Monday, August 12, 2013

Interview with Kaitlyn Dunnett, Author of the Liss MacCrimmon Mystery Series

Today I'm excited to feature an interview with Kaitlyn Dunnett, author of the Liss MacCrimmon Mystery Series. I asked her about setting the latest book in the series at Halloween, the state of Maine as the quintessential locale for cozies, and CATS...of course!

Can you tell us about Vampires, Bones, and Treacle Scones?
This is the eighth Liss MacCrimmon Scottish-American Heritage Mystery set in Moosetookalook, Maine, a fictional village in the western part of the state (nowhere near the ocean). In this one, Liss, a former professional Scottish dancer who was forced to retire early because of a knee injury and has since taken over the family business, Moosetookalook Scottish Emporium, is in charge of Moosetookalook’s Halloween festival and fundraiser. A “haunted house” is to be among the attractions, but Liss gets more than she bargained for when she ventures into the old Chadwick mansion to set it up.

Did you find it fun to write a cozy set at Halloween?
There were quite a few unexpected twists and turns along the way, and I did enjoy finding out about Halloween customs in Scotland, including the game of Treacle Scones, which involves coating scones in treacle (molasses), hanging them overhead, and trying to take a bite out of one while blindfolded.

I adore small-town Maine cozies. What do you think makes Maine the quintessential setting for cozy mysteries?
I’m sure Cabot Cove had a lot to do with it, although the screenwriters didn’t do a very good job of making that small town realistic. Those of us who actually live in Maine try to be a bit more accurate without losing the mystique. For many who have never visited the state, it seems to have a special allure—maybe a bit of nostalgia for a simpler life? And, of course, our small towns are really small. The population of Moosetookalook in 1007. A place where everyone knows everyone else and the local grapevine is a legitimate source of information fits right in with the cozy genre.

You must tell us all about Lumpkin and his real life inspiration Nefret...
Lumpkin, like Nefret, is a large Maine Coon cat. Nefret is beige. Lumpkin is yellow. Other than that, they have the same bad habits. Writing Lumpkin is easy. I just have to think about what Nefret has gotten up to lately. Another thing they have in common is that they were both named from books by authors I admire. Lumpkin came from Charlotte MacLeod’s Peter Shandy series. Nefret was named after a character in Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody books. 

Can you share with us any fun trivia about Maine Coon cats?
There are a couple of stories that aren’t true—that they are a cross between a cat and a raccoon and that they are descended from cats belonging to Marie Antoinette. No one knows exactly how the breed evolved, but they are big cats, with hairy ears and toes, long, plush fur, and affectionate natures. We’ve had several over the years. We found Nefret and his litter mate, Bala (the prototype for Liss’s second cat, Glenora), abandoned in our barn when they were kittens. Bala is good-sized, but noticeably smaller than her brother. 

What else do you have for pets? 
Besides Bala, there is Feral, the cat we inherited from my husband’s father. He was a stray Dad enticed into the house one Thanksgiving with the promise of turkey. He has one ear that is crumpled, the result of an infection, so my husband tells people he’s one half Scottish fold.

What are you working on now?
I’m just doing final revisions for next year’s Liss MacCrimmon mystery, which is set on a Christmas tree farm. The research was easy on this one. My husband and I have operated a cut-your-own Christmas tree business for the last five years.
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About Vampires, Bones and Treacle Scones:
Liss MacCrimmon, newlywed and proud owner of Moosetookalok, Maine's, Scottish Emporium, is thrilled to be organizing the rural town's Halloween fundraiser. And the abandoned Chadwick mansion will be the perfect setting for a creepy old haunted house. . .

A wee bit too perfect, perhaps. After all, the last owner was Blackie O'Hare, a notorious Boston hit man, so Liss knows those stories of buried victims and hidden loot may not be too far-fetched. And then there's the recent appearance of mysterious lights. . .and the unexplained moans and creaks. . .and, right where she left that fake skeleton, a very real-looking body with puncture-marks on the neck. . .

Gwen's cousin Ned? Who woulda kilt him, especially since he was supposed to be in prison? Was it really a vampire, recruiting another undead soul? Or maybe a more earthly being. . .like smarmy real estate agent Jason Graye, who gleefully spreads those haunted house stories so he can buy the once-bonny mansion for next-to-nothing? How about that out-of-town horror writer, who actually moved into the old mortuary?

Or. . .was Ned iced by one of his prison mates? Solving this creepy Halloween mystery is turning out to be harder than snapping a clear picture of Nessie. But Liss had better watch her back this time, because the killer--undead or not--is much closer then she thinks!


katsrus said...

The kitties are so cute! Love the book cover and title. Will have to add this series to my reading.
Sue B

Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf said...

OMG...I got chills just looking at that cover! So many of my favorite things!!! Halloween, cozies, cats! Huzzah! OK, I better go back and read the post now!!!

PS I can't wait for Autumn...why can't it be Autumn for 1/2 the year and the other seasons shorter???!!!!

PSS I think I am suffering from delerium due to lack of sleep. Sorry!

Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf said...

"Who woulda kilt him?" HAHA...I am way too punchy! What adorable fur babies and what a great sounding series...I'm going to look for book one! Small New England towns shopuld be added to my list above!

Melissa, Mudpie and Angel Truffles (Mochas, Mysteries and Meows) said...

I completely agree...fall is my favorite time of year too, especially here in Vermont!