Thursday, March 12, 2015

Author Fran Stewart: Why I Write Murder {+ Giveaway}


A Wee Murder in My Shop by Fran StewartI’m delighted today to welcome author Fran Stewart to Thoughts in Progress to talk about her latest release, A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP, the first installment in her new ScotShop Mystery Series from Berkley.

Fran will be joining us to talk about why she writes murder and I’ll share my thoughts on this fun new series. In addition, thanks to Fran and the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a print copy of A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for more details on that.

Now please join me in giving a warm welcome to Fran. Welcome, Fran. Tell us why you write murder.

Years ago, I attended a dinner where people exchange cards and talk about the sort of business referrals they’d like to get. It was all very friendly. Until someone asked what sort of work I did. 

“I write murder mysteries.”

ladyShe glowered at me. “Humph. You looked like a nice person.” She turned away and refused even to acknowledge my presence for the rest of the evening. Now, why is it dangerous to ignore a mystery writer?

Well, we immediately wonder about your hidden agenda—possibly you’ll end up astongue an innocent bystander in our next book, but more likely as victim. Or murderer. I’ve held this particular woman in reserve so far, but someone who looks like her experiences a rather sorry fate in one of my upcoming mysteries.

I should have answered better, though, telling her that the mysteries I write don’t dwell on blood and gore. The bad guys lose; the good guys win, although I admit to putting my characters through some difficult situations before they triumph.
 
question markYou see, I deal with specific social issues in each of my books. In the Biscuit McKee series, my characters grapple with bipolar disorder, suicide, and/or the long-term effects of childhood abuse. In my new ScotShop mysteries, a 14th-century ghost has to learn to deal with the intricacies of today, and his questions about so many things we take for granted will, I hope, help us understand where we are and how we got to this point, to question some of the attitudes we take so for granted.

I should have stressed the importance of community in cozy mysteries. Seldom will you find a “loner” protagonist. No, our characters have friends and family—just like the authors who write them and the people who read them. I try to show the role of community in supporting the victims of crime, although sometimes that support is less than effective.
chalk outline 
Just think: What will you do if your neighbor is murdered, a friend slugs someone or is shot in the abdomen, or your entire community loses power during an ice storm?

Will your response be “cozy”?

Fran, thanks for visiting with us and sharing why you write murder. I enjoy the fact that your books deal with specific social issues. It adds another touch of realism to them.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Fran, here’s a little background on her.

Fran Stewart is the author of the Biscuit McKee Mysteries – GRAY AS ASHES is the seventh book in that series – as well as a standalone mystery – A SLAYING SONG TONIGHT. Her new ScotShop Mystery Series from Berkley Press begins with A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP.

Fran lives quietly with various rescued cats beside a creek on the other side of Hog Mountain, Georgia.

She sings alto with a community chorus and volunteers at her grandchildren’s school library. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

For more on Fran and her writing, visit her website.

Here’s a brief description of A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP:

Hamelin, Vermont, isn’t the most likely place for bagpipes and tartan, but at Peggy Winn’s ScotShop, business is booming…
        While on a transatlantic hunt for some authentic wares to sell at her shop, Peggy is looking to forget her troubles by digging through the hidden treasures of the Scottish Highlands. With so many enchanting items on sale, Peggy can’t resist buying a beautiful old tartan shawl. But once she wraps it around her shoulders, she discovers that her purchase comes with a hidden fee: the specter of a fourteenth-century Scotsman.
        Unsure if her Highland fling was real or a product of an overactive imagination, Peggy returns home to Vermont—only to find the dead body of her ex-boyfriend on the floor of her shop. When the police chief arrests Peggy’s cousin based on some incriminating evidence, Peggy decides to ask her haunting Scottish companion to help figure out who really committed the crime—before anyone else gets kilt…

Now my thoughts on this entertaining new cozy…….

Author Fran Stewart blends a number of intriguing elements together and adds in a dose of fascinating characters for a well-rounded new cozy murder mystery series.

The Scotland setting is magical in itself, but the author enhances the story by having the ghost of a fourteenth-century Scotsman travel to Vermont. Add in a cheating boyfriend that turns up dead, a hunky police officer and numerous friends and family for an all-out entertaining story.

The story flows at a steady pace with only a few minor slow points. The suspense will hold your attention and keep you guessing as the mystery unfolds.

A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP is an entertaining beginning of what promises to be a delightful new series. Those with Scottish heritage will find the series charming.

A Wee Murder in My Shop by Fran Stewart, A ScotShop Mystery Book #1, Berkley, @2015, ISBN: 978-0425270318, Paperback, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for one print copy of A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 12 a.m. on Friday, March 20. 

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Fran Stewart’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so very much for stopping by during Fran’s visit. What would you say if someone told you they wrote murder mysteries? Any thoughts on having a Scottish ghost hanging around you? Isn’t the cover of this book so intriguing?

*This post contains affiliate links.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

39 comments:

  1. Fran, thanks again for joining us today. I think the lady that didn't like your answer would make a great victim in a murder. :) Wishing you much success.

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    1. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Mason Canyon. And thank you for your good wishes.

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  2. A Wee Murder sounds fascinating. I am sure that whoever is lucky enough to win it will love it.
    Rescued cats? An interest in community and social issues? Snap.
    Writing talent, and a commitment to the hard work? Sadly no.
    I would be fascinated if someone told me that wrote mysteries. I suspect that rude woman would make a perfect greedy, self-centred murderer...

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    1. She might be too obvious as the murderer, though. Hmmm, I'll have to think about this one, Elephant's Child. And maybe you'll show up as one of the "good guys."

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  3. This books sounds so charming. The interview was great. I know I wouldn't want to turn a cold shoulder on a mystery writer, I could be her next victim.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the interview, Kaye! And I can't imagine you ever turning a cold shoulder.

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    1. It's good to hear from a "Gram." My grandchildren call me "Grannie."

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  5. That reaction to what she writes was excessive. Yes, kill her off in an upcoming book.
    I imagine a ghost from centuries ago would be shocked by the world now.
    Congratulations, Fran.

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    1. Thank you, Alex. You're right - Dirk is shocked indeed, although he's also fascinated by some of the changes. As I first thought about writing Dirk, I had to wonder if, deep down, people are still just the same. The technology has changed, but love and hate, greed, jealousy, kindness, apathy, wonder ... they're all still here, the way they must have been in Dirk's time.

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  6. Mason - Thanks for hosting Fran.

    Fran - This does sound like a fun series. And I couldn't agree more: never, never get on the wrong side of a mystery writer ;-) I wish you success

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    1. Thank you, Margot. Truth is, I'm not a vindictive creature - I just find food for creative fodder in lots of places! Frequently I allow organizations (friend of the library, pet rescue groups and such) to raise money by selling chances to "be a character in Fran's next mystery." It's funny how often the winners have said they'd like to be the murderer!

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  7. love the cover and title; looks fantastic and i hope i get a chance to read it :)

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    1. I hope so too, Lisa! If/when you do read WEE MURDER, I hope you'll enjoy it.

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  8. I just love the title of this one. I'm tingling with expectation.

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    1. Tingling? Hurray! And yes - I enjoyed coming up with that title.

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  9. Sounds like a fun read—thanks for the chance to win a copy!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

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    1. It's fun to be part of giving away a copy of WEE MURDER. The folks at Berkley Prime Crime are wonderfully generous.

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  10. I think you hit the nail on the head describing cozies, there's definitely a sense of community in them. My father was Scottish so this is an intriguing story for me wrapped in a cozy mystery. Love the cover too.
    Ann

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    1. How true, Ann. That sense of community is so important. In both my mystery series (Biscuit McKee and ScotShop) I've stressed the value of community. But there's also a community of cozy-readers. I love the way cozy fans share their enthusiasm for favorite books and series.

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  11. I love the reasons "why" Fran writes murder mysteries.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

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    1. Thanks! I feel that a good part of my responsibility as a writer is not just to tell a really good story, but to give readers something to take away with them after they finish the last page.

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  12. I would love to read this series! It sounds like one I would really enjoy! Thank you!

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    1. And I hope you'll enjoy it as well, Carol.

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  13. Scot Shop Mystery series sounds great and I'm lovin' the name of this first book!

    wfnren at aol dot com

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  14. Good, Wendy! My agent kept after me to find a title that 1) let people know it was a cozy, 2) had a Scottish flavor, and 3) had a pattern that would work for an entire series of titles. He said no to about a dozen suggestions before I came up with this one (and 25 more to follow!)

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  15. That dinner party guest must have been a frustrated novelist. That's the only reason I can think that she'd turn her back on you for the evening. I hope you did stick your tongue out at her. I would have added the raspberry. Love the title of your story and I'd enjoy winning a copy!

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    1. Any tongue-sticking-out I do is strictly inside my brain. Ditto the raspberries! "Frustrated" for sure describes her. I feel kind of sorry for her. I wonder how many other people she's missed a chance to talk with...

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  16. Maybe your rude party goer is really a murderer and fears your investigative skills.

    The Scot Shop series sounds delightful. I'd love to meet your 14th century ghost.

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  17. Ah! A murderer herself??? That idea never occurred to me. Actually, I feel kind of sorry for her. I wonder how many other people she's missed out on talking with.

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  18. I don't think that I would want to irritate a mystery writer, you could find yourself splattered through many pages and possibly many books in a variety of ways, LOL. This sounds like a great read, I have added it to my tbr list. Thanks for the chance to win.

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    1. And one never knows knows, Debbie, when she might "take her revenge." Could be years - or merely the space until the very next book comes out!

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  19. That's lady's response seemed to be as if she thought you participated in murders! I laughed when I read that!

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Right, Carol - I thought it was pretty funny, too. Well, maybe not at the moment it happened, but certainly upon reflection.

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  20. A wonderful feature and giveaway and a most interesting interview. Love the cover. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Traveler. I'm headed out the door to a meeting, and I'm glad I saw your comment before I left. I'll be back on board in four hours or so to reply to any last-minute comments. This has been a fun blog-post day!

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  21. I think that sense of community is one reason I like to read cozies so much. And if there's a 14th century Scot that needs help acclimating to present day, so be it! Sounds like a great story, thanks for the chance to win.
    JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

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  22. I feel the same way, jholden. Community is vital - not only in the cozies themselves, but also (I feel) among the readers of cozies. That's why blogs such as this are so important.

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  23. The woman who thought it was terrible that you wrote about murder must think they are too violent. Bet she never read a mystery, not even an Agatha Christie! I would be glad to meet someone who writes murder mysteries, because that's what I mostly read. I'd ask if they wrote cozy or historical mysteries. I like ghosts in mysteries. I love cats, too. Great book cover. I have a coffee mug with Scottie dogs on it. It goes good with Scottish (or English) mysteries.

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I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.