Welcome, Liz! What was the inspiration behind the Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club?
I have a summer house in Pen Mar, Maryland, a mountain village not unlike Mount Penn. It is a beautiful and peaceful haven, a place where I can do my best work. And, there is a group of ladies who live there that have been having breakfast together for many years. I love being in this beautiful, idyllic place and wanted to introduce Mount Penn (a fictionalize Pen Mar), and its community of very special people, to the rest of the world.
Have you even been part of a breakfast club?
I attended the Pen Mar ladies breakfast meetings, that I mentioned earlier, sporadically when spending the summer in the area, although I was never officially a member. While the Pen Mar ladies breakfast club – which incidentally is held on Thursday mornings - is very pleasant, it is nothing like the Thursday Morning Breakfast (and Murder) Club that is in my book. That breakfast club, and its members, exists totally in my mind.
Is your protagonist Lillie Mae based on yourself at all?
Lillie Mae Harris, my protagonist, and I do share some interests in common, although we're more different than we are alike. Lillie Mae is a country lady through and through, and I belong in a city. We both love to talk; we care about our friends and family; and, we enjoy meeting new people. We are both outdoorsy, and like hiking and walking. Lillie Mae would ride her bicycle as much as I do, if the mountain roads were easier to navigate. I like the beach and love to swim, but Lillie Mae finds it hot and tedious, and she has no interest in being in the water. I am a vegetarian; Lillie Mae eats meat. We both love to cook, just do it in very different ways. I think I’d like to be Lillie Mae much more than she would like to be me.
What's a typical writing day like for you?
I get up early, walk and feed my dogs, brew the coffee, and am at my computer before 7AM. From 7 to 8, I catch up on media and marketing tasks – emails, twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc.
From 8 to 8:25, I take the dogs to a nearby park for a good hearty run, then come home, have some breakfast, and am back at the keyboard to work by 8:45.
I work on my books most days straight through to 1PM, with only short breaks to check email. I read, exercise, run errands, manage my vacation rental business, and other personal and administrative tasks, in the afternoon.
In the evening, after dinner, I’ll watch some TV – either something on PBS or Acorn TV, or a DVD from Netflixs . I watch no commercial TV – except for Jeopardy on occasion, and then I mute all the ads. During political season, I give up Jeopardy. Can’t stand the negative noise!
An hour or so before getting ready for bed, I’m back to working on my books. I find I do my best work in the mornings, and then later in the evenings. Don’t know why, I just do. I work at least six days a week, often seven when I’m in the middle of a project.
I usually do not work when I’m traveling, which I do as often as possible, unless I’m traveling to research a book.
What do you have for pets?
I have two beautiful Lhasa Apsos – Mattie and Jakey. Mattie, my black and white female is the dominant dog, and the one in need of the most affection. Jakey, my brown and white male, is an adorable follower. Mattie, who can be coy and flirty, can also be mischievous. She’s also very playful – inside the house rather than outside. She loves to be “made in the bed” each morning. It is so fun.
Jakey, who is shy and cautious inside the house, is brave and adventuresome outside. He loves to run in the park, play with other dogs, and chase me and Mattie. Jakey who I’ve had since he was eight weeks old, is so good. Although only a half sister, Mattie, who was nine months old when we got Jakey, raised him very well.
What are some of your favorite books/authors?
I read everybody and everything, but I do like the British mystery writers best. Some of my favorite authors are P.D. James, Alan Bradley, M C Beaton, Ruth Rendell, Ann Granger, Barbara Nadel, Ann Cleeves, Donna Leon, and on and on. I also read everything that American authors Laura Lippman, Laurie King, Linda Fairstein, and Elizabeth Peters write.
And, of course, I love Jane Austen – and have for more years than I like to remember.
The two writers that have influenced my work the most are Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, authors whose books I have read, many times over, since I was very young. I’ve always loved the way Christie and Heyer use ensembles of characters in plotting and solving crimes. I have attempted to do a bit of the same in my books.
What are you working on now?
I'm currently writing my third Thursday Morning Breakfast Club mystery. My second one is in the done pile, and hopefully, will be released in or before early 2014. I also have another mystery series that I'd like to publish, but I'm not going to tease you with what it's about.
My grand epic, not even nicknamed yet, set in 1920s Pen Mar against the advent of the mass produced automobile and the demise of the railroads, is under construction. Henry Ford is a central character. This book, based on a lost history of a spectacular railroad resort, is going to be so much fun to research and write. And, I hope, equally fun to read.
About the Book: Things are not always what they seem in Liz Stauffer's fast paced book of murder, mystery, and intrigue. When the "breakfast club" ladies of idyllic Mount Penn see bruises on Clare Ballard's pretty face, they suspect her hot-headed husband of abusing her, but the truth is much more complicated. When violence disrupts this Appalachian village's lazy routine, the ladies, led by the irascible Lillie Mae Harris, jump feet first into danger as bodies appear, neighbors disappear, and Clare is arrested for murder. Follow Lillie Mae and the other "breakfast club" ladies, who, armed with casseroles and pastries, help the police uncover the deep secrets this town hides beneath its perfect facade.
The book can be purchased as an ebook and as a paperback on Amazon