Murder at the Million Dollar Pier (Three Snowbirds)
by Gwen Mayo & Sarah E. Glenn
I am so happy today to welcome Gwen Mayo to Escape With Dollycas today!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
During the week I’m a mild-mannered geek juggling schedules for a couple of audiologists, and more than a dozen physical, occupational and speech therapists at a children’s clinic. On the weekends and most evenings, I turn into an equally mild-mannered author, publisher, and all-around history junkie. That’s a rather lengthy way of saying I am always busy.
What are three things most people don’t know about you?
That’s a tough one. My skeletons don’t stay in my closet. They’re all out there throwing a carnival in the streets.
Let’s see; Sarah and I love to go out on the weekends to find towns that don’t exist anymore. It is so cool to find a place that has almost disappeared and bring it back to life in our fiction. We learn so many interesting details about the past that way.
I love chocolate. That probably isn’t that surprising. But I took a class in the art of making chocolate at the Greenbrier Hotel. I ran a small specialty candy shop for a few years. My favorite creation was a chocolate Santa complete with sleigh, reindeer, and a bag full of goodies. That was great fun, but I kept eating into my profits.
I’m also kind of unconventional about writing. My Sisters in Crime spent a couple of years talking me into writing a novel. Still, I love really short stories, drabbles, and flash fiction. The kind of stories that appear in quirky places. I once sold a flash fiction story to a coffee company. It was published on the back of a coffee can.
What is the first book you remember reading?
Donald Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective
What are you reading now?
Down in Flames, one of the Webb’s Glass Shop mysteries, by Cheryl Hollon.
What books have most inspired you?
Agatha Christie’s books had a huge impact on me. I’ve read everything released in the United States and a few anthologies that never crossed the pond. I think I was about twelve when I started reading her novels. Some of her plots don’t hold up well today, but her work is still being read and sometimes reimagined today. That’s the kind of legacy I aspire to leave to my family.
What made you decide you wanted to write mysteries?
I love puzzles. When I plot a book, it is all about the layers of deception and misdirection. That, and the history. Time and place are so important in my books. My Nessa Donnelly mysteries couldn’t have taken placed anywhere but Kentucky or outside of the Decades of Discord. That holds true with the Three Snowbirds series. Florida is usually the first place that comes to mind when snowbirds are mentioned.
Do you have a special place you like to write?
Any place will do as long as it is quiet. My brain doesn’t work well in a noisy environment. I frequently reserve a room at our local library when I most need to be alone with my thoughts. I think I do my best writing there.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
Ideas come from everywhere. Story ideas have come from lines of overheard conversation, music that creates a mood, the scent of a garden, even getting stuck in an elevator. When I start wondering “So, what could go awry?” a story idea forms.
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Finding the right balance between history and story. I have to think about the historical setting as a character in the story and limit its time on the page to what it can contribute to the story.
What do you think makes a good story?
Interesting characters and a strong plot make a good story. If the characters aren’t interesting, well developed, and worth remembering, the plot falls flat. If you don’t have a strong plot, it isn’t a story at all. Lock the most interesting people you can create in a room with nothing to do, and they stop being interesting. Give them a way to escape or something to talk about and you’ve got a story.
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
Cornelia, not that I go around with a gun in my purse, or spent any time in the service, but we share a strong sense of social justice, a love of traveling, and sense of honor.
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
Our Snowbirds are older, well educated, and somewhat unusual for their time. The setting also changes in each book, since it’s a travel series. The Three Snowbirds books are a clean read with a lot of humor, but not everything about the Roaring Twenties was a headlong rush into modernity. We don’t dwell on the segregation, racism, anti-Semitism, or Klan activity, but we don’t ignore it either. The books are populated with a diverse group of characters that reflect Florida at the time they’re set.
What’s next on the horizon for you?
Like Cornelia, I’m considering retiring from my day job in the coming year. Unlike her, I know what I want to do afterwards. Sarah and I are working on the next Three Snowbirds book, Ybor City Blues. Cornelia is going to be literally dragged into another murder case when a Cuban gangster pal of Teddy’s is arrested for the murder of his lady friend, a blues singer at a Ybor City club.
About Murder at the Million Dollar Pier
Murder at the Million Dollar Pier (Three Snowbirds)
Historical Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Publisher: Mystery and Horror, LLC (September 26, 2019)
Paperback: 260 pages
Digital ASIN: B07WMN9V79
“Never waste good rum on a bad night.” – Teddy Lawless, February 1926.
There are many bad nights ahead for Teddy. Shortly after she arrives at the newly opened Vinoy Hotel in Saint Petersburg, she comes face to face with her ex-fiancé, Ansel Stevens, in the dining room. Cue the slap that was thirty years in the making. Unfortunately, her ex-fiancé dies during a yacht race shortly thereafter. Conclusion of the authorities: poison. His family closes ranks, leaving Teddy as the prime suspect. Worse, Teddy’s hair comb is found on the deck of Ansel’s boat, leading to her swift arrest.
Can Cornelia Pettijohn and Uncle Percival save fun-loving Teddy before she goes from the grand hotel to the big house?
More About Gwen Mayo
Gwen Mayo is passionate about blending the colorful history of her native Kentucky with her love for mystery fiction. She currently lives and writes in Safety Harbor, Florida, but grew up in a large Irish family in the hills of Eastern Kentucky.
Her stories have appeared in anthologies, at online short fiction sites, and in micro-fiction collections. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, SinC Guppies, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and the Independent Book Publishers Association.
Gwen attended the University of Kentucky on a poetry scholarship but has an associate degree in business and a bachelor’s degree in political science. Interesting side note: Gwen was a brakeman and railroad engineer from 1983 – 1987.
About Sarah E. Glenn
Sarah E. Glenn loves mystery and horror stories, often with a sidecar of humor. Several have appeared in mystery and paranormal anthologies, including G.W. Thomas’ Ghostbreakers series, Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, and Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, SinC Guppies, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.
Her great-great-aunt served as a nurse in WWI and was injured by poison gas during the fighting. After being mustered out, she traveled widely. A hundred years later, ‘Aunt Dess’ would inspire Sarah to write stories she would likely not have approved of.
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