A Tangle in the Vines
(A Calla Lily Mystery)
by Anna Celeste Burke
I am excited to welcome Anna Celeste Burke to Escape with Dollycas today!
Hi Anna Celeste,
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a retired professor who lives in the California desert near Palm Springs. That’s where you’ll find me most days, Snooping into life’s mysteries with fun, fiction, & food—California style!
I took the long way around to writing fiction. I worked in the field of behavioral health treatment and research for thirty years. I wrote and published many nerdy academic titles during that period of my life. When they say publish or perish in university settings, they mean it!
The subject matter about how to improve outcomes for people with alcohol, drug, and mental health problems was interesting and meaningful to me. The structure and style used for writing and reporting what I’d learned from the research was excruciatingly stilted and confining.
In the oh so serious world of social and behavioral science, making stuff up is strictly taboo. Writing fiction began as a fun, creative, and liberating activity. When I retired, I was finally free to make stuff up all the time!
When I’m not writing, I enjoy hiking, reading, exploring old haunts and new locales in California, and hanging out with my husband and Siamese cat, Coco.
What are three things most people don’t know about you?
*Before I became a professor, I worked as a chef at Walt Disney World after completing their WDW University Chef Training. I have a real “Micky Mouse” diploma!
*I’m also trained as a psychotherapist and worked as a clinician for about five years. I continued to have a role in supervising students in practice settings for the entire time I was a professor. It was a great way to bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world.
*I’m a strong believer in the value of second chances.
What is the first book you remember reading?
I was four years old and read The Little Golden Books over and over. The Little Red Hen was a favorite. I loved fairytales, too.
What are you reading now?
A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman. I also have a recently released David Baldacci book that I hope to find the time to read soon. There are still a couple of Sara Paretsky’s more recent books that I haven’t read—so many books, so little time!
What books have most inspired you?
There are so many! I loved the classics written by women like Louisa May Alcott, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Jane Austen. I didn’t know about their struggles, but they made it seem natural for women to write and to be taken seriously. I read scads of biographies that inspired me, too, including those about women pioneers in science like Marie Curie.
Like so many other girls, I got hooked on mysteries by reading Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and The Hardy Boys books. As I got older, I moved on to Agatha Christie, Edgar Allen Poe, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories featuring his Sherlock Holmes character. Unique, idiosyncratic, even flawed characters were especially interesting to me. I was captivated by Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Mrs. Pollifax, Jim Qwilleran, VI Warshawski, and so many other well-known sleuths.
When I decided to write fiction, mysteries seemed a natural extension of my fascination with understanding people, their motives, and choice of methods for solving their problems. There’s a lot of detective work in doing research and in working with clients struggling with alcohol, drug, and mental health problems. Sometimes those problems get them into legal trouble, so I had contact with the criminal justice system during my career. In fact, one of the first research projects I worked on was conducted in a women’s prison. Even in prison, the questions about whounit and why don’t always end.
Do you have a special place you like to write?
Yes. I have a big chair—a chair and a half. Coco, my Siamese cat, sometimes sits on the back of it while I write. The chair sits in front of a large window in the great room with a view of sunny blue skies, glittering palm trees, and magenta bougainvillea. The Santa Rosa Mountains are visible in the distance, too.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
It depends. Radical Regatta, my latest book in the Corsario Cove series, draws on a real-life incident—a dog found alone, swimming in the ocean. In that case, the dog had fallen off a cargo carrier and was rescued by workers on an oil rig. The situation seemed to have the makings of a great mystery. It also seemed a perfect way to start a new story for my twenty-something snoops, Kim and Brien, who love each other, surfing, and sleuthing.
The entire Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery series is inspired by the time I spent “working for the mouse” at the “Mouse Factory.” Some of the circumstances and incidents in the stories are loosely based on those I experienced during the five years I worked for Disney.
When I went to “casting” and joined the Disney family, Walt Disney was no longer alive. I often heard him referred to fondly as a creative genius who also had more than his share of flaws. That description applies as well to “Mad” Max Marley, founder of Marvelous Marley World—a Disneyesque entertainment empire based on the success of a cartoon cat.
In a way, the Georgie Shaw series is an exercise in what ifs. Georgie Shaw, trained as a chef, spends her entire career working for the “Cat,” and eventually moves into upper management at Marvelous Marley World. What if I’d stayed at Disney? How interesting might the “path not taken” have been—with a big dose of murder and mayhem tossed in, of course?
Most often the idea for the next book in a series comes from some incident or character in the previous book. I enjoy writing mysteries with “ensemble” casts and a new mystery in the series creates the opportunity to feature a particular “cast member.” For example, in A Dead Nephew, book 6 in the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series to be released later this year, Betsy Stark, a peripheral member of Jessica’s “Cat Pack” will play a larger role. Her Cahuillan ancestry is important in the next mystery where the murder victim and the young man convicted of killing him are both members of a wealthy local tribe here in the Coachella Valley.
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Keeping up with all the tasks involved in publishing and marketing my books is very challenging.
What do you think makes a good story?
Apart from introducing readers to interesting characters who change and grow over the course of a series, I want readers to feel as if they’re part of the action, and I like to keep them guessing until the very end. It’s also important to me for each new mystery I write to be fresh and unique.
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
I’ve mentioned that some aspects of Georgie Shaw’s life are like mine. That’s true for most of my lead characters. My twenty-something sleuths, Kim Reed and Brien Williams, are an homage to the young, impulsive couple my husband and I were at their age. My husband and I ran off and married in Tijuana. I was underaged at the time, so I got as far as LA before the police picked me up as a runaway. Still married forty-nine years later, we’ve matured some although I’m still waiting for the “wisdom” that comes with aging to kick in. LOL! The high-school dropout, rock and roll guitar player I married, grew up, and became a professor too. That’s part of why I love second chances and believe in writing about characters who grow and change over time. A long “character arc” is one of the luxuries of writing a series.
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
They all feature romance and humor, which isn’t always the case with books in the cozy mystery genre. Two of the series I write include a bit more suspense than many cozies—The Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery Series and the Call Lily Mystery series. These two series are closer on the continuum to “edgy” cozy mysteries but are less edgy than the Agatha Raisin or Stephanie Plum series.
The other three—Corsario Cove, Georgie Shaw, and Seaview Cottages are much more traditional cozy mysteries. Like most culinary cozies, my characters eat well. That probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise given my job as a chef. I have series that feature both cats and dogs, but most recently, I’ve added a more unusual pet to one of the series.
Another difference in my series might also be that in the Corsario Cove and Georgie Shaw series, married couples solve the mysteries together. I don’t think that happens often, but I find the Thin Man series by Dashiell Hammett so enjoyable I’ve watched the old films starring Myrna Loy, Ronald Coleman, and their dog, Asta, over and over.
Until recently, I didn’t realize it, but all my female leads are “survivors” of one kind or another. That wasn’t a conscious decision on my part, but it isn’t too surprising. There’s more to the story, but I’ll leave that for another time.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I have two more books planned in the Calla Lily Mystery series for early next year: Fall’s Killer Vintage, mystery #3, and The Vintner’s Other Daughter, #4. I have a new book planned for each of the other series, too. A Dead Nephew, Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery #6 will be out in early November. A Fairway to Arms in Hemingway Hills, Seaview Cottages Cozy Mystery #4 or A Canary in the Canal, Georgie Shaw Cozy Mystery #8 will be available by the end of the year—I’m not sure which one yet. I’d be delighted if I could finish both by then.
Radical Regatta, Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery #4 is only available in our USA Today Bestselling box set, Summer Snoops Unleashed: 14 Furr-ocious Mysteries & Cozy Crimes. That is a limited-edition box set and will be unpublished at the end of October. At that point, I’ll make Radical Regatta available as a standalone book. I have a fifth book in the works for the Corsario Cove series, Bogus Bones, in which two newly introduced rascals in book 4 will be back to cause more mischief.
About A Tangle In The Vines
A Tangle in the Vines (A Calla Lily Mystery)
2nd in Series
Independently Published (September 10, 2019)
Number of Pages 250 pages with recipes
The curtain may fall on the Calla Lily Players’ first season unless Lily and Austin can find a killer on the loose in California’s wine country. Torrential rains threaten to put a damper on The Calla Lily Players’ first outdoor theater production. When the ground suddenly shifts, buried secrets revealed amid the tangled vines put the spotlight on murder. As Lily and Austin dig deeper into the mystery, the drama unfolds onstage and off. The race is on to find a killer before opening night.
Grab your copy of the second book in the Calla Lily Mystery series by USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Anna Celeste Burke and join the race! Recipes Included. Free to read in Kindle Unlimited.
Praise for A Tangle in the Vines
(A Calla Lily Mystery)
by Anna Celeste Burke
Well developed characters each playing a part makes it even more fun. Makes for a great cozy read making it perfect for fans of the genre. Wine lovers should appreciate it as well since it is set in the middle of wine country.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews
About Anna Celeste Burke
An award-winning, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, I hope you’ll join me snooping into life’s mysteries with fun, fiction, and food—California style!
Life is an extravaganza! Figuring out how to hang tough and make the most of the wild ride is the challenge. On my way to Oahu, to join the rock musician and high school drop-out I had married in Tijuana, I was nabbed as a runaway. Eventually, the police let me go, but the rock band broke up.
Retired now, I’m still married to the same sweet guy and live with him near Palm Springs, California. I write the Jessica Huntington Desert Cities Mystery series set here in the Coachella Valley, the Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery Series set along California’s Central Coast, The Georgie Shaw Mystery series set in the OC, The Seaview Cottages Cozy Mystery Series set on the so-called American Riviera, just north of Santa Barbara, and The Calla Lily Mystery series where the murder and mayhem take place in California’s Wine Country. Won’t you join me? Sign up at: http://desertcitiesmystery.com.
Purchase Link – Amazon
The First Book in this Series
Also by Anna Celeste Burke
Click on covers for more book information or to order from Amazon.
September 10 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, GUEST POST
September 10 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE
September 11 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
September 11 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY
September 12 – Babs Book Bistro – GUEST POST – Sapphyria’s Books
September 12 – ❧Defining Ways❧ – SPOTLIGHT
September 12 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
September 13 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY
September 13 – Laura’s Interests – CHARACTER GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY
September 13 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT
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September 15 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW
September 15 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW
September 15 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT
September 16 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT, RECIPE
September 16 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
September 16 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
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