Monday, February 27, 2012

Scene of the Crime with Author Vicki Lane!

I don't know about any of the rest of you, but I love reading books set in the Appalachian Mountains that tell of the country, its history, and its people. From the first chapter of the first book written by this week's featured author, Vicki Lane, I knew I'd found a writer who loves the Appalachians-- and has the added advantage of living there.

Lane's Full Circle Farm series features fifty-something widow Elizabeth Goodweather, who owns and works an herb and flower farm in the mountains west of Asheville, North Carolina. A character in her book Art's Blood describes Elizabeth as "a woman of intelligence and integrity," and she is. She also loves many of the things that I do: the mountains, nature, being outdoors, quilts, art, and reading. Unlike me, she comes in contact with people willing to kill to keep their secrets, and I love to see how this amateur sleuth puts all the pieces together to solve the crimes.

Vicki Lane

Before we get to the fun part, here are a few links where you can learn more about Vicki and her books. (I've long been a follower of her marvelous blog-- as much for her photographs as for all the other interesting things to be found there.)

More on Vicki Lane's books

Now on to the interview!

Thank you, Cathy, for inviting me to Kittling: Books! My latest book is Under the Skin –book five of the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries (or Full Circle Farm Mysteries, as Bantam Dell has now decided to call them.)  Under the Skin introduces a new complication to Elizabeth’s life – her high-maintenance sister Gloria, on the run from a mob-connected fourth (or is it fifth?) husband. Like all my books, it’s set in the western North Carolina mountains where I live (and take pictures.) You can read more about it and find an excerpt at my website.

What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?

Probably it was one of the Oz books – I loved the concept of moving from ordinary everyday life into a magical world where animals talk and lunchboxes grow on trees with paper napkins for leaves.

Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?

Free time – what an interesting concept. I live on a farm and there aren’t many unspoken for moments. But I do make time to read every day and I take pictures and blog every day. I fantasize about getting back to painting and quilting – two pastimes that fell by the wayside when I started writing.

©Vicki Lane

If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.)

©Vicki Lane
I don’t actually think of myself as having a hometown. If anyone asks where I live, I say, “Madison County, twenty minutes from Marshall, an hour from Asheville.” In Marshall, I’d recommend The Depot on Friday night with home-grown music (bluegrass, gospel, old time, and country) and dancing -- all for free. The Depot made national news a while back when they banned a 58 year old woman for dirty dancing.

You have total control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?

Meryl Streep
This is hard – how about Meryl Streep? She can play anyone. And she’d probably get my accent right.

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee. Okay, that’s two. And as long as I’m over quota, let me add Myron Bolitar and Win, Harriet Vane and Lord Peter. And, of course, Miss Marple

Name one book that you've read that you wish you had written. What is it about that book that made it come to mind? 

Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.  The scope of his imagination and beauty of detail is staggering. Like the Oz books, it’s that stepping out of everyday into the whole magical world thing – but this time for grownups.

How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published? What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore?

Champagne, of course. Actually, it was a Spanish cava, not ‘real’ champagne. The advance wasn’t that big. And I took the family out to dinner. When the first book came out, I made a special trip into Asheville to take pictures of it in bookstores.

I don't know if you've seen it, but I love Parnell Hall's video about book signings. What is the most unusual experience you've had at a book signing or author event?

The very strangest was when the local Barnes and Noble asked me to come in and do a signing – you know, sit at a table and hope someone stops to chat. A cousin of mine whom I hadn’t seen in about fifty years happened to be in the Asheville area and heard about this non-event. She got in touch with me and we had lunch just before time for me to go to my table. As we ate, she told me at some length how her family had always hated mine, especially my mother. I could only plead ignorance to all this and was glad when it was time for me to take my place at my little table.

During the seeming endless several hours I sat there, my cousin hovered nearby like a malignant spirit. If someone stopped to talk to me, she moved away but as soon as I was disengaged, she would return, eager to share yet another unpleasant bit of family dirty laundry. There was a certain surreal feeling to the whole experience.

What's the best thing about eBooks? What's the worst?

I love all the classics that are available free and, of course, the instant gratification of being able to access a book so easily. This ease of access is also the downside for those of us on a budget. Not to mention what eBooks are doing to bookstores....

On Sale Now!

Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Vicki. I loved having the chance to get to know you a bit better. May your book sales do nothing but increase!

Stop by tomorrow when I'll have a review of Art's Blood, the second book in Vicki's Full Circle Farm series!


  1. A completely new to me author and I'll be checking her books out as they sound wonderful. Especially as I've actually been to the area where the books are set.

    1. I've not only been to the area (more than once), some of my ancestors settled there long ago. I may be a "victim" of genetic memory!

  2. Thank you for this interesting interview with a favorite author and photographer!
    I recently read "Under the Skin" and felt taken back to her beloved Madison County, and taken in by the wonderful characters Vicki created. I am looking forward to her next book!

    1. I'm looking forward to catching up in the series. I've been reading them out of order, but I still have a few to go!

    2. Thank you, Merisi. (I love being called a photographer by my favorite photographer!)

  3. I can't believe that a TV production company hasn't yet seen the potential in an adaptation of Vicki's Elizabeth Goodweather novels. My message to them, 'Wake Up!'

    1. And a very good message it is, too. I hope someone hears you!

    2. From your lips to God's ears, Martin . . .

  4. Thank you Cathy, and thank you Vicki, for this interesting exchange. I lived all of my childhood in Appalachia and can vouch (as if there is a need) for Vicki's authenticity. She knows mountain people and portrays them well in fascinating stories. I can't wait for her next book.

    1. High praise, coming from a native! Thanks, NCMountainwoman!

    2. Thanks so much for stopping by! One of the best things about having guests on my blog is the interesting people who follow them here. I'm now going back to read more of Mountain Musings!

  5. What a great interview. I'm not sure what I enjoyed most - the spectacular morning glory photo, imagining Meryl Streep playing you and sounding like you, or the Barnes & Noble story. Awesome!

  6. Thanks, Brenda . . .Streep is kind of a stretch but what the heck.


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