Tuesday, May 24, 2016



Newly armed with her real estate license, Sam Turner loves Arlinda, her quirky seaside hometown in Northern California. But life by the beach isn’t exactly a breeze: She and her teenage son, Max, are being evicted from their apartment, her long absent ex-husband unexpectedly resurfaces, and her possibly romantic relationship with sexy Chief of Police Bernie Aguilar is, well . . . complicated. All Sam wants is a quick and easy sale. What she gets instead is a killer headache—or three.
Sam’s trying to drum up interest in 13 Aster Lane, a rambling Victorian fixer-upper that’s more than a little neglected—and possibly haunted—so when a trio of offers arrive out of the blue, she can’t help thinking it’s too good to be true. But after a new client drops dead on the property, she fears she’s lost more than a commission. Before Sam’s out of house and home, she must unmask a killer targeting her clients, or the only property she’ll be moving will be plots—at the local cemetery.


Sarah, how did you get started writing?

By reading. Every Friday after dinner, my family would walk to the Keene, New Hampshire, Public Library and check out as many books as we could carry—and I could carry a lot! I loved stories about animals, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, Sherlock Holmes, Asimov’s Foundation series . . . I read everything, even lugged home a textbook on the skeletal system of mammals once. We had the full collection of Agatha Christie's on a bookshelf at home, and after I read, Toward Zero, I was hooked. But I wrote in a lot of different genres, mostly humorous stories for my family, and later, for my own kids. I tried a couple of short mysteries just for fun; one was used by our public library as the finale to their summer reading program. And that was that—until I challenged myself to attempt a full-length mystery novel before a certain milestone birthday.

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
Thinking like a writer: taking my observations of people, situations, and places and transforming them into fodder for my stories.

Do you write every day?

What do you think is hardest aspect of writing a book?
The first ten thousand words.

What’s more important–characters or plot?

That’s a tough one. Characters and plot go together like peanut butter and mayonnaise (okay, that’s an acquired taste.) But since I have to choose one . . . Agatha Christie was and is the queen of incredible plotting, with twists and turns that will misdirect the most seasoned mystery reader. But she didn’t sell eighty gazillion books (and counting) through plot alone. Without wasting words, she drew memorable characters–Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple,  Harley Quin, among others—to drive those plots. So I believe great characters have a bit of an edge over great plots. They keep us reading.

How often do you read?
Every day.

What books do you currently have published?

Before writing Death at a Fixer-Upper, I wrote Good Bones in 2012 and Like a House on Fire in 2013, under the pen name Muriel Wills.

Do you have any secret talents?
I can cut and dye hair (hot pink), even to the exacting standards of a teenager.

Is writing your dream job?
Absolutely. Though running my own ice cream shop is a close second.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had? What did it teach you?

Out of desperation, I took a graveyard-shift job cleaning toilets for a janitorial firm, until one night I nodded off over the commode. I learned I was not cut out for night work.

For what would you like to be remembered? 

“She was an odd duck, but she made me laugh.”

What scares you the most?

Hard drive crashing before I hit “save.”

What’s one thing you never leave the house without (besides your phone)?

My handheld GPS device–for geocaching, naturally.

What do you love about where you live?

It’s the most beautiful place on earth! And there really is a Kinetic Sculpture Race.

What’s your favorite thing to do/favorite place to go on date night?
Date night?

What's the biggest lie you ever told?
I once spilled my margarita on my six-year-old son’s Buzz Lightyear action figure, so instead of saying, “To infinity–and beyond!” he said, “Brrzzztt.” I told my son it was due to a factory defect.

Name one thing you’re really good at and one thing you’re really bad at.

Taking care of animals (including humans): I’m all over that. Taking care of plants: I reduce them to brown twigs in a matter of weeks. Not sure why. I water and water! The local nursery won’t sell me house plants anymore.

Where is your favorite place to visit?
New England in October – the colors are spectacular.

Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?
Sam Turner has quite a sweet tooth. That’s drawn from life.

What’s one thing that drives you crazy?

Its versus it’s. Its quite a pet peeve of mine.

Good one! What’s your favorite/most visited Internet site?


What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Beer, soda, and eggs. Those are the major food groups, right?

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“Those who are tardy do not get fruit cup.” (High Anxiety).

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
Ferndale, California. It takes me back to when I was a kid. Everyone is sweet and helpful, and they still use a card catalogue.

How do you like your pizza?
Pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, onions, roasted red peppers.

What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?

Our basset hound Bailey.

Do you have a favorite book?
Three (at least): To Kill a Mockingbird; Shining Through by Susan Isaacs; and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

If you had to choose a cliché about life, what would it be?
“This too shall pass.”

What are you working on now?
A Killer Location.


Sarah Hobart is a real estate agent and former newspaper reporter in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and two children in a majestic fixer-upper overlooking State Highway 101.

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