Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Featured Author: Madison Johns

Madison Johns is the author of Grannies, Ghosts and Guns, a cozy mystery. She's here on the last stop of her blog tour with Cozy Mystery Book Tours for an interview, and she also brought an excerpt. I ain't afraid of no ghosts! Don't miss the link at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.

About the book:

Senior snoop, Agnes Barton, has taken up residence in a Winnebago at a campground in East Tawas, Michigan. It’s not the ideal place for a woman of seventy-two to live, but she’s making do. She had planned to start a detective agency with partner in crime, Eleanor Mason, but a snag with the license has them free wheeling it, not that it matters because they are the ones folks call when dead bodies turn up.

A frantic phone call has Agnes and Eleanor racing to the scene of yet another crime scene. Herman Butler has fallen to his death from a third story window, and the widow, Betty Lou, is beside herself with either grief or competing for the Oscars, and it’s up to Agnes and Eleanor to unravel the mystery, which gets more interesting when a ghost is listed as a possible suspect.

This time around, Agnes and Sheriff Peterson can agree, the widow is nuts, but wait, a few days later the ghost ship, Erie Board of Trades, was spotted off the shores of Lake Huron. Ghost hunters, G.A.S.P., hightail it into town, and East Tawas is overrun with ghost sightings.

Agnes and Eleanor must sort fact from fantasy before another body is found or a curse is realized.

Interview with Madison Johns:

Madison, what prompted you to start writing?

I started writing four years ago. I have always wanted to be a writer and felt I was at the point where I had enough life experiences to draw from. I just started typing out short stories, but felt restricted and ended up writing novels.

How did you come up with the title Grannies, Guns and Ghosts for this book?

It’s the second in the series, and it’s about female senior-aged sleuths, so Grannies was a perfect fit. They always carry a pistol, so that’s where the guns came from, and the book has a ghost theme. Grannies, Guns and Ghosts fit perfectly.

It sure does! Do you have another job outside of writing?

I used to work as a nursing care assistant, one of the reasons my series features senior-aged characters, but now I work as a housekeeper.

Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?

I totally write from the seat of my pants, but I will jot down a few ideas and try to fit them in.

How did your cover art come about?

I hired Paul Beeley from Create Imaginations. He read the manuscript and came up with a great concept for the cover. I absolutely love it.

Tell us a book you’re an evangelist for.

Shoe Marks. It’s written by Karen Vance Hammond and it’s a great paranormal, and I usually don’t read books like that.

Have you ever bought any books just for the cover? Did you enjoy the book(s)?

Yes, I bought Girl of my Dreams by Morgan Mandel. It had a cartoon-looking cover and it turned out to be a great book. I love it!

What do you do to market your books?

Right now I’m trying to get onto some great blog tours, but besides that my first book in the series has landed on some high profile sites as a bargain book and that has helped with the sales of book two.

Do you have imaginary friends? When do they talk to you? Do they tell you what to write or do you poke them with a Q-tip?

Laughs. I have had imaginary friends for many years now, only now I start to listen to them. Having a vivid imagination is a gift, and I would never poke my imaginary friends with a Q-tip with fear that they would leave. What would I write about then?

I was just joking. Actually, speaking of characters talking to you--Pickle put me up to it. He has a t-shirt that says something about poking voices with a Q-tip. When you start a new book, do you know what the entire cast will be?

With this series I do, but not all cast members return in a sequel other than the main character and her best friend. I try to let their love interests come back too.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I love writing about Eleanor Mason because she is based on a real person. I think that’s why she comes across so strong. She has opinions and has no fear. She’s also very fun to write about.

I’m constantly on the lookout for new names and even troll the obits for good ones. How do you name your characters?

I have no idea where their names come from. I like to use real names. When I meet someone with a name that just sings to me, watch out. They’ll definitely end up in a book. I have also used the telephone book in search of names. My daughter likes to name characters too.

What would your main character say about you?

That I put her into difficult situations and find people to bug her like Sheriff Peterson. They have a love/hate thing going on.

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Eleanor Mason, she’s a resident at a nursing home who I used to care for. She’s the one person where I kept her name as it is. Dorothy and Frank Alton were inspired by a married couple I used to care for also.

Do you put yourself into any of your characters?

I’m a little like many of them. It’s hard not to put yourself into your characters.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

Eleanor Mason, because she can get away with anything. She can do anything or say anything and nobody ever messes with her.

With which of your characters would you most like to be stuck on a deserted island?

Trooper Sales, he’s a hot state trooper, what could be better than that?

Beats me! I wonder if your Trooper Sales knows my Trooper Butterfield. Hmmm...

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

My favorite scene is when Agnes Barton shows up at the scene of a crime and she questions the widow of the man they found dead. It brings up many fictional characters for laughs, and I play it off like she’s real, not fictional. It turned out to be very funny.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

The Ghostbuster theme song, “We ain’t afraid of no ghost.”

What books have you read more than once or want to read again?

I could read One for the Money more than once. I love Janet Evanovich.

Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix her?

I’d invite Janet Evanovich and make her fettuccini alfedo with chicken, garlic bread and have plenty of wine on hand. I bet she’d be funny to get tipsy with.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on yet another sequel to this book. This time the girls get to go to Florida for the winter.

Sounds fun! I hope you'll come back and tell us more about it.

Excerpt from Grannies, Guns and Ghosts

I rolled my eyes; following Eleanor’s directions, and drove up a drive that led to a well-manicured lawn of the Butler Mansion. I braked hard as I saw a group of seniors surrounding a man lying on the ground.

I narrowed my eyes. “They called us before the sheriff or the state police?”

“Yup, I told them to wait a spell,” El said.

“You do know that this is potentially a crime scene, right? The law should be here before everybody else is called.”

Eleanor fidgeted with her fingers. “They'll shoe everyone off and we'll never get to find out what happened. It's not my fault folks trust us more than that lame-brained sheriff.”

I didn't much care for Sheriff Peterson myself, but I do have some respect for law enforcement. Of course, I much preferred Trooper Sales to him, but it didn't matter who I liked or didn't like. I need to be a law-abiding citizen, and that means securing the crime scene at this point.

El and I got out real quick and approached the hysterical crowd.

“Oh my God, my poor husband is dead!” a woman's voice wailed. It belonged to fiery redhead poured into a tight, strumpet-red dress, her breasts nearly popping out. “I can't b-believe this, oh God why did you have to take my husband on our wedding day.”

“Wedding day!” Eleanor shouted and shuffled her feet as the woman turned to look at her.
“I'm Agnes Baron P.I. and this here is my assistant, Watson.” I thumbed in El's direction.

El's eyes narrowed. “That's fine, Watson is way smarter than Sherlock Holmes ever was.”

“Have you ever read Sherlock Holmes dear? If you had... oh forget it. We’re here to investigate.”

“Are you Miss Marple?” a woman dressed in a maid uniform asked me inquisitively.

I smoothed my hair back. “I fancy myself more of a Jessica Fletcher.”

“She's such a know-it-all, Aggie, you don't want to be her,” Eleanor laughed.

“I'm certainly not trying to be Miss Marple or any other fictional character. I'm the real deal.” I took an elegant stance like I was posing for a magazine. “I have never even read an Agatha Christie book before,” I insisted.

I walked toward the body, knelt to check for a pulse, but found none. I glanced at an open window on the third floor, and then back at the maid. “How long has he been laying out here?”

“Thing is,” the redhead started, “we’re just not sure. You see, we moved here yesterday and—”

“I thought you just were muttering that this was your wedding day.”

“I heard her too, Aggie,” Eleanor affirmed with a bob of her head.

The woman's eyes shifted slightly. “Like I was saying if you'd quit interrupting me. We were married yesterday and had a reception celebrating the event late into the night,” She giggled. “Of course, we did manage to consummate our marriage.”

“Why would I think anything else?” I asked.

Red glared at me, but continued. “He left momentarily and—”

“Needed to take another Viagra,” Eleanor slipped in.

“Point is, I must have fallen asleep, and when I awoke this morning, I realized he was missing. We then tore the place apart looking for him.” She started bawling something awful now.

“What did you say your name was?” I asked. It had occurred to me that I should tell somebody to call the sheriff's department, but I wanted the rest of this woman's story.

“I didn't,” the woman snapped. “My name is Betty Lou Butler, but don't you dare call me just plain Betty ever.”

“Okay, Betty, and your husband's name is?”

She glared at me and tightened her lips, not saying a word. I had struck a nerve.

“His name was Herman,” the maid said. “Herman Butler.” She nodded. “I'm Teresa,” the maid shook my hand vigorously. “I knew right away that I should call you.” She smiled just then. “I know you can find out what really happened to Mr. Butler.” Her black uniform with ruffed white collar flapped in the wind. Her round cheeks blushed slightly in a show of a possible sunburn. I guessed her to be about thirty.

“And Herman just moved here. Is that right?”

“He just inherited the house since the latest Butler died unexpectedly a few months past,” the maid said.

“I see, and how did the last Butler die?”

“Hunting accident.”

“I see. Herman inherited the house and got married to this Betty Lou and now he’s dead.”
“Yes, quite,” the maid replied.

“Gee, these Butlers sure are accident prone,” El said. “Presuming he fell out the window up there,” she observed.

Betty Lou pushed the maid aside, “I don’t know what you’re implying here, but I had nothing to do with—”

El interrupted her with, “Marrying a guy and then him kicking the bucket soon after?”

“And after he just inherited a mansion, quite coincidental if you ask me,” I added.

I stared at the body that was face down on the lawn. My eyes drifted upward toward the open window on the third floor again. It was a tiny window though; too tiny for this man to squeeze through, or so it seemed.

Herman's arms were both bent at the elbows and his legs were at an odd angle.

“His legs look broken,” Eleanor observed.

I nodded. “Somebody call the sheriff's department and please move away from the body.”

“It was just an accident,” Betty Lou said. “He must have gotten confused last night and fell out the window is all.”

“So now he was confused?” I countered. “But not too confused to get married just yesterday?”

“I just know that I didn't have nothing to do with this, and when the sheriff shows up he'll tell you so.”

“Will he now?” I couldn't help but stare at that open upstairs window. “Mind if I go inside?”

Betty Lou huffed in the background and pulled a pack of cigarettes from her cleavage complete with lighter and lit up while we made our way toward the house.

                                                                  Other books by Madison Johns:

About the author:

As a child, Madison Johns preferred to distance herself from other children her age, and had been described as a dreamer. Even as a small child, she remembers staying awake many a night fighting dragons, whisked away to foreign lands, or meeting the man of her dreams.

She was a voracious reader of historical romance in her teen years and has always wished to one day journey to England, France, Ireland, and Scotland.

The writing bug bit her at the age of 44 and she pounded out three books since that time. As the publishing climate changed she took a risk and decided to self publish, first a collection of two horror short stories geared for YA, Coffin Tales Season of Death.

Madison's caring nature had led her to work in the healthcare field, where she was employed as a nursing care assistant at a nursing home, and it was there that she was inspired to write her first mystery, Armed and Outrageous, introducing amateur detective Agnes Barton. The book depicts two elderly ladies digging up clues with enough laugh out loud antics to make James Bond blush.

Connect with Madison:
Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Amazon | Amazon UK

Cozy Mystery Book Tours Giveaway:

Cozy Mystery Book Tours is giving readers SIX chances to win a $25 Amazon.com gift card or Paypal cash!

To enter:
1. Complete the form.
2. Giveaway closes on May 26, 2013 at midnight, and winners will be contacted by email.
3. Don’t forget to follow their Facebook page because they will be giving away copies of six authors' books during the tours.