Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Interview with mystery author Wendy Tyson

Mystery author Wendy Tyson is here today and we’re going to chat about her new cozy novel, Seeds of Revenge: A Greenhouse Mystery.

Wendy Tyson’s background in law and psychology has provided inspiration for her mysteries and thrillers. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Wendy has returned to her roots and lives on a micro-farm with her husband, sons, and two dogs. Wendy’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals, and she’s a contributing editor and columnist for The Big Thrill and The Thrill Begins, International Thriller Writers’ online magazines. Wendy is the author of the Allison Campbell Mystery Series and the Greenhouse Mystery Series.

Tell us about your new release.
Megan Sawyer is determined to farm year-round. So much so that she braves a December snowstorm to pitch her fresh greenhouse greens to Philadelphia chefs. And then she sees a stranger stranded on the side of the road. It’s Becca Fox, and she’s headed to her aunt’s house to sell her love potions at holiday events. Or so Becca thinks.

Her sneaky aunt only invited Becca home to reunite her with her estranged father. It sounds noble and kind-hearted, until the man ends up dead. Megan soon finds herself in the middle. She realizes Becca’s not the only one getting iced over. Megan’s own aunt, the famous mystery author, is dragged into the drama. Her novels implicate her and she’s in trouble.

Now it’s personal. Megan must follow a cryptic trail of literary clues, all while sifting through the victim’s sordid past. She gets closer to the truth as the murderer gets closer to her.

What inspired you to write this book?
My husband and I are passionate organic gardeners. A few years ago, we started our own small vegetable farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with the intention of developing it into an organic CSA (community supported agriculture). Unfortunately, things fell through with the land we were leasing and the farm never made it past its first season. During a book signing in a small town in North Carolina about a year later, I was moved by the interactions I witnessed between the shop owners, their children, and the townspeople. It dawned on me that a version of our small farm could live on in a fictional small town. Thereafter, Washington Acres Farm and the fictional town of Winsome, Pennsylvania were born.

Excerpt from Seeds of Revenge:
Merry Chance’s statuesque four square was alit with white Christmas lights—Colonial candles in the windows, braids of lights outlining the window sills and doorways, blinking lights woven into wreaths, and miniscule bulbs incorporated into a doe and two fawns that adorned the front lawn. As Megan pulled up alongside the road in front of the home, she saw with relief that Merry was home. In fact, she was standing on her porch talking with a man.

Becca gave Megan a quick hug. “Thank you,” she sang. “You saved me quite a trek.”

Megan climbed out of the truck and pulled Becca’s suitcase from the bed while Becca unloaded her boxes of love potions. Merry had noticed them, and she turned her attention toward her niece.

“Aunt Merry!” Becca called. “Hello!”

She hurried toward her aunt and stopped short just feet from the landing, Megan trailing behind. The man had turned to look at them so that his face was visible. He was older, mid- to late-sixties, but his resemblance to Becca was unmistakable. Strong features: a square chin, a broad nose, unnaturally black hair receding ever-so-slightly into his scalp line. He wore a tailored coat and carried an expensive bag. His bearing screamed money and privilege.

The man regarded Becca with an evenness that seemed unnerving, while Becca’s whole body shook with emotion.

No one acknowledged Megan. She watched the scene unfold the way a bystander witnesses a car crash. Helpless and transfixed.

“No! Why is he here? Aunt Merry, why the hell is he here?” To him, “I told you I never want to see you again. Never. Do you know what that means? You brought him here on purpose.”

“Rebecca, calm down,” Merry snapped. “You’re jumping to conclusions.”

“He’s here, I’m here. What conclusions am I jumping to?”

The man said, “Actually, I was just leaving.”

“That might be best, Paul.” Merry glanced at her niece, lips pursed into a frown. “Let’s give Becca some time to calm down.”

Paul nodded curtly. “Very well. Thank you, Merry. You know where I’ll be.” He walked down the steps, past Becca, without so much as another glance in her direction. Becca placed her bags on the ground. With a sudden rush, she darted toward the man in the slippery snow, hands outstretched. She would have pushed him had he not reacted with laser speed. He grabbed her wrists and held them out in front of her. Merry took a step forward. Megan dropped the suitcase, ready to intervene.

But Paul and Becca just stood there, staring at one another. Finally, Becca said, “You’re hurting me.”

He looked down at his hands, wrapped like bindings around her wrists, and let go. “I’m sorry.” He backed away, his eyes unwavering in their focus on Becca’s face.

He climbed into his car—a silver Mercedes—and Becca spat at the ground near his tire. She rubbed her wrists, shoulders hunched.

Becca watched as he pulled away, his rear tires slipping in the deep snow. “Why would you invite him here, Aunt Merry?”

“I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow.”

“He’s staying here. He made that pretty clear.”

“He wanted to see you. He wants to make amends.”

“I will never forgive him. You of all people should understand that.”

Merry regarded her niece with a long, sad stare. Finally she said, “Megan, I assume Becca’s car had some difficulty in the snow?” When Megan nodded, she said, “Thank you for bringing her.”

It was a dismissal, at odds with Merry’s normally saccharine insistence on hospitality. Megan placed Becca’s suitcase on her porch and and returned to her truck. She watched as Becca followed her aunt obediently inside. With the front door shut, the visage of the house returned to its festive façade.

A façade, indeed, Megan thought as she pulled away. That was all it seemed to be. She wondered what conversation was going on inside.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The fourth Greenhouse mystery, Rooted in Deceit, comes out September 4, 2018, and I’m developing the storyline for the fifth book in that series now. I love writing this series. Right now, I’m under contract for six books. It’s my hope that Megan and the townsfolk of Winsome will appear in many books to come.

In addition, I’m honored to have a story (“Soap”) in a fantastic new fiction anthology, Betrayed, which was released on October 16. Betrayed is the brain child of Pam Stack from Authors on Air and features a novella from Allison Brennan and stories from some of today's bestselling crime authors. Every author has donated her/his time and fiction, and profits from Betrayed are being donated to programs and organizations that help victims of domestic violence reclaim their lives.

I also have a story coming out in another fiction anthology, The Night of the Flood, on March 5, 2018. This anthology is sort of a novel in short stories, and a majority of the authors are my fellow Murderers’ Row columnists for ITW’s online magazine, THE THRILL BEGINS. An incredibly fun project.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Oh, wow—that’s a tough question. I still pinch myself; it all feels so surreal. I suppose I’m just starting to feel like a writer now. I’m about to release my eighth book—I guess it’s about time!

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full-time; I work full-time as a legal consultant for a mutual fund company (I’m an ERISA attorney). I also have three kids and two dogs and a husband, so my schedule is tight.

I try to write every morning for at least an hour. I created the habit of writing first thing when I wrote my first novel, more than a decade ago. As my writing commitments have increased, I’ve needed to expand that time, and now I take vacation days to write and/or I write on weekends. I know when my books are due, so I try to schedule down time in the weeks before a deadline.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I tend to be a binge writer. I do a lot of prep in my head and through freewriting and daily writing practice, sometimes over the course of months or years, but when I finally sit down to finish a book, I prefer to do it for hours at a time, as though I’m recording the movie in my head.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A veterinarian. A writer. A dolphin trainer. An archeologist. A cliff diver. The one constant was a writer, though—I always knew I would write.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I write another mystery series, The Allison Campbell Mystery Series, also from Henery Press. It stars Allison Campbell, a Philadelphia Main Line image consultant who is a dissertation shy of a PhD in psychology. Allison helps people reinvent themselves—when she’s not busy solving crimes.


Buy links:

Thanks for being here today, Wendy!

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