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

April Interviews

4/1 Jennifer Chow, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue
4/8 John Gaspard
4/15 Art Taylor, The Boy Detective & The Summer of '74
4/22 Maggie Toussaint, Seas the Day
4/29 Grace Topping, Staging Wars

Saturday Guest Bloggers
4/4 Sasscer Hill
4/18 Jackie Green

WWK Bloggers:
4/11 Paula Gail Benson
4/25 Kait Carson


WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel (wish they weren't having to compete against each other), and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Kaye George's first novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Revenge is Sweet, will be released on March 10th. Look for the interview here on March 11.

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, will be released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here on April 29th.

Don't miss Shari Randall's "The Queen of Christmas" available on at Amazon. Shari's holiday story for WWK was too long so she published it for our enjoyment. It's available for 99 cents or on Kindle Unlimited for free!

KM Rockwood's "The Society" and "To Die A Free Man; the Story of Joseph Bowers" are included in the BOULD Awards Anthology, which was released on November 19. KM won second place with a cash prize for "The Society." Congratulations, KM! Kaye George's "Meeting on the Funicular" is also in this anthology, which can be bought for 99 cents on Kindle until November 30.

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!


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

An Interview With Author Barbara Ross by E. B. Davis

Jane left her on the couch in an eighty-four percent butterfat haze. That afternoon
she’d seen three stages of grief—anger, denial, and ice cream.
Barbara Ross, Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody, Kindle Loc. 1435

Jane Darrowfield is a year into her retirement, and she’s already traveled and planted a garden. She’s organized her photos, her recipes, and her spices. The statistics suggest she has at least a few more decades ahead of her, so she better find something to do . . .
Available for pre-order in mass market paperback
After Jane helps a friend with a sticky personal problem, word starts to spread around her bridge club—and then around all of West Cambridge, Massachusetts—that she’s the go-to person for situations that need discreet fixing. Soon she has her first paid assignment—the director of a 55-and-over condo community needs her to de-escalate hostilities among the residents. As Jane discovers after moving in for her undercover assignment, the mature set can be as immature as any high schoolers, and war is breaking out between cliques.
It seems she might make some progress—until one of the aging “popular kids” is bludgeoned to death with a golf club. And though the automatic sprinklers have washed away much of the evidence, Jane’s on course to find out whodunit . . .

Barbara Ross has had such success with her Maine Clambake mystery series, I didn’t see this one coming. Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody, is the first book of her new series. Although I liked the book, I’m unsure of the label of professional busybody. To me, a busybody is a negative sort of person who intrudes on everyone’s lives and has no respect for others by gossiping and leading others to believe the worst of people. That’s not Jane Darrowfield.

Jane’s had a hard time in life. She worked for the telephone company before retiring, was abandoned by her husband when their son was young, divorced, and became a problem-solver of sorts due to retirement boredom. You can tell she was a valuable employee solving company issues behind the scenes. She’s developed friendships with her card playing ladies, who help each other when they can.

Jane is a professional. She asks the right questions to discover the community issue she’s been hired to ferret out and make recommendations to the director. But, of course, a dead body changes the course of her assignment. Whether or not she’s a busybody, she’s exactly what she needs to be to solve the murder.

Please welcome Barbara Ross back to WWK.                                                                       E. B. Davis

Let’s address the elephant sitting on the book, first. Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody is only available as a paperback and only through Barnes & Noble. Why? How did the deal come about? What enticed you?

The exclusive with Barnes & Noble is only for a year. After that the book will be out in all formats from all retailers. What enticed me is this—remember when Barnes & Noble used to be the big, bad? Now, like all bricks and mortar retailers, they are struggling. And, they are the only chain of any size left in the US. I supported this deal because without B&N’s large order, I fear my publisher might find it uneconomic to print my books at all. I want to keep my books in print just as I want to keep them in ebook, audiobook, and large print formats. I wouldn’t have agreed to a print exclusive forever, because that would make my books inaccessible to many people. And I wouldn’t have agreed to it for my Maine Clambake Mysteries, because it wouldn’t be fair to ask fans of an existing series to wait a year. But it did seem like the right thing for Jane Darrowfield. I’m a little nervous about it. We’ll find out…

Are busybodies a good or bad thing?

Like so many things in life, it depends on whether you are busybodying for good or for ill.

When Jane is asked by the director to help him with a community problem, she asks what she considers to be an outrageous price for her services. Doesn’t she want the job?

The job sounds a little hinky to her, so she names a sum at which she would be willing to do it. Surprisingly, the director doesn’t hesitate to accept her price. Too many people, especially women, hesitate to ask for what they’re worth, so I’m making a point here.

A friend signs up for an online dating service, but asks Jane to screen the men for her in a coffee shop. Why does Jane accept?

Jane is extremely loyal to the three women who have been her friends for over thirty years. Besides, the last time Phyllis found a man on her own the result was a disaster.

When Jane finds an acceptable man, she decides to date him instead of passing him over to her friend. As loyal as she is, why did she make that decision?

Jane has been divorced for decades when the story begins and she hasn’t had the slightest interest in any man. She responds to Harry Welch like a teenager—palms sweating and weak in the knees. I think she is so gobsmacked by this she has to follow her heart to see what happens. She feels terribly guilty about it.

The retirement community seems to have split up into cliques, much like high school. What has caused the immaturity and what labels does Jane assign to each group?

The idea came from a story a friend told me about her mother who had moved into a senior community. Her mom’s assessment? “It’s just like high school.” So I thought back to high school and created senior incarnations of the greasers, the artists, the athletes, and the popular kids. And the lonely people eating by themselves. It takes Jane a little while, but once she’s observed the environment a wave of familiarity washes over her.

The history of the community’s grounds is a lovely story. Tell our readers about its history. Was it based on the history of a similar, real community?

Yes and no. The Walden Spring Community for Active Adults 55+ is entirely fictional. In the book, it is built on the grounds of an old estate that included a nine-hole private golf course. The estate and the marble swimming pool that went with it are nothing but holes in the ground, the marble from the pool scavenged for years by neighbors who have used it in their landscaping projects. The setting, including the bamboo forest, is based on my childhood in Wallingford, PA where there were ruins of such an estate in the woods where we played as children. The golf course came from the park my kids used to play in by our house in Newton, MA, which had been an old estate with a nine-hole course. Eventually the estate and the golf course were gone.

Have your parents or close relations lived in step-care facilities? Have you eaten there?

My parents moved to a 55+ community when they downsized, but theirs didn’t have a central dining room or the kind of amenities Walden Spring has. My mother’s mother moved into assisted living when she was in her late eighties. It was then that we realized she had never eaten institutional food in her life. It didn’t go well.

The manager has not kept the pretense of Jane trying out the community to see if it fits her needs. Everyone seems to know why she’s there. Why didn’t the manager keep up the pretense?

The rumor mill works incredibly quickly and efficiently at Walden Spring. The director knows that if he starts the rumor Jane is there to help with the community problems she’ll have more credibility than if he makes an official announcement, which will only be met with skepticism.

Some of the community have secrets they keep. But other unknowns aren’t so much secret as locked behind Alzheimer’s Disease. Why is Jane so intent on helping Mary?

Mary is alone in the world. Though Jane has good friends, she is estranged from her son. She fears she may end up like Mary and will need someone to help her one day.

Why does Jane feel like a failure as a mother? Why does it bother her?

Jane’s failure as a parent is incredibly painful to her. It is the thing she cared most about succeeding at in her adult life. She and her son haven’t spoken in years and she’s not even exactly sure where he is. It breaks her heart a little bit everyday.

Although Jane is labeled a “busybody,” it turns out her friends have orchestrated her new career and another aspect of her new life. How does Jane react? Does it take one to know one?

Jane’s attitude is one of gratitude to her friends. But I wonder how she would have felt if it all hadn’t turned out so well?

Will the series have various settings?

I don’t know. Jane is my homage to Agatha Christie’s Jane Marple, so I hope as the series moves forward sometimes my Jane will be at home in Cambridge, MA and sometimes she’ll be enjoying herself and practicing her skills in other locales.

What’s next for Jane Darrowfield?

I’ve just signed a contract for book 2! It will be released November 2020 and will also be a B&N exclusive. No official title yet, but I’ll let everyone know.

Barbara Ross is the author of seven Maine Clambake Mysteries. The eighth, Sealed Off, will be released in December 2019. Barbara’s novellas are included along with stories by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in Eggnog Murder and Yule Log Murder. A third anthology, Haunted House Murder, will be released in August 2019. 

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busbody, first in a new mystery series, was released in June 2019. Barbara lives with her husband in Portland, Maine. You can visit her website at https://maineclambakemysteries.com/


KM Rockwood said...

Other than the minor fact that I can't imagine anyone being bored in retirement (I often wonder how we ever fit full time jobs into our lives) this sounds like a great series.

I enjoyed the first series.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Congratulations on your new release! I appreciate your description of the social cliques in independent/assisted living facilities. After my in-laws moved into one, when I entered the dining room I had an immediate flashback to my high school cafeteria.

Barb Ross said...

Margaret--I'm so glad the cafeteria resonated for you!

KM--I agree about never being bored in retirement. Maybe a better way of saying it would be "a little a loose ends."

Grace Topping said...

Congratulations, Barb, on the new series. It sounds really interesting, and I look forward to reading it.

Kait said...

I love the Maine Clambake series and I'm looking forward to meeting Jane Darrowfield. All the best with the new series, Barb.