WE HAVE A WINNER! Congratulations, Sharon Forrest, you are the winner of Kaz’s giveaway–a $20 Amazon gift card! Kaz will be in touch with you! Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and chatting!!
You know what I love? Getting to know my fellow Tule Publishing authors. They are all such great women, full of enthusiasm and talent and kindness. Kaz Delaney was a joy to interview! Award winning YA & children’s author, Kaz Delaney, and her alter ego, have currently sold 73 titles between them over a 28-year career.
Her books have won many awards, among them the prestigious Aurealis Award for best paranormal and ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) awards. Her novel ‘Dead, Actually’ (Allen & Unwin) was nominated for a Davitt Award, (Best crime novel, Sisters In Crime) in the YA section. Dividing her time between teaching and writing, Kaz formerly tutored Creative Writing for CSU’s Enrichment Program as well as teaching and creating courses for the Australian College of Journalism. Having always had a love of cozy mysteries, Kaz is having so much fun writing her Hart of Texas Mystery Series for TULE Publishing, that she worries it’s not legal!
With their family grown and gone, Kaz lives with her wonderful husband at beautiful Lake Macquarie, Australia, a place she describes as a strip of land between the ocean and lake. Like Rosie, Kaz loves to bake and grow vegetables and unlike Rosie, manages to make a mess of every crochet and craft task she undertakes.
GIVEAWAY! Kaz is giving a $20 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter, so be sure to say howdy before you leave! (We’ll choose a name at random on Friday, March 25 at 10 a.m. EST.)
N: Welcome to the blog, Kaz! I’m so delighted to have you visiting today. So, what inspired you to start writing?
A: If I’m honest Nan – when I growing up I thought it was the only thing I was good at! My mother had fostered in me a love of books from a very early age, and as many children of my age group, there never seemed to be enough books, and so of course, I took to writing my own. And I never tired of it. As an adult, and after teaching for many years I better understood the drive: I believe I didn’t really have a choice; that it was ‘in me’. You see, I believe writers are born with this passion. It’s something in us that we can’t let go; can’t ignore. In fact, I worry about what will happen if I live to be a very old lady and can’t get the stories out of my head!! Ha!
N: What comes first—the plot or the characters? Tricky question because I write series mysteries. Cozy mysteries to be precise, which are generally quite plot driven. Maybe when the first book was conceived it was character, to get all the recurring players in place, but for subsequent books, having the main players in place meant that plot naturally came first. Like, what kind of dilemma will Rosie find herself in this time – and then it’s going back to find out who created this dilemma. I haven’t always written cozies but still, I think this creation style suits me as I’ve always been drawn to “character situation” and maybe that harks back to my days of writing for children.
N: Your new cozy mystery with Tule Publishing, A Bittersweet Murder released yesterday—that’s so exciting! What is the most surprising thing you discovered about yourself while writing A Bittersweet Murder?
A: Thank you Nan! I’m incredibly excited. And thrilled that Tule picked up the series: they’ve been a dream to work with. So, to your question: Easy answer, but possibly a basic one. Overall, I discovered how much I truly love this genre, and that maybe I should have followed this path earlier in my career. I’ve always – eternally – been drawn to puzzles and mystery, but I discovered how natural it felt, and how comfortable I was in this new (genre) skin. I also realized that I can’t seem to write anything without adding some romance to it. Ha! I was wary. A seasoned cozy reader told me right in the beginning that cozy readers don’t like romance in their books, but somehow it just felt right for Rosie to find Jonah, and I couldn’t bring myself to take that thread out. And you know – so many of the recent reviewers have said how much they love that thread, like it’s something more to draw them to the series. So, I’m pretty pleased I didn’t, though tempted, heed that advice.
N: Talk to us about writing cozy mysteries. Do you plot out the entire story or does it simply unfold as you write?
A: I’ve done both. However, I’m far more productive – and it’s way less stressful – if I have a grip on where the story is going. I now take a fair bit of planning time before beginning each new book where I list each character (the required 5 or so suspects) and plot out their stories – so that as Rosie is investigating, each could feasibly be the murderer. I give them each a possible motive, clarify how each relates the situation and give them a secret. Once this is done, I write up a basic overview of the story. Unlike some cozy writers, I always know ‘who dunnit’ before I begin. For me, at least, it’s a lot easier than going back and planting clues and red herrings afterwards and trying to tie them in seamlessly. So, do I know every step of the story before I begin? No. How Rosie goes about finding these people and discovering their stories is still organic. I guess maybe what I’m saying is that I know the characters pretty well before I begin, I know the broad overview of the story and who the culprit is – but I don’t know the nitty-gritty, every-moment details. Does that make sense?
N: How much of you is in your character Rosie Hart?
A: Dare I be honest here? Obviously, I’m not young and gorgeous like Rosie, but we do share a lot of similarities. Maybe her worst traits? Ha! Rosie is nosy, and while I hope I’m not nosy, I guess I like to know what’s going on. (Hmmm, Did I just admit to being nosy?) I adore puzzles and mysteries and devour cozy mystery books. Just like Rosie.
We also love to cook and bake and yes, just like Rosie, it’s my love language. Rosie is generous and wants to take care of everybody, and I have been guilty of that as well. And let me tell you, it hasn’t always been the most prudent call. Some people want to solve their own problems. Who knew? Perhaps on a deeper level we also share some other similarities. Rosie’s childhood was very different to mine, but we were both lonely children to some degree. I got my reward in a beautiful husband and we’ve shared a lovely life. I wanted that for Rosie as well – so she found Jonah. Or was it the other way around? So, yes, more than any other character through countless books, Rosie is possibly most like me. Poor girl…
N: Who are your favorite cozy mystery authors?
A: I have devoured all of Candace Havens series. Of course Agatha Christie – the queen of cozies. I found my first one when I was about 14 and was instantly hooked. I have her complete series. GK Chesterton’s Father Brown series. I have a bit of a thing for the older writers – Mignon G Eberhart who wrote in the nineteen forties, yet often her stories were set a few decades earlier. I adore the mystery writers of the nineteen twenties and have a bit of a collection. Earl Derr Biggers with his Charlie Chan books set in Hawaii are brilliant, for example. S.S. Van Dine’s Philo Vance stories? Fabulous. I could honestly fill a page here…
N: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell your readers about?
A: Well, four books in the series will debut this year, which is beyond thrilling. Just two months after A Bittersweet Murder is released, the second book, Preserving the Evidence will hit all the regular platforms. And right now? Nan, I’m having so much fun crafting the fifth book as we speak. The working title is ‘Silence of the Limes’ and obviously I’m easily amused because it makes me laugh every time I open the document. I doubt very much that I’ll be allowed to keep it, but for now, I’m happy to be amused. In this book, someone has tampered with the paved area at the back of Jonah’s house and lo and behold not one, but two dead bodies are discovered buried there. One is recent but one dates back some time. I have to say that’s one thing I’m having so much fun with in this series and it’s accidentally turned into a recurring theme – “tying the past to the present.”
N: What do you like to do when you are not writing?
A: I haven’t always been good at balancing life with work. I tend to let the work obsess me, which isn’t healthy for me or for my family. So, of late I’ve tried to be mindful and tried to bring in more balance. We’re fortunate that we live quite near the beach so I’ve always been a beach walker, and on warm days we often sneak around there. But now I’ve added Tai Chi (I’m the ungainly one so I’m easy to pick out) and other various groups that force me out of my ‘hole’. Of course, I bake and read, often together which isn’t always advisable. The youngest of our ten grandsons, just 3 years old, is with us three days a week. He’s my husband’s shadow, and he brings such fun and laughter into our lives. I’m a trivia addict so I play pub trivia at every opportunity and travel when we are able.
N: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: A nurse, a teacher, a journalist, a psychologist and a writer. Probably all at the same time!!! And I didn’t miss the mark by much. Writer, teacher and psychologist – because I reckon all authors are darned good at analyzing people (a.k.a. characters). We have to be, don’t we? Otherwise, how can we present them as believable people?
N: Favorite book when you were a kid?
A: Series really: The Bobbsey Twins, Nurse Cherry Ames. Then, Little Women, of course. My mum and I used to read it together. In the original movie version starring Kate Hepburn I was fascinated by the drawled accent. They pronounced Mommy and Marmey. When I was at boarding school, my letters to her always began, “Dear Marmey”, and afterward, my mother adopted that as her grandmother’s name when my children were born. It was quickly abbreviated to “Marm” and continued through 9 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren.
N: And here is my signature question that everyone loves: If you could choose three people, living or dead, to invite to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
A: First and foremost, Dame Agatha Christie. I would sit at her feet and absorb every word she had to utter. Mignon Eberhart for similar reasons. Actually, I’d invite them together and discuss the cultural differences of writing mysteries in settings on opposite sides of the world. Finally, my paternal grandfather—a man I adored. He was kind and generous and funny, and he had such an interesting life. He was one of ten children, nine boys and one girl. Eight of those boys banded together and hand-dug coal tunnels that resulted in them owning successful coal mines. Actually, house on land owned by that mine was my first home as a newborn and the mine is still a going concern to this day. Now of course it’s a huge corporation and ownership passed from my family about forty odd years ago, but it was an amazing family and community legacy. I was always going to write down all his stories – and I missed the opportunity. I’d love a second chance. Caveat: At first, I felt I should nominate someone noble here, as these names seemed a bit frivolous at first but you know, these are people who immediately came to mind, and in my mind—these three are indeed noble, so I’m going with them.
A Bittersweet Murder
For one brief hour on a sunny Texas morning, amateur baker Rosie Hart glimpses the life she’s always dreamed about—thanks to a surprise inheritance from the late Miss Alice. But her benefactor is barely cold in the ground when Rosie is accused of her murder.
As the only stranger in the tight-knit Airlie Falls community, and the only person with an obvious motive, all eyes turn to Rosie. Especially when more bodies begin to pile up and mysterious letters from the grave start circulating faster than Rosie can pull a tray of cherry nut clusters out of the oven.
When Rosie begins to suspect the murders have links to a sixty-year-old suspicious death on the very property she’s just inherited, town locals become uneasy. But how can Rosie prove the two are related—and prove her innocence—before the killer strikes again?