Welcome, Deb! What was the inspiration for your Mace Bauer mystery series?
How nice of you to ask, Melissa! When I was trying to make a transition from covering news to writing fiction, I struggled with the idea of making up people and plots (If they catch you doing that at a newspaper, it's firing time). Writing teachers tell newbies to seek inspiration in pictures, hoping an image will light the creative spark. My spark flickered when I was reading the Miami Herald, and spotted a full-color ad for health insurance for seniors. An older woman sat behind the wheel of a turquoise convertible, laughing and looking like she was headed straight for mischief. An image of the Mama character immediately popped into my head. She'd find a body in the trunk of that convertible, I decided, and the police would think she was the killer.
That became the first short story I ever wrote, which morphed into the first book (Mama Does Time, 2008), which turned into the five books -- so far -- of the Mace Bauer Mystery series.
How did you create the character of Mama? Is she based on anyone in particular?
Once I had that basic frame for a story, I decided to make it easy on myself: I stole lots of the Mama character's traits from my own mama. Multiple marriages. Sherbet colored pantsuits and sweet pink wine. An affinity for gambling with the Seminoles. Of course, the fictional Mama is far more over-the-top than the real mama, and she's also as Southern as sweet iced tea. Although I'm Southern born-and-bred, my dark family secret is that my mother is -- gasp! -- a Yankee.
What makes Southern-fried mysteries so darn much fun?
I think Southerners don't take themselves too seriously, so that helps in writing humor. There are also things that happen down here -- especially in Florida -- that are just plain weird.
How much trouble do Mace and Mama get into in Mama Gets Trashed?
Plenty! Mama sets the whole mess in motion by getting tipsy -- Mace would say trashed -- on sweet pink wine. Her gargantuan diamond ring from Husband No. 5 is unintentionally tossed out with the garbage. Before it's all over, one or the other manages to find a body at the city dump, get tangled up with a sexy -- deadly? -- circle of whip-wielding swingers, go head-to-head with sleazy politicians, and discover a marital betrayal that's too-close-for-comfort. And, all this while eluding threats, gunfire, and a close call with an alligator.
Who are some of your favorite mystery authors?
I don't think you can go wrong with the oldies-but-goodies like Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier. From this century, I like lighter fare from folks like Elaine Viets and Nancy Martin. My publisher, Midnight Ink, has a full roster of terrific writers, too.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I ride my bicycle a lot, and I love to be outdoors. My husband and I own some property along the Kissimmee River, north of Lake Okeechobee.That's the wild, open, sweet-tea-and-barbecue slice of Florida that I write about. Getting up there from the more congested, urban environs of south Florida is a great way to recharge my batteries.
What are you working on now?
At age 98, my mom's health is failing -- physically, and especially mentally. Since she's always been a muse for the Mama character, not to mention my No. 1 fan, I've struggled a bit to find the same joy I had in writing when Mom was able to be actively involved. I'm taking a bit of a breather, though I hope to return to my fictional world and family in Himmarshee, Fla., in the future.
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About Mama Gets Trashed: After a tipsy Mama tosses out her wedding ring with the trash, she drags daughter Mace to the city dump to search. When they stumble upon the body of librarian Camilla Law, the straitlaced town is scandalized: Not only is a killer on the loose, but prudish Camilla is all done up in sexy black leather. Foul play and fetish wear in little Himmarshee, Fla? Mama's blushing fifty shades of pink!
Author Bio: A former USA Today reporter, Deborah Sharp traded sad news stories for funny fiction with her Mace Bauer Mysteries, featuring Mace's wacky Mama. Deborah rode a horse across Florida for one book. For another, she was interviewed by Al Roker on the Today show. She was a lot less nervous about the horse. Married to TV reporter Kerry Sanders, she lives in South Florida, where she spends her spare time chasing iguanas out of her hibiscus. Mama Gets Trashed, out Sept. 8 from Midnight Ink, is the series' fifth book. Visit her online at www.DeborahSharp.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deborah.sharp1. You can read an excerpt from TRASHED, here: http://www.mamagetstrashed.com/