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

June Interviews

6/3 Gretchen Archer, Double Trouble
6/10 Kaye George, Deadly Sweet Tooth
6/17 Annette Dashofy, Til Death
6/24 Adam Meyer

Saturday Guest Bloggers

6/6 Mary Keliikoa
6/13 William Ade
6/20 Liz Milliron

WWK Bloggers:

6/27 Kait Carson
6/30 WWK Writers--What We're Reading Now


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!

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, and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination! All are winners but without Agatha Teapots. Onto 20121!

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."

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.

Kaye George's second novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Deadly Sweet Tooth, was released on June 2. Look for the interview here on June 10.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.

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, October 9, 2019

An Interview With Connie Berry

by Grace Topping

Many of you know Connie Berry as a blogger on Writers Who Kill and Miss Demeanors. Today, she is switching it up a bit and appearing as a guest author on WWK to discuss her Kate Hamilton Mystery series. The first in the series, A Dream of Death, came out in AprilThe second book, A Legacy of Murder, was released just days ago.

A Legacy of Murder

It's Christmastime and antiques dealer Kate Hamilton is off to visit her daughter, Christine, in the quaint English village of Long Barston. Christine and her boyfriend, Tristan, work at stately-but-crumbling Finchley Hall. Touring the Elizabethan house and grounds, Kate is intrigued by the docent's tales of the Finchley Hoard, and the strange deaths surrounding the renowned treasure trove. But next to a small lake, Kate spies the body of a young woman, killed by a garden spade.

Nearly blind Lady Barbara, who lives at Finchley with her loyal butler, Mugg, persuades Kate to take over the murdered woman's work. Kate finds that a Burmese ruby has vanished from the legendary Blood-Red Ring, replaced by a lesser garnet. Were the theft and the woman's death connected?

Kate learns that Lady Barbara's son fled to Venezuela years before, suspected of murdering another young woman. The murder weapon belonged to an old gardener, who becomes the leading suspect. But is Lady Barbara's son back to kill again? When another body is found, the clues point toward Christine. It's up to Kate to clear her daughter's name in Connie Berry's second Kate Hamilton mystery, a treasure for fans of traditional British mysteries.

Welcome, Connie.

Hello, Grace. Thank you for welcoming me to this side of Writers Who Kill.

Fiction writers are advised to create a memorable setting with not only the details about a place but also the way the characters experience it, making setting a character. Your descriptions of Scotland in A Dream of Death and England in A Legacy of Murder are appealing, and Kate's feelings about the places come through vividly. How did you get that sense of place?

I think one of the reasons people love books set in a foreign land is the opportunity to "travel" there without actually leaving home. Anyway, that's why I adore books set in the UK. The job of the author, I believe, is to evoke the setting as vividly and as accurately as possible. For me, that means actually being there. I've spent a lot of time in the UK, first as a student at Oxford University, and since then as a frequent visitor. My husband and I travel to the UK once or twice a year. Scotland is a favorite place for me because my grandparents were born there. I feel a connection to the people, the history, and the land. The fictional isle of Glenroth (the setting for A Dream of Death) is located just south of Skye in the Inner Hebrides—a magical location. I love the smell of the sea and the peat fires, the way the mist settles on the rocky peaks, and the ever-present roar of the wind. Kate's sense of the island's history and the sensory details she notices are partly determined by the memories of her husband's death, which may account for what some have termed a "Gothic" feel. 

Suffolk, the setting for A Legacy of Murder, is well off the tourist track but endlessly fascinating for me because of its ancient Roman and Anglo-Saxon history. England's past is never more than an inch or two below the surface, but this is especially true in Suffolk. My husband and I like to stay in self-catering cottages and soak in the atmosphere—the impossibly quaint villages; the medieval buildings; the hedgerows, thick with holly and berries; the silly pheasants who stroll the narrow lanes as if automobiles had never been invented. A reader in Ithaca, New York, recently told me that when she reads my books, it's almost like being there. I take that as a great compliment.

You set A Dream of Death in Scotland but moved A Legacy of Murder to Suffolk, England. Why the change in setting?

Scotland was never intended to be a permanent setting for the series. I wanted Kate, an American antiques dealer, and Tom Mallory, an English detective inspector, to meet in a place where they were both outsiders, thrown together by circumstances. Tom trusts his instincts as a police professional, but in Scotland, he also learns to value Kate's perceptions—especially her ability to notice details and see patterns. For Kate, Scotland holds memories of her husband's tragic death, so leaving Glenroth behind is emblematic of her growth as a character. Besides, I pretty much killed off or otherwise disposed of most of the characters on Glenroth. The second book, A Legacy of Murder, is set in the fictional Suffolk village of Long Barston—on Tom's patch—where the story will remain for a while.

Kate is an experienced antiques dealer who has a sixth sense about antiques. Please tell us about that.

Having grown up in the high-end antiques trade, I know that a love for the objects of the past is partly emotional. My mother was a meticulous researcher and documenter, but my father was a romantic. He was raised by his Scottish grandparents, caretakers on the Rockefeller summer estate in Lakewood, New Jersey. As a child, my father was so impressed with the fine art and antiques in the mansion—especially the "Chinese Room"—that he developed a lifelong passion for antiques. He was also an electronics engineer and inventor. How these disparate skills came together, I can't explain, but (like Kate) I would call him an antiques whisperer.

Kate's relationship with her daughter, Christine, is a bit rocky. What accounts for that?

Having sons, I've never experienced the emotional turmoil that can arise between a mother and a daughter. My first son was colicky as an infant, however, which provides some of Kate's memories of Christine's challenging babyhood. As women, they have very different personalities. Kate is logical and mostly even-tempered (or likes to think she is), while Christine is passionate, impulsive, even reckless, approaching life with the abandon of a runaway freight train. The more Kate tries to spare her daughter angst, the more Christine resists her interference. If you've raised teenagers, you probably know what I mean. 

Their greatest conflict, though, comes from their very different responses to loss. Three years earlier, Kate lost her husband. At the same time, Christine lost her father—at almost exactly the same age Kate was when she lost her own father. While Kate deals with grief and loss by guarding her heart, Christine deals with it by replaying what she processed as abandonment over and over again in her love life. I must say, Kate is better at diagnosing Christine's issues than her own. Like most of us.

Kate's relationship with Inspector Tom Mallory is fraught with complications. Why?

After her husband's untimely death, Kate effectively shut herself off from the possibility of a new relationship. Letting Tom into her heart is a huge step, one she initially resists. Besides, Tom is British; Kate is American. His life and responsibilities are in Suffolk. Hers are in Ohio. How could a romance work out in practical terms? And then there's Tom's mother—the one who doesn't like Americans. In A Legacy of Murder, Kate learns that the complications of an intercontinental romance aren't the worst things she and Tom will have to face.

Is there anything in your first book or your series you wish you had done differently?

Started writing sooner? Most authors my age have a long backlist. My first book took a long time to complete because there was so much I had to learn. Even with an MA in English Literature and having read literally thousands of mysteries, I didn't know what I didn't know. If I could do it over again, I'd start writing in my twenties (easy to say now, right?).

A number of authors are writing more than one series. Have you given any thought to another series?

I have. In fact, I have an idea for a second series—and a cool pseudonym, should that become necessary. How writing two series would work out time-wise, I have no idea. Some authors can juggle multiple series simultaneously. That really impresses me.

With two books being published in one year, how has it been balancing writing and promotion?

First, you have to learn to write. Then you have to learn to be an author. Right now I'm in the process of learning how to be an author. After lecturing for twenty-five years, public speaking isn't a problem (and I'm never at a loss for words J). But the organizational part of juggling promotion with writing hasn't come easily for me. All I can say is, I'm learning.

An audio version of A Dream of Death has been produced. Were you involved in the process? Are there plans for an audio version of A Legacy of Murder?

I was involved in a limited way. The producer, Dreamscapes, gave me a couple of audition tapes to listen to and approve. I'm an audiobook addict, and having listened to a number of books with both American and British characters, I know how hard it is to get both right. The Scottish accent is especially difficult. Like most languages, accents vary widely from Dumfries to Glasgow and from Edinburgh to the Highlands. Even though I grew up with the Scots' accent in my ear, I absolutely cannot reproduce it. Ruth Uruquart, the narrator of A Dream of Death, is Scottish, so she obviously nails the voices on the Isle of Glenroth. And I think she does a good job with the English and American accents as well. I’m waiting to hear about an audiobook for A Legacy of Murder.

What's next for Kate Hamilton?

Right now I'm working on Book Three, tentatively entitled A Pattern of Betrayal. Kate is back in Long Barston for the summer, running a dear friend's antiquities business while he recuperates from bilateral hip surgery. When a local recluse consigns a valuable, ancient Chinese vase, Kate is thrilled. The commission will put the shop's shaky cash flow back on an even keel. But when the vase goes missing and a dead body is found in the stockroom, Kate finds herself on the trail of a missing daughter, a ruthless killer, an ancient legend, and a decades-old pattern of betrayal.

Thank you, Connie.

Learn more about Connie Berry and her books at www.connieberry.com and on Facebook.


Annette said...

Congratulations on the new release, Connie! It sounds fabulous!

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Congratulations on your second release! Looking forward to more of Kate's adventures.

Shari Randall said...

Congratulations on the new release! Such an interesting interview - thank you, Connie and Grace!

Grace Topping said...

Thank you, Connie, for coming to this side of WWK. And, congratulations on the release of another book.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Great interview, Grace and Connie. Wishing you many sales, Connie.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

I'm envious of your ability to travel to the UK and Scotland. We're traveling to Scotland and Ireland next year. But to immerse yourself so fully. Congratulations, Connie, sounds like a wonderful series, I will be checking out! Thanks, Grace for hosting Connie!

KM Rockwood said...

We seem to have been hijacked by one Daniel Smith of Microsoft Office.


Thanks for such a great interview! The series sound fascinating. I hope it does well for you!