Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wendy Watson Returns With More Mystery Ice Cream!

interview with Suzanne

Wendy Lyn Watson writes deliciously funny cozy mysteries with a dollop of romance.  Her Mysteries a la Mode (I Scream, You Scream (October, 2009) and Scoop to Kill (September 7, 2010)) feature amateur sleuth Tallulah Jones, who solves murders in between scooping sundaes.  While she does not commit--or solve--murders in real life, Wendy can kill a pint of ice cream in nothing flat.  She's also passionately devoted to 80s music, Asian horror films, and reality TV (

Suz: Welcome back to the Bandit Lair, Wendy, and congratulations on the upcoming release of your second book, Scoop To Kill, in your cozy mystery series Mystery A La Mode! We so enjoyed having you with us last year. Pull up a chair, Sven brought us a pitcher of cool Mojitos to share while we chat, and tell us what you've been up to the past year.

Wendy: Thanks for the cocktail, Sven! And thank you, Suz, for inviting me back to the Lair.

It's been a busy year, Chez Wendy. I've been so busy promoting my Mysteries a la Mode, going to conferences and book festivals, talking to writing and reading groups . . . I think I've traveled more this year than in the five years before. And, of course, I've been writing, both the second and third Mysteries a la Mode and developing a few other projects (both cozy and dark). Stay tuned!

Suz: So, book 2 is titled Scoop To Kill (I love these titles) and has the same heroine as in the first book, I Scream, You Scream, Tallulah Jones. What trouble does she get into this time?

Wendy: This time around, Tally's neice Alice, who is a student at the local college, stumbles over the body of a murdered graduate student. When Alice's favorite teacher looks like Suspect #1, Alice rushes in to prove her innocence, and Tally is not far behind ... trying to protect Alice. Together, they uncover all sorts of Ivy League shenanigans.

Suz: I see her old boyfriend Finn is back for book 2. Without giving away details, want to fill us in on their relationship?

Wendy: Oh, yes. Finn. Tally and Finn are still trying to work out their relationship, how to know each other as the adults they are now and not the kids they were when they dated in high school. But the sparks are flying . . . and in Scoop to Kill, Finn has some competition for Tally's affection.

Suz: Your secondary cast of characters are a hoot. Did you base them on people you know? And how important of a role do you think they fill in cozy mysteries?

Wendy: I sometimes borrow bits and pieces of people--physical characteristics, quirks, turns of phrase--for my secondary characters, but I never take anyone wholesale. Honest.

Secondary characters are critical to cozies. To sustain a series with the same core group of characters, they all have to pull their weight; you can't rely solely on your heroine to keep things interesting. A lot of secondary characters end up with a very important role: suspect. Those people have to be complex, even if they're only in a few scenes. They have to be capable of murder, but not downright evil. Developing characters to the point that readers can say, "yes, pushed in just the right way, I can imagine this person committing the ultimate crime," that takes a little effort.

Suz: Last time you gave away a great ice cream sauce recipe in your book. Any special items for your readers this time?

Wendy: Absolutely! This time around, there's a great recipe for Peanut Butter `Smores Ice Cream Cake and an interesting milkshake recipe. It involves a Dr Pepper reduction . . . but you have to trust me, it's delish.

Suz: Peanut Butter 'Smores Ice Cream Cake? Girl, you are trying to kill me. (Sven, quick copy down that recipe!) Ahem, so, Wendy, when can we expect the next book in this series? (Please don't tell me one a year? I really can't take it!)

Wendy: Not quite a year ... Book Three (tentatively entitled "A Parfait Murder") is due out in June of 2011.

Suz: Have you thought about writing in another sub genre?

Wendy: I have! I love cozies--the humor, the whimsy, the heartfelt emotion--but I've got a project in the works that's straight suspense. It's been a trip, exploring my darker side. (People who know me might be surprised to find out I have a darker side ... but somewhere beneath the homemade cookies and giggles, I've got a real edge.) The real trick is balancing the two, moving between light and dark. Light comes naturally; I have to do some mental gymnastics to get into that frame of mind.

Wendy: So, since we were talking about secondary characters, Bree is Tally's cousin and also her side-kick. She is so much fun that she even gets her own fan mail. Do you have any favorite sidekicks in books? Who are they and what do you like about them? I'll be giving away a signed copy of to one lucky commenter.


flchen1 said...

Hi, Wendy! Thanks for visiting! I do love sidekicks in books! Depending on the book(s), sometimes that introduction makes me want to see that character get a story of his or her own :) Or, I like to see that character reappear in a later story. I do love a good series :)

Donna MacMeans said...

Woohoo Wendy AND the GR (maybe)...must be my lucky day!

Love the ice cream cozies, Wendy, and how come we never saw these calorie-laden treats in Columbus, hmmm?

My favorite sidekick is actually from one of my own books that hasn't been published yet (comes out next year), but I love the character, Phineas Connor.

Finn and Phineas - we still think alike (grin)

Donna MacMeans said...

That fichen - she swooped in and snatched the GR away from me!

flchen1 said...

Woops! Sorry, Donna! And for specific sidekicks, my poor brain is moving like molasses right now--I'll have to come back with some favorites!

Kim in Hawaii said...

Oh, the sinful delights are making me hungry late at night! I recently developed an appetite for cozy mysteries, so I am looking forward to your new release!

Intersting question to ask - one of the first romance books I read was Andrea DaRif's A Kiss of Spice (alter ego of Andrea Pickens and Cara Elliott). Towards the end of the book, the hero's sister sizzled in a brief moment with an Irish lord at a gaming house (she was looking for her brother).

I contacted Andrea to see if these characters would have their own story ... and they will ... eventually! Thus Andrea is playing Fairy God Mother to one fan's wish!

barb said...

congrats Fichen enjoy GR

Welcome Wendy and congratulations on your new book.... not sure if I have read a cozy mystery.... I am learning on this blog.... I have been reading for years but never been on a blog for reading so I may have read one but not realised.I do like side kicks and hope that they become a series.

Maureen said...

Congratulations on your new book. I don't know if he's a sidekick but in a lot of Liz Carlyle's books she has a character named Kemble and he's a very interesting character.

Helen said...

Well done Fedora have fun with him

Congrats Wendy on the release of your new book they sound so good. And of course who desen't like ice cream LOL with a bit of mystery an romance to go with it

I love secondary characters in stories I think they are essential to any story and then of course I do love it when they get their own book.

Have Fun

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Wendy, welcome to the lair. All those pictures of ice cream are making me want some and it's only 7am.

I love writing and reading about interesting secondary characters. In my current series, I've had more emails about one secondary character than any other. Of course, that was also the hardest book to write. I think it's because you really want the story to live up to reader's expectations.

Congrats on your new release!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Good morning everyone!

congrats Fedora on snagging that bird today. Got any plans for him?

I think in romances we get to have the character side kick get their own story, but in a mystery series like Wendy's that side kick helps to define the main character's...ahem...character. hehehe

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Ooooooooooo, Donna, I love the name Phineas for a historical character, ever since I read Around The World In 80 Days with Phineas Fogg as the lead!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

You know one of the elements of Wendy's book is the relationship Tally has with Bree, her rather outrageous cousin. She understands her and through that understanding we love Tally even more.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Kim! My it's early or late over there!!

I contacted Andrea to see if these characters would have their own story ... and they will ... eventually! Thus Andrea is playing Fairy God Mother to one fan's wish!

Isn't it great when an author responds to our desires?

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Barb!

The Bandit Lair is a GREAT place to learn about all sorts of books, isn't it? We love our romances, but great stories like Wendy's are fun ways to add to the TBR piles. (Alas, mine has been growing by leaps and bounds lately!)

You know our Kate Carlisle has a cozy mystery series, too with her NYT bestsellers, Homicide In Hardback and If Books Could Kill. Between her and Wendy, I've become quite the fan!

Wendy Lyn Watson said...

Wow - you kids get up early. :)

Barb - if you're a romance reader, I definitely recommend cozies as an alternate source of fun. Cozies are "pretty little murders" - no gore, light, PG13 ... and there's frequently a romantic element (though very little s-e-x). ;)

By the way, Bandits, I forgot to mention .... I know your collective affinity for the Golden Rooster. Well, there's a scene in Scoop to Kill where a rooster plays a critical role. Intrigued? Ha!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Maureen, glad to see you here today.

Liz Carlyle's books she has a character named Kemble and he's a very interesting character

What does Kemble do in Liz's books?

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Morning Helen! How did you enjoy your time at the Australian RWA conference? I heard you got to meet our Christine there! Isn't she the sweetest?

barb said...

Hi Suzanne ... you do learn on here because I have just learnt that I have read cozy mysteries as I have read both of Kates books and really enjoyed them

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Christy: All those pictures of ice cream are making me want some and it's only 7am.

You know Christy, Bananas Foster is often served for brunch. And my one daughter believes peach cobbler a la mode is meant for breakfast, so why not a hot fudge sundae?

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Barb, then you HAVE got to read Wendy's books. And lucky you, this is just the second in what I hope to be a long series, so you'll be in at the beginning!!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Wendy!! Yes, our Bandit Buddies are always up early, especially those in Australia and Hawaii...I suspect it's more they're up LATE there!

gamistress66 said...

I admit, sometimes it the hero's friend that I fall for when reading a book. (Anna -- I'm still rooting for Akash to get a HEA of his own :) ) Joanna Boure's Adrian is one of those that I've enjoyed in his various incarnations in her stories and am waiting for her to finish up his story.

Othertimes, I enjoy the secondary character for the bit of humor they can bring to the story (Reggie Carmarthen from the Stephanie Lauren's Cyster books & Bolthor the worlds worst skald in Sandra Hill's books).

A good supporting cast can really help make the book.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Suzanne! No plans yet for the bird, but we're adventuring today, so I'm sure we'll be dragging him along! I hope he'll provide a deterrent to some of these mosquitoes!

As for sidekicks, one that occurred to me is from Bella Andre's story Take Me--ever since I read it years ago, I've been dying to know what happens to the H/h's sibs... I just found out that Ms. Andre's just released that story, Love Me! Can't wait to read it and get caught up!

Wendy Lyn Watson said...

Oh - and Donna ... in Columbus I was too busy eating the ice cream at Graeter's and Jeni's to mess with my own. Holy cow, do I miss Columbus!

Wendy Lyn Watson said...

Man, I'm making a list of all these intriguing books you're mentioning ... I love good characters, and these folks are clearly sticking with you.

Thanks for the tips!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Gamistress!

I know, the secondary guys always make you want more books, don't they? I've been waiting years for Julie Garwood to write Neil and Clara's story. He's Johanna's brother in Saving Grace.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Wendy, while we're talking about secondary characters, and they're not side-kicks, you gave Tally a second....SECOND love interest in this book. Girl, now you've made me crazy!!

Leann Sweeney said...

Great blog, Wendy! Cannot wait for Scoop to Kill! The only mystery in my house concerning ice cream is how many days before it disappears from the freezer.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Hi, Wendy! Welcome to the Lair. I sent a link to today's interview to my sister since she's a big cozy mystery reader and loves series that have to do with food.

Sidekicks in mysteries -- Lula from the Stephanie Plum series, and Mutt from the Kate Shugak series.

Harbingerdc said...

I really enjoyed the interview, Wendy. I am looking forward to Scoop to Kill even more now. I've had it on pre-order and it will download to my Kindle on the 7th.

Pissenlit said...

Hiya Wendy, happy early book release day! *drool* Ice cream and cozy mysteries. Yum! Uh, I'm going to have to take your word on that milkshake with the Dr Pepper reduction...

I don't know if he's my favourite but the secondary character that comes to mind at the moment is Jenks from Kim Harrison's The Hollows series. He's the pixy sidekick to the main character and he's oh so very snarky. That and his swearing cracks me up every time, especially when he takes Tinker Bell's name in vain, eg. "Tink's panties!", "Tink's a Disney whore!", "Tink's tampons!" and one of my absolute favourites, "Tink's contractual hell!"

On a totally different note, oh gosh, I turned the "big" three-oh today. I think I'm going to have to find me a pint of ice cream and my own pitcher of mojitos. Sven!!

Wendy Lyn Watson said...

Hey! Happy birthday! Thanks for celebrating it with us. :)

I did, indeed, give Tally a second love interest. In I Scream, her bad boy high school boyfriend Finn Harper came back to town ... in Scoop to Kill, Detective Cal McCormack (strong, silent Cal) makes his move. One's a pistol, the other a rock ... and I'll never tell which one she chooses!

(Well, actually, I *do* tell, but you have to keep reading to find out.)

Minna said...

Only sidekick I can think of is Peabody from in Death books.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite sidekicks is Lula from Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum Series. Stephanie and Lula work well together. They're different, but there is something that connects them and makes them a team.

TerriOsburn said...

These books sound like so much fun. My first love when I started devouring books as a kid were mysteries. No idea why I've gotten so far from them now. I'll add these to Kate's in my TBR and move them to the top of the pile.

I'm sure someone has mentioned him, but I'll have to go with Watson for the sidekick. Especially as played by Jude Law. *g*

catslady said...

I've not read to many cozies but this one sounds interesting and fun. As to sidekicks - I am absolutely horrible at remembering names. How about Tonto as the Lone Ranger's sidekick lol.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey LeAnn!

The only mystery in my house concerning ice cream is how many days before it disappears from the freezer.

This is especially true when my dear husband is home. A pint doesn't last too long around him!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Trish!

We do know our families' reading habits well, don't we? I hooked my mom on both Wendy's and Kate's cozies and she can't wait for the next ones!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Harbinger! Welcometo the Bandit Lair!!

I am looking forward to Scoop to Kill even more now. I've had it on pre-order and it will download to my Kindle on the 7th.

I didn't know you could preorder to the Kindle, too. How cool is that? Poof it appears in your reading list, huh?

Kate Carlisle said...

Hey Wendy, welcome back to the Lair!! I'm very excited about your new book and intrigued about the roll of the rooster. Hmmm... :-)

I love reading -- and writing -- cozies, naturally! And honestly, the best part for me is when I can catch up with all those fun secondary characters -- especially my own! I agree that they are the reason why readers return to their fave cozy mysteries over and over again.

My fave sidekicks? I love the sisters in Nancy Martin's Blackbird Sisters series; Annie's loyal friends in Hailey Lind's Art Lovers mysteries; Maxie and Paul, the ghosts in E.J. Copperman's new series; and Tricia's sister Angelica in Lorna Barrett's Booktown Mysteries. I could go on and on ... but that's enough for now. ;-)

Ooh, and congrats to Fedora on snagging the bird!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Happy Birthday, Pissenlit!! Glad you could spend some of it with us in the Lair!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Minna! What role does Peabody play in the In Death series...I have yet to start it!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Leni! I think that's one of the purposes of the side-kick, to add contrast to the main character, let us see how they work together.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Ms. Osborn! It was so good to see you at the RWA conference last month!

I have to agree that Watson is the best known sidekick, and oh yeah, Jude makes him so very sexy, doesn't he? Who knew that Sherlock and Watson were so drool-worthy.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Catslady! I've not read to many cozies but this one sounds interesting and fun.

I have to confess that I haven't read too many before Kate's first one last year, but between her and Wendy and a friend of mine, Liz Lipperman (whose first book comes out next spring), I may be reading them for quite some time! Give them a try, I think you'll like them!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Miss Kate!!! **Speak of the Devil!**

And honestly, the best part for me is when I can catch up with all those fun secondary characters -- especially my own!

Dear woman your secondary characters are an absoloute hoot!! Crack me up. Just like Wendy's Bree is the perfect side-kick in her books. I am in awe of you both!

Nancy said...

Wendy, welcome back! I love cozies, and especially ones with well developed secondary characters.

As for favorite sidekicks or secondaries, I'd have to include Roarke in the J.D. Robb books. He's practically a costar, but they're still Eve's books. I like Peabody, too.

Derek Stone in Kate Carlisle's Brooklyn Wainwright mysteries is also quite a hottie.

Hmm. I don't guess two similar choices make for a trend, but it's moving that way.

For a change of pace, I'd add those unflappable butlers, Bertie Wooster's Jeeves and Lord Peter's Bunter. At least, I think Bunter belongs with Lord Peter (or am I mixing him up with Albert Campion?)

Going back away, I'd pick Nancy Drew's two best buddies, George and Bess.

Richard Jury has quite a selection of sidekicks--Melrose Plant, Jury's London neighbors, and his DS (Watkins?), all with great comic flair.

Of course, Perry Mason had Della Street and Paul Drake.

Batman has Robin. And Alfred.

Picking just one secondary character or sidekick is too hard. :-)

Best of luck with the new book!

Donna MacMeans said...

Wendy - you can always come back to visit and sell your books as well. You have lots of friends here (me included) you'd love to see you again. (hint,hint)

Helen said...

Hi Suz

I had the best time at the conference the book signing was amazing and the awards dinner fantastic, and yes I finally got to meet Christine I was soo excited there were lots of squeals LOL.
I have a couple of photos that I will put up on facebook this weekend so many fantastic authors and so much fun

Have Fun

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Nancy!

Why your choice of sidekicks would lean towards hot men or scifi doesn't surprise me, I don't know! hehehe

I think the hot men are more of the romantic interest, where sidekicks are same sex or opposite sex "buddies", myself.

Wendy Lyn Watson said...

I love Lulu in the Stephanie Plum books, too ...

I actually hemmed and hawed about using the term "side kick" It doesn't really seem fair, since some of these characters are every bit as "star worthy" as the main characters.

If any of you are Losties, that's why I loved the Pablo and Nikki episode ... the whole idea of giving an "extra" the spotlight for just a brief time.

chey said...

Hi Wendy,
Well, you just encouraged me to plan ice cream for dessert!
My favourite sidekick is young Ian in the later books of the Outlander series. He is able to do everything required of him but doesn't make a big deal about it, sometimes doesn't even tell anyone about his heroic deeds.

Wendy Lyn Watson said...

Woot! I promised a copy of Scoop to Kill to a commenter, but I didn't have the books yet ... until two minutes ago! The Fed/Ex man just brought me the bestest present. :)

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Wendy & Suzanne,

One of my favorites is Izzy
Zanella from Suzanne Brockmann's
Troubleshooter books. He finally
gets his own book, I think it is
#15 in the series. I'm at #12 &
reading just fast as I can! LOL.

BTW, no fair showing us yummy
pictures of ice cream and not
sharing! Ice cream is now a big
part of our family emergency
kit, especially with temps at
98/99 degrees almost every day
in Houston!

Pat Cochran

Cassondra said...

Hi Wendy, and welcome back to the lair!

I adore cozies, so I'm glad to see you continuing this series. I tend to wait until there are two or three in the series and then devour them all at once though. I'm really not good at waiting.

And I think I'd be a sorry mystery writer. I really admire your ability to weave puzzles and to build multi-layered characters. I think every genre can learn from other genres, and that's what I try to take from the mysteries I read.

And thanks also for that sinful recipe. (Suz, I do NOT thank you for the pictures--now I want ice cream, WAH!).

I'm such an ice cream freak. Love, love LOVE it.

Wendy Lyn Watson said...

Pat - I feel your pain ... I'm up in DFW, and we just finally ended our 19 (?) day streak of 100+ weather. We tried to keep our diets in check while staying cool by making blender drinks with banana, frozen fruit, and a little light juice.

Cassandra - I'm with you! Once I start a series, I want them all at once. :)

Barbara E. said...

I enjoy cozy mysteries because of the lack of gore and the romantic elements, as well as they're just plain fun. The only sidekick I can think of right now is from Shirley Damsgaard's Ophelia and Abby mysteries - Ophelia's grandmother Abby is her sidekick.