Wednesday, February 20, 2019

An Interview with Author Shari Randall by E. B. Davis

Drawn and Buttered is the third book in a wonderfully satisfying cozy mystery series set at the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack in coastal New England.

The Lazy Mermaid’s business has slowed to a snail’s pace—until a monster lobster claws his way onto the scene…

With high season behind them, ballerina on-the-mend Allie Larkin and Aunt Gully are finally lying low. But then an unexpected guest arrives at the lobster shack: a crustacean so huge he’s dubbed Lobzilla around Mystic Bay and on social media. Soon, with everyone showing up for a peek in their tank, Allie and Aunt Gully have more on their plate than they can handle.

Meanwhile, another local establishment finds itself in hot water. In exclusive Rabb’s Point, a strange burglary breaches the elegant home of Royal Parrish and then a body is discovered in the old Parish cemetery. When someone close to Allie falls under suspicion of murder, she decides to investigate but, before she can get to the bottom of the case, another alarm sounds: the Lazy Mermaid’s Lobzilla has gone missing and is on the loose! And bodies are beginning to pile up. . .

“Tree branches overhung the narrow road that threaded between stone walls. It felt like we were driving into a tunnel. The silence grew thick as we followed the yellow headlight beams down the rutted road.” Shari Randall, Drawn and Buttered, Kindle Loc. 1977

Descriptions like that place the reader inside the story and makes for fun reading, and they’re also one of the reasons I admire Shari Randall’s writing. Drawn and Buttered will be released this coming Tuesday, February 26th. It’s fun, it’s cozy, and the current mystery parallels a historical mystery, one element I always enjoy.

In Dawn and Buttered, Shari writes a compelling mystery with main character Allie Larkin looking for clues to find out whodunit. But Shari also brings the backstory to an interesting full circle, for which I was thankful, as the backstory mystery seemed incongruent with the main character’s physical attributes. I also liked the manner in which she treated Madame’s stroke, very in character by presenting her fighting spirit. Dancers are athletes. Like other athletes, no one else can fathom the endurance and mental acuity necessary to succeed. It’s work; something athletes know. Madame will come back from her setback.                                                             E. B. Davis

Congratulations on receiving an Agatha nomination for Book One of your Lobster Shack series, Curses, Boiled Again. Thank you! Curses was nominated in the Best First Novel category. It’s such an honor. I’m still stunned!

Lobzilla is the second largest lobster caught. What were the dimensions of the largest caught? According to the Maine Department of Marine Resources, the record for the largest lobster goes to one caught off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1977. It weighed 44 pounds, 6 ounces and was just over three feet long. It was estimated to be 100 years old.

Aunt Gully uses the phrase, “God bless America.” Is this the northern version of “bless your heart?” I had a good friend from California whose mom used to say “God Bless America” in situations where others might swear. It seemed like a perfect catchphrase for Aunt Gully when she had to let off steam.

Why doesn’t Hilda wear the Lobster Shack’s uniform like everyone else? Hilda may work in a lobster shack, but the uniform - a pink t-shirt with strategically placed clamshells - is not her style. She’s an elegant woman who could go through a tornado and emerge with her lipstick fresh and not a hair out of place.

Two people want something from Aunt Gully. One, she doesn’t want to do. The other, she doesn’t want to give. How does she handle them? People don’t realize that underneath Aunt Gully’s sunny personality there’s an iron will.  She’s not a pushover! Those characters who are trying to get something from Aunt Gully discover a shrewd negotiator behind that sweet smile.

What is the attraction for some people to join fraternities and sororities? I know several people who had wonderful experiences and made lifelong friends in their sororities. Some of these societies have long histories of charitable work. However, the news has been full of stories of the dark sides of these organizations, especially in terms of hazing new members. I wanted to explore that darker side, when  young adults are put under tremendous pressure to conform in order to fit in with their peers.

All-business Lorel likes steamy romance novels? We all have our guilty pleasures!

Aunt Gully isn’t all that upset when her house is broken into, but when she discovers they stole her oatmeal raisin cookies, she gets mad. Why are the cookies more important to her than her house? This situation actually happened to my 91-year-old great aunt Flo. Her house was burglarized and the thing that angered her most was that the thief stole every one of the three dozen biscotti she’d spent all morning baking! Similarly, Aunt Gully was relieved that no one was hurt and the destruction was confined to one room, but she really wanted a cookie after a long day at the lobster shack.

What is Noank chowder? What is the significance of the name? Noank is a small village in southeastern Connecticut right on Long Island Sound. One hundred years ago, it was the center of the American lobster industry. Over many years the ocean’s temperature and conditions have changed, with lobsters preferring the colder waters further north off of Maine and Canada. People are probably familiar with New England clam chowder, made with milk or cream. Noank chowder is clear with no milk or cream to mask the flavor of the clams. It’s a much brinier, earthier taste that the old timers at the Lazy Mermaid prefer.

The Parish family founded Allie’s hometown of Mystic Bay. Why is the current patriarch of the family named Royal? In my research, I discovered that in the colonial era, British subjects were given land grants to property in the American colonies in payment for services rendered to the Crown - land that was occupied by native people. Royal’s family was given their land in the 1700s and prospered ever since. His family was proud of their history and definitely proud of this distant royal connection, thus his name.

Royal is obsessed with his family’s history and honor. But he’s a successful lawyer, has a nice family, great estate, in short, a nice life. Why is he so obsessed with the past? Royal’s family was so important and influential. He’s the only son of his family and carries the family name. He grew up in a house full of portraits of his forbears, literally looking down on him. It might be more accurate to say that he cannot escape his family’s past.

What’s a marlinspike? A marlinspike is a sailing tool, used when working with line (ropes to landlubbers) – it can help untangle or splice them together.

What are Russian Blues, and why are they so expensive? My favorite breed of cat! Allie’s dance teacher, Madame Svetlana Monachova, is an elegant woman of Russian descent, and I wanted her two cats, Raisa and Rudi, to be as elegant as she is.  These cats are also known as Archangel Blues, because it’s thought that they originated from the Archangel Isles in northern Russia. They’re known for their incredibly plush silvery, almost blue, fur and emerald green eyes. The Russian Blue is a descendant of the cats of the Russian czars and was a favored pet of Queen Victoria.

Is using white pepper a New England thing? When making clam chowder with a creamy base, some cooks don’t like the look of black pepper floating on top. I’ve included a recipe in the book so people can try Aunt Gully’s secret recipe for chowder.

What’s a shower slide? They’re like flip flops, only sturdier and with a band across the instep instead of a thong between the toes, and can be worn in the shower to protect against picking up athletes foot (gross, I know). They’re also known as soccer slides. Allie comes across several very unpleasant slides when she’s sleuthing in a frat house.

I’m old. What’s plagiarism software? Brave new world! Some schools use software that will flag research papers that copy too heavily from other sources.

Allie learns that history is written by the victors. What does that mean? This is why conquering armies burn museums and libraries. Those who survive are the ones who tell the stories and write the history, usually to make themselves look good. This concept comes up when a student talks to Allie about the history of Mystic Bay and the Parish family’s role in it.

Do you think people have auras, which some people can see? I believe that there are people who can sense things that others cannot and that there are many things we don’t have a scientific explanation for – yet.

What the heck is with hostile Gladys? Gladys, despite her nickname “Gladdie,” is one of those people who make me think of the old saying “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” She thinks life and love are zero sum games. She’s got her hooks into her boyfriend and she is NOT going to lose him to someone else.

Isobel Parish, Royal’s daughter, is a complex character. I found myself being sympathetic to her.
She seems like a spoiled, rich girl. Why am I sympathetic? Isobel Parish, the only child of the wealthy Parish family, surprised me at every turn. Writing her was so much fun – I’ve never had a character call the shots like Isobel.  A reader asked me if Isobel is a “bad guy,” but she resists any easy labels. Readers can decide for themselves.

The doctor tells Allie that she’s ready to dance but not “on pointe.” But Madame, Allie’s first dance instructor and her mentor, and Allie disagree with the doctor. Why? How can she go against the advice of the doctor? Madame Monachova has been working with dancers for years. I think of her as a horse trainer – she knows what Allie is capable of and Allie trusts her completely. Allie’s doctor knows her as a patient, but Madame understands her as an artist.

What’s next for Shari Randall? Right now I’m working on a Christmas novella about the gang at the Lazy Mermaid. I’ve also started on another project – sorry I can’t say more. Writers Who Kill will be the first to know, so stay tuned.



  1. Great write-up. Looking forward to the next Lobster Shack mystery.

  2. Congratulations, Shari, on your third book. I love them. I have a friend who comes from the area of the book setting, and she said it was like having a visit home--it was so authentic. She's also recommended it to her relatives. So you have quite a following of readers. Looking forward to hearing about what you have in the works.

  3. Congratulations, Shari. Best to you and your latest book.

  4. I've read the first two books, and I love them! A Christmas novella sounds delightful.

  5. I loved the first two books and now I want to order this one.

  6. Shari, I have loved reading Allie's adventures and am delighted to know more are coming. It's like taking a wonderful vacation. I'm looking forward to the third in the series and to seeing you at Malice!

  7. Thank you, everyone! Your support means the world to me!