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Tule Author Q&A: Winter Austin was inspired by a song!

Winter Austin stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the third book in the Benoit and Dayne Mystery series, Straight for the Kill!

Where did you get the inspiration for Straight for the Kill?

This one came from listening to a new to me duo called Neoni and a few of their songs stirred up some scenes in my head while driving home from one of my many trips to Iowa City for check ups on my eyes. I can’t reveal what scenes those were because it would ruin the book. The title took a bit to decide on, and it was there before I figured out how to work it in. The overall plot has been around since Elizabeth and her characterization were birthed.


How have your characters Elizabeth and Lila changed throughout the course of the Benoit and Dayne Mystery series? 

In increments. Both are older and have some set ways, but that’s the beauty of being an author and these are fictional people, you can change them.

Elizabeth is more jaded than she was when we first meet her. She’s always been a go-getter, but doing the job as sheriff, she’s shifted into being more of jump to conclusions first and work her way out of it. This is going to get her into trouble at some point.

Lila, after the events of Hush, My Darling, has learned to work through her trauma and is more levelheaded than she was when we first met her. She’s taken on more of a leadership role than she ever imagined. She’s also trying to navigate her life with a stable relationship, something that is a foreign concept for her.


Why did you choose the setting of Eckardt County for this series? Can you paint a picture of the town for us?

Juniper, the main town in Eckardt County, is a combination of many of the places here in Southeast Iowa. Towns and rural areas that I grew up around, spent a lot of time in, and live near and in now. Many of the establishments reflect local businesses or places that once existed. As for Eckardt County itself, it is like Juniper, a large conglomeration of the counties in Southeast Iowa. I had written a series previously set in my area of Iowa, which made it easier to write because I could give the nuances and visual feel of what my world looks like without having to spend any time researching. Coming back to Southeast Iowa for another series felt right.


If you could spend the day with Elizabeth or Lila, who would you choose and what would you do?

Probably Elizabeth. I’m such a dog person and having a Border like Bentley to love on would just make my day since she goes everywhere with Elizabeth. Then there’s Elizabeth’s sister Marnie who totally intrigues me, and I’m her creator. Course wherever Elizabeth is, Lila is sure to show up. In the end I’d probably spend time in Elizabeth’s office swapping stories.


What are you currently reading?

Fellow Iowan, Stacy Green’s book The Trapped Ones. I’m also reading through fellow Tule author Katherine Cowley’s book, The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet. And for my SinC Iowa Chapter we’re going through The Linchpin Writer: Crafting Your Novel’s Key Moments by John Matthew Fox as our craft novel for this year.


About the Author

Winter Austin perpetually answers the question: “were you born in the winter?” with a flat “nope,” but believe her, there is a story behind her name.

A lifelong Mid-West gal with strong ties to the agriculture world, Winter grew up listening to the captivating stories told by relatives around a table or a campfire. As a published author, she learned her glass half-empty personality makes for a perfect suspense/thriller writer. Taking her ability to verbally spin a vivid and detailed story, Winter translated that into writing deadly romantic suspense, mysteries, and thrillers.

When she’s not slaving away at the computer, you can find Winter supporting her daughter in cattle shows, seeing her three sons off into the wide-wide world, loving on her fur babies, prodding her teacher husband, and nagging at her flock of hens to stay in the coop or the dogs will get them.

She is the author of multiple novels.