I recently had the pleasure of reading the cozy mystery, Murder at Peacock Mansion, and talking with author Judy Alter about this Blue Plate Cafe mystery.
Murder at Peacock Mansion is a page turner. Set in a small town in East Texas with the main character, Kate Chambers, acting as full-time cafe owner and part-time sleuth, this book centers on a murder that occurred several decades earlier at Peacock Mansion. The woman who was accused and acquitted of that murder enlists Kate’s help to find out who the real murderer was those many years ago. This request sets in motion a series of events that reveal greed, family dysfunction and multiple layers of deception.
This story is filled with well-developed characters who breathe life into the everyday world of Wheeler, Texas, where the plot thickens almost immediately when Kate Chambers is approached by Edith Aldridge to find her husband’s murderer. Arson, greedy stepchildren and dead peacocks add intrigue to the mystery and keep the reader guessing who is responsible for the havoc that is raining down on Kate, her lawyer love-interest, David, and several members of the Aldridge family.
I would highly recommend this book if you are a fan of cozy mysteries. It’s smartly written, intriguing and entertaining. Most importantly, the story will keep you guessing until the last page.
Questions for Judy:
1) What is the title of your book, the genre, intended audience and a quick description of what it is about?
Murder at Peacock Mansion, cozy mystery, audience is mystery readers.
2) Who is your favorite character and why?
Kate Chambers, the protagonist—she’s an ordinary person but both gutsy and flawed like all of us.
3) Is there a villain? If so, what makes him/her unique?
There are several villains but the principle one is scheming, deceptive and delusional.
4) What theme(s) can be found in the book?
Dysfunctional families, greed, food—and love of several kinds, including animals.
5) How did you arrive at the title and what significance does it have?
The peacocks just appeared one day and gave the title more pizzazz than just Murder at the Mansion.
6) What kinds of books, stories, essays, poetry, etc. have you written in the past or plan to write in the future?
I have written fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers, including historical fiction and contemporary mysteries.
7) How do you work as a writer? Every day? More sporadically? Word count, page count, or timed writing? On a computer or longhand? Are you an outliner or seat-of-the-pants writer?
These days I’m a sporadic writer; sometimes I aim for a thousand words a day; other times I’m lucky to get my daily blog, Judy’s Stew, written.
8) What was a particular challenge you faced writing this book?
I’m a pantser so finding out what’s happening next, why, and who did it are always problems for me.
9) What is an insight you have gained from writing this book?
How fortunate I am to have a loving, normal, close family and to be able write when I want.
10) What do you want people to know about this book before they read it?
It’s storytelling, not belles lettres.
11) What do you hope people will take away after reading this book?
Regret that it ended; enjoyment; curiosity about my other books.
12) If you wanted to share advice with a new writer what would it be?
Read a lot, consciously paying attention to structure, syntax, etc.
13) Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about. Who designed your book cover/s? Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
My former publisher did the covers for my two mystery series, and I loved them. Murder at Peacock Mansion is my first indie publication after Turquoise Morning Press went out of business. I asked the former publisher if she’d design a cover; she works as Calliope Designs. I think the result is smashing.
14) How are you publishing this book and why?
(*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
Indie, because my publisher went out of business; I was headed that direction anyway because the house concentrated on romance.
15) What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing rather than going a more traditional route?
The sense of being in charge of your own career and deadlines; the chance of increased income.
16) Do you have advice for new authors on publishing, marketing, etc.? What would you do differently next time in reference to the publishing process?
I always think an author shouldn’t self-publish their first book but should establish a platform and following first. I also think authors should study the publishing process—it’s complicated, not something everyone can do. Especially beginners need professional help with editing, cover design, formatting. For me, the hardest part is marketing.
17) Please give us a favorite snippet of your book.
Two more bullets churned up the dirt, but not close enough to scare me. Whoever was shooting wasn’t a good shot and may have been lucky with that first bullet. I heard two more shots but had no idea where they landed. After the fifth shot, the woods surrounding us became strangely quiet for a moment. Then I heard two men pushing through the brush. My guess was that they had waited to make sure I made no move, and now they were coming after me. My heart pounded in my ears, and I looked around desperately. No phone—it was in the car. No weapon. No shelter.
The only thing I saw was the porch that remained sort of intact. I inched Huggles under it, into the mud and muck, still keeping my body over his and whispering gently to him. He must have understood our danger because he kept very quiet. We had just managed to inch under the porch and a ways back, when two men in camouflage, carrying rifles, emerged from the brush.
18) How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Judy-Alter-Author-366948676705857/ and https://www.facebook.com/judy.alter
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Judy-Alter/e/B001H6KPU6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1449160209&sr=1-2-ent
Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)