Bones To Pick
by Linda Lovely
on Tour October 16 – December 16, 2017
Living on a farm with four hundred goats and a cantankerous carnivore isn’t among vegan chef Brie Hooker’s list of lifetime ambitions. But she can’t walk away from her Aunt Eva, who needs help operating her dairy.
Once she calls her aunt’s goat farm home, grisly discoveries offer ample inducements for Brie to employ her entire vocabulary of cheese-and-meat curses. The troubles begin when the farm’s pot-bellied pig unearths the skull of Eva’s husband, who disappeared years back. The sheriff, kin to the deceased, sets out to pin the murder on Eva. He doesn’t reckon on Brie’s resolve to prove her aunt’s innocence. Death threats, ruinous pedicures, psychic shenanigans, and biker bar fisticuffs won’t stop Brie from unmasking the killer, even when romantic befuddlement throws her a curve.
Genre: Humorous Cozy Mystery
Published by: Henery Press
Publication Date: Oct. 24, 2017
Number of Pages: 266
Series: Brie Hooker Mystery, #1
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Over the past five years, hundreds of mystery/thriller writers have met Linda Lovely at check-in for the annual Writers’ Police Academy, which she helps organize. Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn’t a huge stretch given the years she’s spent penning PR and ad copy. She writes a blend of mystery and humor, chuckling as she plots to “disappear” the types of characters who most annoy her. Quite satisfying plus there’s no need to pester relatives for bail. Her newest series offers good-natured salutes to both her vegan family doctor and her cheese-addicted kin. She served as president of her local Sisters in Crime chapter for five years and belongs to International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America.
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Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Both. I was a journalism major in college, and I’ve always written for a living, mostly nonfiction—well, except for ad copy. However, my work brought me into contact with people from different walks of life. For example, I produced a newsletter for an international private investigative firm and wrote speeches for one of the company’s bank fraud specialists. Working with this client gave me the opportunity to do in-depth interviews with experts in forensic accounting, real estate scams, corporate espionage, corruption, counterfeit products, and international bribery and blackmail schemes. What terrific background material for writing crime fiction. Over the years, I’ve also met a number of people who in my opinion never got their just desserts. I’ve stolen elements of their personalities to create villains and then make sure justice is served. Since I know the individuals who inspired my villains, it’s quite satisfying to pen their demise.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
When I begin a novel, I know the main characters—though I learn more about them as I write. Yes, characters do talk to authors (at least this one). They let me know when I’ve screwed up. I also begin with a core criminal activity—perhaps real estate fraud or counterfeiting. In the back of my mind, I know I also want to weave in relationship themes to give my characters more depth. For instance, lovers may need to learn to trust each other. Over-protective parents may need to let their children make mistakes. At the start, these are just general ideas. I’m a “pantser” not an outliner. I start at the beginning and write to the end. I don’t jump around, but I may backtrack to revise subplots and change or eliminate characters if the story isn’t working.
Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
All of my characters are fictional but I often take personality traits and quirks from people I know (or have known in the past). That’s an advantage of being older. You’ve met just about every type of character. But usually my fictional characters are a blend—A’s arrogance coupled with B’s sarcasm. I always, always change names, backgrounds, appearance, and sometimes even the genders of characters so no one will ever guess the people who inspired them.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
Because I’ve made my living as a writer, I simply put my fanny in a chair and write. I don’t suffer from writer’s block. If I just start writing a scene that’s giving me trouble I’m fine. If I put something (even crapola) down on paper, I can revise it. If I stare at a blank page, nothing good is going to happen. Once I start writing, ideas come. Though I must add that I often get my best ideas while taking a shower. Can’t explain it. Maybe I should take multiple showers every day.
Tell us why we should read this book.
I hope readers will like the characters. All of my novels feature strong, smart women heroines. In Bones To Pick, the main character, Brie, is independent, but she is also very close to her mother and father and her Aunt Eva. In this series, the Hooker family members may have differences of opinion but they love and respect one another. Mollye, Brie’s best friend since childhood, adds sparkle and zest, and gives Brie an adventure sidekick and a confidant. Then there are the two men vying for Brie’s affections. If I were Brie, I’d have a hard time choosing between them. I work hard to achieve a balance between humor and thrills. I want readers to chuckle but also find their hearts hammering in tense action scenes.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love Susan Isaacs’ novels that blend humor and mystery. My favorite Isaacs book is After All These Years. I find the main character’s descriptions of her thought processes really funny because I can see myself making similar dumb mistakes. I love Michael Connelly because his books have great pacing but his Harry Bosch character also grows in his series. I’m a big fan of Janet Evanovich’s situational humor, too. On the cozy mystery side, I have to give a shout out to Cindy Sample, a long-time author friend, and to Wendy Tyson and Annette Dashofy, two of my fellow Henery Press authors. Fun reads from all three.
What are you reading now?
I just finished a nonfiction book, April, 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jan Winick. It was this month’s selection by my book club. I have to admit I’d never have picked up this nonfiction if I weren’t in a book club. But I learned so much I didn’t know before about the Civil War. I especially liked the insights into the personalities of the generals and politicians on both sides. Book club selections force me to read outside my usual “happy” zone of mysteries, thrillers, and romantic suspense.
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I just sent my editor at Henery Press the manuscript for the second Brie Hooker Mystery. The core Bones To Pick “family” remains—Brie, her parents, Aunt Eva, Mollye, and Brie’s would-be love interests, Paint and Andy. But there are also new cast members. Eva’s friend Carol is running for governor of South Carolina, and her son, Zack, a pro-football quarterback, is home to attend a fund-raising event at Udderly Kidding Dairy. But, while Zack may be a hero to most people in his hometown, others wish he was dead. Ditto for his mother whose politics are anathema to some and threaten another group’s profits. Brie will have to figure out which of these enemies are willing to commit murder.
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
I have the hardest time casting Brie, in part because she’s shorter than most of the actress candidates. But, if Tom Cruise can play Jack Reacher, I guess Katherine Heigl or Kate Winslet could play Brie. I would love to have a younger Shirley MacLaine for Aunt Eva. Jude Law and Liam Hemsworth would be candidates for Brie’s love interests.
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
I love to swim. I was once on a synchronized swim team and love being in the water. We live on a lake in Upstate South Carolina and it’s such a pleasure to walk down to the dock and jump in.
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