Hi, guys! V. Joy Palmer here! Since we are all friends here, you guys can call me Joy. ;-) And one of my favorite things to do is talk with my friends at coffee shops then head to the bookstores. Yes, plural. After all, books and yummy drinks are the perfect combination! So consider this our virtual coffee shop. I'll wait a second for you to get your warm drink and a fuzzy blanket before we chat with today's guest. <3
Today we are going to
pry into the private life of CHAT with Susan Kimmel Wright!
Susan Kimmel Wright is a child of the Appalachian Mountains. A former lawyer, Susan has published three children’s mystery novels and is a prolific contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Mabel Goes to the Dogs, Book Two in Mysteries of Medicine Spring, her first cozy mystery series for adult readers, is now available from Mountain Brook Ink. Susan shares an 1875 farmhouse in southwestern PA with her husband, several dogs and cats, and an allegedly excessive stockpile of coffee and tea mugs.
This may be the most important question I ask -- no pressure or anything, LOL!
What are you drinking in our virtual coffee house? Coffee? Tea? Hot chocolate? Something else altogether?
“Yes, please!” but it all depends. I really need to start my day with one or two cups of dark-roast coffee, nothing added. From there, I switch to various black teas, and before bed, I usually have a cup of green or red bush (rooibos) tea. (Hot chocolate, though, is perfect by the fire after a wintry walk!)
Haha, great answer! If you could order anything in the world to eat (we can dream, can't we?), what would it be?
This will obviously vary by mood, lol, but after living for months in Honduras decades ago, I often crave desayuno típico—the Central American typical breakfast of eggs, fried bananas, queso blanco cheese, avocado, refried beans, corn tortillas, and coffee. ¡Buen provecho!
YUM! Where is your favorite place to write, and why is that your favorite place?
Being an introverted homebody, I do most of my writing in a corner of our family room, where I have a table, supplies, mug-warmer, and my dogs and cats! Sometimes though, I like to shake things up by popping on my headphones and writing in a bookstore café, where there’s the stimulation of people and books, but I can also retreat into my own world. (In cases of dire writer’s block, I sit in my car and write with a notebook and pen—just like I used as a kid. This will usually break through anyplace I’m stuck.)
Love your cure for writer's block! Do you have an odd habit that is only explained by your bookish, writer tendencies?
So embarrassing, but I sometimes mentally narrate my life! Susan stood in the doorway, studying the room. She wished she hadn’t taken that cold tablet earlier. Now her head felt fuzzy—and she needed to be thinking clearly if she was to navigate that awkward conversation with Gloria. Was she here yet? Susan picked up a glass from the table by the door—something to occupy her hands and keep from fidgeting. I’m so weird!
Let's just say you're not the only one who does that... ;-) What inspired you to write Mabel Goes to the Dogs?
Mabel Goes to the Dogs is Book Two in my series, Mysteries of Medicine Spring, and there’s some continuation from Book One—and some questions answered. I chose to write about search dogs primarily because of my personal love of dogs (I do Australian cattle dog rescue and have also fostered dogs of different breeds, sizes, medical needs, and ages over the years). Plus, my main character Mabel volunteers at a new place in each book, and I wanted to give her something a bit different from the more common shelter or dog rescue volunteer. Awhile before incubating this book, I’d volunteered to help train search dogs by hiding in the wild for them to attempt to find me. I’d thought it would be fascinating to watch them work—and a good way to contribute to what they do. My first call-up just happened to coincide with the writing of my book, and it taught me a lot.
That's really cool! What led you to write in this genre?
I just love, love, love mysteries—especially cozies, which have small-town settings and local characters you can get to know and care about over the course of the series. Cozies keep me turning pages, because of course, I want to know “whodunit,” but they tend to be clean reads and also steer clear of the graphic violence of harder-edged mysteries.
Very true! What message do you hope to convey to your readers?
I don’t write to convey a particular message, but I find that what I think and believe still has a way of coming through. I want readers who have struggles in their lives to be able to open one of my books and feel comforted—to laugh a bit and find relief from the stress they’re dealing with. Mabel isn’t perfect—who is? She might be a somewhat overweight fifty-year-old who’s suddenly unemployed and a bit insecure and disorganized. But God still has some pleasant surprises in store for her, including adventure and a new romance. I believe in hope, and I want my readers to embrace it too.
I think that's a wonderful message! Can you tell us a little about your next project(s)?
I’m currently working on Book Three in my series, Mabel & the Little Green Men, which opens when Mabel has a close encounter with a flying saucer…or did she really? I have a lot of fun in my books by upending scary things like UFOs and finding reasons to laugh. It’s no wonder I loved those old black-&-white comedy movies as a child, where the main character had to face their fears in a supposed “haunted” house.
Oooo, how fun! Do you have a favorite Bible verse or story that inspires you on a soul level?
It’s impossible to single out a favorite Bible verse or story, but I do love the story of the unlikely hero, weak-kneed Gideon, in the Book of Judges. When the angel calls to him, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” Gideon sort of looks around like “Who? Me?” Despite all his anxieties and asking (more than once!) for a fleece before he can believe God is really calling him, Gideon ultimately trusts God and knows the joy of fulfilling that calling.
Love Gideon's story! What are you currently reading? Inquiring minds -- mine! -- want to know. ;-)
I’ve been getting caught up with Alexander McCall Smith’s warmhearted No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Precious Ramotswe, and all the other characters who seem so real and make me want to visit Botswana.
I'm sensing a theme! ;-) Sounds like a good read!
Thank you so much for hanging with us and for answering all of my prying questions, Susan!
Susan is giving away a signed copy of Mabel Goes to the Dogs!
Mabel plans to bring the thrills of volunteering to the masses—if she doesn’t go to the dogs first.
When Mabel finds herself sharing a thicket with a dead body while volunteering with canine search-&-rescue, her life has clearly—once again—gone to the dogs!
After her losing her job at age forty-nine, Mabel thought she’d turned things around. Now she’s doing good by volunteering, and surely, she’ll soon be a successful author, writing about her experiences. After solving two notorious decades-old cold cases while serving as a historical society volunteer, she’s already getting invitations to appear on TV.
Her new assignment couldn’t be simpler. All she has to do is hide in the woods and let Millie the search dog practice finding her. But to her horror, Millie finds more than Mabel—there’s a dead body hiding in the same patch of brush. To make things worse, Mabel’s maybe-boyfriend, suspended PI John Bigelow, has a dark history with the victim.
While struggling with maid-of-honor duties for best friend Lisa, a string of disasters created by handyman Acey, and a disagreeable new neighbor, can Mabel solve another murder in time to save John’s detective license—if not his neck?