Devil’s Kiss: A Small Batch Mystery
by Michelle Bennington
It is my pleasure to welcome Michelle Bennington
to Escape With Dollycas today.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in the beautiful Commonwealth of Kentucky. I’m a book hoarder who loves touring distilleries, which is, in part, why I wrote Devil’s Kiss. And I love touring historic sites—even more so if they’re purportedly haunted. I enjoy a wide array of arts and crafts and always take on more projects than I can reasonably manage, but somehow eventually get them done. And in my downtime, I love to watch reruns of The Great British Baking Show while snuggling with my Cockapoo, Maple. As a writer, I have more ideas than I’ll be able to write in my lifetime. Though I start each book with a plot, once I start writing, the plot quickly veers off course into uncharted, but more exciting territory. So, I guess I’m a Plantser, a plotter-pantser hybrid.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I don’t do much research before writing. I just dive in and start writing. If I hit a spot where I don’t know something, I leave a note to myself in the manuscript to go back and research it. Depending on the topic, it can take me a few hours to a few weeks. Most of my research comes from online articles. But I also use topic-focused Facebook groups, books, documentaries, and in-person research. The amount of research I do depends on if I’m writing historical or contemporary. Historical work requires a ton of research down to the minutiae of daily life, so I can spend weeks, even months, in research through all stages of the manuscript development. By comparison, contemporary pieces are much easier and lighter in the research area, so I can usually get my questions answered quickly.
Do you ever suffer from Writer’s Block?
Rarely. I work on more than one manuscript at a time, so when I hit a wall with one book, I jump over to another one. I also enjoy a wide variety of arts and crafts which keeps the creative well full. So, when I’m struggling with a scene or a plot point, I do some other artsy thing; this focuses my mind on something unrelated to writing so my subconscious can work out my writing issue behind the scenes. By the time I return to my work, I find the problem is usually resolved. I also use another trick: I stop writing at a point when the writing is flowing rapidly. I make a few notes in the manuscript about where I want the story to go next, then I quit for the day. That way, when I come back to the writing, it doesn’t take as long to warm up and I can resume the flow. However, in the moments when I do have a block I find it’s one of two reasons: I either haven’t plotted enough or I simply need a break. Giving myself permission to stop writing isn’t easy, but it’s important.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
At the time, I’m only traditionally published so I would say for anyone wanting to be traditionally published, it’s important to understand writing is a business and that’s how the publishers and agents are looking at it, too. When you query a book to an agent or publisher, it’s like going on an interview and it’s always a good idea to present yourself in the most professional manner possible. This means following the submission guidelines, researching how to write a compelling query, conducting yourself with professionalism, understanding who your audience is, what a hook is, and all the other details that go into this career. If possible, connect with a mentor who has experience in the field who can help guide you through the business and finding a critique partner who will tell you the truth about your writing is essential.
I work full-time in a non-writing career, so between the two, and my personal obligations, that doesn’t leave much free time. But when I do get free time, I love to read—of course. I read widely across almost all genres. I’m not too picky as long as the story or subject seems compelling. And I love a wide array of arts and crafts: dance, crochet, painting, puzzles—the list goes on—so I’ve always got some project going. And, of course, spending time with friends and family is always high on my list.
Did the COVID pandemic affect you and your writing?
Sometimes it affected my motivation. But I continued to work outside the home, which was probably my saving grace because it kept me pretty close to my normal routine. The thing that bothered me most was that I had planned on attending lots of writers’ conferences and workshops to grow my writing and to meet other writers, but that all fell through. I could’ve done some of them virtually, but I find I don’t get as much out of the virtual programs. I really prefer the in-person events, even though I’m really introverted because there’s just so much more to glean—the little bits of overheard conversations, the energy, the interactions, the vending / shopping experiences—all the things that virtual events can’t really match.
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
I want to be on a beach in the Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, the Maldives—anywhere quiet and secluded—just me and the ocean. There’s something about being near the ocean that completely recharges my energy, clears out the mental clutter, and helps me forget, if briefly, about the never – completed To Do list.
What is next on the horizon for you?
Lots of work! The second book for the Small Batch Series will be coming out next May, so I’ll be working on those revisions with my publisher soon. I’m also knee-deep in a self-publishing project that I hope to release later this year. Next October, the first book in the Widows & Shadows series—a historical mystery called Widow’s Blush—will be released. In the meantime, I’m working on revising a historical fiction manuscript based on a true crime. I’m also hoping to get out and about to as many conferences and workshops that I can. Of course, I’ll put all this information in my newsletters and on my website / social media as the release dates get closer. More than anything, I really want to meet other writers and readers and talk about what we love most—books!
You are one busy woman!
Thank you for taking the time to visit with us today.
Now keep reading to learn about Devil’s Kiss!
About Devil’s Kiss
Devil’s Kiss: A Small Batch Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Kentucky
Level Best Books (May 31, 2022)
Paperback : 278 pages
ISBN-10 : 1685121128
ISBN-13 : 978-1685121129
Digital ASIN : B09Z3G9VZ9
Rook Campbell is broke, divorced, jobless, and in desperate need of steady employment, which is hard to come by in the small town of Rothdale, Kentucky. With the help of her friend and neighbor Bryan, she lands a good job at the Four Wild Horses Distillery and meets an attractive co-worker with lots of dating potential. Her life is finally headed in the right direction until a co-worker dies under suspicious circumstances and a shipment of rare small-batch bourbon goes missing. Worse, her personal life begins to unravel as her beloved grandmother falls ill. Normally she can depend on her ex, Cam, for help, but his new fiancée’s jealousy is getting in the way. As the body count rises, Rook becomes ensnared in discovering who’s committing the crimes—or she might be the next to die.
More About Michelle Bennington
Born and raised in the beautiful Bluegrass state of Kentucky, Michelle Bennington developed a passion for books early on that has progressed into a mild hoarding situation and an ever-growing to-read pile.
When she’s not creating contemporary or historical fictional worlds full of mysteries, she obsesses over all things British and historical. In rare moments of spare time, she can be found engaging in a wide array of arts and crafts, dance, and attending ghost tours.
Great Escapes Praise for Devil’s Kiss: A Small Batch Mystery
by Michelle Bennington
Bottom Line: For thirty years, I lived in the area where this story takes place, or at least the area it’s modeled after, and I loved revisiting it on the pages of Devil’s Kiss by Michelle Bennington.
~Reading is my Superpower
Devil’s Kiss by Michelle Bennington is a great first book in a new series. Ms. Bennington does an excellent job of writing this book. Just realize that with any good Southern mystery book, you should be excepting to have lots of snacks by you.
~Baroness’ Book Trove
Devil’s Kiss is an entertaining and lighthearted read that kept my interest from the first page to the last with all those elements of small-town communities I absolutely adore. I highly recommend this book to readers who love small-town communities as I do!
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