.

To show that I’m not exaggerating Gail’s humor, Adam Wagner of CriminalElement.com recently selected Gail's latest book, Curried Away, for a visual guide using GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) notes. It gives the basic plot summary with amusing graphics. Adam captured the humor of this book perfectly. Take a look.

Welcome, Gail, to Writers Who Kill.

Murder is always a serious subject, but Piper Prescott’s comments and observations in your Spice Shop Mystery series made me laugh out loud. Do you purposely include humor, or does it just creep into your writing? Do you have any techniques for injecting humor? 

Gail Oust
Humor sort of creeps into my writing although I try to keep alert for instances/scenes where humor could be ramped up. I happen to have a quirky sense of humor so this helps. Some of the humor in my books comes from the character's personalities--their view of the world--and sometimes from the situations where Piper and Reba Mae, her BFF, find themselves totally out of their element. I liken it to Lucy and Ethel but with higher stakes. Two of my favorite humorists are Ellen DeGeneres and Dave Berry, who find the funny side in everyday occurrences. Though hardly in the same category, I try to do the same.

Piper faces the problem of having her ex-husband, his cute young thing (who broke up her marriage), and his mother continually popping up in her life. How does she keep her cool?

Piper is far from perfect. When we first meet her in Rosemary and Crime, Piper is struggling to come to terms with her new role of divorcee. Her ex-husband, CJ, has a new girlfriend, a former beauty queen, who Piper nicknames Miss Peach Pit. As for her hypercritical former mother-in-law, Melly, Piper practices forbearance. Piper's ultimate goal is to move forward and focus on her teenage daughter and making her spice shop a success. Eventually, she overcomes her bitterness and opens herself to new experiences. Like I said, Piper isn't perfect and often defaults to sarcasm especially when dealing with CJ.

As a transplanted Yankee, you’ve been able to capture the essence of a small Georgia town. (“Sweet tea always makes us Southern girls feel better.”) Do you and transplanted Piper sometimes feel like a duck out of water?

Though originally from Michigan, I love living in the South.  As the saying goes, “I wasn't born here, but I got here as soon as I could.” I happen to live in a community of transplanted Yankees who feel the same way, but when surrounded by born and bred Southerners, I sit back and enjoy the many, subtle differences. 

You describe some really interesting spices and the dishes they can be used in. Did you know a lot about spices before you began your series, or was this a new area for you?

I confess before starting the Spice Shop Mysteries, my knowledge of spices was pretty basic. Writing the series has compelled me to research spices I've used for years and others that I knew very little about. I'm constantly learning new and fascinating tidbits about the spices I've always taken for granted. For example, I used to think allspice was a blend of various spices instead of a separate entity. It's actually a berry grown in tropical climates on—surprise!—an allspice tree.

Do you cook with a lot of spices? Has writing about spices motivated you to become more adventurous in your cooking?

I'll answer the last question first. Yes, I've definitely become more adventurous in my use of spices. I've become a firm believer that spices greatly enhance the flavor of even everyday dishes. I'm also aware that spices need to be replaced at recommended intervals and not kept on pantry shelves for an eternity. I love reading cookbooks and am always on the prowl for new recipes.

The first thing I do when I pick up a book that features food is to flip to the back to view the recipes. The first book in your Spice Shop Mystery series, Rosemary and Crime, didn’t include any. Curried Away included a recipe for curry and some baked goods. Do you plan to feature more recipes in future books? Is it hard selecting the recipes to include? What’s involved?

Ignorance is my only excuse for not including recipes in Rosemary and Crime. I was new to culinary mysteries and didn't realize recipes were an integral part, so I simply didn't include them. I believe the omission was corrected in the mass market edition. I've since learned my lesson and now include recipes in every book starting with Kill 'Em With Cayenne. As a matter of pride, my recipe for chicken tetrazzini, which appears in Kill 'Em With Cayenne, was accepted for the anthology, Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes. I tend to choose recipes that Piper refers to in the book or those that use the particular spice mentioned in the title. In the aftermath of taste testing a new recipe, my kitchen often resembles a chemistry lab after an experiment goes awry.

Piper’s best friend Reba Mae muses about writing mysteries: “I just might try my hand at crime writin’. Make myself a pile of money while I’m at it. How hard can it be?” What advice would you give anyone interested in writing a mystery?

Though not original but effective, the first bit of advice that pops into mind is to study the genre. Read a lot, and then put the books aside and start plotting. Keep in mind the plot will probably be revised throughout the process as the characters and their motives reveal themselves more fully. “How hard can it be?” Reba Mae asked. Harder than you'd expect would be my answer. Know that up front and be prepared, but don't let that stop you. The end results are worth the effort.

Please tell us about your Bunco Babes/Kate McCall mystery series. Will we be seeing more books in that series?

The Bunco Babes Mysteries burst from seemingly nowhere. While playing golf with friends—none of us very good at the game—a ball landed in the rough. Someone complained about the smell emanating from the weeds, and another offhandedly remarked, "Maybe it's a dead body." The germ of an idea was planted and grew into a three-book series. All the women in the Bunco group of which I'm a member are convinced they're one of the characters. The jury is still out about more of the Bunco Babes/Kate McCall Mysteries. I really loved writing the series, and the Babes became more than characters in a book; they were more like friends.  If I decide to continue, the series will be the Kate McCall Mysteries in digital format only.

Now that you’ve written several books in each series, do you find it easier or harder to start the next book in the series?

Beginnings, at least for me, seem to be either easy or hard. It's sometimes difficult to find just the right spot to jump off the cliff. I have to admit there have been times when I've had to go back and try again to 'hit the ground running' as a friend once advised. Writing a series poses its own unique problem of how much backstory to include. You don't want new readers to feel like a duck out of water in an unfamiliar town surrounded by strangers, but on the other hand, you don't want to be redundant and bore readers with details they already know from previous books. It's a slippery slope trying to balance the two.

What’s next for Piper Prescott and the folks in Brandywine Creek?

I just handed in Ginger Snapped to my new editor and am anxiously awaiting her comments. It's tentatively scheduled for December 2017. In Ginger Snapped, I had fun turning the tables on Wyatt McBride, Brandywine Creek's hunky chief of police. 

You started your career as a registered nurse. What prompted the switch to writing for a living?

I never switched careers from nursing to writing, but juggled the two as best I could. It was a matter of practicality. My historical romances (under the name Elizabeth Turner) were written while I worked full-time. I'm officially retired now, but friends tell me I 'flunked' retirement.

Your books have been produced in hardcover, mass market paperback, digital, and large print. Any plans to produce an audiobook version?

I'm happy to report three of my Spice Shop Mysteries are available in audio. Feel free to check them out at audible.com.

Tell us a bit about your writing process. Do you write with music in the background or need quiet? Is your work area messy or tidy?

As much as I'd like to change my body clock, I'm not an early bird but more of a middle-of-the-day type of person. Unless a deadline is closing in on me, I usually write at least six hours each day, starting around 11 o'clock in the morning and finishing around 5:30ish. I even pack a lunch to take with me downstairs to my office. I often work on Saturdays and at least a couple hours on Sunday. I always have New Age music playing in the background as it helps block out distractions. Messy or tidy? Definitely messy.

Standing in a bookstore, what book couldn’t you resist recommending to a nearby stranger?

Knowing everyone has certain likes and dislikes in their choice of reading material, I preface my recommendation by saying, "If you like mysteries . . ." As we all know, bookstores are becoming few and far between. The last book I recall recommending while perusing selections at Costco was Redemption Road by John Hart, an Edgar award-winning author. I'd been impatiently waiting for his next book to appear and was excited to find a signed edition at my fingertips.

Thank you, Gail, for joining us at Writers Who Kill.

For information about Gail’s books, visit her web site: www.gailoust.com

If you’ve not yet discovered Gail’s Spice Shop Series, the first in the series is Rosemary and Spice. Below is a brief description.

Rosemary and Spice
by Gail Oust

Piper Prescott, a transplanted Yankee living in the South, has got her sass back. She might be down, but don't count her out. "Change of life?" she asks. Bring it on. Recently divorced, Piper decides to pursue a dream she's secretly harbored: owning her own business, Spice it Up!, a spice shop in her adopted hometown, Brandywine Creek, Georgia. But Piper's grand opening goes awry when the local chef who's agreed to do a cooking demo is found stabbed. Not only did Piper find the body, she handled the murder weapon and doesn't have a witness to her alibi, making the case look like a slam dunk to brand new police Chief Wyatt McBride. Desperate to uncover the truth—and prove her innocence—Piper enlists the help of her outspoken BFF Reba Mae Johnson to help track down the real culprit. The pair compiles a lengthy list of suspects and work to eliminate them using their own creative brand of sleuthing techniques including stakeouts, breaking and entering, and one very unorthodox chocolate pie. When Piper narrowly avoids being a victim of a hit-and-run, she knows she's getting closer to the truth, but can she catch the killer and clear her name before she becomes the next victim?

The latest book in Gail’s Spice Shop series, Ginger Snapped, will be released in December 2017. Gail kindly provided a brief description of what we can look forward to.

Ginger Snapped
by Gail Oust

Beauty, brains, and money.  Outwardly, Shirley Randolph, Realtor of the Year, has it all—except a man.  Residents of Brandywine Creek, Georgia, are convinced she’s set her sights on Chief of Police, Wyatt McBride. But sharing a plate of chili cheese fries doesn’t ‘constitute a relationship. However, when Shirley’s body is found floating in his fishing hole, townspeople speculate McBride was responsible. Suicide or homicide is the question on everyone’s lips. Preliminary findings exclude drowning and suggest a more electrifying cause of death. The tables are turned, and the handsome lawman soon experiences firsthand what it’s like to become a ‘person of interest.’ Piper enlists the aid of Reba Mae Johnson, her BFF, along with McBride to help solve the puzzle and find Shirley’s killer. While the evidence against McBride mounts, Piper resorts to drastic measures to prevent a grave miscarriage of justice. 


E. B. Davis said...

I love Tarragon, Gail. If you have any recipes, please use that spice for your theme. Sounds like a fun series that will be put on my TBR pile. Where is your Kate McCall series set?

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

My deck was lined with potted herbs all summer, most of which were hit by our hard frost last week. I miss stepping out to snip dill, tarragon, basil and parsley. What a difference fresh herbs make!

After fifteen years in Atlanta, I look forward to reading your books.

KM Rockwood said...

My fresh herbs, limited as my herb patch is, are all frost-killed by now and I'm reduced to buying them from the grocery store for Thanksgiving.

Your books sound intriguing! I will have to take a closer look at them.

Thank you for sharing your insights on WWK>

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments. I'm sorry to say my potted herbs are looking pretty frail, too. E.B.Davis, the Kate McCall series is set in a "fictional" retirement village in South Carolina that bears a close similarity to the one I live in.

Warren Bull said...

I truly admire your writing more than one series at a time. I'm not sure I could do even one.

Gloria Alden said...

What a delicious series, this sounds like. I'll have to try it. I brought in my potted herbs to winter over inside. Not all make it, but the parsley almost always comes through quite nicely. I'll be putting your books on my TBO list.

Kait said...

The Spice Shop sounds delicious. Humor and murder. What a fun combination! Looking forward to catching up with your series.

authorlindathorne said...

You've done a lot of work and it all sounds so good. I wish I could add humor to my books. That is my biggest weakness. I don't do humor well.

Nancy G. West said...

Hi, Gail. Since I write humorous Aggie Mundeen mysteries, I can relate--especially with your "quirky sense of humor" and your non-early bird schedule of writing from 11 to 5:30. Can't wait to read one of your books!

Gail Oust said...

Hi Everyone, Just wanted to say a big thanks for responding to my blog post. With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror and Christmas on the horizon finding any free time is a huge undertaking. Thanks again for the lovely comments,
and I hope you find some quiet time to reward yourself with a mystery or two.