Monday, February 17, 2014

Interview with Cozy Mystery Author Liz Stauffer

After some thirty years writing everything from political encyclopedias to software manuals, Liz Stauffer retired from corporate life to write mysteries, travel, and play on the beach. Since that time, she has traveled extensively throughout the United States and the world. Liz lives in Hollywood, Florida, with her two dogs where she owns and manages a vacation rental business. Her second Thursday Morning Breakfast Club mystery is with her publisher and the third is in the works.

Hello, Liz. This novel is a cozy mystery. Please tell us about Thursday Morning Breakfast Club.
Clare Ballard sports a new bruise on her right cheek the day after a contentious town meeting, and the ladies of the Thursday morning breakfast club suspect her husband Roger of abusing her. But Clare wants to hear none of their suspicions and warns her friends to be silent on the subject. That same day Hester Franklin, another Thursday morning breakfast club lady, is called to rescue her grandson Patrick after he’s arrested for transporting drugs. Proclaiming his innocence, Patrick threatens that those who set him up will pay. Roger Ballard is high on his list. But it’s when Lillie Mae Harris, the club’s leader, discovers the body of the local drug dealer on the nearby hiking trail, that the community is upended. Roger Ballard, the primary suspect, goes missing, and when his body turns up in his own back yard, Clare Ballard confesses to his murder and is arrested. No one believes she did it, but Clare insists she’s guilty and refuses to talk to her lawyer, the police, or her family and friends. The Thursday Morning breakfast club ladies vow to find out who she’s protecting and why.  

This is Charlie Warren’s, the town’s homegrown policeman, first murder case, and he uses unconventional means to solve it. Collaborating with the Thursday morning breakfast club ladies to draw out the real criminal, he’s unaware of the potential danger that lurks when he invites them to help with the investigation. Alice Portman, the matriarch of the breakfast club, is struck down in her own yard and is sent to the hospital. Then others in the small community start to disappear –one after the other. As the ladies get closer to the truth, they get closer to the evil. In a rush against time, they form a bizarre and perilous plan to capture the true culprits before someone else is murdered.

Do you get your ideas from real life experiences?

I have a vacation house in Pen Mar, Maryland, a mountain village not unlike Mount Penn. And, there is a group of ladies who have been having breakfast together on Thursday mornings for many years. That’s the extent of anything real in the book. I did want to introduce a place like Mount Penn (Pen Mar) to the world, since it really is special.

I love close-knit communities, and I believe we’re moving away from them in our very busy modern lives. Relationships in cyberspace have replaced relationships down the street. I’m guilty of my own complaint. I, too, love having friends all over the world, and Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter have given me far more pleasure than I ever dreamed they would. But I miss the small town community I grew up in, and the city based community where I raised my two sons. I wanted to revisit those times, so I created a community where friends and family are of first importance, and technology, although available, is still used infrequently and inexpertly. I could do this partly because the area is rural, and in the mountains, and the infrastructure for the technology is still formative.

Mount Penn is the best of all communities. People still accept and enjoy and love each other, despite their differences.  In fact it’s often their differences that make them so lovable. The Thursday morning ladies automatically assume they have most things in common with each other, and they do.  I’d like my readers to feel a part of this community when they read my book and maybe, yearn to visit it again, when they finish the last page.

What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

Other than walking the trails, exploring the mountains, and woods, and parks, and looking out my window, not much for this book. However, I’m working on a historical novel about the area when it was a grand resort, and I’m doing extensive research for this book.

Who is one of your favorite characters in this story and what do you love about him or her?

Lillie Mae, a younger, feistier, Miss Marple sort of character who is just like the small mountain hamlet of Mount Penn that she lives in, is a favorite of mine. That said, I really love all my characters. They’re so pure in many ways, and kind, and innocent, and in my mind, adorable. But Lillie Mae, when she thinks her small mountain village is threatened by murder and mayhem, becomes even more protective. She believes her mission is to keep her tight knit community and its residents safe and intact as the ever-encroaching world, out to disrupt their peaceful status quo, closes in on them.

Maybe I like Lillie Mae so much is because we share some interests in common, although we're more different than alike. Lillie Mae is a country lady through and through, and I belong in a city. We both love to talk; we care about our friends and family; and, we enjoy meeting new people. We are both outdoorsy, and like hiking and walking. Lillie Mae would ride her bicycle as much as I do, if the country roads were easier to navigate. I like the beach, but Lillie Mae finds it hot and tedious and she has no interest in water. I am a vegetarian; Lillie Mae eats meat. We both love to cook, just do it in very different ways.

That is so interesting. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Let me think. While I can’t think of anything that is unforgettable, I do have some quirks. For example, I’d rather drink beer than wine. When I’m out at a formal event, I’ll ask for it in a fancy glass so I’ll look more elegant. One thing I’m proud of is that I lift weights and can leg press 100 lbs. Not bad for someone my age.

Wow! You have some powerful legs. I wonder if Lillie Mae is that strong, too. Haha. Thank you for this wonderful interview. I invite everyone to visit Liz Stauffer’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter.

Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club is available on most e-book sites including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple.


Sonja said...

Oh, my favorite books are mysteries, since I was a young girl. This sounds good and I would love to read it!

Mary Brandis said...

Love cozy mysteries and with a Thursday morning breakfast club it sounds like a perfect setting. I want to know why Clare Ballard would admit to the murder of her husband that she did not commit.

My Hyer Space said...

Sounds like a great book to spend time reading. I really enjoy mysteries. Agent3547ataoldotcom

Michelle Willms said...

This sounds like a great book. I love the though of a breakfast club pursuing a murderer. It sounds humorous. michelle_willms at yahoo dot com.

Marjorie/cenya2 said...

My favourite kind of a read, I just love the storyline of this book and I know I would enjoy reading it.
cenya2 at Hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

With this awful, never stopping winter weather, I can think of nothing nicer than snuggling in with a good mystery. "Cozy Mystery" sounds like it fits the bill perfectly!

LAWonder said...

I am so sorry you have been so ill. I can truly empathize. i hope you are feeling much better.
God bless you and yours.

Anonymous said...

I love mysteries. This is a book that my husband and I will most definitely check out.

Sharon Braswell said...

I love that this is the first murder investigation for the homegrown lawman and that he gets help from the ladies of the breakfast club to solve it! I really want to read why and who Clare is covering for also. Just from reading this post, I'm rooting for her too! Really enjoyed the interview, post and would love to win!

Kat said...

This looks like a good one, I'd love to read it!
katsaddress AT gmail. DOT com

George A. said...

Sounds like a very good story! I would love to read this book. If I don't win it, I'll probably put it on my TBR list to read.

Melanie Schemanski said...

I love Cozy Mysteries! One real thing about me that you won't forget is that I have six kids.
melanieinoh2003 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

A Mystery is a chance to dig into the deep of our minds and find the hidden doors and passageways! Those are what make me Giddy!! I would So Love to read Liz's New Mystery Book!! I would love to review it as well - thats the second best thing. First curl up warm and Cosy - ready and become intrenched with the characters "OH Yeah" then review the book so lots of other great people can experience the wonderful novel as well!! Heres to a chance -

Robin Blake said...

I love mysteries but this looks especially keen!!

Heather said...

I love a good mystery and this sounds like it would definitely fit the bill!

Linda Kish said...

This sounds really good. I look forward to reading it.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Mutti said...

Hi, Linda
I will have to read this one! Enjoyed the interview , but then I always do! Love reading your books and the ones you tell us about! Thanks!


Sounds like a great book. I love a good cozy mystery. Great interview.

Tammy Hudson

Shirley Strait said...

I love a good mystery! This one sounds like a real winner.
Thanks for the giveaway.

Linda Weaver Clarke said...

Congratulations Sharon Braswell, Mary Brandis, and Marjorie Roy! You are the winners of this awesome e-book. I hope you enjoy it very much.