Tuesday, August 16, 2016



Kelsey McKenna has planned out every detail of her client's destination wedding in San Miguel de Allende. But what she hadn't planned on was a bridesmaid dropping dead in the middle of the ceremony.

When the bride's sister is arrested for murder, the mother of the bride demands that Kelsey fix the matter at once. Although Kelsey is pretty sure investigating a murder isn't in her contract, crossing the well connected Mrs. Abernathy could be a career-killer.

Before she can leave Mexico and get back to planning weddings, Kelsey will have to deal with stubborn detectives, late-night death threats—and guests who didn't even RSVP.


Marla, do you write every day?

I do, but not on purpose. I’ve never been a believer in the maxim that a writer must write, every single day, period. I think you have to go out and live your life sometimes so that you have things to write about. That said, my day job is writing, and I do a lot of writing to promote my book (like this blog!) so I find that most days I do, in fact, end up writing something. 

What's your favorite thing about the writing process?
I think it’s the sense of discovery. I love when something surprises me. I am a plotter by nature, but I keep it loose because I love that moment when you write something and you’re like, “Where did *that* come from?!” I had a character in Terror in Taffeta who came so naturally that a line of dialogue would just appear on the page, and I’d literally laugh out loud because I couldn’t believe she’d said it. That’s where the magic happens.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
The main branch of the New York City Public Library is absolutely amazing. More specifically, the Rose Main Reading Room, which opened in 1911 and (one could assume) looks pretty much like it did back then. When I was working on Terror in Taffeta, I took a couple of hours out of my vacation to go write there, and it’s magical. It’s been closed for renovations for a couple of years, but it’s supposed to re-open this fall. Time to plan another trip!

What do you love about where you live?

My husband and I moved from San Francisco to Oakland six years ago. At the time, I thought we’d still hang out in San Francisco and just keep our stuff over in Oakland, but I fell in love with it almost instantly. It’s a lot more chill than SF, and it’s really come into its own in the last few years, so there’s lots of stuff to do. But the thing that took me totally by surprise is our regional park that’s almost 2,000 acres of old-growth redwood trees. There are tons of different hiking trails, and it’s pretty amazing to have that practically in my backyard.

What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
It’s a picture I took when I was in San Miguel de Allende, where my book is set. There was a little antique shop a few blocks from the main square, and they had a table set up with a vintage typewriter and an enormous coiled snake, with a carved wooden angel hovering in the background. I’m sure this is a metaphor for something to do with writing, but I haven’t come up with it yet!

Do you procrastinate?
Can I get back to you on that? It depends on how much I have to do, actually. When I’m busy, I tend to be super focused and can knock things off my to-do list like a ninja. When I’m not busy, it seems like there’s all the time in the world, so it’s easier to put things off—until they start to pile up and then suddenly I’m busy again! 

What is your writing style?
I would say breezy and conversational. My mystery series is first-person, so you get a fairly uncensored look at the inside of my main character’s brain. And even when I’m doing my day job, which is marketing and advertising copywriting, I tend to gravitate toward projects where I can talk like a real person instead of, say, technical writing or business-to-business, both of which are packed with jargon and make very little sense to the average human. 

What do you like to do when there’s nothing to do?

One of my favorite diversions is playing the ukulele. Why the ukulele? Because I have never played a musical instrument in my life, and the ukulele is about as easy as it gets (with the possible exception of maracas, which don’t sound as satisfying if you’re not in a mambo band). I like that it uses a completely different part of my brain, plus, unlike so many other creative endeavors, there’s no evidence of your failure, like the lopsided vases I had to toss in the trash that were the by-product of my ill-advised attempt at wheel-thrown pottery.

What are you working on now?

I’m just wrapping up edits on the second book in the Destination Wedding Planner Mystery series. It’s set in the California wine country, and it’s called Dying on the Vine. Also? Mastering “Dream a Little Dream of Me” on the ukulele.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
The aforementioned book two gave me fits. I went down a wrong path for a while and had to ditch several chapters, and I had days where I wondered why I had ever agreed to write a mystery. Plus when you’re writing your second book you’re acutely aware that people are actually going to read it—as opposed to Terror in Taffeta, which I mostly wrote to amuse myself. But eventually it worked itself out, and now that it’s done I can look back on it and laugh.


As a freelance writer, Marla Cooper has written all sorts of things, from advertising copy to travel guidebooks to the occasional haiku. But it was while ghostwriting a nonfiction guide to destination weddings that she found inspiration for her current series starring destination wedding planner Kelsey McKenna. Originally hailing from Texas, Marla lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and her polydactyl tuxedo cat.

Connect with Marla:
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Buy the book:
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