Wednesday, September 12, 2018

An Interview with Libby Klein by E. B. Davis

“Your next strike for…buying drugs?”
“It’s called possession. Don’t you watch TV or anything?”
“Nobody gets arrested for possession on Cake Boss.”
“What’s Cake Boss?”
“It’s like Breaking Bad, but with frosting.”
Libby Klein, Midnight Snacks Are Murder, Kindle Loc. 2115

Cape May is being turned upside down as someone is breaking into neighbor’s houses, stealing their knickknacks and eating their goodies.

Between trying to get her gluten-free baking business off the ground and helping her aunt remodel her old Victorian into the Butterfly House Bed and Breakfast in Cape May, New Jersey, Poppy is ready to call, “Mayday!” And now Aunt Ginny—who’s a handful wide-awake—is sleepwalking on her new sleeping pill prescription and helping herself to neighbors’ snacks and knickknacks.

Even more alarming, a local humanitarian who worked with troubled teens is found murdered, and the police suspect the “Snack Bandit.” Other than a bad case of midnight munchies and some mild knickknack kleptomania, Aunt Ginny is harmless. Someone’s trying to frame her. Poppy will need to work tirelessly to uncover the killer and put the case to rest—before Aunt Ginny has to trade in her B & B for a bunk bed behind bars . . .

There were so many quotes I highlighted in Libby Klein’s LOL Midnight Snacks Are Murder, the second in her Poppy McAllister mystery series, it was had to choose. Here’s the runner up: “I’d been stranded in Cape May with my eighty-ish great aunt ever since I was lured up here to attend my twenty-fifth high school reunion a few weeks ago and was voted most likely to kill a cheerleader.”

Libby’s books are fun reads. Her characters are delightful even when they are annoying. Even the cat, Figaro, is three-dimensional. But then when I went to Libby’s website and hit on the link to Figaro’s World, I found that Libby gets cats.

The first in her series, Class Reunions Are Murder, I haven’t read yet, but after reading the second, this is one series that I will go back and read the first—which for me is saying a lot!

Please welcome Libby Klein to WWK.                        E. B. Davis

Poppy is converting Aunt Ginny’s house into the Butterfly B & B in Cape May, NJ to support Aunt Ginny, her great aunt, who raised her. Did Poppy work when she lived in Waterford, VA? What did she do?
Poppy supported her late husband while he finished law school by working as a checker at the A&P. It was never her dream to one day wear a smock to work, but you do what you gotta do to pay the bills. Having only a high school diploma herself, Poppy bounced around between a few minimum wage jobs for years until she went to work as a receptionist in her husband’s law firm in Waterford

Why isn’t Aunt Ginny in better financial shape?
Aunt Ginny’s Grand Victorian has been owned by the McAllister family for generations, but the taxes on a property like this in Cape May are well above the ability for someone living on a small pension and social security to pay. And with old houses, things tend to need repair often. She used to share the cost with her sister, but Emmy died a few years earlier and thus far, Aunt Ginny’s plan to win the lottery has not paid off.

Why are they naming the B & B, Butterfly?
In Class Reunions, Poppy breaks out of the bondage of shame and self-pity that she’d been living in. She’d been hiding from the world instead of living her life because of depression over her past, her weight, and fear of not being acceptable by society norms. Aunt Ginny encourages her to love herself and embrace life right now. It’s not too late to change and be who she was meant to be - like a butterfly. It’s the second pivotal moment in the story where Poppy has to choose to rise up and fight for herself.

When Aunt Ginny goes on her sleepwalking raids, does she help herself to snacks because of the Paleo Diet she’s adopted to support Poppy, whose doctor recommended it for weight loss?
Well. We can only assume. Sleepwalking can be a manifestation of your subconscious desires. When Aunt Ginny signed on to support Poppy in bettering her health and fighting depression, she had no idea that the cost would be so high as to remove peanut butter. Of course, Aunt Ginny might subconsciously just want a hunk of pie.

Amber, a local cop, does her job, but she has history with Poppy. I’m surprised a former cheerleader became a cop, which may be my own prejudice. What was the history between Amber and Poppy?
Life is all about the choices we make and their ensuing consequences. Amber was one of the bullies who tormented Poppy through high school. She was second in command of the bully squad, if you will. The friction between Poppy and Amber goes deeper than juvenile name calling. The rest of the bad blood between them is a bit of a spoiler revealed in Class Reunions. Poppy does learn a lesson that we all have moments where we are not our best and hurt others, and not all situations are black and white. More is revealed about their relationship as the series progresses.

Aunt Ginny’s dubbed the “Snack Bandit,” but unfortunately someone, a murderer, copycats her M.O., putting Aunt Ginny in the frame for murder. Since the elderly are the least likely to kill, why are the police so sure Aunt Ginny is the culprit?
If you ask Aunt Ginny, the police can be lazy and try to convict the easiest target. Aunt Ginny will also tell you that bit about the elderly being the least likely to kill is hogwash. You haven’t been to Bingo when the jackpot has been tampered with. If you ask Poppy, certain blonde officers have it in for her and her family. But if you ask the police, the crime scene for the murder matches the M.O. for the crime scenes for the break-ins and there are no coincidences.

Was Poppy’s best friend, Sawyer, responsible for getting Poppy to Cape May?
In Class Reunions, Sawyer used the age-old contract of the pinky swear to convince Poppy that she had to return home as her bully backup for the reunion. Sawyer was also expecting a rather unpleasant run-in with her newly divorced ex-husband and his bad choice of the month. Poppy could never say no to a friend in need, so she returns home to Beach Hell – just for the weekend.

Poppy hasn’t been back to Cape May since she graduated from high school due to her embarrassment about jilting Tim, who was her fiancĂ© and sweetheart from high school. I’m surprised. Even with being embarrassed, she loves Aunt Ginny and her BF, Sawyer. Was that all there was to it?
Poppy’s avoidance of Cape May goes much deeper than her breakup with Tim. Cape May holds all the bad memories and feelings from childhood and adolescence. Her one big goal in life was to get out and move far away. Away from abandonment, away from isolation, away from not fitting in. Now that she’s back, she has to face her fears and try to make peace with her past.

Like many of us, Poppy blames herself for the original jilting of Tim, who she is now seeing again, but she’s also interested in Italian barista, Giampaolo, aka=Gia. So, in addition to feeling like she’s two-timing Tim again, she’s also feeling unfaithful to her late husband. Is she missing the obvious or doesn’t want to admit to herself the truth?
At the beginning of Class Reunions, Poppy’s husband of nearly twenty-five years had died about six months earlier. Poppy’s been grieving her way through the snack food aisles of the local grocery store. Now that she finds herself in Cape May, she comes face to face with Tim, her first love, and has to relive one of the biggest regrets of her life. Her emotions are all over the map. Add the attraction to Giampaolo to the mix and it’s no wonder Poppy’s a hot mess. Aunt Ginny would tell Poppy, “There’s no ring on your finger; go out and have a good time.” But Poppy’s past impetuous choices have left her terrified of making another mistake.

I like “Itty-Bitty” Smitty or “I-can-fix-that” Smitty. He’s seems incompetent, even if persistent. Why does Poppy continue working with him?
Partly because he was all she could get at the last minute and within her budget, but mostly because Poppy is loyal to a fault. Once you’re her friend, she’ll stand by you no matter what. She can be patient with your mistakes because she knows she’s made so many of her own.

Why does Gia’s mother dislike Poppy so much? She and her daughter are passive-aggressive, which I hate!
Hmm. That’s a good question. Gia doesn’t seem too concerned about either of their opinions. He’s interested in Poppy and no one will deter him from pursuing her.

Why is Karla, Gia’s sister, so cryptic?   
Snob. What is that all about?!
Georgiana is a dislikable character who seems bent on gaining power and control over the household. Even though she comes clean in the end, it doesn’t end her horrible behavior. Is it something she can’t control?
She doesn’t know any better. Georgina has had a life of privilege, and financial power often comes with social power and the misconception that one should have power over everything else. And it usually does. Money solves a lot of problems. Georgina has wielded that power over Poppy for most of her life because she married her son and became part of her domain. In Midnight Snacks, it’s up to Poppy to stand up for herself and take that power back.

My daughter has Celiac Disease and my son is now trying out the Paleo Diet for three months to discover if it helps inflammation. He and his wife are visiting next weekend. I’ve done pretty well doing GF cooking and baking, but I’m at a loss with Paleo. I read the recipes at the back of your book, such as Paleo Espresso Brownies, and I have a few questions.

Aren’t eggs considered dairy?
No, but a lot of people ask this question. Dairy is milk and things made from milk. (cheese, cream, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream, kefir) It comes from cows. (And sheep and goats.) Eggs are sold in the “dairy aisle” of the grocery store, but they are in the meat food group. In a sense, eggs are baby chickens the way veal is baby cow. (If I think about that too hard I won’t be able to eat either one.) Dairy is hard to digest and very inflammatory. That’s why its not popular on anti-inflammatory diets like FODMAP and Paleo.
*Note – eggs are not allowed if you’re allergic to them. I’m not. I have enough trouble with grains, sugars and milk stuff.
If there isn’t any sugar, how can coconut sugar or honey be allowed?
There is a difference between sweet and sugar.

You can have natural sweeteners in moderation – fruit, honey, pure maple syrup, stevia, natural sugars from coconut, dates, monk fruit. They’re natural, less refined, have some vitamins. But even though a brownie is made from honey instead of white sugar, it should still be considered a treat and eaten in moderation – not three times a day – no matter how irritated you are. (Sorry. Talking to myself for a minute.)

You want to avoid the highly processed sweeteners of bleached white cane sugar, corn sugar, corn syrup, glucose syrup, invert sugar - because they’re super sugars, highly processed. Highly inflammatory (and light your brain up like cocaine.)

Paleo Diet = Nothing fake. Ingredients exist in nature.

Isn’t yogurt dairy? (Paleo Granola Parfaits)
The Paleo granola parfaits are made from coconut yogurt, nuts, coconut and fruit.

Yogurt made from dairy [milk] is not allowed on the Paleo diet. Food scientists have found a way to make “dairy” products out of non-dairy ingredients. That’s why you have almond milk, cashew milk, macadamia milk, coconut milk. These things have zero milk in them. No dairy at all. No cows (or sheep or goats) were involved. But no one wants to buy a bottle of “Nut Juice.” In the same way, they’ve found a way to make “yogurt” out of these alternative “milks”. And there are some really good soft “cheeses” on the market made from nuts.

*Note – you can also get all these things, ie – “milk”, “yogurt”, “cheese”, “ice cream” made from soy as well. Soy is NOT Paleo.
Your book covers are fabulous. Who creates them?
Thank you. Kensington has wonderfully talented designers who’ve made three beautiful covers for me.

What’s next for Poppy and the gang?
Restaurant Weeks Are Murder is released in March, 2019. Poppy will get to live out a lifelong dream of working in a professional kitchen next to Tim in the first annual Cape May Restaurant Week Chopped-style Competition. Unfortunately, Gigi - Tim’s perky blonde mentee/girlfriend wannabe is also on Tim’s team. Some dreams should never come true.

                    Libby Klein’s secretary—will get back to you when he feels like it.


Margaret S. Hamilton said...

A fun romp that includes nutrition information! I look forward to reading it.

Shari Randall said...

Libby I’m so looking forward to spending time in Cape May with this crew. And Figaro cracks me up!

Warren Bull said...

this sounds like fun.

Grace Topping said...

Sounds like a fun book. There are so many theories about what we should and shouldn’t eat that I’m nearly paralyzed when I go to the grocery store. I remember my father’s doctor telling him to eat margerine instead of butter and to avoid eggs. Now I read articles about how bad margerine is and how good eggs are for you. My motto now: Everything in moderation.

Jodi Rath said...

Libby Klein, I love you SO much! You are hilarious and an amazing writer!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

The nicest interview. So happy to get to know you better.

Kait said...

What a great series! I loved Cape May growing up, but there was an intimidation factor, it seemed like a nuns' retreat and as a victim, er, student, of Catholic schools, I had quite enough of that during the school year. Still, I loved the Victorian houses and the scent of the sea. It seemed different there. Looking forward to visiting again, this time on the page.

KM Rockwood said...

Great reads in a fun location! (And out of Hurricane Florence's path, I hope.)

Nina Wachsman said...

Loved Class Reunions Are Murder, which I picked up at Malice and got Libby's autograph to motivate me to read it. The wit in her writing is what really keeps the story going and builds empathy for the characters. Will definitely go and get the next one!