Monday, May 17, 2010

Interview with Gayle Trent

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. :)


Magdalena Ball said...

Great interview Gayle. I've also had funny results from using voice recognition software for writing (that's my wierd hybrid accent). I'm glad I now know what a cozy mystery is. Makes me all warm inside!

Martha said...

Gayle,thanks for the great interview.
I love your comment about wanting to overhear people saying "I laughed so hard when..." I've been privy to a few times when I've overheard comments about my book. Thank goodness they were good.
Martha Swirzinski

DarcĂ­a said...

Gayle, your books always make me want to take a trip to the bakery!

kathy stemke said...

Thanks for a great interview. I retweeted the post.

I think we should all get together someday and have some of Gayle's cake!!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Both series sound like fun reads. Do you have any trouble keeping your characters separated between the two series?

elysabeth said...

I was going to ask how you do it, keep the series separate and characters, but Jane sort of beat me to it. Anyway, lovely interview and good questions asked, Dallas.

Keep up the good job ladies. See you all in the postings - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-state, mystery, trivia series

Where will the adventure take you next?

madcapmaggie said...

Daphne, you hooked me with the title of the second book in your series, "Dead Pan." I'm heading straight to the book store to look for the first book in your series.It sounds like tremendous fun.

Margaret Fieland

Gayle said...

Thanks, everybody! You guys are the best. By the way, I made a tiramisu cake last week to take to a potluck at my children's school. It was yummy! Find the recipe here: (It's sooooo easy!) :-)

Gayle said...

Jane, I do sometimes have trouble keeping the series and characters straight - especially when I'm on deadlines for both books. At one point last year, I'd be writing "Brea Ridge" but the story would be set in "Tallulah Falls" or vice versa. I do keep a cheat sheet telling me all the major information on each series, and I try to keep that handy as I'm writing.

Nancy Famolari said...

Great interview. I've never tried voice recognition software -- now I think I won't. Your new book sounds great!

Anonymous said...

Cozy mysteries are fun to read. Allows the author to really develop characters and the setting rather than rush through the book.

Stephen Tremp

Vivian Zabel said...

I retweeted the post. I enjoyed it.

Janet Ann Collins said...

Thanks for sharing all this.

Karen Cioffi said...

Wonderful interview. I love that quote . . . it's similar to nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Your books look like great reads, Gayle.

Kathy, that sounds like a great idea!

Dallas said...

Gayle it was so wonderful to have you on my blog today! Thank you everyone for stopping by and retweeting! :)

Anonymous said...

You know, this isn't the kind of novel I'd normally read... but this interview made me want to rush out and buy it. Especially enjoyed the voice recognition software story (I use it all the time, and, although it has improved greatly, it still throws up the occasionally amusing error!)

Did you ever try it again?

Gayle said...

I have tried the voice-recognition software again on occasion, Gary, but it always throws me into a fit of giggles. So it's a mood restorer, maybe, but not an effective writing tool. It kind of reminds me of the time I went to a Japanese restaurant and asked the proprietor about the Japanese Festival of the Dolls. She asked, "Japanese vegetable? What vegetable? You eat it here?" Sometimes you just can't break through those language barriers. ;)

Debra Eckerling said...

Great post and fabulous advice.

Thanks, Dallas and Gayle!

Katie Hines said...

I know of another writer who uses cooking in her books, and scattered throughout are the recipes of the items on the menus.

I loved the interview. Best of luck to you, Gayle, with your books.

Mayra Calvani said...

Terrific interview!

Gayle, thanks for sharing that tip on how you got the agent to love your book--great anecdote!

Mari said...

I love cozy mysteries! Your series sounds quite fascinating. Can't wait to read both in the Daphne Martin series. As usual with the VBT authors, excellent interview!