Monday, October 14, 2013

Interview with Barbara Jean Coast, Author of Strangled by Silk

great escape tour banner large strangled by silk 640

Tell us about Strangled by Silk...what inspired the Poppy Cove Mystery series?
HS: I was a professional dressmaker and designer years ago with my own atelier. After I decided to go in a different direction, I had a basic idea of a story based in a dress shop. I was always an avid reader and love cozies. Andrea and I have been friends since the age of six, and I approached her with the concept, and she ran with it.

AT: I have been a writer since I figured out that words could go together! I was very excited about the idea, and before long I had a couple of characters and basic story-lines sussed out. We kept talking about it and then before long, we realized that we had something.

Can you take us on a tour of the dress shop?
AT: It sits on the corner of Poppy Lane and Cove Street in downtown Santa Lucia, Ca which is eerily similar to Santa Barbara. There are large picture windows for glamorous displays facing both streets and the door is on the corner, with three little steps and a railing, flowers on the door step and a bell that jingles as you come in.

HS: Working around the room from the left, there are the displays, racks for dresses, then accessories. There is a spiral wrought iron staircase that leads to the upstairs office at the back left, the sales desk and accessories counter, then a hallway that leads to the work and lunch rooms in the back, to the back right is a carpeted lounge and fitting room area, with one large dressing room, big enough to do personal fittings and a couple standard size fitting rooms. In the lounge there is a couple of chaise longues and a table for magazines and refreshments. Back along the right side is the other picture window, and through the centre are more racks featuring the fabulous Poppy Cove fashions, in a wandering path, on a hardwood floor.

What made you decide to set the series in the '50s?
HS: As a dressmaker, I really wanted to pick a time when the clothes were inspiring and also that the craftsmanship was appreciated, yet common enough that an average well to do town would have such a place thriving in its existence.

AT: Also, I loved the idealism and confidence of the people. The social mores and the aesthetics of the time made it fun. The coat of perfection, women never went out without lipstick and hair in place, shellacked and shiny, no matter what. Then you start thinking about what was really going on underneath.

How was life different back then than it is today?
HS: There was a lot more confidence in the world, from an American/Canadian standpoint, invincibility, there would be no wrong to be that consumer and buy everything and it would make the perfect life. Even if it wasn’t, society as a whole pretended that it was. Of course, there is a negative side to that, but I really liked the artful tactfulness of the time and would rather dwell on that. People did naughty things, but it was kept within the walls of decorum. You truly could kiss and not tell!

AT: It was an interesting time, affluent and exciting. It was very colorful and lively, even at the casual gathering of friends you would see everyone at their best, dressed up and optimistic. Language and description was much more creative, new combinations of words made funny slang that was full of double meaning and it made a person use their wit to understand what was being said. Now it seems we tell more than what there is and every other word is four letters and begins with an “f.”

I adore music from the '50s, even though that was way before my time. Do you have any favorite music from that era?
HS: It’s before our time, too! Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Julie London, Peggy Lee, Nina Simone, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Billie Holliday – so many. Definitely lean more towards the jazz, I think.

AT: Also I’ll add Nat King Cole, Patsy Cline, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Charlie Parker, Harry Belafonte, Bo Diddley, Rosemary Clooney and Patty Page. A bit of everything, really – I feel like I might have missed some….it could go on for some time.

Do you have any pets?
AT: No, unfortunately allergies, but have great affection for all animals.

What's a typical writing day like for you?
HS: We have one full day a week that we can devote to writing, so we get a lot done usually that day, then throughout the week, there’s usually about four days a week that we have an hour or so during the day that we can use as well.

How did you come to write for Cozy Cat Press?
HS: When we finished our final draft of STRANGLED BY SILK, we took a few weeks to consider how we wanted to market it – traditional publishing, self publish, small press – all are very viable options these days. We went through the typical query, rejection, hopes up, start again cycle.

AT: Then we got an e-mail from Patricia Rockwell, editor and owner of Cozy Cat Press, offering us a contract. We were thrilled, and initially it felt like a great fit. We talked it over and it truly was. Really glad we signed on. We love our publishing home and the talented writers we are with.

What are some of your favorite mysteries?
HS: Wow – so many! Let’s see – currently just finished reading Stephen Kaminski’s two Damon Lassard mysteries, really enjoyed them, also Drema Reed’s Art Gallery series, and then also Laura Childs, Leslie Meier, Hannah Reed, and then going back Nancy Drew, of course, and Agatha Christie.

AT: I am currently reading Sharon Rose’s Parson’s Cove series – it’s very funny, and enjoyed Diane Morlan’s Jennifer Penny series, too. Also, Susan Wittig Albert, Carola Dunn, Elizabeth George, Jacqueline Winspear – just to name a few. It all started with the Bobbsey Twins and the Famous Five!

What are you working on now?
HS: We’re a little over halfway on the second Poppy Cove Mystery Series (we’re bumping off a Beauty Queen!), with plans for many more. 

We’re also mulling over the idea of a couple of other series, just in ruminating stage right now. We’ll keep you posted.

AT: Along with that, I have some other writing projects that I am doing, including two blogs, one on creativity and the other is poetry. I’ve also got a novel on the go set in the 1800’s and other ideas I just have to find the time for.

Strangled by Silk Cover 2

Book Details:
Strangled by Silk (Poppy Cove Mysteries)
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Number of Pages: 275
Cozy Cat Press (January 30, 2013)

Darlings! Here’s the scoop on my latest mystery STRANGLED BY SILK. It’s all about Daphne and Margot––two independent young California women in 1957––own their own dress shop called Poppy Cove.

When one of their top clients––Constance Stearns-Montgomery––is strangled to death with her own silk scarf at the opening ceremonies for her new girls’ academy, Daphne and Margot are shocked. They can’t believe that such a horrid crime could take place in their sleepy little oceanside village of Santa Lucia. Worse, they’ve lost one of their best clients. The two women quickly become embroiled in solving the crime. After all, if anyone can track down the killer, it should be them. Margot’s long-time beau is the town’s top cop, and Daphne is a master at using her flirtatious wiles to extract information from unsuspecting men.

Of course, neither girl will let their snooping get in the way of more urgent tasks such as choosing new textiles and accessories for Poppy Cove or planning their fall fashion show or––most important––selecting the appropriate ensemble to wear for each and every occasion. But these two fashion detectives are on the case, and the murderer––and the poorly attired––had better watch out!

About Barbara Jean Coast
Barbara Jean Coast is the pen name of authors Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff, both of whom reside in Kelowna, BC, Canada. Barbara Jean, however, is a resident of Santa Lucia, California (eerily similar to Santa Barbara), where she enjoys long lunches, cocktail parties, fancy dinner dates with attractive and attentive gentlemen. Her interests include Alfred Hitchcock movies, reading Carolyn Keene, music by popular musicians, such Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, shopping for new dresses, attending society events and always looking fabulous in kitten heels. STRANGLED BY SILK is her first novel in the Poppy Cove Mystery Series.

Author Links
Facebook:  “Friend” Barbara Jean Coast & “Like” Poppy Cove Mysteries

Purchase Links:
AMAZON   B&N   Book World


dollycas aka Lori said...

Thank you for being part of this tour!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Melissa, thoroughly enjoyed the interview with you. Toodles!

hotcha12 said...