Kaz Delaney stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the fifth book in the Hart of Texas Murder Mysteries series, Cupid, Cupcakes and Carnage! Plus, keep reading to see how you can enter a giveaway!
Where did you get the inspiration for Cupid, Cupcakes and Carnage and the Hart of Texas Murder Mystery series?
Hi everybody! It’s great to be here again. So while the Hart of Texas Mysteries can be read in any order, they were written to chronologically (roughly) follow the seasons. With Christmas gone, and Rosie getting more than she’d bargained for, (Murder below the Mistletoe), I was checking the calendar to set the next mystery and Valentine’s Day jumped out at me. The tiny town of Airlie Falls loves a good celebration. They go all out, no matter what it is, so this just seemed to fit.
Story-wise, Valentine’s Day is such a beautiful time and yet the wicked side of me saw the fun(?) of juxtaposing that time of warmth and love, of selflessness, alongside the cold-hearted selfishness of murder.
Valentine’s Day is also such a pretty time, and murder is never pretty—so, again, it was a time of contrasts. And such contrasts! I had enormous fun researching Valentine’s Day celebrations and creating such a gorgeous setting. I so badly wanted to go those parties and celebrations; the warmth of that community just keeps dragging me in, making me yearn for a community just like Airlie Falls.
This installment takes place during Valentine’s Day. Are you a fan of the holiday? Do we get to see some romance between Rosie and Jonah?
To be perfectly honest, my husband and I don’t go all out for Valentine’s Day. I suspect we allowed the busy-ness having four children to push more elaborate celebrations to the side—though not once in over fifty years have we not acknowledged it between us, maybe not with a big show, but always a kiss, gratitude that we have each other and a wish for many more Valentine’s Days to come. In retrospect that’s probably the nicest way to celebrate and I guess we will continue that way because those sentiments come from our hearts.
As for Rosie and Jonah? Well, naturally finding a dead body in your backyard would put a dampener on any romantic celebration, right—no matter how young and newly in love you are. So, if ONE random body causes some distress, imagine what finding TWO bodies would do to upset your plans, romantic or otherwise? Especially as one of those bodies has been lying buried in your backyard for over ten years—and of course you had no idea.
Making that work involved a lot of thinking, but the idea of finding a body buried in your backyard intrigued me. Yes, I’m obviously disturbed—we can agree on that. 😊 Two things simultaneously happened that led to the birth of this idea. Our national news was reporting on the outcome of a thirty year old case that had been re-opened. A husband had long been suspected of murdering his wife and the news had historic footage of where their back yard had been dug up at the time. With this on my mind, a few days later I was watching my husband dig a new garden bed, and I idly considered how awful it would be to discover long buried bones. Gruesome? Yes, somewhat, but intriguing. When those two ideas meshed, I had the beginning of a story—one that I then had to make work. Btw, in case you’re wondering, in a landmark result, despite not having ever found the body, enough evidence was found to convict that husband 30 years after his lovely young wife disappeared and after he had installed his teenage girlfriend in his home just days after that wife’s disappearance.
There’s a new senior dating app in Airlie Falls. Would you ever consider using a dating app in today’s dating climate?
Wow—what an interesting question. You know, I’m kind of on the fence. It doesn’t sound like something I would do, but then again, it seems to be ‘the’ way to meet people these days, right? And I’m going to share a secret here and I hope you keep it just between us… I’ve always been curious about who an app would match me with. True! I’ve seen some great results but more than often hilariously disastrous ones. That said, there’s no way I’m replacing my man, but still…curious.
Although maybe if the situation arose and I found myself alone I should take a leaf out of the Fab Four’s book and try it! With Valentine’s Day in the air, those gorgeous rascals, average age 90, decided to get back in the ‘game’ and they tried a dating app! I had huge fun writing those scenes and I knew from the first inklings of this book that I wanted to give Lori Sue, Martha, E.T. (Ethel Therese) and Betsy the fun of a dating app to play with. There’s no use-by date on finding love, but with a lot of competition out at Riverbend retirement complex they used their cunning wiles to try to get an edge.
What was your favorite scene to write and why?
Trying to choose a favorite book is like trying to choose a favorite child. However, for reasons I can’t explain, this particular book has a firm place in my heart. I adored every moment of its creation, and couldn’t wait to get to my computer each day. And as many authors would agree, this isn’t always the case. So, bearing all that in mind, I had such trouble choosing a scene. Was it the romantic—and oh so pretty—dance night that heralded the beginning of the Valentine’s Day celebrations? The Fab Four fluttering their eyelashes (and everything else) at their chosen victim—um—date prospect? Was it the moment when Rosie finally realized she’d been looking at everything from the wrong angle? The scene with the supposed psychic who claimed to have been gifted all the answers from the spirits of the dead?
You know what? I think it should be the scene when the second body is discovered. Jonah and Rosie have been away on a short trip to an interstate baking fair and on returning to Rosie’s farmhouse they had been delivered the news of the body discovered in Jonah’s yard while they’d been away. A body that had been buried just days before. Naturally they rush to Jonah’s property just up the road.
The scene at Jonah’s wasn’t nearly as chaotic as I’d expected. Bobby Don, our senior deputy and arguably the best chili maker in Texas, was raking through the disturbed soil where it was obvious the body had been buried. The other guy, Arnie Sanchez, was working in a wider arc. I’d only met Arnie a couple of times but he seemed okay. At mid-twenties he was only a few years younger than Bobby Don and Jonah, and the guys had included him in a few of their occasional trips to Dallas for ball games.
At the moment though, ballgames were the last things on Jonah’s mind. Even in winter his tan was always evident but now he was scarily pale by comparison. His eyes roved the disturbed paving stones, his gaze darting back and forth, mentally measuring the distance between the gravesite and the house. And I knew what he was thinking—ludicrous. It was ludicrous to even consider that anyone had thought burying somebody here was a good idea.
“They had to have thought they had no choice,” I muttered just loud enough for him to hear.
“I agree, but why were they here in the first place? I mean, sure in this town everybody knows everybody’s business, but our decision for me to join you on that trip was pretty much spur of the moment! And even we didn’t know until last night just when we were returning. At first, we were only going for two nights, remember? So, by rights, we should have been home—and chances are I’d be here because I’ve been staying close to those new calves.”
“But we didn’t recognize him Jonah, so he wasn’t local. Which means what? That it was random?”
Jonah bumped his cowboy hat to the back of his head and scratched at his forehead. “Darlin’, I always love the way you think, but to suggest that a stranger wandered onto my property, got himself murdered and buried by another random stranger at the precise time I’d be away is a stretch even for your imagination. Definitely for mine. It makes no sense…”
Clay and Fiona were heading back from the corral barn that housed the new additions to Jonah’s herd and I’d just opened my mouth to ask if they could think of anything else they hadn’t yet told us when a shout went up from the grave area.
“Sheriff! Did you notice anything odd about that guy we dug up? Like, was he missing anything?”
Frank sighed. “Bobby Don, what in tarnation are you talking about now?”
The deputy pushed up from where he’d been hunkered down close to the disturbed soil. “Well, like—did he have all his parts?”
“Bobby Don, I’m close to thinking you don’t have all your parts—especially in the head department. Do you mean body parts? If so, yes, as far as I recall he was intact. So, what is your problem?”
It had long been accepted that Bobby Don was the most generous man you’d wish to meet, and a truly exemplary chili maker. A deputy sheriff? Not so much. But he was as honest as the day is long, and Frank appreciated honesty, so he stayed. Right then I was figuring Sheriff Frank Kinnead was questioning that decision.
Especially when Bobby Don added, “If he didn’t lose anything, then I suppose it’s a bit far-fetched to consider he had anything extra either, right?” I willed him to continue before Frank exploded. “’Cos I’m struggling for an explanation as to why we have an extra hand here…” He paused. “Unless…”
“Unless we have another body,” I finished for him. I’d said the words but it was like actually uttering them made them truly real. I didn’t remember moving my hand until I felt it clasped across the lower part of my face. “Oh my Lord, Jonah. There are two bodies!”
Arnie moved closer and both Frank and Bobby Don squatted to examine the new find. Other than Fiona’s gasp, I think the rest of us simply held our breaths. One random body was unfathomable. Two was insane.
What are you currently reading?
I had some time off after Christmas and have been having the time of my life reading so many titles from Tule’s Montana series. Oh my… So many great stories. Kelly Hunter, Jane Porter, C.J Carmichael, Joan Kilby. The list goes on. And on! And I still have many more to go. Bliss!
Prize up for grabs!
Thank you everybody for hanging out with me. Do you love Valentine’s Day? Do you have a favorite annual celebration? Or what do you like or dislike about cozy mysteries? I don’t mind what you comment on, but if you care to leave a comment, I will randomly choose one person to win a $10 Amazon card and also an e-book copy of your choice of any of the first four titles in the Hart of Texas Mysteries.
About the Author
Award winning YA & children’s author, Kaz Delaney, and her alter ego, have currently sold 73 titles between them over a 26 year career.
Her books have won many awards, among them the prestigious Aurealis Award for best paranormal and ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association) awards. Her novel ‘Dead, Actually’ (Allen & Unwin) was nominated for a Davitt Award, (Best crime novel, Sisters In Crime) in the YA section. Dividing her time between teaching and writing, Kaz formerly tutored Creative Writing for CSU’s Enrichment Program as well as teaching and creating courses for the Australian College of Journalism.
Having always had a love of cozy mysteries, Kaz is having so much fun writing her Hart of Texas Mystery Series for TULE Publishing, that she worries it’s not legal!
With their family grown and gone, Kaz lives with her wonderful husband at beautiful Lake Macquarie, Australia, a place she describes as a strip of land between the ocean and lake. Like Rosie, Kaz loves to bake and grow vegetables and unlike Rosie, manages to make a mess of every crochet task she undertakes.