Monthly Archives: April 2021

Story Behind the Story: Crazy, Stupid, Dead by Wendy Delaney

The truth and memory are two important parts of all writing, especially so in the mysteries of Wendy Delaney. The seventh novel in her Working Stiffs mystery series confronts Delaney’s heroine with a death that may not be what it seems to be. Her goal as a mystery writer is to provide the reader with a story that keeps them guessing as they follow her “human lie detector” heroine all the way from the first clue to the solution. (And it kept me going, too, as her editor.)

What’s the theme behind your story? 

The theme behind Crazy, Stupid, Dead (Working Stiffs Mystery #7)—and all the books in my Working Stiffs Mystery series—is that things are not always what they seem. So the truth can take some time to reveal itself, even when you’re a deception detection expert (a.k.a. “human lie detector”) like my amateur sleuth, Charmaine Digby.

What’s the logline?

Drowning in your own bathtub is a stupid way to die—the recurring line that causes Charmaine to question how such a thing could have happened to a friend of her grandmother who was in relatively good health.

Nothing is as it appears in a Working Stiffs Mystery by Wendy Delaney, even with a “human lie detector.”

What were you thinking about when the idea occurred to you?

I’m always on the hunt for ways in which a well-motivated person could get away with murder. One afternoon, while combing through dozens of news stories on the subject (yes, I have an interesting search history!), I read a detective’s comments about how murder by drowning can be easier to get away with. If there are no witnesses and no evidence to suggest that it’s anything other than accidental… So it’s a murder that doesn’t necessarily look like a murder? Perfect! I already had the title I wanted to use—a twist on the movie title, Crazy, Stupid, Love—so all I had to do was to drown my story’s victim in her bathtub so that Charmaine and several other characters could think it was a crazy and/or stupid way to die—and maybe just a little bit suspicious! 

How did you conceive of your characters for this story?  

My mystery series is set in Port Merritt, a fictional popular retirement town located an easy ferry ride from Seattle, so I typically populate my stories with senior citizens whose middle-aged children live close by, and this story was no exception. The whole gang of recurring characters introduced in book 1, Trudy, Madly, Deeply, is back, so it’s always fun to explore those interrelationships as well as come up with likely suspects for them to interact with. I often draw on personal experience when I populate my stories. In Crazy, Stupid, Dead I feature a secondary character with dementia. That wasn’t my original intention, but seven years of caring for a mom with a failing memory taught me that similar nice old ladies can serve as delightfully unreliable witnesses—perfect for a light-hearted mystery. 

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story?  

Overall, I’m very pleased with how the story turned out. Many of my readers commented about how I kept them guessing, so mission accomplished in terms of the main plot. Really, what fun would it be to read a mystery that is easy to solve? On a personal note, I love my main characters and want to do right by them in their personal lives. Char has some emotional wounds from the past that need to heal, and I feel like good progress was made in this story for her personal growth—something that leads nicely into book 8, A Kiwi Before Dying, which will be coming soon.  

Who would play your leads in the movie if you make a deal? 

That’s a tough one. I have pictures up on my wall of actors and actresses whom I’ve “cast” for my earlier books. I’d need a time machine for some. For example, Jill St. John. In her fifties, she would have been perfect as Charmaine’s actress mother. Same with Lou Diamond Phillips—the thirty-five year-old version could have been a great fit for Detective Steve Sixkiller. As for Char, since she looks a lot like her mom, the casting could present a challenge, but if Emma Stone would like to gain twenty pounds to play her, fantastic!

What else do you want readers to know?

Since Crazy, Stupid, Dead is the seventh book in my cozy mystery series, I always suggest that readers start with book one, Trudy, Madly, Deeply, not only for a good introduction to Char and her special ability as a human lie detector but because story threads run from book to book. And, yes, her ability is steeped in real science. I became interested in Dr. Paul Ekman’s work way back when and interviewed one of his test subjects, who was kind enough to help me when Char’s character was at the “what if my sleuth could do this” stage. I’ll always be grateful that she was so generous with her time.  

Bio 

Wendy Delaney writes fun-filled cozy mysteries and is the award-winning author of the Working Stiffs Mystery series. A longtime member of Mystery Writers of America, she’s a Food Network addict and pastry chef wannabe. When she’s not killing off story people she can be found on her treadmill, working off the calories from her latest culinary adventure. Wendy lives in the Seattle area with the love of her life and is a proud grandma.

Buy Link

Crazy, Stupid, Dead is available at Amazon and is free to read for Kindle Unlimited subscribers: 

Story Behind the Story: The Way Home by Eliana West

Eliana West writes romances in which mistakes are forgiven. Writers can take heed from her own approach as an author for her forthcoming novel, The Way Home, which required her to rework an unsatisfactory first draft to redeem its promise. The result is a novel of which she’s totally delighted, providing a happily ever after for two characters whose heritage is completely different – and yet tangled in America’s history.

What’s the theme behind your story? 

The theme for all of the books in my Heart of Colton series is forgiveness. These are stories about forgiveness, redemption, and, of course, love.

What’s the logline?

A letter from the past will change their future.

What were you thinking about or what was happening when the idea occurred to you?

I was talking with my sister about our family history and the story came to me almost fully formed. I also wanted to figure out a way to tell a story about the complex relationships between the descendants of enslaved people and the descendants of those who enslaved them. 

Eliana West says interracial romance isn’t just for Black readers.

How did the original idea change as you went along?

My hero’s backstory changed quite a bit and new characters that evolved as the story went along, secondary characters that really became crucial to the story. Otherwise, the bones of the story have always stayed the same. 

How did you conceive of your characters for this story and how did they change?

Taylor Colton is kind of a combination of the Property Brothers and Ben Napier from Hometown on HGTV. For all of his success, he’s pretty insecure. When I had the idea for Taylor, I pictured him as a hero who struggles, not wanting to be the hero at first. For Josephine Martin, I wanted a heroine who worked in tech and a character with a strong will and a big heart. Ada Mae is based on my great aunt, and I drew a lot of inspiration from her personality and life. 

Are you pleased with the results, or do you wish you had done anything differently in the story? Why or why not?

The first draft of this story was just terrible and I had a point where I didn’t think I could salvage it. I took my time and did a major rewrite and now I’m so pleased with the result. I’m not sure at this point that I would do anything different.

Who would play your leads in the movie if (when!) you make a deal?

Oh boy, that’s a good question. Maybe Chris Evans for Taylor Colton, and Jaylen Barron for Josephine Martin.

What else do you want readers to know?

What I’d like readers to know is that interracial romance isn’t just for Black readers. Interracial romance is for any reader; diverse romance is just that diverse. If you haven’t read an interracial romance, give one a try. 

My books may be a challenging story for some people. I write stories that confront some uncomfortable aspects of race and history. But at the end of the day, these are romances. Love always wins.  

Bio

Eliana West writes contemporary interracial romance. Her first book, The Way Forward, establishing the Heart of Colton series, was published by Tule Publishing in 2020. When not writing, Eliana can be found exploring the many wineries in Oregon and Washington with her husband, traveling around in Bianca, their vintage Volkswagen Westfalia. She is the founder of Writers for Diversity (https://www.facebook.com/groups/writersfordiversity), a community for writers of all genres writing, creating diverse characters and worlds. Check out www.elianawest.com

Your general time period of preference for post

April/May

Buy link

https://books2read.com/u/38RpRZ