I am absolutely delighted to have Gayle Trent join us today! Gayle writes the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery series for Bell Bridge Books. The second book in that series is Dead Pan. Both Thorndike and the English publisher BBC Audiobooks will be releasing the first book in that series, Murder Takes the Cake, in large-print, hardcover format in the coming year. Gayle also writes an embroidery series under the pseudonym Amanda Lee for NAL/Penguin. The first book in that series is due to be released in August of 2010.
Gayle was kind enough to answer some questions about her life as a cozy mystery writer.
First of all, what exactly is a "cozy mystery"?
Cozy mysteries usually take place in a small community and involve a relatively small number of people. The reader knows that someone within the intimate group will turn out to be the killer. Think Desperate Housewives with one of the cast turning out to be the killer as opposed to Criminal Minds or CSI. Cozy mysteries also feature an amateur sleuth as opposed to a professional detective, and the heroine has an interesting profession or hobby.
Tell us about your book Dead Pan.
Dead Pan is the second book in the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series. When the book opens, a police officer is questioning Daphne about a cake she took to the Brea Ridge Pharmaceutical Company Christmas party. Many people at the party got sick, but most recovered after being treated with a vaccine manufactured by the company. Only one, Fred Duncan, went into a coma and died. Coincidence? Or did somebody have it in for Fred?
What would you like to overhear people saying about your book?
"I laughed so hard when--" A local book club selected Murder Takes the Cake as one of their books, and when I attended the meeting I was delighted to hear that they thought this or that part was funny. I also love it when people say, "I never guessed ______ was the villain." Also, there was a review where a woman said she loved the main character's relationships with various members of her family -- that they were beautifully or realistically drawn. I felt like, "Oooh, she got it!" Actually, I'll take anything that's not negative. :-)
What inspired you to write Dead Pan?
I was reading an article in Wired magazine about clinical drug tests. I did some further investigation, and I came across some fascinating stuff.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Read the genre you're interested in writing. For instance, when my agent pitched my first three chapters of the embroidery mystery to the editor, the editor said she liked it but didn't love it. I needed to revise it to make her love it in order for her to buy the book. I asked my agent who the editor had published recently. With two names in hand, I went to the bookstore and bought two books. I read them and found they were more descriptive than my own books. I went back, added more description and gave the heroine a bit more spunk, and the book sold. Sometimes you have to be flexible.
Any funny writing stories to share?
I once tried to "write" using my laptop's voice recognition feature while baking brownies and peeling potatoes. Great multi-tasking, right? BUT, there is a drawback to using voice technology gadgets when you have a Southern drawl. Although, the exercise helped me get unblocked and continue on through the chapter I was struggling with, the computer misunderstood most of what I said. AND, to add insult to injury, when I read back over what it said and laughed, the computer translated that as "a a a a a a a a."
Last but not least, do you have a favorite quote that inspires you on those hard-to-write days?
"It's not enough to stare up the steps. You must step up the stairs." – Vance Havner
Thank you, Gayle! It was a delight to have you join us!
For more information about Gayle or to order her books, visit her website and her blog.
Also I know Gayle will be stopping by the blog today to answer questions, so please don't hesitate to leave your comments! You can also share the love on Twitter by retweeting this post -- just click on the button below. :)