ABOUT THE BOOKAmateur sleuth Flora Lively is back to investigate another mystery, and this time the body count is rising . . . When Flora’s best friend returns to England with a Spanish film crew in tow, Flora is thrilled to land a job on set at a glamorous country house. But when a member of the crew is brutally murdered, and the priceless Infanta Tiara stolen, suspicion falls on everyone at Hanley Manor – including someone far too close to home. When an arrest is made, Flora is plunged deep into a puzzling mystery, with no idea who she can and cannot trust. Surrounded by suspicion and bitter rivalries, she must keep one eye over her shoulder at all times. Because the murderer is about to strike again . . .
INTERVIEW WITH JOANNE PHILLIPSJoanne, what’s the story behind the title A Date With Death?
In A Date With Death, amateur sleuth Flora Lively gets embroiled in a mystery on the set of a Spanish film crew. The film they are making is called Una Cita Con La Muerte, which roughly translates as A Date With Death. When a member of the crew is murdered, Flora must investigate once again.
Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
This is the second in the Flora Lively series of cozy mysteries, and the first is Murder at the Maples. Flora is a young woman who inherited the family removal business when her parents died. She struggles to keep it going, not least because she ends up getting too attached to her clients with all their various problems and disasters.
Where’s home for you?
I live in Shropshire, England, in a converted barn surrounded by fields of sheep and cows. It’s absolutely beautiful. The Flora Lively series is set in England and is often described as an English village mystery, although Flora gets to solve mysteries all over the Shropshire countryside.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love Edie Claire, Anne Tyler, Linda Gillard, and Anita Shreve. An eclectic mix, a bit like my writing!
What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
Uncontrolled head-hopping, where the author just moves from viewpoint to viewpoint without seeming to understand why this weakens the story. Some writers can carry it off, but it needs to be done sparingly. One viewpoint at a time for me.
Agreed! Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Whenever my seven-year-old daughter lets me! I write whenever I can, sometimes all day, other times squeezing it in around family life. And I write in my home office (see below).
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
That the characters seem like real people and stay with you long after you finish reading. That is exactly what I try to do.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
I had to write a scene for my last book, Cupid’s Way, where an elderly lady who is about to be evicted from the house she’s lived in all her life explains why she doesn’t want to leave. Her son died in the house, many years ago when he was only three. It was such an emotional scene and hard for me to write because I’m a mum with a young child, and in order to really get the level of emotion right I had to tap into how this would make someone feel. Sometimes having a writer’s imagination is not a good thing.
What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing?
The worst thing for me was the reaction by some readers to a storyline in my first women’s fiction novel, Can’t Live Without. This book is about a woman who loses everything in a house fire, and her teenage daughter is going off the rails, and she’s basically having a terrible time. The book deals with many kinds of issues, and one of these is that her daughter, who is nearly seventeen, falls pregnant. Now, this fact isn’t cheered on in the novel - it’s a really bad thing to happen, and the story explores how this kind of thing affects the lives of everyone connected to it. This theme clearly upset one particular reader, though, who said some nasty things about me for writing about it.
What would your dream office look like?
I already have my dream office - just having a home office is a dream! It’s painted white, and being inside a barn conversion has a lovely old beam in the roof. I have a white desk and a day bed, and I keep it as calm and clutter-free as possible. Bliss.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I’d had interest from an agent, but this didn’t pan out - it was at the point where the Kindle was taking off in the UK, and I read about self-publishing authors and thought, why not? I’ve never looked back - self-publishing gives you so much freedom. Although I always make sure my books go through the same rigorous process they would with a publisher - editing, proofreading, professional cover design. I think it’s important to be professional.
What are you working on now?
Right now, this minute, I’m working on a women’s fiction novel called Keeping Sam, and after that I’ll be writing the next Flora Lively mystery: The Sign of Seven!
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