Tell us about the Vivienne Finch Magical Mysteries...what was the inspiration for the series?
J.D.) I have been a fan of cozy mystery novels for years, my favorite series being Leslie Meier's 'Lucy Stone' novels published by Kensington. The inspiration for the book came from my love of cozy mystery novels, the supernatural, and television shows like 'Desperate Housewives'. In 2008, I was one of only sixteen writers chosen to attend the Odyssey Writing Workshop in Manchester, N.H. For six weeks that summer, I studied the craft of writing with former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, Jeanne Cavelos. She, and my fellow classmates, provided amazing feedback on what worked and what didn't with my stories. Critique after critique revealed that I had a knack for creating stories where magic mixed with everyday life in small town America. Armed with this knowledge, I eventually began to craft the start of a novel and Vivienne Finch sprang to life soon after. The town of Cayuga Cove is fictional, but it is set in the Finger Lakes of New York where I reside. Any readers who have been along the wine trails will probably pick up on some of the actual locations mentoned in the book.
Who's the adorable kitty on the cover?
J.D.) That is Mister Tommy Cat, Vivienne's adopted cat. In the real world, he is a stray who has been living in my neighborhood for almost three years now. He's one of those 'barn cats' that doesn't want anything to do with going inside a house, but he likes to visit everyday. He is rewarded with food, water, and cat treats with each visit. He'll often sit in my lap on a sunny day when I'm working on a story outdoors, much to the ire of my house cat, Sammy. Eventually, I just wrote him into the book because he has brought such joy into my life. My cover illustrator, Allison Marie, crafted Tommy from a picture I took of him and she captured him so true to life. I couldn't be more pleased with that!
Do you have pets?
J.D.) I have an orange tiger cat who is formally named 'Samwise Gamgee' from 'Lord of the Rings'. But I call him Sammy. He was adopted from the local animal shelter back in November of 2002 when I first moved into my current home. He's very spoiled and often jealous when Tommy Cat gets some attention from me. But, more often than not, I can watch them both spread out on the back deck and enjoy the sun together. They tolerate each other, but Sam is far too set in his ways to share his home. Luckily, Tommy Cat wants nothing to do with living inside so it works out great.
How many books do you plan in the series?
J.D.) At the moment, I have plans for twelve books in the series. I have the titles and basic plot outlines for the next six books outlined on my computer. There are small time jumps with each book, usually a few months for new events to fall into place for the residents of Cayuga Cove. The plan is to release a new book every six months, but that could change.
Are you a baker? Any special recipe you'd like to share?
J.D.) I did work at a local bakery for a short time, one of the many jobs I have snagged over the years. I do enjoy baking at home when not working on a book. I don't have any special recipes, but I do have a tip for making Whoopie Pies. Always make your filling with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It has a sweet and salty smooth texture that beats that marshmallow stuff hands down! Although it can be a pain to get right, there's just nothing else like it. You can find recipes for this in many cookbooks and on the internet.
Do you have any favorite characters in the book?
J.D.) I enjoy writing for all the characters in the book, naturally, but there is one who always makes me laugh. That would be Mrs. Eunice Kilpatrick. She's a gossip. Whenever I need someone to stir the pot, Eunice just has a flair for that. I love a character who isn't afraid to stick their nose into other people's business. Even if she get's caught, she isn't ashamed. She's just thinking of how to get away with it better next time! I can't help but love writing for a character like that.
What's up next for Vivienne?
J.D.) I always like to put a 'teaser' at the end of each book to let the audience know what's coming. The next book is "Yule be the Death of Me" and takes place during the Christmas holiday. Vivienne will have to be at the top of her game when a 'Santa's naughty list' begins to circulate through town exposing the unsavory deeds of some of the residents. I hope to have that launch in November of this year.